Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne ~ perfume review

Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne perfume

Yves Saint Laurent's latest, Parisienne, is aimed at a woman too old for Elle but too young for the harder-hitting, from-another-era classics Opium and Paris. A woman in her 30s, in other words. What else do we know about this woman? Well, she's free, in body and spirit. She's not from Paris, but Paris has adopted her because she knows how to love and how to live. She's out at the break of day in last night's evening clothes, but that's not scandalous, it's free (or so says she).1 If you're wondering what she looks like, well, she looks like Kate Moss, in black leather, writhing about in the back of a car whilst having flashbacks about writhing about on a bed.

Elle was, I thought, nice enough if rather predictable, encompassing as it did elements from all the then-prevailing trends in mainstream perfumes for young ladies. It was hard to know what to expect from Parisienne. The name and the bottle design are obviously derived from the original Yves Saint Laurent Paris fragrance, which launched in 1983, and the scent is credited to perfumer Sophia Grojsman, who created Paris (for Parisienne, she was working in conjunction with Sophie Labbé). The notes — vinyl accord, cranberry, blackberry, damask rose, violet, peony, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood and musk — sounded like they might indicate a modern variation on Paris, and some sources called it "an edgier, younger scent than the brand’s iconic Paris fragrance".2 But mentions of Paris are conspicuously absent from the Yves Saint Laurent website and from the press release for Parisienne, and Yves Saint Laurent has already done umpteen variations on Paris for their yearly spring flanker series, so I figured it would probably be distantly related at most.

As it turns out, the nod to Paris is obvious enough, but Parisienne is nothing like the Paris flankers, which were mostly sheer, fruity, happy-go-lucky variations on the Paris theme. Parisienne opens on a frothy violet-rose with tart berry. On paper, the berries seem to hang around forever, and Parisienne feels bright and cheerful; on skin the berries fade away faster, but then, so does the rose: Parisienne is not the emphatic floral that Paris was, and after the fruits calm the feel is dusky, almost wistful. If you look for it, the "vinyl accord" is quite noticeable in the early stages, then it seems to fade and reappear for the next hour or so. The base is darkish musky woods, with that ubiquitous cleaned-up patchouli; it's all smoothed over by powder. Parisienne gets earthier as it dries down, and it eventually verges on edgy, but it doesn't quite get there; despite the vinyl and the earthy notes, it's a subdued fragrance, and in the end, more clean than not. The dry down is obviously meant to be sexy, and perhaps it is, but it's just not the bold sort of thing you'd expect someone writhing about in black leather in the back of a car to be wearing.

Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne Kate Moss advertYSL Parisienne perfume bottle

Parisienne is not as lush and rich as Paris, and it has none of Paris's exuberance. When I reviewed Paris, I said that 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." Parisienne isn't girly either, but it loses the technicolor: the pastels here are muted and greyed, and a good match for the dim smoky pinks of the advertising campaign. It feels simultaneously retro (you don't see that many powdery rose-violet fragrances launching in Macy's these days) and modern (Paris smelled like at least some of the materials were derived from nature; Parisienne has a decidedly straight-from-the-lab feel). Paris is about romance, Parisienne is about something else — what, exactly, I'm not sure, but I'm having trouble connecting it to Kate Moss in black leather.

As is so often the case with these sorts of projects, the experience of wearing Parisienne over several weeks mostly served to remind me why Paris is still so widely admired after 25+ years on the market. Parisienne, well, I like it. It's pretty, it's wearable. It's not like everything else on the market, and it's just off-kilter enough to be more interesting than many. It's certainly more interesting than Elle, or anything else Yves Saint Laurent has done recently. I didn't fall in love with it, and I do think that if you're after an offbeat (or sexy) sort of rose, you can do far better (as with many fragrances that I think are almost great, I couldn't help redesigning it in my head, or imagining the more interesting mods that were discarded in favor of this one). But I'm rooting for Parisienne to do well, if only because it seems rather an odd choice for something that Yves Saint Laurent hopes to become "a second pillar...alongside its blockbuster Opium".3

Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne is available in 30 ($39), 50 ($65) and 90 ($85) ml Eau de Parfum and in matching body products.

1. The target market for Parisienne via Women's Wear Daily; the description of the Parisienne woman via the press materials, ysl-parfums and ysl-parisienne.

