Annick Goutal Songes, 2005

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Perfumer Isabelle Doyen.

The mixed floral is a very particular exercise. For many, it implies sophistication, though for the connoisseur a mixed floral might be a cliché. Given the icons, Jean Patou Joy, Chanel No. 5, Amouage Gold, anything less than outstanding doesn’t measure up. And given the ubiquity of floral scented functional products any floral perfume with less than a certain degree of sophistication or intention will be considered cheap. Forget the fact that any perfumer considering the challenge is haunted by the two classics: ‘smells like soap’, and unintended compliment of appearing ‘like an old lady’.

Songes  focuses on the qualities of floral fragrances rather than storytelling. It is identifiably fruity, white, tropical. And while some call it a floral oriental, I consider it a woody floral. The house of the Goutal know florals, and their line shows a wide range of floral perfumery. In Songes they perfect the woody sub-genre. It’s not just a floral that eventually dries down to woody basenotes. From the focused sweetness of the opening notes through the ambery-sweet, woody tones Songes remains taut and crisp without feeling uptight. It’s fitted, and in this respect can be both sexy and formal simultaneously. Composure is Songe’s defining attribute, and from its heady top to it smiling tightlipped base it never takes a wrong turn.

While smelling nothing like one, Songes is a sort of ripening banana in reverse. Expansive, bombastic, even dizzying at the start. A bit more subtle, starched, equally satisfying in the end.

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