Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Florale ~ fragrance review

Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Florale perfume

I remember when Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey was released in 1993; looking back, I can understand how it was a breath of fresh air (and clean water and a few lotus petals) after the Poison-heavy years of the late 1980s. It didn't suit my own tastes — I was busy trying Jean Paul Gaultier's new fragrance, now known as Classique, at the other end of the fragrance counter — but I respected Issey Miyake for carving out a new trend in fragrance.

On a recent afternoon of perfume-sampling in midtown Manhattan, I stopped to try the  recently launched Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey Florale at Sephora. L’Eau d’Issey Florale was developed by perfumer Alberto Morillas; its notes include rose, lily, mandarin, and white woods. The iconic, minimalist L'Eau d'Issey bottle is frosted pink for this version, and the L'Eau d'Issey Florale advertisement, which has caught my eye in a few magazines, features a lovely still-life photograph in the style of the late Irving Penn. All well and good. But by the time I was riding the bus home, I was writing an e-mail to Robin, telling her that I wanted to review L'Eau d'Issey Florale because it made me feel "simultaneously angry and bored."

Sprayed on a paper blotter, L'Eau d'Issey Florale smells like a bright citrus-rose-peony blend, not very distinctive but not at all offensive, either. However, worn on the skin, it is sheerer and sharper. The core of the fragrance is a very synthetic rose-lily accord that lasts for hours. The ozonic note that made the original L'Eau d'Issey so memorable is there, too, but in this case, it only serves to strip the floral concept of all sensuality or romanticism. There's a faint hint of sweet, but still very light, vanilla-tinged wood in the composition's very late development, but L'Eau d'Issey Florale is mostly an all-surface fragrance, without depth or even any intriguing angles or curves. Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned, or maybe I'm missing the concept? Perhaps there is an audience for a bleached-clean floral fragrance, even if the segment of the perfume-shopping public that enjoys "clean" scents is also typically uninterested in traditional floral notes such as lily and rose.

I'd categorize L'Eau d'Issey Florale with other "pink" flankers, such as Dolce & Gabbana Rose The One and Jean Paul Gaultier Classique X. I wasn't crazy about either of those fragrances, but this one seems even less necessary, perhaps because the original L'Eau d'Issey was so perfectly simple and spare. If you're looking for a springtime rose fragrance with some white floral notes, I can recommend YOSH Sottile, especially in its newer Eau de Parfum concentration; if you just want a transparent true rose with a touch of citrus, Parfums Delrae Coup de Foudre seems like a much higher-quality product (with a price to match, alas).

When I arrived home after trying L'Eau d'Issey Florale the other day (and I brought a sample home with me, just to make sure that I hadn't misjudged the fragrance too rashly), I read Robin's freshly-posted article about the frustrating current state of affairs in fragrance: too many releases, too little innovation. I nodded my head, and inhaled the still-going-strong Florale on my arm, and nodded again. And what had I actually purchased for myself, during my scent-sniffing travels that day? A replacement bottle of my beloved Caron Farnesiana. There you go.

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Florale is available in 50 ml ($66) and 90 ml ($89) Eau de Toilette and in a limited edition 25 ml ($47) size.

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  1. moore says:

    Jessica, the clean impression you had is like soapy notes?

    • Jessica says:

      Maybe a little white soap, along with the hygienically clean air! I’d say it’s much more ozone than soap, though.

    • Scentalicious says:

      Wow, can’t believe everybody’s dissing this perfume!
      I have this, and
      Yes its light, Yes its airy and its also very, very pretty…. imo it doesn’t try to be anything else and I don’t see the point of comparing it to the heavy hitters of the perfume world.
      I only bought it 3 weeks ago and I’ve had two compliments already, which can’t be bad!
      My original L’eau D’issey (which I’ve had for, lets see, about forever) only gets used about once a year – its that sharp – but this version is lovely!

  2. mals86 says:

    I smelled this from a blotter in a Duty Free store a few weeks ago, Jessica, and I had a similar reaction: “They bothered to put *this* in a bottle?”

    L’Eau d’Issey came out as I was withdrawing from the world of Unnecessary Beauty Products, early in my marriage, when I didn’t have funds for such things (and told myself I wouldn’t miss them), so I don’t have any history with it. Still, I found myself unreasonably annoyed with the Florale version: it’s quite chemical-smelling to me.

    It didn’t help L’Eau Florale’s case any that in the Duty-Free, Chanel No. 19 edp (noticeably “pinker” than edt, but monumentally fresh) was only an aisle away…

    • Jessica says:

      To be fair, Issey Miyake releases far fewer new scents and flankers than many lines… and maybe for that reason, I expected a little something… more.

    • annemarie says:

      So did you fall for the 19?

      • mals86 says:

        Well, you probably remember that I love vtg 19 edt – but I found myself very pleased with that rosy edp! I spritzed it on my scarf both times I was in the Rome airport, and enjoyed it very much. When I run out of vtg edt, I may just go for the edp. It’s *pretty,* where the edt is much edgier.

