Random musings on Yves Saint Laurent Paris

Yves Saint Laurent Paris fragrance

In a sense, I was influenced by Après L'Ondée (1906). I love Guerlain fragrances, but I said to myself that, if I were to make Après L'Ondée today, it would be much lighter, airier, younger. Some pieces I wouldn't use. So Paris started as an imagined Après L'Ondée. Obviously, in Après L'Ondée, you don't have roses in the background, but I had the skeleton of a very creamy violet note. Then I worked on the rose to put with it.

That's perfumer Sophia Grojsman talking about the genesis of Yves Saint Laurent Paris (from Michael Edwards' Perfume Legends: French feminine fragrances, p. 200), her first fragrance. Paris debuted in 1983, and was the perfect fragrance for the time: I wore it, my mother wore it, some days it seemed like everyone wore it (and plenty of it, more about which below).

Paris opens fruity and bright and big, with a happy, optimistic air. The heart is lush, jammy roses softened by Grojsman's "creamy violet note". Yves Saint Laurent had reportedly chosen the name Paris and the color pink before the fragrance was developed, and yet while Paris speaks in pastel tones, the pastels are done in technicolor — it's extraordinarily feminine, almost ironically so, and it's entirely romantic, but there isn't anything girly about it. It is effusive rather than retiring, and it's the perfect match for the broad-shouldered, bright pink jacket (and the drive to Paris in the convertible with the two boys in the back) in the ad spot I posted last night.

Somewhere about an hour or so in, Paris's bright pink sky starts to turn cloudy, and it is only then that a touch of Après L'Ondée's wistfulness is evident. The sandalwood base in my rather old bottle has aged beautifully, and the light dusting of powder sets it off perfectly; wearing it last night after a long absence, I was struck by how gorgeous it is — I'd entirely forgotten. Still, Paris smells entirely of its time, so much so that I was startled to realize that Grojsman created Prescriptives Calyx only three short years later — Calyx could have come out yesterday and I'd be just as enthusiastic about it. Paris, well, I adore Paris but it isn't something I'm likely to reach for today. Tania Sanchez, writing in Perfumes: The Guide, calls Paris a "brilliant, beautiful monster", and advises the reader to "Buy it, but put it on at your peril". It is quite true that Paris sprayed is now too much Paris, at least for me. I distinctly remember spraying Paris on with abandon back in the day, now, I can appreciate it easier when it has been decanted and dabbed.

I've only tried a few of the limited edition Paris flankers (a new one generally rolls out every year; the latest is Paris Pont des Amours), but those I've smelled have mostly been lighter, fruitier, and girlier than the parent, and some women may find them easier to wear.

Yves Saint Laurent Paris has notes of mimosa, geranium, bergamot, mayflower, hawthorn, juniper, Damascus rose, May rose, violet, sandalwood, iris, amber and musk. It is available in Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum

Note: image via Parfum de Pub.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm going to wear Paris tomorrow, in memory of Yves Saint Laurent. I had no idea that it was inspired by Apres L'Ondee, which is one of my “forever” favorites. My bottle is a mini EdT. Is your bottle EdT or EdP? I remember reading somewhere that the EdT came out first and the EdP was released later. I've never tried the EdP.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I did not know about the Apres L'Ondee either — but if you smell carefully, I think you'll find it more obvious than you'd have thought.

    My bottle is EdT — it's an almost empty bottle that someone gave me last year, and it has definitely aged and deepened…the testers in the stores are much brighter.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I never would have guessed that Après l'Ondée was the inspiration for Paris. I didn't wear Paris in the '80s but that's only because everyone else I knew did. Sharp as the sunlight that penetrates your eyelids when you emerge from a movie theater — that's how it struck me, but I'm sure it's because we were all used to the very '80s method of overapplication that ensured a scent's arrival in a room 5 minutes before its wearer. Or maybe it HAD to be applied that heavily to compete with the clouds of Polo that wafted around my high school. Anyway, I have great memories associated with it, and it was a brilliant scent for its time (and a lovely one now, applied with a very light hand).

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is interesting, isn't it? And not sure I'd have pegged Paris as lighter, airier and younger than Apres L'Ondee, either. Maybe younger, at least, but airier? Not to my nose.

    Laughing at the Polo — yep, you had to be loud to compete in those days, everyone was wearing so much scent!

  5. Anonymous says:

    An old flame (isn't that a great word?) gave Paris to me as a gift back in 1983. I wore it with abandon, as I have worn so many other great YLS fragrances.

