(image, Ekaterina Khomenko)
Perfumer Annick Goutal.
The emotion passion has come to be confused with the expression of passion. Borrowing the vocabulary the romantic comedy film, passion has come to mean any attention seeking act. Set this in a culture where an action’s value varies directly with the number of people who witness it and passion loses its meaning as an internal state.
Annick Goutal’s Passion fits an older definition that describes an emotional state on the spectrum from enthusiasm to compulsion. Yes, there are objects of passion, but passion is what you yourself feel.
Passion, the perfume, is gorgeous. It’s a blended floral, a prospect that by itself is hit-or-miss, but the blend includes both tropical and more rugged white florals. A failure with this pair of genres could be a disaster, but Passion is exquisite. It has a distinct personality and excellent form along with an ambiguity that lends itself to mystery rather than indecision.
Mixed florals such as Patou’s Joy and de Nicolai’s Number One show that the ‘prettier’ aspects of a flower, the sweetness and light, are important, but the expertise is in the use of the rawer, less obvious side of the flower. The perfumes of the Goutal line are not known for their outrageousness. Passion draws on the underbelly of the flower to paint a mixed floral, but because it used both classical and the tropical flowers, it has a larger palette to draw on. I don’t find Passion overwhelming or oversized. It’s buttery and textured and relaxed. Passion lets its hair down. As for us men, Passion leaves its shirt-tails untucked suggesting not so much informality as the desire for an easy range of motion. Again, passion isn’t about the reading. It’s about the inspired state.
As an early niche line, the focus was on reconsidering the attributes of classical perfumery. Early Goutal perfumes didn’t create new genres or revolutionize traditional ones, but dove deep into the qualities that underlined earlier styles of perfumery, especially in the floral department.