2. Via Cosmetics Business.

3. Women's Wear Daily.

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78 Comments

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  1. jonr951 says:

    Yes!! Im so glad u liked it!!! Far much nicer then Elle!! Parisienne and BLV II r probably my favorite new releases. Im gonna give in to one of them but I havent decided yet.

    • pigoletto says:

      I thought it was definitely better than Elle too.

    • Robin says:

      I still need to spend some time w/ the Bvlgari — so far, have only tried it very briefly. I do have to say that the price for the 30 ml Parisienne is pretty darned reasonable.

      • jonr951 says:

        Yes it is. Im hoping Blv II has a 1oz too so that I dont have to choose between the two cuz I luv them both so much!

        • Robin says:

          Just checked…the Bvlgari is supposed to be in 30 ml, but I haven’t seen it yet…will probably not be out until it launches at Sephora.

  2. pigoletto says:

    I just sniffed this the other week, and thought it was pretty good, but not wow enough to warrant shelling out for it. I wish that vinyl-ish note would be longer lasting and more assertive, but on me just about everything is overpowered by tart cranberry. I love the cranberry, but all I can think of is that it’s the same cranberry in Ibiza Hippie. So I guess what I’m trying to really say is if you loved IH, you might really like this even though it’s not candy sweet.

    • Robin says:

      Yes…exactly, it needs more wow. The base should be earthier & not quite so clean, the vinyl should be stronger. On me though, the “cranberry” wasn’t all that assertive after the first 15 minutes.

      • Robin says:

        And adding: the rose needs to be amped up too!

  3. mals86 says:

    The heck with Parisienne, I want armfuls of those gorgeous overblown pink roses Kate is managing to not-quite-crush in the ad.

    [Oddly enough, I never smelled Paris when it was new. Opium was absolutely everywhere, and so were Giorgio, Poison, and Obsession, but for something so big and loud and 80’s – I’m still not sure how I missed it. I only sniffed it this past January, and found it sweetly romantic. I mean, it’s ROMANTIC in capital letters (man, it’s loud!), but very pretty.]

    • Robin says:

      Isn’t that gorgeous?? It’s the only part of the ad I really liked.

  4. sungelly87 says:

    I’m really glad you reviewed this. When I smelled it, I felt the same way, not good enough to buy right then and there. I’ve always loved Paris, and have yet to get my hands on a bottle, simply because I’ve felt it’s for someone older. And since I’m only 22, I feel like I should be into Elle or Parisienne or something. But really I’m only interested in Paris, so i’m asking for it this Christmas!

    • Robin says:

      You might see if you can try some of the Paris flankers too. The last one was the Eau de Printemps & I didn’t get to smell it, but some of them (for awhile they did them every year) have been really nice:

      http://www.nstperfume.com/2009/02/19/yves-saint-laurent-paris-eau-de-printemps-lulu-castagnette-lulu-rose-new-fragrances/

      • sungelly87 says:

        thanks robin! I’ll try to get sniff some of them or get samples, i didn’t know there were so many!! I have to collection them all…

        • Robin says:

          There were lots, and probably some of them are still for sale at discounters, but don’t know how many you’ll be able to sample! You can probably find reviews for lots of them at MakeupAlley though.

          • sungelly87 says:

            I know!There’s a totally of 9 flankers for Paris!! CRAZY. I found a set of 4 miniatures from beautyencounter and will probably get that. I’m hoping to find some old ones from ebay and amazon. I love roses. So I’m guessing I’ll like all the flankers.

  5. Joe says:

    Sounds kind of nice. It also is nice that not everything being produced for an under-30-year-old market, and that’s another reason to hope it has some degree of success.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, I’m happy if it’s even geared to the 20s…seems like most of what I smell is obviously geared towards 17, no matter what they claim the target market is!

      • ggperfume says:

        Seventeen? More like 13.

  6. Jill says:

    I would like to try this. Sometimes the “not-quite-edgy” ones end up making a nice everyday scent for me (like Burberry Beat). I do love the roses in that ad too.

    • Robin says:

      Let me know what you think! It does not seem to be universally loved so far.