    This one has a presence like no other. It's confident, strong, and feminine, but not in a girly way as you stated. It is pink, but a warmer, lustier shade bordering on fuschia, that is deeply saturated and deeply felt. At the very end of the drydown, the pink casts a certain shade of blue, giving Paris it's depth and wonder.

    Viva Paris! Viva YSL!


  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes, fuschia, and yes, “old flame” is a great phrase, and you don't hear it much anymore. I can picture you in Paris, R!

  7. Anonymous says:

    After Angela's recomend last month(ish) I have fallen for the Jardins Romantiques version, but I so want to be able to wear the original. I'm hoping I might grow into it at some point.

    BTW-I hope you don't mind but I've linked to your beautifully descriptive musings on my blog today.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well I have been wearing Paris for about a year off and on but mostly at night when it is okay to spray. That being said one day I decided to put a little on before going to pick up my toddler from preschool and it was circle time and we were singing songs when my son who was in my lap and is only 4 said “ughhhh your perfume!” I was mortified to say the least and the mom next to me said “I actually really like it.” Phew! Still I will never forget it and I will NEVER do it again!!! I think I am also a little naive when it comes to older scents since I was only about 5 when Paris debuted, nonetheless I do LOVE it, it is one of my favorites! I'll just have to spray lightly!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Winter Wheat wrote: “Sharp as the sunlight that penetrates your eyelids when you emerge from a movie theater” and I couldn't agree more! What a perfectly apt description. I love and have always loved YSL Paris. Even tho' it's so sharp, I “insist” upon liking it ;-) (do you ever find that you force yourself to like a fragrance for inexplicable reasons even tho' you rarely ever wear it?) I never wore it in the 80's, in fact I don't think it was until the late 90's that I even bought a bottle. I was in Sephora, doing a major sniff-o-rama and I kept coming back to Paris – and liking it the best. So I do think it holds it's own and always will – and especially when applied sparingly. I followed Angela's advice and tried the Limited Edition Paris – Jardin Romantiques – and this one is very nice too – much less sharp – and easily worn. But somehow that sharpness is what defines Paris, for me.

  10. Anonymous says:

    IngestedKitten, I have a feeling that in 20 more years, Paris will have come around to classic status and will be more wearable (for me, anyway) than it is now. I don't think I've tried the Jardins Romantiques version, I'll have to look for it :-)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hey, my son (who is 9 and so should know better, presumably) says that to almost everything I wear, unless it is straight up vanilla or chocolate ;-)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Are you guys sure Angela wrote about JR? I know Jessica included it in her Top 10 of Spring article, but didn't know Angela liked it too.

    Anyway, doesn't sound like you're forcing yourself to like Paris! But I do have many scents that I adore but don't wear. Then there are scents that I “respect” but don't adore. Paris is really in the first category for me, at least partly for nostalgic reasons.

  13. Anonymous says:

    oh how i loved Paris- Winterwheat did describe it and the time so perfectly- wow!

    i also agree that it is and will remain a classic. how intersting that Apres L'Ondee was the inspiration- had no idea. but Paris does bring back the big shouldered colourful time that was the 80's. it is like sticking your face in a huge bouquet- cool & heady.

    amazing that it is a first scent, such a gorgeous “monster” of a rose. agree with Robin re Calyx – modern clean green, other end of spectrum from Paris! both fabulous though :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    I love Calyx — I wish it had a longer shelf life, but with the perfume collection I already have, I've never even start into a bottle before it would go bad. I like to spray some on when I'm near a Prescriptives counter though!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I was in Bermuda when this amazing fragrance hit the retail stores and I purchased a bottle. So YSL'S Paris always reminds me of balmy days and beautiful warm nights. It is as new today as it was then. I have tried two of the Paris newbie fragrances that come out yearly and was not impressed. The original IS the real deal. Always feminine and beautiful and lasting too. I always felt this is the standard for rose fragrances.

  16. Anonymous says:

    i was given it as a gift for my very first mother's day a couple years after it's release – i wore it every day that summer, it reminds me of sunny days and warm nights as well! funny, just occured to me- that daughter, now over 20, LOVES rose scents :)

  17. Anonymous says:

    What a nice memory!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hey, that's sweet about your daughter :-)

  19. Anonymous says:

    As an '80s perfume, it's very, well, 80's! I remember it in my head, and I loved it then , but I now think it would feel over the top to wear on a daily basis. The memories it generates are half of the appeal for me. Not to say that I don't still enjoy it for what it is, but I doubt I would slip it on today, just as i would probably not put on my Express Generra baggy pants with the huge slouchy striped yellow and white cotton sweater.. :-)

  20. Anonymous says:

    Après L'Ondée and YSL Paris made me unterstand that I'm neither a violet nor a rose type of person. I adore both fragrances in an intellectual way but could never wear them. They turn terribly fussy on me. I didn't know about L'Ondée being the inspiration for Paris but it seems perfectly natural to me. :-)

  21. Anonymous says:

    You're quite right, I should've said Jessica rather than Angela. Sorry Jessica!

