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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Volnay Fragrances : Etoile D'or and Objet Celeste

Volnay is a house that came to my attention about 6 months ago.  Apparently they've been around  since the early 20th century and was created by a couple who met on an ocean crossing.  Rene Leon Jean Duval was the commercial director for Coty, and Germaine Madeline was returning home from living overseas for 8 years.  They created their first series of scents in 1920 for Henry Bendel and 2 for department stored in Paris.  The Volnay fragrances were known for a base created by Duval at the inception of the brand.  Base 4092, as they called in, consisted of a powdery notes combined with  vanilla, rose,  and clove.  The current Volnay lineup consists of 5 fragrances originally created in the early 1920's.  All have been reformulated by Amelie Bourgeois and were reintroduced in 2013.

I started my sampling with Etoile D'Or.  Etoile D'Or is described as a sophisticated scent calling to mind an earlier era in perfumery.  It's described on the website as being a light scent but also 'intoxicating' and 'reassuring'.  It opens with a  very prominent bergamot and fusty lavender opening and its referral back to a previous yet remembered time is obvious....there's a little dusty and vintage feeling right out of the gate.  It's a pale orange scent, a little like a fizzy powdery orange lozenge which leaves a mild aftertaste.   A very soft, dry rose and lavender joins the bergamot and works with a circular effect for awhile......just as the citrus makes itself known, the lavender takes it to the earth and the rose grounds it, but the citrus then elevates the rose and the cycle repeats again.

Jasmine is not very apparent but there is a mild sweetness that I cannot attribute to the rose.  Suede is noted, giving the mental image of the inside of an expensive purse.  The residual scent of high-end cosmetics becomes a part of the bag's personality, and this very strong image takes me to the impression of a 50s style fragrance, all tailored pencil skirt and clutch with a coral-lipstick scent.  The bright citrus fades about a third of a way through the scent's life but leaves the pastille effect with the florals.  It's a scent that you can taste.    The suede asserts itself through the rose once the citrus has worn off, and the lavender leaves an herbal, dry impression that never allows the composition to go completely floral.  Eventually the suede element  sweetens,  emphasizing the entrance of the benzoin and tonka.  The suede makes a seamless transition to oakmoss as they slowly blend together to become indistinguishable.  The allows the suede to continue to add a soft element while the oakmoss slowly intensifies, holding the sweetness of powder, vanilla, and benzoin.  The interplay between a lightly herb-spiced powder, suede, and softly sweet base notes continues for hours.  Nice fragrance, not quite 'me' but I can definitely appreciate it.  Well done and worth trying if you like vintage powder scents.

Objet Celeste gives an entirely different experience.  Opening with a pulpy splash of pure yellow grapefruit,  it makes itself immediately known as a bright, almost vibrating presence.   Meant to represent nighttime fireworks in Paris, it definitely starts with the impression of bright sparks on a deeper nocturnal element.  I like the use of clary sage in this scent.....clary sage is used now and again in perfumery, usually falling seamlessly into the mix.   However,  in this scent I can actually pick the note out.  It's wonderful with the grapefruit and the effect it gives is almost that of violet.  It feels like a muted magenta scent, a little vibrant but not overdone.  Once again, jasmine comes into the picture and makes it seem spring-like and further enhances the sense of violets without grabbing the majority of the attention, and the Volnay base (that they refer to as base 4092) is the board onto which all the notes are pinned.  The base truly acts as a scaffold, continuously coming through any gaps that exist in the upper notes.  However, whereas in Etoile D'Or there is a suede effect that gives the base a vintage feel, here it lends a (very) vaguely gourmand effect due to the use of almond.  It's not a pastry or cherry like almond but just lends an interesting twist to the bottom of the scent, not taking away but enhancing the mild grapefruit rind present throughout the life of the perfume.  The light use of patchouli is perfect in this.  I have always found patchouli to be a wonderful counterpoint to grapefruit and here it is used to elevate the citrus by giving it a slight woodsy accord to anchor into.  I appreciate Etoile D'Or......but I like Objet Celeste better because it seems more versatile.  It's not a light scent, but can be used in a casual space.  It's not a formal scent but could be warm for a formal evening event in warmer months. 

The remaining 3 will be reviewed tomorrow with conclusions!

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