Sunday, February 12, 2012

Niche Spotlight: Annick Goutal

One of my favorite perfume store women to date works at the Annick Goutal boutique on Rue de Castiglione.  She is kind and serene and more than happy to engage in a long conversation about different scents, not only at Annick Goutal but other perfumers as well.  This is actually the best part of this perfume exploration I've set out on - meeting other people who love fragrance, and who are not only knowledgeable but willing to share that knowledge.

I knew that Annick Goutal is considered a niche perfume that has become more widely available - there are seven Annick Goutal boutiques in Paris alone, as well as stores in Lyon, Marseille, Strasbourg, Belgium, and the UK.  Annick Goutal, who sadly died in 1999 at just 53 years old, launched her first perfume in 1981.  This scent, Folavril, is really "something special" in the words of my Goutal employee friend.  And it is.  It is fruity and floral, and the unusual ingredient is tomato leaf.  I don't know that I could or would wear it well, but it smelled fresh and new and different.

The first scent that really piqued my interest was Eau d'Hadrian, which actually was Goutal's second scent.  It is right up my alley, with citrus and grapefruit, bright but also sophisticated.  You can almost hear lemons being squeezed as you smell it. On a completely different end of the perfume spectrum was Ambre Fetiche.  I read a review that described this as overly sweet, but that wasn't my experience.  I find it rich, creamy, a little spicy, an amber with a hint of edge.  It's warm and inviting, sultry without being tawdry. The clerk told me that she often chooses to wear Ambre Fetiche with Vanille Exquise precisely because she finds Ambre Fetiche unsweet, and the vanilla fragrances sweetens it up.

As always, I asked about trends in perfume purchases - which are the most popular, whether different scents are more popular with particular nationalities.  I was told that Eau d'Hadrian is probably the most popular, and is particularly popular with Americans and Brazilians.  American women are also partial to Gardenia Passion, which is floral with a hint of warmth and very, very feminine.  Japanese women lean towards Un Matin D'Orage, or rose scents like Quel Amour or Rose Absolue. Arab women like amber and musk, such as Musc Nomade, Ambre Fetiche or Myrrhe Ardente.  There is no judgment involved in these stereotypes - this is just what I'm told, and I find it interesting to see cultural trends in fragrance.

After Annick Goutal's death, her daughter took over the house, working closely with Isabelle Doyen who I'm told also worked with Annick.  I also learned that Annick carefully considered the design of the perfume bottles, selecting the flacon godron and always pairing it with a bow in order to maximize the femininity of the product.  The store itself was designed by Annick to "feel like a boudoir" - the whole experience really feels like a celebration of the feminine.

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