LET’S TALK ABOUT GIVENCHY : : : : : : L’INTERDIT PARFUM ROUGE (2021) + IRRESISTIBLE (2021), + an orange blossom definitely not to be messed with, DÉSINVOLTE (2021)

All three of these perfumes are knockouts.

And yet I find them equally obnoxious.

How can I put it?

Each scent: a fresh, fruity pink floral, a dressed-to-kill and very poisonous bombshell, and a suave, luscious, pointedly executive woody white floral, has been sculpted and angled just so for maximum slay potential; all are seductive, utilizing certain olfactory tropes to their apex; they glint and shine; all are sexy.

And yet there is very little interior clarity or an acknowledgment of the inner poignancy or the multilayers that a person has in these perfumes, no vulnerability (but then again why would there be, poised piquantly; cocktail in hand, under the pulsating strobe lights of a club?). All here is sheen and veneer, action: in an almost predatory femininity.

The definite ingenue of the trio is the new ‘Irresistible’, which has mercifully been renamed and tastefully repackaged (the earlier designs were embarrassingly cheap looking and ugly, as were some of the ridiculous names of the flanker/ limited editions over the years (‘Very Irresisitible Fresh Attitude Summer Sorbet’, anyone?). This has, in fact, been my main gripe with the house in recent times, as the aesthetics right from the beginning of the perfume releases back in the 1950’s from Givenchy with the original L’Interdit were always on point and elegant, evolving naturally through the sixties, seventies and eighties with the beautiful flacons and boxes for Gentleman through Eau de Givenchy and even the gaudy Amarige; no matter the swerving variety of the contents, at least visually there was always a thread of DNA running through it all, with recognizably Parisian Givenchyisms always in pride of place – before a dire slump into crud drugstore shaped cheapology with the advent of the 2000’s; products that looked like nail salon bottles that had been bought for a dollar from an indoor market (or found at the bottom of a dumpster) and which bent the integrity of the brand, in my view at least, somewhat out of shape.

With the newer, more minimalist direction of the design ethos, you can stand the boxes of all three of these perfumes together on the shelf and feel much happier with what meets your eye. The smells themselves………this will depend on your fashion and emotional temperament. Irresistible, for example, takes its (extremely) recognizable themes – a sweet, sparkling rose with berries and an almost loukoum almondy sugar musk, and nails them. It is boring, but perfect. The formula now cannot be improved upon, since there is a harmony within the structure of the whole that graduates naturally from girlish innocence to…. coy, flirtatious girlish innocence with nary a glimpse in the wrong direction: a finale of sweet nothings that is still pleasant to wake up to the next morning. And although I should probably hand this over to one of our nieces, or to one of the young teenage daughters of our friends ( Irresistible is an ideal starting scent I would say for the pretty and the conventional), it is possible, I must admit, that I might keep it for myself.

Next. The wicked witch’s velenous apple. The vamp. Is this new Interdit Eau De Parfum Rouge genius, or absolutely disgusting?

Both, I would say. It is a perfume, in any case, that certainly grabs your attention. The original remake of Interdit from 2018 was a surprise to me – all grapes and tuberose and tight signature: I assumed that I would hate it, but in fact I liked it better than its namesake original. With its sour, almost tomatoey primeness, it reminded me a little of an old favourite of mine, Paco Rabanne’s Ténéré, which was a total failure back in 1988 but which I still like and wear, as it always seemed to me to be one of the ultimate ‘red’ fragrances ( I also adore Hermès Rouge, as well as Giorgio Beverly Hills iconic Red, while we are on the subject of possibly my favourite colour). L’Interdit Parfum Rouge, when sniffed from the sprayer, is also, cleverly, recognizably the same deep grapey tuberose concoction that has proved to be quite popular for Givenchy, just thickened, richened, deepened – it works immediately, has definite ‘presence’, and yet on the skin there is something genuinely quite horrifying about the experience, with pimiento, ginger and blood orange pressing down like iron screws into the oxygenless din of all the extra vanilla and woods and patchouli and god knows what that are all compressed into a screaming, bottomless miasma of hot-pressed toxins. D was coughing and gagging on smelling it up close -dismayed; you can imagine how people must have first felt smelling Dior’s Poison back in the day when trying Parfum Rouge – and so this is a probably quite divisive perfume I would say, one that ignites your flight or fight responses that tell you just get the hell out of there if this woman approaches you; and yet a part of you wants nothing more. It is a biohazard – certainly – but also strangely and luridly very striking.

