The Annick Goutal line occupies a rather in-between place among perfume fans — the company probably qualifies as niche based on their size and their limited distribution; still, they are available in a number of mainstream stores (three department stores in my local mall carry them), and the line doesn't feel niche. The feminine perfumes are emphatically pretty, romantic even; they don't, like so many niche perfumes, challenge traditional notions of what a woman ought to smell like.
Eau de Camille and Eau de Charlotte are both very much in that mold. They were created by Annick Goutal for her daughters:
Camille, 25, wanted to smell like the terrace of their home in Paris — "so I created a mixture of ivy, cut grass and honeysuckle for her," Goutal says. Charlotte, 22, asked her mom to create a scent that reminded her of all her favorite sweets — especially black-currant jam. Says Goutal: "When my daughters started growing into their femininity, I was inspired to create innocent scents that are feminine but have a touch of insolence." (via Town & Country, 6/1/1996)
Camille's fragrance, Eau de Camille, was released in 1983 and includes notes of honeysuckle, syringa, privet and ivy. As advertised, it is fresh and outdoorsy, with a crispness that recalls a morning in early summer. The green in the top notes is slightly bitter and dark, and very like just-crushed leaves and stems (and vaguely reminiscent of my own buried-in-the-shrubbery favorite, Sous Le Buis). The green remains throughout, but gets paler and grassier as it dries down, and the floral notes add a touch of sweetness without ever quite overtaking the scene. I hardly notice the lilac, but it does soften the characteristic sharpness of the honeysuckle; the base is mild and woody.
In my own collection, Eau de Camille has always taken a back seat to the newer, brighter, more sparkling Annick Goutal honeysuckle scent, Le Chevrefeuille, but they are actually quite different. Le Chevrefeuille might be thought of as a honeysuckle fragrance with green undertones, while Eau de Camille is a green fragrance decorated with a little sprig of honeysuckle. If you can't decide which one to put on in the morning, they layer beautifully.
Eau de Charlotte launched in 1982, and has blackcurrant bud, mimosa and cocoa. The opening notes are sticky-fruity syrup, but Charlotte calms into a lovely blended floral, sweet but not overly so, with subtle fruit undertones and touches of cocoa and vanilla. It has a lightly powdered finish, and a warm, cozy-comfort kind of air.
Eau de Charlotte is rich but I wouldn't call it heavy, and I'm not sure I'd call it a gourmand either — it isn't the sort of scent that will send you flying off to the pantry, at any rate. It has a youthful quality (more so than Eau de Camille) but it is neither insipid nor unsophisticated. Of the two fragrances, Eau de Camille suits me much better, but both ladies were lucky to have Annick Goutal as a mother: they might have otherwise ended up with Vera Wang Princess.
Eau de Camille is an Eau de Toilette, and is available in 50 and 100 ml bottles. Eau de Charlotte is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, or 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette. For buying information, see the listing for Annick Goutal under Perfume Houses.