Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Review: Robert Piguet's Mademoiselle Piguet

Retails for $92.99 at FragranceNet
We've finally arrived at the time of year when I reach for the strongest florals in my perfume collection. At this point, I can't take one more cold, gray day, and I self-medicate by punching myself in the face with the sort of floral perfumes I find completely overpowering in June, July, and August.

The usual February suspects include Kilian's Surrender, Lucien Lelong's Indiscret, and Lauder's Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. All of them are very powerful fragrances stuffed with white flowers like gardenia, jasmine, and tuberose.

And then there's Fracas

I've been intrigued by Robert Piguet's Fracas for ages. Like Jungle Gardenia, it's a legendary fragrance that, instantly recognizable, billows invisibly when a woman wearing it passes by, and fills empty elevators to overflowing. In short, a fragrance with Presence.

On Frantica, the notes for Fracas are described as

Tuberose, exuberant and seductive, nicely blends with pure, clear and intensive notes of jasmine, white narcissus, gardenia, lily of the valley and white iris, with a hint of orange blossom and violet embraced by sandalwood, vetiver and sensual musk in the base.

This sounds like something I'd love, even down to the sandalwood. So I was excited to receive a GWP of a trio of Piguet fragrances: classic Fracas, Gardenia, and Mademoiselle Piguet. They sounded pretty damned floral to me—just what the doctor ordered, because a storm had just dumped a few inches of snow on top of the snowdrops that had just started emerging in the sunny part of my garden.

I decided to start with a Piguet fragrance that had no history or connotations for me—sort of sneaking up on Fracas on little cat feet. So after my shower yesterday, I applied five or six spritzes of Mademoiselle Piguet.

I'm going to veer away from the fragrance sample for a while--don't worry; I'll get back.

My husband is a fan of jasmine tea. Although I like the fragrance of jasmine, I think jasmine tea smells—and therefore tastes—like soap. Every time I lift a cup of jasmine tea to my lips, I get a whiff of the scent and think "Yep, there's that soap smell again."

I had a similar reaction to Mademoiselle Piguet

My thoughts on orange blossom

If I were a real perfumista, I'd recognize neroli or orange blossom a mile away. And it would Mean Something. But I grew up in the frozen north, getting my fresh flower fix by dipping my face into lilac blossoms and roses, rather then orange blossom. As a result, when confronted with lots of neroli/orange blossom, which is pretty much all Mademoiselle Piguet is, my nose doesn't come up with anything but an overpowering sweetness.

That is not to say that orange blossom doesn't come heavily laden with connotations. An orange blossom wreath became a traditional bridal accessory after Queen Victoria wore one, but of course, she had the orangerie at Kensington Palace at her disposal.

You will no doubt be fascinated to learn that there was a huge fad for wax orange blossom headpieces for brides in the 19th and 20th century.

Apparently a LOT of us were getting married in the Frozen North, with its traditional dearth of orange trees. We had to wear falsies.

Of course, well-to-do people like actor John Barrymore and his bride Delores Costello probably had access to real, rather than wax flowers.

But what I'm really trying to say is that for me, orange blossom is more of a legendary scent. An olfactory Harvey-the-six-foot invisible rabbit, if you will.

Why I've been dithering about wax flowers

I'm not well-versed enough in perfume terminology to wax authoritative about this fragrance, (see what I did there?) but Mademoiselle Piguet is coming across as a soliflore to me. It's as powerful and linear as Giorgio, except it's a soliflore instead of a ... whatever the hell Giorgio actually was.

According to Ca Fleure Bon, the notes in Mademoiselle Piguet look like this:

That's an extremely pared-down pyramid. Most fragrances have many more notes. But it bears out my experience with Mademoiselle Piguet. I'm used to perfumes that have opening notes, middle notes, and dry-down notes. It may not be cutting edge perfume-manufacturing, but that's what I'm used to. And so, for me, it feels odd to apply a perfume and have it smell the same for hours and hours. Odd, and weirdly inorganic. Static.

Mademoiselle Piguet doesn't develop. It starts off as a croissant spread with honey and orange marmalade, and it stays that way. For hours. And hours. And while this isn't a bad thing per se—for some people, like Gale Hayden when she developed Giorgio, it's a selling point—it's not for me.

As far as I'm concerned, air fresheners, soap, fabric softener sheets, and scented candles should have one scent that stays consistent, world without end, amen. They're background scents. Elevator music for your nose.

Perfume is supposed to be like a living thing. It's supposed to smell different on different people, and smell different depending on how long ago you applied it, and even smell different because it has started to break down in the bottle.

Perfume is not supposed to be an olfactory Energizer Bunny.

And yet, it's the next day, and I can still smell Mademoiselle Piguet.

Yep, there's that orange blossom smell again.


  1. I love perfume and I love it big, strong and heady ... because I have dry white skin and perfume does not "stay" on me .. so ... I have smelt all three and my favourite is Fracas! That tuberose,jasmine and gardenia is a delight but ... not on a hot day!!!
    Mademoiselle Piguet is just like you described ... nice and somewhat "linear" but .... I would rather spend my money somewhere else.
    As for Piguet's Gardenia .... honestly I could not smell it ... my nose does not register it .. love to know if you have this problem too.

    1. I have dry white skin, too, which might explain my predilection for powerful florals. I'm looking forward to trying Piguet's Gardenia because you can never try too many gardenia fragrances! I hope I'll be able to smell it.

  2. Ah...Jungle Gardenia meant Mommy and Daddy were going to The Four Seasons for dinner.

  3. And Chanel #5 meant we kids were getting chicken pot pie for dinner, because Mommy and Daddy were going to a party.


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xxx, Poppy.