And so is Désinvolte, in its own way, (even if there is something that is slightly too held back about it) : the newest addition to the more expensive and exclusive Givenchy line La Collection Particulière, a pleasing and sturdily made uberfloral that I imagine will get people talking once it makes its way across the channels (scrolling through the endless, endless editions and releases of this ‘esteemed house’ on Fragrantica, by the way, I was genuinely shocked by just how many perfumes have been released by Givenchy over the years since I first encountered Monsieur De Givenchy and Vetyver at the concessions as a child, where I would also swoon over Ysatis- so many of them, in contrast – utter drivel and rubbish, prim and pointless ditties such as Givenchy Prism, or the ‘Ange ou Démon Le Secret Poesie D’un Parfum D’Hiver’ (?!) that I once picked up unsmelled at a Japanese department store retailer just because it was on sale (but was also a repugnant cheap-as-tat cinnamon floral that made me physically heave). While some of the scents along the Givenchy trajectory – Xeryus was the first fragrance I ever bought; I quite liked the raspberry pipe smoke of the edp version of Hot Couture, loved Insensé,am intrigued by the idea of Organza Indian Jasmin, and once wore the eau de parfum iteration of the benzoin and orange heavy (and quite original), Pi), it is nice to smell a contemporary something now that has a bit of backbone and self awareness of its own quality; that smells minimally provocative – as well as being packaged like a proper Givenchy.

Désinvolte, which translates as ‘flippant’, ‘glib’, ‘nonchalant’, ‘casual’ etc – even ‘off hand’, above it all and a bit arrogant, gives the general idea of what this tuberose-sambac jasmine-orange blossom number is trying to convey to the person that it comes into (absolutely premeditated) contact with. With a contradictory Haitian vetiver/ woody accord underneath the creamy daytime intentions of the surface (a potent tuberose absolute fusing with neroli- the actual essential oil, rather than a creamy tuberose ‘effect’ – this does come across as relatively high quality)- then segueing solidly nto a florid jasmine and a fleurs d’oranger effect not a million miles away from the classic Serge Lutens, this is an effectively done woody white floral that what it might lack for in soul it makes up for in sass. In a company setting, for instance – there is definitely a very ‘daytime’ aspect for me in this scent, though it could probably work equally well as a confident perfume for dinner – a sharply dressed someone striding by in tailored white blouse; heels and an agenda, with the perfectly calibrated intimations of Désinvolte trailing the air, I know that I, at least, would definitely prick up my ears, hone in closely.

Do please tell me about your own Hubert de Givenchy highs and lows.


Filed under Flowers

21 responses to “LET’S TALK ABOUT GIVENCHY : : : : : : L’INTERDIT PARFUM ROUGE (2021) + IRRESISTIBLE (2021), + an orange blossom definitely not to be messed with, DÉSINVOLTE (2021)

  1. Désinvolte sounds intriguing to me, always up for a devastating orange blossom!
    That grape note (Methyl anthranilate) is the primary reason I steer clear of Givenchy. Reminds me of cheap candy and stale soda.
    Speaking of obnoxious, cheap, and cloying fragrances, I am testing a sample of Paco Rabanne’s Pure XS for Her today! Absolutely horrid from the tawdry adjustable serpent ring enclosed in the pink and gold plastic sample packet to its nauseating stench. Smells like hyper sweetened grape soda and YSL Libre tinged with sweaty feet. Notes are listed as a “formula explosion”: ylang-ylang, vanilla, popcorn note, sandalwood, ambrette seeds. Who thought that was a good idea?

    • Nothing gets by your majesty’s nose – you are a terrifying ( and brilliantly non-bullshitty) perfume critic who would definitely rage over pockets of banality in Desinvolte.

      FAR from devastating, actually ( though you WOULD be eviscerated by Le Parfum Rouge- my god you would hate it )!

      … D is rather a sublimated higher office tier orange blossom that definitely works ( Tora are you reading this ?) – but is far from being stunning.

      Sometimes I worry the words in my reviews don’t quite come across as intended.

      But I did mention obnoxiousness in the very two first sentences !

      • Devastating can mean good or bad. Tuberose can especially go good or obnoxiously bad. That being said, I am intrigued by the combination of tuberose absolue with a woodsy vetiver!