  7. Dzingnut says:

    I’m so glad you reviewed this Robin – I am very eager to sniff it, mostly because I am hoping that the “vinyl accord” (great name for a band!) is related to “Dzing”, which sends me to vintage pink patent leather heaven. The image of Kate Moss writhing anywhere is kinda icky, I picture piles of a quite different form of powder … although the flowers are lovely.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      I didn’t really get the vinyl at all when I smelled it. I know everyone but me hates Rumeur, but this smelled to me like a less interesting Rumeur. That might be a selling point for some, though.

    • Robin says:

      This is nowhere near as edgy as Dzing, not even close!

      Miss Kitty, that’s an interesting comparison. I hated Rumeur, but now I’m interested to try them together.

    • Sunnyfunny says:

      Word. Vinyl Accord would be a good band name!

  8. Mademoiselle says:

    I didn’t like this one too much – it is fairly pleasant but I find the berries have a cloying, sickly sweet edge that smells like candy. The dry down is quite nice, but I very much prefer Elle. I also find it strange that it is geared to a woman in her 30s – it smells rather “younger” than that to me.

    • Robin says:

      Interesting. The opening smelled young to me too, but the rest did not, in fact, the dry down seemed oddly “untrendy” to me — not even sure what age I’d think it was targeted to.

  9. I feel 20 years too old for Parisienne and though I love Paris, YSL and even Kate Moss (to my absolute shame, but she is… I do not know) but I did not like it. Paris and Elle both turned on my skin to toilet cleaner, and I do expect most industry stuff to do that.

    Did you know that YSL Beauté was bought by L’Oréal? Wonder if the frag dept belongs to them too.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, the perfume business is part of the deal that went to L’Oreal.

      And ack, toilet cleaner! Too bad.

  10. nwatts88 says:

    Haha robin that first paragraph was hilarious. That vinyl accord is the most interesting sounding thing about it. I’ll check it out if i see it.

    • jo says:

      I hate to sound ignorant, but: WTF is a ‘vinyl’ accord????

      • Robin says:

        Just a note or group of notes that’s meant to smell like vinyl.

    • Robin says:

      If the vinyl accord is all you’re after, I’m guessing you’ll be disappointed…it just isn’t that strong or persistent.

  11. RusticDove says:

    I’m such a fan of Paris & I was excited when this was released. I smelled it on paper [since I had tested other fragrances on every exposed part of my body already] a couple of weeks ago and didn’t care for it. I do intend to test it on skin though – I reserve judgement until I actually wear it.

    • Robin says:

      I liked it better on skin than paper, but as I said, I didn’t fall in love with it, and not at all sure it’s going to pull in huge #s of Paris fans. One of the things it made me wish for was a complete set of samples of the Paris flankers…I only smelled a few of them, wonder if there were any real winners that I missed!

      • Chanterais says:

        Count me in as a disappointed Paris-lover. And being Sophia Grojsman’s unashamed bitch, I really, really wanted to like Parisienne. As far as I’m concerned, the lady can do no wrong, and I’ll mud-wrestle anyone who says differently. But it smelled cheap and unpleasantly plastic-y on me (perhaps that’s the vinyl?), and I prefer my perfumes to craftily disguise my cheapness, rather than accentuate it.

        After howling at the moon and sobbing uncontrollably for five minutes, I decided that clearly Grojsman’s (undoubtedly divine) conception of Parisienne got lost in the YSL corporate shuffle, and that in a year’s time she’ll be asked to re-jig the formula, and all will be well. And if that’s not the truth, please don’t tell me. A girl must have her Parisienne fantasies.

        • Robin says:

          You know, it’s quite possible it was really Sophie Labbe who did the work and they just used Sophia Grojsmans’ name because she worked on Paris…such things do happen. Although I like some of SL’s perfumes too! And in the end, using a great perfumer doesn’t always matter: the brand gets what they want.

  12. happilykim says:

    I sniffed this today, but only on paper. I liked it on paper, but for some reason I was not in the mood to try it on my skin. Perhaps tomorrow. I loved the bottle.

    • Robin says:

      I like the bottle too, and it’s the perfect color.

  13. Sunnyfunny says:

    I really should try Paris. Probably won’t be trying Parisienne bcs I’m tired of dealing with a certain jerk SA who seems to be the one helping me every other time (and I don’t have the cajones to just ask for someone else) so I’ll cut my losses.
    I feel I’ve become so picky and skeptical, but I have a bone to pick. Why do things targeted to women in their 30s have to be so single-gal-out-on-the-town, one-night-stand-ish, Cosmo magazine-ish? Is it just me? :( I hate targeted. I love ‘fumes that don’t have ads being made for them anymore. Or at all.

