Earlier this year, L’Occitane launched a new line of perfumes — La Collection de Grasse; the collection started off with four fragrances and now has doubled in size.1 I’ve only had the chance to spend quality time with two of the perfumes: Fleur d’Or & Acacia and Ambre & Santal.
Fleur d'Or & Acacia
(lemon, bergamot, mimosa, acacia, white woods, musk)
Fleur d’Or & Acacia begins with, and maintains, an intense acacia-mimosa accord; and at first, this accord smells genuine (natural). The lemon note in Fleur d’Or & Acacia’s opening serves as a momentary “booster” for the florals. After Fleur d’Or & Acacia’s authentic-smelling acacia-mimosa notes vanish, and that happens quickly, they are replaced by acacia-mimosa 'chemicals' that soar into space, and up through my nasal passages. Fleur d’Or & Acacia’s floral notes change from "pure" to modified; the effect is similar to finding a beautiful acorn or piece of driftwood and spray painting it gold with inexpensive enamel.
As Fleur d’Or & Acacia dries down, clean wood-musk comes forward, not quite reaching “laundry room” aromas but too clean for my taste. Overall, I would describe Fleur d’Or & Acacia as a flower syrup (sweetened with sugar/sterilized honey); it’s powerful, and, in the end, cloying. Fleur d’Or & Acacia is a hyper-feminine perfume; it has excellent sillage and unbelievable endurance. (Robin here at NST likes it better than I do, but she’s only experienced it sprayed on a card and scenting a hand cream.)
Ambre & Santal
(bergamot, rosemary, rose, fig leaf, sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, labdanum)
I had much better luck with Ambre & Santal, a lovely, gentle and almost-smooth amber perfume. I usually love my ambers roughened up with oud or pungent herbs, but I had an immediate bond with Ambre & Santal’s more demure ways. The amber accord is comprised of the usual components: labdanum, vanilla and woods (though don’t expect to detect any of that “santal” as you sniff Ambre & Santal …quiet cedar is more like it).
Ambre & Santal goes on with a bubbly bergamot note and, if you strain, you may detect rose, too. What’s wonderful about Ambre & Santal is its dry down, where fig and rose, and maybe a mystery ingredient, produce an edible aroma. I was wondering as I wore Ambre & Santal how I could make a subtle amber jam for Christmas gift giving, maybe using plums, rose petals and amber-scented tea as a “base.” The jam-y element gives Ambre & Santal the originality Fleur d’Or & Acacia lacks. Since I'm amber-less at the moment, I may buy a bottle of Ambre & Santal.
L'Occitane Fleur d’Or & Acacia and Ambre & Santal (both by perfumer Karine Dubreuil) are available in 75 ml Eau de Toilette, $75.