La Collection de Grasse is a new quartet of fragrances from L’Occitane, and something of an introduction, perhaps, to the house's newly announced in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil (although she has developed fragrances for L'Occitane in the past, including Eau des Baux, L’Eau des 4 Reines and Myrte from the Notre Flore collection).
Today, reviews of Jasmin & Bergamote and Magnolia & Mûre; coming up on Thursday, Vanille & Narcisse and Thé Vert & Bigarade.
Jasmin & Bergamote
mandarin, bergamot, jasmine, lemon leaves, sandalwood and cedar
This is the one of the four I was most looking forward to, and it is in a fact a pretty enough, very wearable summer-weight floral. It's a bit citrusy and a bit green (almost grassy), with a pale woody dry down. It's not indolic, nor even a jasmine bomb — you probably already knew not to go looking for Serge Lutens A La Nuit, but if memory serves, it's also considerably tamer than L'Occitane's own (now discontinued, I think) Notre Flore Jasmin. So, clean, but it's not aggressively clean — rather, Jasmin & Bergamote has a naturalistic approach to freshness that reminds me of the earlier, raw-materials-oriented Aqua Allegorias from Guerlain.1
I was not entranced, but if most jasmines are too much jasmine for you, or if you need something office-friendly or otherwise casual, it is worth a try. Expect to reapply, possibly more than once, if you need all day coverage. If you need a light jasmine but want just a bit more floral oomph than this, try Annick Goutal Le Jasmin or Ineke Poet’s Jasmine. If you like your jasmines tame, you might also try Acqua di Parma Gelsomino Nobile or Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint. If you'd like less oomph, more clean, try Guerlain Jasminora. And as always, feel free to share your own favorites in the comments.
Magnolia & Mûre
bergamot, blackberry, magnolia, rose and patchouli
I did not expect to love this one, not being a massive fan of berries in perfume — and I didn't, in the end, love it — but this sweet fruitchouli slash berry musk was livelier and more fun than I expected. A streak of tartness in the opening keeps it from descending straight into cloying; there is as much rose as magnolia in the heart (I rather wish they'd done a Magnolia & Bergamote, good magnolia-centric fragrances being so hard to come by). Perfumistas will probably not find it all that unusual, but it's a pleasant enough rendition of a familiar theme and it does have more presence (and staying power) than the Jasmin & Bergamote.
The L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse fragrances are available in 75 ml Eau de Toilette ($75 each) or in a coffret with 7.5 ml of each ($46, as of this writing marked down to $30); matching body products are also available.
I am a bit surprised at the price, as I often am when I shop at L'Occitane — as I've said before, everything always seems priced a bit higher, or sometimes much higher, than I think it is worth. These are also a tad higher even than the Guerlain Aqua Allegorias (those are still $63 in the US, although of course you can also find them considerably cheaper at discount stores). The sale price for the L'Occitane travel coffret qualifies as a cheap thrill, but bear in mind that these are generally at a concentration where you might run through 7.5 ml rather quickly.