Go ahead, perfumistas, think of all the perfumes you know with a pompom attached to the bottle. I am sure there are more — do comment! — but I could only think of four off the top of my head. Three of those are from Ariana Grande (Ari / Frankie / Sweet Like Candy) and the fourth is Annick Goutal's latest launch, Tenue de Soirée. If Ariana Grande and Annick Goutal strike you as unexpected bedfellows, think again, because the times they are a-changing at Annick Goutal. The new buzz words are "fun, quirky and young", and they're looking to shake up everything from the packaging to the logo to the brand name itself. Tenue de Soirée (evening dress or evening wear) is the "bridge" between the old Annick Goutal and the new, brand-name-yet-to-be-announced. Expect to see the full results of the rebranding by 2018, and for Goutal's existing line up to be pared down to about 20 or 25 fragrances.1
The pompom and charm on Tenue de Soirée is detachable, so you can use it as a key ring or as an accessory on your handbag, if such is your wont, and the chypre gourmand fragrance was inspired by the "the anticipation of a special event and the prospect of a night in Paris".2 To match the pompom, perfumer Mathieu Nardin has developed a fragrance that takes the elements of fun, quirky and young that you might expect to smell from mainstream fragrance brands and classes them up a notch — you might think of Tenue de Soirée as a bridge between your worst gourmand / fruitchouli nightmare and the more elegant cosmetic powder / lipstick fragrances from your favorite niche brand.
So we have a gourmand built around iris, patchouli and plenty of fruits, but Nardin has left out the neon-pink bubblegum (Dior Poison Girl) and cherry coke (Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire), instead going for a relatively sedate plummy-berry mix that echoes the purple of the pompom. There's a sheer (but briefly sharp) heart of nondescript florals, and there's a good dose of sugar to be sure, but it's not at defcon sillage levels (Lancôme La Vie Est Belle or Viktor & Rolf BonBon), in fact, Tenue de Soirée is rather quiet once the top notes relax. The iris makes itself known from the opening, where it serves to keep the fruits tamped down; both the iris and patchouli are middle of the road: some warmth, a little creamy and a little powdery, but not too earthy and not too clean.
Verdict: The 'quirky' is all in the pompom, but Tenue de Soirée is well done.3 It's youthful without being obnoxious or silly, and it's reasonably sophisticated, and quite wearable. If you like the idea of a gourmand fruitchouli sort of thing but find most of them too loud to wear, it is certainly worth trying. I am not sure its target market will find it fun enough — if it did not bother me to wear it, most probably they have not quite hit their mark?
The prices have gone up a tad, but they've added a 30 ml size, so that does help ease the pain. I will miss the classic ribbed bottles and bows, though.
Annick Goutal Tenue de Soirée is available in 30 ($80), 50 ($125) and 100 ($190) ml Eau de Parfum.
1. Quotes and other information about the brand changes are via "Annick Goutal to Re-brand, Launch Tenue de Soirée", at Women's Wear Daily 10/12/2016. Fans might be interested to know that there are around 45 scents in the catalog at the moment, so if there is something from Annick Goutal that you love, yes, it might be time to worry, and that's presumably especially so if your favorites are not the big sellers.
2. Via Annick Goutal introduces a new chypre gourmand fragrance at Cosmetics Business.