        • annemarie says:

          Gosh, I’ll have to think on that. The EDP is certainly rosier, but I find it melancholic rather than ‘pretty’. The EDT (I wear vintage too, from the the mid-80s, and I know its age because I bought it in the mid-80s) glitters and sparkles, but makes me smile.

  3. Dilana says:

    “Perhaps there is an audience for a bleached-clean floral fragrance, even if the segment of the perfume-shopping public that enjoys “clean” scents is also typically uninterested in traditional floral notes such as lily and rose.”

    Given that your article was posted immediately after one for a scent that smells like a clean cotton shirt (which presumably smells like a laundry detergent), apparently someone thinks there is a market for bleached clean fragrances.

    • Jessica says:

      Oh yes, there’s definitely a market for “just out of the shower” and “laundry with dryer sheet” scents… but they don’t usually have “floral/e” in the name. It’s not floral enough for any floral-lover, but clean-lovers may not try it when they see the picture of the rose!

      • boojum says:

        The picture *is* lovely, though.

        • Jessica says:

          I agree!

          • says:

            I agree on this too.

  4. LaMaroc says:

    I was appalled by the original L’dI, as I have always been a supporter and lover of bold fragrances, such as the 80s produced. I didn’t mind the 90s trend of going lighter and simpler but I thought Calvin Klein’s fresh but sexy Truth managed to do it much better than their ubiquitous screecher CKOne. Just goes to show, if you want to find out which fragrances are sure to die a quick death on the market, simply ask me what I like. lol
    Just the other day, I stumbled across a link (was it here?) that led to a list on Basenotes of popular international celebrities’ favorite scents. I was so disappointed how many of them – men and women – had one of the Clean fragrances listed as one of their daily fragrances. What’s the point?

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve never understood the point of “shower-fresh” scents, either… and I couldn’t stand CK One, but I did like Truth (wish I’d bought a back-up) and I liked the original Issey, even if it wasn’t my style. Of course, the genre has been overdone by now…

    • boojum says:

      I wonder how closely that correlates to the list of Celebrities Who Reportedly Do Not Bathe…

  5. Rosagreen says:

    I’ll go out and smell it because I am currently in a phase where I want to smell the really bad stuff. It helps learning more about perfume. But I am so shocked sometimes, I have shampoos that smell better than some of those. So thanks for the hint :)

    • Jessica says:

      There must be some really good-smelling shampoos on the market! After all, it’s the same big international fragrance/flavor manufacturers behind most of our scented products. ;)

      • 50_Roses says:

        I remember reading that market research indicated that fragrance was the single biggest determining factor in a consumer’s choice of shampoo, so no doubt there are some great-smelling shampoos.

        • Jessica says:

          Haven’t we all opened a bottle of shampoo in the aisle of a drugstore, to take a sneak sniff before making the final purchasing decision? ;)

          • Rosagreen says:

            It’s sad when cosmetics products smell better than expensive perfumes. I bought an anti-blemish stick yesterday and its scent has a really nice vintage perfume vibe.
            Guerlain cosmetics smells much better than some of their recent perfume launches because they smell like the Guerlinade. But I could also just be old fashioned.

          • mals86 says:

            My Garnier Fructis SPF facial moisturizer smells really nice – I’d actually wear a scent that smells like that (in the summer). It’s, you know, “clean,” but also smells like green leaves and citrus and maybe some very far off flowers. Now that I think about it, it reminds me somewhat of Calyx, but without that garbagey mango thing I hate so much in Calyx…

          • Sandi says:

            I had a shampoo that smelled like cherry cordial (discontinued of course). It didn’t linger which was a good thing to me (too sweet), but oh was it yummy while you used it.

  6. Merlin says:

    Since Issey Miyake and my skin have NEVER hit it off, I cant comment on how much worse or how much better any of them are…

    • Jessica says:

      The original must have some die-hard fans… it’s not my favorite type of fragrance, personally, but I like clean/ozonic scents on other people, if the scents are good quality to begin with!

  7. 50_Roses says:

    So, Jessica, do I get the feeling you didn’t like this one very much? ;) I haven’t smelled this myself, but if I ever do, I expect that I will not care for it either. This illustrates why I find it so difficult to tell I would like just from a list of notes. Rose, lily, mandarin, and white woods sounds really nice, and if a perfume with those notes were done by SSS or DSH, it would almost certainly be worth smelling even if it didn’t suit me. I would add SSS Velvet Rose to the list of recommended rose scents, and I second the recommendation for Sottile. I have not tried the EdP, but the perfume oil is wonderful and lasts for hours and hours.

    • Jessica says:

      I was feeling much less subtle than usual when I wrote this. ;)
      I agree, a list of notes can be *so* misleading… and I like SSS Velvet Rose, too.
      YOSH’s Sottile EDP has very nice staying power!

