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.