Elle is the latest fragrance for women from Yves Saint Laurent, and like last year's L'Homme Yves Saint Laurent, is intended to attract younger consumers to the brand. In keeping with that goal, Elle Yves Saint Laurent's launch was online as much as off: it has a spiffy website and a presence on YouTube, a blog, a MySpace page (Elle has 1496 friends! w00t!), and of course Elle had the requisite debut in Second Life. It's probably on Facebook as well, but as I'm planning to be the last person on earth to join Facebook, I can't check.
Perfumers Olivier Cresp and Jacques Cavallier were asked to come up with something modern, urban and feminine, but with "a touch of the masculine", as is the latest style. They've done just that. I'll start with the dry down, because it is so perfectly in tune with recent trends that I can just quote another review:
As is the recent fashion, the whole thing is draped over a darker, drier, but resolutely clean and smooth base (neither the patchouli nor the vetiver are particularly earthy), enlivened here by a smidgen of incense.
That's from my review of DKNY Delicious Night. Substitute pink pepper for the incense, and you've got the base of Elle Yves Saint Laurent (the other notes are citron, lychee, peony, cedar, rose, freesia, jasmine, and ambrette). The opening is crisp and bright and sharp, already rather woody, and moderately sweet; in character, it is exceedingly fresh. The heart is peppery sheer florals — you'll catch the rose and the jasmine, but they're not assertive. The lasting power is good, although it is surprisingly close to the skin once it calms. The end.
It is perfectly nice and perfectly wearable. I probably would have been more impressed if I'd smelled it earlier in the year, before trying a dozen other feminine-but-masculine-woody-modern-chypre-things with clean patchouli (yes, fruity florals are on the wane, but they're not going to be replaced by variety), but as it is, Elle Yves Saint Laurent comes a bit too late in the game to live up to its tag line of "unpredictable and unique". It's well done, but it's a crowd pleaser, and a bit blander than its competition. If you're looking for something on the clean and fresh edges of the "feminine-but-masculine-woody-modern-chypre-things with clean patchouli" spectrum, you might just love it.
Elle Yves Saint Laurent is available in 50 and 90 ml Eau de Parfum and in matching Body Lotion and Shower Gel. In the United States, it can be found at Neiman Marcus; next year it will go into wider distribution.