Rive Gauche (Jacques Polge, 1970)
Opium (Jean Louis Sieuzac, 1977)
Paris (Sophia Grojsman, 1983)
Kouros (Pierre Bourdon, 1981)
M7 (Alberto Morillas, 2002)
Although in recent years the brand Yves Saint Laurent is doing its best to make us forget its past glory, by flooding the market with girly scents of no interest like "Parisienne" and the likes, it's actually an historic trendsetter creating memorable fragrances, which have directly influenced the history of perfume for decades.
Just think of Rive Gauche.
Reworked to make it compliant with IFRA standards, Rive Gauche is a perfectly unisex chypre scent, and although you might feel it’s a bit dated, it remains a symbol of its times, and a standard for chypres. It features a bright, citrusy opening followed by a shady, woody heart and a rich base with animal notes. Definitely Rive Gauche isn’t a scent anyone can wear! By the way, some still do wear it, like my friend Santin, who was enjoying it just the other day, so I decided to follow her example and wear it, too: the risk is it being forgotten in favour of fragrances with less character, and it would be real shame.
Opium and Paris (like Coco by Chanel, Poison by Dior and others), should be worn both to realize how a perfume –just like a design object or a song- may capture the essence of its time. Isn’t this art?
In addition, Opium is the first perfume created not from the scent itself but from the history built by the marketing department. Wear it while you’re browsing old ads, and you’ll realize how all the product -name, bottle shape, fragrance- is perfectly consistent, and conveys exactly the same message: “Dangerous exotic sensuality, at the limit of illicit!”.
As for Paris, it’s one of the reference standards for rose-dominated fragrances. In this case the rose is paired with violet and a fruity note -in the distant but detectable-, rounding the bouquet and giving it strength and power. A rose dragèe, but fuchsia colour. Very interesting and not as “easy” it could seem after a fast sniff..
Yves Saint Laurent’s scents for men show an interesting ambivalence incorporating pairs opposites.
Kouros for example, a huge hit in the ‘80s, belongs to the fougere family, like Drakkar Noir, Brut Faberge, Ungaro, Gaultier's Le Male, etc. Fougeres are characterized by aromatic notes (lavender, rosemary, thyme, etc.) and vanilla, a sort of balance between opposites which can be very interesting. Kouros was one of the leaders in this playful fougere company, which is still popular today.
M7 is important because it’s the fragrance that brought the precious oud note in Western perfumery. Today oud is present in many fragrances including industrial ones, but we must thank the genius of Alberto Morillas if, 10 years ago, we could smell how oud was like, and fall madly in love with it. M7 didn’t collect the success it deserved and it's a real shame, because I find it brilliant.
For more perfumes in the Magnificent 70 list: click on the "Magnificent 70" tag, right column.