digging (into) vintage: Givenchy Ysatis, 1984

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Perfumer Dominique Ropion.

’80s style will be remembered for poor judgment and gross misproportion. Take shoulder pads for instance. Not my style, but I can understand their use in suits and jackets. In the 80s, shoulder pads were used in short sleeve t-shirts. Imagine a t-shirt so poorly fitted that the bulk of the voluminous fabric hanging about your waist must be tucked into your high waisted jeans. Cramming some packing material into the shoulders of this T-shirt does nothing to mitigate its inattention to the human form. It exaggerates it.

Perfumer Dominique Ropion stacked a fistful of white florals on a durable resinous base to give Ysatis a towering feel. It is classically ’80s in volume and reach but the calibration of the floral notes has the precision that I associate with Ropion. A pronounced coconut aroma distinguishes Ysatis from the other ginormous florientals that were popular at the time but Ropion gets credit for steering coconut away from any tropical holiday fantasies. It creates a creamy, grounded quality that makes Ysatis more slightly less flagrant than Guerlain Samsara, less cartoonish than Boucheron by Boucheron. They all wore shoulder pads but Ysatis is less egregious.

The perfumes of the ’80s were caricaturish even in their heyday. Today their datedness makes them seem ridiculous and oddly naive. But they can be fun to wear today, particularly with an understanding of their history and context, though I suppose a sense of camp would work just as well. Oddly enough, Ysatis’s drawback today is the proportion and reserve that made it more sophisticated than the car-alarmish perfumes of the time. For current use Ysatis is missing the theatricality of Poison and the costume-drama of Giorgio. It lacks their easy leanings toward irony. Ropion’s tailored beauty comes off as a tasteful version of big 80s style. But what is the value of a slightly more tasteful monster? It’s like someone kicking you hard in the balls, but not as hard as he could have.

(Image, Diana in Escada, 1987)

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