If you’ve focused on the “poudre” part of Yves Saint Laurent Grain de Poudre, never fear: it isn’t a powdery scent. Instead, it’s a well mannered, spicy leather. Confusing the matter further, grain de poudre actually refers the stiff but smooth finish of fabrics used, for instance, in blazers and handbags.
Perfumer Quentin Bisch developed Grain de Poudre as part of Yves Saint Laurent’s Vestiaire des Parfums series. Its notes include black peppercorn, coriander, violet leaves, sage, suede accord and musk. In brief, Grain de Poudre is a neutral leather that’s spicy enough to please someone looking for a “manly” fragrance, but understated enough for anyone to wear without a second thought. It’s quiet enough for the office, elegant enough for the opera and easy enough for jeans.
Grain de Poudre goes on with nose-tingling black pepper that retreats within a few seconds — no danger of sneezing here — into a barely sweet combination of soft leather, coriander and violet leaves. Yes, the spice and pepper’s scratch is still there, but it’s been folded into something softer and warmer.
And there the fragrance rests without major change for its half-a-day life. It wears close to skin and is easy and lovely enough that I’ve caught myself absently sniffing my arm as I think about something else. Does Grain de Poudre excite me? No. Would I recommend it? I’d definitely recommend it to someone who wants one or two basic fragrances to keep on the dresser. I see it as suiting an older, confident crowd who want to avoid flashy sillage and seek a well-made leather perfume they can spray on each morning knowing it will be they who stand out and not their fragrance.
Grain de Poudre’s versatility is a major selling point for someone who likes perfume as gentle background music. If you seek fragrance with a more assertive personality, this same quality might be Grain de Poudre’s chief drawback.
Yves Saint Laurent Grain de Poudre Eau de Parfum is $250 for 125 ml and, for the moment, appears to be carried exclusively at Nieman Marcus. A 75 ml size is available in Europe.