      • Y’see, this is kind of nice. If you are in Gallery Madam business mode, for instance, and want a wood-tempered orange blossom with a tuberose touch ( but not in the classic tuberose mold; literally the essential oil, plus some sambac), I can imagine you pulling this off magnificently.

        I don’t think it would rock your pants off, but it is rather nice ( and by far the most pleasing of these three perfumes – because the materials are good, it doesn’t just stick to you like a tattoo).

        I reckon a sample is worth ordering.

      • PS I can imagine Rouge being tuberose devastating in the wrong way and the bottle being hurled in revulsion

  2. OnWingsofSaffron

    Sounds like those three graces could have made quite a stir in the Netflix world of Bridgerton?

    • Yes, probably!

      I haven’t seen it, actually – was put off by the trailer somehow, but can imagine being sucked into it all quite quickly if it grabbed me.

      Are you a fan?

      • OnWingsofSaffron

        I‘ve watched the first three episodes in series one. A fan, no I wouldn‘t say so. It‘s basically your regular Old Europe meets sexy Hollywood fairy tale for young adults. Delicious strapping young men, half naked; girly girls giggling; a swoon-worthy young duke (who just never ever would „be“ in the UK), the probably most generously and sympathetically portrayed Prussian prince ever in an Anglosaxon TV show etc. I‘ll probably finish watching this first series but there will definitely have to come more …

      • You are beginning to sell me on it!

  3. Robin

    Love this post!! Oh, man, Neil. I love your roasts. I’ve got so much to say and I’m still on this bloody tablet, and I’ve been catching up with you and commenting and I’ve run out of energy in my right index finger. I want to answer your question about Givenchy’s highs and lows so badly.

    For now, let me hunt and peck my pleasure at reading this. I must say, Givenchy really hit the nail for me, shockingly, with that new Interdit edt we’ve talked about recently. Genius, in a way. Drug-like in its precision, in achieving its goal of seduction, of inducing an immediate urge to buy a bottle. Those are some powerful aroma chemicals.

    • My god you should try this flanker then!

      I am the same with the digits. I don’t know if it is arthritic beginnings or repetitive strain injury, but I simply can’t write too much on my phone. Way better touch typing on this computer instead.

      Was this a roast? I wonder. I said all three were knock outs, and you would know exactly what I mean. But there is also something slightly…tired inside.

      It was fun to delve into the back catalogue though and do a quick overview of the house. At least they have upped their game a bit aesthetically – these things matter!

      • Robin

        It might be like those people who put a lot of thought, time and money into how they look. To me, while in some ways their efforts are successful, there’s something about it that’s unnervingly calculated, self- centered, mercenary. I find a more nonchalant approach much more attractive. Maybe perfume can be kinda the same. These Givenchys might seem almost a little . . . Manipulative?

      • Desinvolte, yes, although none of them have the sharpness for too many plots.

        But let’s face it, we are overthinking this! They are just sex spritzes.

  4. Robin

    I’d definitely like to try them.

  5. Alex

    Highs; vintage Ysatis and III. Cheap low; L’Interdit 2018 🤣

    • Ysatis: absolutely. Incredible. And not praised highly enough. It could induce delirium.

      Interdit IS a ‘cheap low’, I agree – but I am pleased that it at least has a ‘recognizability’ factor – it smells like the new Interdit, which in the current market of mega-blah, is actually quite a grand achievement in perfumery.

      • Alex

        Oh definitely. I haven’t tried the red one, the edp has enough grape(ness) and bubblegum(y) tuberose for me. I might give it a shot and see how it compares

      • I hated the edp because of all the extraneousness ( I liked the grape sheerness of the edt more).

        I think Rouge is genuinely exciting in many ways : it’s kind of lethal

  6. These all sound rather uninteresting to me, sad to say. As high of hopes I had for the “Prestige” line of scents, not a single one stood out to me as memorable when I tried them, nor worth the price tag, so I do not know if Desinvolte would tickle my fancy much either, as much as I adore orange blossom. Then again, if you think I should seek out a sample…

    Givenchy highs, anything created up to, and including, the release of Organza.
    Givenchy lows, pretty much anything, and everything created after Organza with the lowest point being a fragrance named L’Interdit in 2018 that was the epitome of all that was cheap and tacky in the fragrance world, given the name of one of the greatest fragrances ever created

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