  22. Anonymous says:

    It does feel over the top…and it is too soon for it to feel like a classic yet, but I think it will get there. The Express Generra baggy pants with the huge slouchy striped yellow and white cotton sweater — those are best forgotten, LOL…gosh, the 80s were not good clothes years, were they?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Apres L'Ondee does not feel fussy to me, but YSL Paris — yes, a little :-)

  24. Anonymous says:

    No big deal! I was mostly wondering if they *both* loved it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    like you said, the 'problem' with ysl paris is that, like other ysl perfumes, it has to be applied lightly, i.e. not a vapo bottle but the one with a glass stopper, which is harder to find i believe. otherwise, applied with a heavy hand, it's suffocating and well, sharp like a punch in the face. still, it's a very nice creation, like everybody agreed, very 80s. i'm not a big fan of roses, rather prefer them dry (instead of creamy sweet), and paris is just that as much as i remember.

    i remember my cousin wearing it back then, i was too young at that time to dare, but i've been thinking about giving it, and also all those summer and spring editions, a 're-sniff' these days.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Do give it a sniff if you see it, but to me it is way more creamy sweet than dry so not sure it will suit you. It would be cool if they'd do a “dark” flanker instead of all the fruity/fresh ones.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Reminiscing about the 80's…I didn't wear Paris, and actually don't even remember trying it. I'm not a big rose fan, so perhaps I overlooked it. My dad actually gave me a bottle of Paris a few years ago – one that he found in an antique store, of all places (he knew nothing about the perfume, but he's originally from Paris, so he's drawn to anything and everything French). I didn't even bother to spray it, thinking it must have gone bad, and I didn't want to have a bad first impression of it. I ended up throwing it into a Goodwill bag. Silly me.

    As for *big* 80's scents, I wore Poison! Loved it! Ha ha.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and as for YSL scents, my mom's worn Y for years and years. It's her signature scent – her only scent. My personal favorite is Rive Gauche…and I love the uniqueness of Nu. Can't stand Opium. ;-)

  29. Anonymous says:

    Interesting! My Mom wears Rive Gauche now after years of wearing Opum, I wear Nu in the cold season.

    Nice thread but I've been having coffee with the neighbors so to speak – Elena at Perfume Shrine has an YSL article on Opium, well worth a read!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Y is lovely! But wish you'd sent that bottle of Paris to me ;-)

  31. Anonymous says:

    I have been lurking on this blog for ages. Have finally taken the plunge and registered.

    Paris is a perfume that I have been wearing for over 20 years now. I still love it. To me it's like a “comfort blanket”. Other fragrances have come and gone in that time, Paris however has stayed with me.

    I love this blog by the way, even though it has made me spend an awful lot of money on fragrance!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Hi and welcome! It is nice to have a long-term love like that — mine is Diorissimo.

    Huge thanks for the kind words about the blog, and sorry we've cost you!

  33. Anonymous says:

    I love Paris – my aunt has worn it for as long as I can remember, and even getting a package from her I can smell it. I guess I find it quite comforting, although because I associate it so strongly with her I don't think I'd ever wear it myself. My mum wears Opium, and I've always said my signiature scent would have to be a YSL, since it seems to be genetic. I'd probably go for something like Cinema though..

  34. Anonymous says:

    An YSL family, LOL…that's cute!

  35. Subhuman says:

    Paris is one of the few women’s perfumes I can’t handle in any capacity; even Poison is friendlier to my nostrils. On me, Paris is no lush, wistful floral – it’s baby powder and soap, boosted to a thousand decibels and rendered in neon. Everyone and their mother claims that vintage Paris is superior to the current version, so when I saw a sealed box of vintage eau de toilette on eBay I jumped at it, having never smelled any incarnation of the fragrance before but thinking that a thousand perfumistas can’t be wrong. Well, they can! :P

    • Robin says:

      I don’t think there is any fragrance on earth that everybody loves!

    • Niru says:

      I loved it when i tried it at the store. My boyfriend bought me a bottle afterwards and I just cannot stand it! It’s excruciatingly strong and makes me sick. Such a waste of money. :(

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