    • Robin says:

      Agree: the tone of the ad doesn’t make me want the perfume more, but less. But in the end, I don’t much care what they do with the ads if I love the perfume.

      • Sunnyfunny says:

        Oh, totally! Unfortunately the ads turn me off to the point where I’d rather not bother. Except with Si Lolita. I’m stoked for that to arrive stateside! I guess I feel like advertising, if I haven’t already smelled the ‘fume, interferes with my ability to just draw my own conclusions. They’ve already attached an image. Although half the time I don’t get the marketing vision, anyway..

  14. vickyjane says:

    The bottle looks pretty… like amethyst

  15. Bunny says:

    I was at the Bay this evening and I sprayed Parisienne on one arm… this one’s not for me too weird-sweet, but the Lolita Lempicka Si Lolita I put on the other arm may very well be for me. I thought it was very nice!

    • Robin says:

      I have not yet tried Si Lolita! Haven’t even laid eyes on it.

    • sharviss says:

      Funny, I was at the Bay yesterday evening and I had the exact same experience!

      • Bunny says:

        lol Just don’t tell me you went into the Bay to buy a MAC lipstick or I’ll start with the twilight zone theme ;)

  16. Ojeda says:

    I liked Parisienne a lot. I honestly thought it would like a Paris flanker (I dislike Paris and not even the greener flankers can work for me), or else be… I don’t know, like Yet Another Pink Perfume but the pinch (and I mean it’s really just a pinch, isn’t it?) of patchouli and vinyl and whatever else that’s a bit earthy really worked for me. I also wish it had more of that ~edginess~ and that the drydown wasn’t so boring, but uh, maybe it’s a step in the right direction? But I’d definitely wait until it hit the discounters. :)

    • Ojeda says:

      ^can’t work, rather

      • Ojeda says:

        …nvm, I fail at understanding my own grammar.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, a step in the right direction. Just wish they’d taken two steps, LOL..

  17. lydiadrama says:

    I’ve had the Parisienne paper rose sitting on my bureau for a week and it still smells…

  18. faith24 says:

    am I the only one who thinks YSL ripped it off the Promesse by Cacharel? Those two fragrances smell very much alike, and I must say- Cacharel did much better in terms of lasting power. I am sorry, but to me, YSL has failed the second time- Elle was horrible, and Parisienne is just mediocre- like Paris Hilton creations. While I dont like YSL Paris, or Nu, or Opium- I appreciate and admire their originality. But Parisienne seems to cater to the same market that buys Glow, Curious and Siren.

    • Robin says:

      This wasn’t quite that berry-ish to me, but would certainly agree it isn’t as original as Paris, Nu or Opium.

  19. March says:

    Duh. How did I miss this review?

    I love love love original Paris, having worn a bottle back in the day, and I’m glad to hear anyone singing its praises all these years later. It really has stood the test of time; if anything I admire it more.

    Parisienne I only smelled on a card, already having sprayed several things, and it didn’t make much of an impression one way or another. Now that I’ve read this I will have to resniff it more diligently.

    • Robin says:

      Will fall over dead if Parisienne inspires that much devotion, but it’s interesting to try them together. And don’t think you’d smell it and immediately identify it as something a big designer brand had hoped would be a blockbuster, you know?

  20. JABBA says:

    I’m totally new to this…I tried Parisienne today on a card and what must be the vinyl accord is still waffing from the card through my apartment. Although I generally like vinyl as in Barbie shoes or new shower curtain liners, I am heaving from the burn tar aspect of whatever is left on the card.

    Btw, how do I change my avatar?

    Thanks.

    • Robin says:

      Sounds like it is *not* for you!

      Go to gravatar.com.

  21. annemarie says:

    Parisienne has been released in Australia but the price at my local dept store was $83 (About $89 US) for 30 mls. This is much pricier than the $30 (US) being on the YSL online boutique. So Australian buyers beware: once the online discounters start selling Parisienne, that might be the cheapest option by a very long way, even adding in the postage. I mean, fragrance nearly always costs more over the counter than online, but this is ridiculous.

