Summary: The first perfume from Lebanese designer Elie Saab is a sweet and spicy floral etude that focuses on both jasmine and orange blossom but surprises with a warm patchouli and honey base. Leave a comment below for your chance to win a 30ml EDP, courtesy of Elie Saab.
Pros: Out of 12 “female” fragrances I reviewed for Finland’s Anna magazine, Elie Saab emerged as my favorite almost imemdiately due to its somewhat butcher basenotes; a straightforward floral that manages to be a bit more interesting than many soliflores or two-flower accords; soft and sweet without a hint of vanilla or fruit; honeyed tones without reverting to the dustiness so often resulting from honey notes.
Cons: Many will balk at the uninspired composition with its simple focus on white florals while others will have difficulty with the honey/patchouli base; for sweet floral lovers only.
Notes: Orange blossom, jasmine (Grandiflorum and Sambac), rose honey, cedar, patchouli. (From press release)
Reminds me of: Internet reviews suggest similarities to everything from Alien & Intimately Beckham to Bond #9 Fire Island and Fendi Palazzo. While the jasmine/orange blossom focus has been done to death and hence the numerous comparisons, I can state that there is actually nothing in my 2,000+ bottle collection that smells quite like it. I have numerous jasmine and orange blossom scents and L’Artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillon has a similar floral feeling, but on my skin Le Parfum shows off its spicy basenotes which sets the scent apart from the rest.
Designer’s Descriptions: “A harmony of white flowers, cedar woods and a drop of honey creates an encounter as feminine as the trail of an evening gown. An addictive, refined fragrance with a Mediterranean spirit. The exceptional in the everyday.” Nordstrom.com
“The first fragrance from the Lebanese haute couture designer is simply called Le Parfum. After 279 trial versions, an ultra – feminine, flowery – woody composition has been selected, signed by the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian.The perfume opens with notes of orange blossom. Jasmine is in the heart, including Grandiflorum and Sambac, whereas the base consists of cedar, patchouli and rose honey accord. The simple glass bottle of Baroque style is designed by Syvie de France. The campaign features the famous model Anja Rubik. Le Parfum is available as 30, 50 and 90 ml Eau de Parfum with an accompanying collection that includes perfumed deodorant, body lotion, body cream and shower gel. Le Parfum was launched in 2011.” Fragrantica.com
Number of times tested: 10+ times from department store and duty free testers and a bottle sent to me by Elie Saab for review.
Number of sprays applied for this review: One on the back of each wrist.
Fragrance Strength: EDP
Development: (Linear / Average / Complex): Elie Saab feels like a watercolor painting of a summer sunset, all oranges and peaches and golden hues. However whereas a sunset often moves from blue to orange to black, Elie Saab remains foever golden. Although the floral sweetness softens over time and the patchouli peeks out to say “hey, don’t forget me”, the fragrance stays similar from start to finish.
Longevity: (Short / Average / Long-lasting): Those two sprays lasted 6+ hours.
Sillage: (A Little / Average / A Lot): I find Elie Saab Le Parfum to be just right if used with a light hand…that translates to one or two fewer sprays than I might usually enjoy.
Note About the Packaging: Simple faceted square glass bottle with rounded bottom in a light peach paper box.
The (Long) Bottom Line, or in This Case, Ma’es Zahr: For those that recall 2009’s launch of Maison de Francis Kurkdjian, his APOM fragrances pour femme and pour homme were built around orange blossom and cedar accords, the former a female fragrance pairing the accord with ylang ylang and the latter a male fragrance pairing the accord with amber. Elie Saab Le Parfum feels like a continuation of the themes explored in APOM and it should be no surprise as APOM, an acronym for A Piece of Me, was inspired by Monsieur Kurkdjian’s travels to Lebanon. Did I already mention that Elie Saab is a lebanese-born designer?
So what is it about orange blossom that spells Lebanon? A quick Google search for “orange blossom Lebanon” immediately answers that question! Results highlight orange blossom water, orange blossom jam (!!!!), orange blossom soap, etc. And check this out from Wikipedia:
“White Coffee” is an herbal tea, invented in Beirut, made with orange blossom water. Traditionally served after meals in Lebanon and Syria, it is often accompanied by candied rose petals, served in tiny, delicate dishes. White coffee is a sedative, and calms the nerves while stimulating digestion after a particularly rich or heavy meal. In Lebanon, orange blossom water is given to fussy babies; it is also used as a perfume, either in the bathwater or directly on the skin.
I’m already salivating…and as a Florida boy who spent school-day afternoons riding horses through orange groves and hence loves the smell of orange blossoms, I’m thinking that my next vacation will have to be an orange blossom tour of Lebanon. According to Habeeb.com, the Lebanese word for orange blossom is ma’es zahr. Hmmm, maybe a name for my next pet…
Well, I wouldn’t say that Elie Saab Le Parfum is only about orange blossoms. Sweet, jammy jasmine, the kind found in Ropion and Bruyere’s Alien for Thierry Mugler, is also a major star here. As I love both of these flowers, it is a no-brainer that I fell immediately in love with this. Again, pardon my bias.
The first time I tested this on a fabric ribbon was mid-summer at the Boca Raton (Florida) Bloomingdale’s and though I found it pretty, I wrote it off as boring. A month later, a friend and I were in Bloomie’s sniffing around (my only real purpose to go to the mall these days) and re-discovered Elie Saab. She fell in love and I decided to bathe in it. Boring it may be, but I realized that I had failed to understand those basenotes.
It’s amazing how many times I’ve rushed to review a scent only to find my perspective quite different months later once I had really gotten to know the entire composition. This is a HUGE reason why you’ll almost never find my reviews the first among the growing number of bloggers. Nope, I’m almost always late to the party precisely because I need to live with a fragrance before I can really critique it. I was late to review Bohemian Spice, late to review Pandora and once again, months late on Elie Saab. But back to the actual aroma.
More than anything else, Le Parfum is sun-warmed sands and airy blossoms. Angela from NST writes:
when I watched the video about Elie Saab Le Parfum on the Elie Saab website [I] heard perfumer Francis Kurkdjian say, “I felt I had to translate a brilliant femininity,” and that he wanted to create a fragrance that reflects “when the sun is almost gold or even white,” and smells “as if gold was glowing so brightly it was almost white”
This golden feeling, in my opinion, is produced via the rose, honey and patchouli notes. None of them sing solos but together as a chorus the effect is much like that of the basenotes from Chanel Coco Mademoiselle: a fuzzy, creamy, soft aroma. In fact, come to think of it, Le Parfum is like a streamlined version of CM. Just look at the similar notes: Top notes are orange, mandarin orange, orange blossom and bergamot; middle notes are mimose, jasmine, turkish rose and ylang-ylang; base notes are tonka bean, patchouli, opoponax, vanilla, vetiver and white musk (Fragrantica.com).
On my my skin, the chorus of Le Parfum sings a decidedly baritone tune, a little ambery, a little spicy and quite different than when experienced on my female friends’ skin. I suppose this is another reason I am drawn to it. Chanel’s CM is almost iconic at this point in that many perfume lovers can instantly recognize it and have probably worn it at some point in their fragrant histories. While I never wore CM precisely because so many of my close friends claimed it as their signatures, Le Parfum perhaps offers a slightly different variation on the same theme with a spicy and powdery patchouli/honey drydown.
No, the scent is not groundbreaking. No, the scent is not entirely original. But if you are a fan of orange blossom, jasmine, patchouli or Monsieur Kirkdjian, perhaps you’ll be as enchanted as I was by the straightforward simplicity of Elie Saab, Le Parfum.
Which designer scent has recently wowed you?