  8. maggiecat says:

    I had teh saem experience with this scent. i wore the original some years ago and liked it. This seems very sharp, even screechy on skin very quickly after applying – and It Will Not Be Removed. Not easily, anyway. i was disappointed – I’d hoped for a soft, office-friendly floral, not office-mate repellent! And for a soft rose – Stella Nude is affordable and quite pleasant, as is Body Shop’s Moroccan Rose.

    • maggiecat says:

      Yes, I know i can’t type. The carpal tunnel surgery is imminent.

      • Jessica says:

        Oops, no problem!
        I still haven’t tried Stella Nude, but I like the original Stella well enough. And you’re right, IM Florale just doesn’t go away easily… what *is* that secret ingredient that makes certain fragrances last for so long?!

  9. AnnS says:

    Thanks for the review on this. What also bothers me about this kind of “spring” fragrance is that it’s released just in time for proms and mother’s day and gradutations and weddings…. People will buy it for all these special events and celebratory gifts and it is just nonsense. You slap a nice name like Issey Miyake on it and regular consumers think it’s going to be a quality scent. It’s a little insidious, IMHO, to sucker all these people into wearing something so mediocre.

    There are so many quality refreshing rose fragrances on the market at all price points: l’AP Drole de Rose, Laura Mercier Eau de Lune, and Ferre Rose, Yves Rocher Rose Absolue are all very pretty “pink” floral rose fragrances that are nicely done that come to mind. Then there are all the super roses like the above mentioned SSS Velvet Rose, and Luten’s Sa Majest, and Creed FdTRB, etc, etc… so much to pick from already!! I hate this idea that because everyone else is releasing a clean pink rose this year, we have to also. It’s copy cat production – each version becomes a paler and worse version of the one before it.

    • annemarie says:

      I wonder, out of all those bottles bought, how many will be emptied? Do people wear them for a while, in memory of the occasion and the giver, and then stop – because there is truly nothing distinctive about the fragrance, and their attention drifts to other perfumes, or back to shampoos and deodorants. What is annoying of course is the thought that so many people will think that this is what perfume is when, as you say, there is so much better stuff out there.

    • Jessica says:

      You know, I’m always oblivious to the gift-giving calendar! but that makes a lot of sense.

  10. annemarie says:

    I didn’t even get as far as spraying on to a strip. I sniffed the sprayer, thought ‘No way, Jose!’ and put it back. Hardly a fair test, I admit, but with so much other stuff around … I did get a very strong ozonic note from that sniff, but that is a note I hate, so I’m perhaps over-sensitive to it.

    What I’m really intrigued by is the Farnesiana. If you are on to a second BOTTLE of that, I want to know why! It sounds too sweet for me, but I’m still curious. Review?

    • Jessica says:

      I do love some of the old Caron florals. Perhaps a review *is* in order! :)

  11. mariclare says:

    i guess i’m in the minority here, and maybe it’s because i’m pretty new to my interest in fragrance. i’m actually wearing l’eau d’issey today, after not wearing it for months. i’m anticipating the warm spring weather so much, that i decided to spray it on this morning, despite the 40 degree weather. although i do agree with you: while i do like this fragrance from a distance, it never smells quite right on me, and it’s not exactly my style.
    i smelled the florale version in a magazine the other day, and i personally fell in love. when i get a chance, i plan on visiting macy’s and spraying on a sample to see if i actually love it in real life, as opposed to a magazine sample.
    again, i’m new to my interest in fragrance, and now i really want to try your suggestion of yosh sottile, and see how i like that.

    • Jessica says:

      Sometimes the magazine scent strips are different from the real thing, but sometimes, not so much! Let us know what you think once you’ve smelled it in “real life”… your experience may be totally different from mine or anyone else’s!

  12. Celestia says:

    I tried Florale a few weeks ago and think it’s lovely. I would buy it! I have tons of perfume so I don’t need to though. I really like Stella Nude too. I find these to be similar in that the opening is fizzy and reminiscent of Chant D’Aromes in that aspect.
    The Summer L.E. of Issey is in a turquoise bottle with coral at the bottom. Very attractive but the fragrance smells just like the original L”Eau D’Issey to me.

    • Jessica says:

      Well, I really need to seek out Stella Nude now! I just haven’t seen it around much… Sephora keeps cutting back its fragrance offerings. I’ll need to find it at a department store.

  13. civava says:

    I was surprised how flat this one is against the original L’Eau d’Issey. I wouldn’t buy original for myself either but I got it as a present but I actually like it. But this one – lot o L’Occitanes are much better.

  14. Racine says:

    i wonder if someone has a bottle of drop on a petal or reflections on a drop and could compare it to this. I´m almost sure it´s the same juice in a different bottle. I know they sold well as limited editions so makes sense they decided to add it to their catalogue, having a new name and bottle would attract those looking for the new. Not that many perfumistas would fall for it but then again most custormers are not.
    I use the L´eau de Issey pour homme specially in summer and enjoyed very much last year´s Noir Absolu edition. I wish they bring it back this year

    • Jessica says:

      I must have missed that “drops” one! Interesting.

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