    I found Parisienne pleasant, but nothing special, so it’s not high on my list. I can imagine plenty of young women splurging their pay on a bottle of Parisienne, instead of that extra (un-needed) eye-catching pair of shoes. But being older and (hopefully) not so foolish, I apply two criteria to all my fragrance purchases: great beauty and great character. Not always both in equal measure in every fragrance, I admit, but one or t’other. Parisienne, as I perceived it, had neither.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah. I like it, but I’m not sure I’d say it had great beauty or great character either.

  22. mayalou says:

    I found Parisienne in a magazine ad, and being one of the ‘younger generation’, I found this scent to be very nice. I’m usually more of a food-y scents person (current favorite is Harajuku Lovers’ G,) but the mix of berry scents and floral notes make it smell almost sugary to me. The adverts said it was supposed to be ‘a grand floral with a woody structure’ but to be honest I can’t really smell a wooden thing in there at all. I did like the vinyl note, but as many other commenters noted, it’s very weak and the scent really focuses on the sugary-berry with a hint of floral.

    I think I’ll definitely be buying this with the next paycheck – it’s a great perfume for someone who’s a bit younger than most ‘sophisticated women’ who want to have a slightly sophisticated image but still smell sweet & fun.

    • Robin says:

      Glad you like it well enough to buy!

  23. SiameseCat says:

    I’ll definitely sniff this. With all these references to Elle I’m curious. Having moved to a different climate, Elle isn’t as good as I know it. Haven’t bothered with it yet for fear it might be very floral.
    Have you done a review on Cinema yet?

    • Robin says:

      We haven’t reviewed Cinema. Unless I’m mistaken, they don’t even send it to the US any more.

  24. alotofscents says:

    Hi Robin. Love your review. I have a couple of guestions.
    1. I am a floral woody-musk girl, does this qualify?
    2. I

    • Robin says:

      Yes, it qualifies.

  25. alotofscents says:

    -whoops, I Miss-stroked,
    anyway, I like the idea of a vinyl note. It sounds cool and clear, does it come across that way or does it smell of a domineering plastic note?
    I ask because the burning tire smell in B.Black just smells like something clear cutting through the tea, I love it.
    I want Parisienne.
    3. I like blackberry, but is the cranberry very tart, or is it sweet?
    4. And what is the staying [power and silage?
    This might be something I might actually buy. It sounds pretty with a sultry dry-down. Lately I can’t even afford samples. Thank you for your time/

    • Robin says:

      I don’t find it nearly as strong as in Bvlgari Black, and it doesn’t have the same smoky character here. It’s both tart and sweet. I found the lasting power very good.

  26. fiabelle1 says:

    this perfume is amazing!!! i smelt it the other day and am addicted by the bottle looks too similar to my YSL Babydoll Paris bottle so am not gonna purchase it lol, very shallow but o well
    also i love rumeur by Lanvin, i wouldn’t say its suitable for everyday but once in a while i like it! :D

    • Robin says:

      Well, that will save you some $ then.

  27. Rosie says:

    Just bought a 30 ml bottle of Parisienne. Me, who’s always stayed away from flolars and from rosy smells, especially. Parisienne is definitely an off-kilter floral – not a straightforward in-your-face floral, like Guerlain’s Idylle or Dolce Gabbana’s Rose the One. Parisienne is a sumptuous complex fusion of florality and edginess.
    It’s like – imagine a rose, inside of which is placed a heaping spoonful of blackberry/raspberry jam… and underneath that, a bit of nail polish… Dries down sexy. Wearing it and loving it. Good staying power too.

    • Robin says:

      Congrats on your new bottle!

  28. partynfashionani says:

    I tried this perfume yesterday and oh god i love it i cant waite to buy it!!!!

  29. Owen says:

    I can’t remember what Parisienne smells like but I love the botlle :)
    it’s like a big crystal with a bowler hat. I nearly got my Grandma this.

  30. pauliestarr86 says:

    I decided to buy this after searching for a new fragrance. I totally ignored it’s hyped about debut in fashion magazines, ads, and commercials. I’m not a big fan of YSL fragrances, I ended up smelling it at the YSL boutique randomly one day and absolutely fell in love with it. The berry floral is perfect for the cold months smelling it on my scarf is oddly comforting trudging through the snow lol

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