Parfums M Micallef Ylang in Gold ~ fragrance review

Parfums M Micallef Ylang in Gold, bottle detail

Last week I interviewed Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors for a local magazine. I brought some perfume samples, including Parfums M Micallef Ylang in Gold, and when Meyer smelled it, he said, “It’s so smooth. That’s their style.”

At home, I dabbed some on, and I couldn't agree more. Ylang in Gold is as smooth as silk charmeuse. It’s whipped into a soft, creamy blend that reminds me of custard. Like custard, Ylang in Gold transforms and unites its materials into a mellifluous whole. Also like custard, Ylang in Gold is sweet. Really sweet.

Ylang in Gold, a floral oriental, was created by house perfumer Jean-Claude Astier. It has top notes of tangerine orange, geranium, sage, rosemary  and artemisia; a heart of ylang-ylang, rose, sandalwood, lily of the valley, mint  and magnolia; and a base of coconut, vanilla, moss and musk.

All those tantalizing notes! Yet all I get is a warm, sweet ylang and vanilla at first tinted with sweet orange and a hint of green, and drying down to straight vanilla. It’s not a sticky, viscous ylang-vanilla, but neither is it vaporous and chiffon-like. I have to go back to silk here — Ylang in Gold wears like a honey-toned charmeuse gown.

In the end, it’s the texture of Ylang in Gold that intrigues me, because the fragrance itself doesn’t particularly inspire. As Francis Bacon said, “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion,” and there’s just plain nothing strange about Ylang in Gold. No surprise, no grit. Ylang in Gold is pretty and sugary and, well, that’s about all. For sweet comfort, I prefer my “house” vanilla, L’Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille (now called Vanille Absolument), with its skin-like feel and woody-tobacco grounding. But sniffing Ylang in Gold makes me want to test some of my old favorites to see how tight or expansive, warm or cool, wet or dry, rough or smooth they smell. That’s a gift all by itself.

Martine Micallef created Ylang in Gold’s bottle. That gal sure loves her bling. I imagine her at home, going mad with the bedazzler, covering the appliances with Swarovski crystals. In keeping with the disco-fever quality of the bottle, Ylang in Gold comes in two formulas: one that deposits a gold sheen on your skin, and one that doesn't. I tested the plain one.

Parfums M Micallef Ylang in Gold

Micallef Ylang in Gold Eau de Parfum comes in a 100 ml gold and Swarovksi crystal-bedecked bottle for $245 in a sparkly or non-sparkly liquid. For information on where to buy it, see Parfums M Micallef under Perfume Houses.

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  1. Sujaan says:

    Angela, I am laughing out loud imagining the lovely Martine in a bedazzling frenzy!!
    I do wish this wasn’t so sweet. I’ll still sample it, because I’ve been curious about it for a while, but I’ll be hoping my skin can bring out some of the other notes that sound so nice.

    • Angela says:

      Good luck! I hope the other intriguing notes sing on your skin.

  2. rickbr says:

    I love Ylang in Gold just in the opening and heart. The quick and tart citrus opening is great and it’s followed by what is to me a yummy ylang with a kind of chocolate aroma. The base has exactly that smooth aspect that you described to me, but i see it more as something negative than positive: it’s a plain, too simple, too common musky aroma, in the same way of Micallef Mon Parfum, and it doesn’t seem proper to what happens before. It’s a lovely fragrance without a lovely base :(

    • Angela says:

      The base is really key to a great fragrance, I think, because that’s what sticks around the longest. But if you like the beginning, that’s pretty good!

      • rickbr says:

        To be honest dear Angela, i don’t mind if the opening is not that good. It has to be at least bearable, if the drydown is fantastic there is no problem, since openings doesn’t last a lot (especially for me). I guess that i’m more affected when the drydown doesn’t live up to the opening and heart, which is the case here :(

        But i’m still a fan of Micallef, i love her vanille aoud, which is for me a mix of SL Un Bois Vanille with the Oud from Montale, and her Aoud Gourmet is one of the best aoud gourmands i have tried so far. And also her gaiac, which smell like wood and sugar to me and it’s perfect to summer days :)

        • Angela says:

          I remember trying Aoud Gourmand and being very intrigued–it’s such an original perfume.

  3. annemarie says:

    That’s a wonderful quote from Francis Bacon and so true. It reminds me of a remark of Tania Sanchez about 31 Rue Cambon (I think?) that she finds it not ultimately beautiful because it is not strange. Something like that. I agree about 31RC. It is just too perfect. I have a large decant that I keep for the rare occasions I go to parties. In happy after-glow of the party I always tell myself I MUST wear 31 RC more often, and yet … I don’t …

    That said, I am not prompted to go in the other direction and select my perfumes because they smell of blood or semen or creosote!

    • Angela says:

      I’m with you 100%. I need a little ugliness–a slight bump or jar–to really lock on to a fragrance. Otherwise it slips right through my brain without sticking. But like you, I think ugliness for the sake of ugliness isn’t as chic as some people seem to believe!

  4. Marjorie Rose says:

    This sounds pretty and easy to wear (and kinda like a creamsicle), but at that price, I doubt I will seek it out!

    • Angela says:

      You and me both. I was glad to have the chance to try it, though.

  5. nozknoz says:

    I do enjoy L’AP Vanille Absolutement/Havana Vanille. I like its dark, handsome cousin Frapin 1697 (sitting in his castle library with a fire on the hearth and swirling a snifter of cognac), even better. ;-)

    These smooth, featureless fragrances (I’d add Prada Infusion d’Iris and Kenzo Amour, and even Caron Nuit de Noel): they lack contrast. I attended a seminar with Patricia de Nicolai, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez a couple of years ago, and we got to sniff the Osmotheque recreation of the original Coty Emeraude, which was quite wonderful. LT observed that more recent versions had lost the high notes. Of course, you’re probably right that the best contrast is a touch of weirdness.

    • Angela says:

      What an amazing seminar that must have been! Sometimes I love a fragrance for its lack of bumps and troughs–for instance, I do love Nuit de Noel. But I know what I’m getting is smooth comfort. Little ugliness, come to think of it, but enough that isn’t familiar to my daily scents that I appreciate it.

  6. ockeghem says:

    This pretty much covers how I feel about the whole M. Micallef line. I’d never even heard of it before (which should have been a warning sign considering how much I read) when I was hard sold it in my 5 toddler-free minutes by Nasreen in Seattle. She sold me Mon Parfum, which was intriguing in the top notes then just cloying and overbearing and bothersome in the drydown. (This was all made worse by attending a kid’s birthday party right afterward, albeit outside, so I was hypersensitive to strong, cloying scent that screamed “perfume.”) She also gave me 3 M. Micallef samples. I was generally unimpressed by all of them. All of them said “perfume-y” but nothing interesting to hang your hat on. I couldn’t think of a reason to buy any of them, and especially not Mon Parfum, which had me run screaming in the opposite direction (thank heavens she refunded all but the gift card I’d used for it; but given my track record with her that gift card will be pure breakage for her, because she doesn’t carry anything really interesting). There’s so much interesting perfume these days; it’s unusual that I’d buy anything that isn’t really interesting in one way or another. 31 Rue Cambon is probably the least “interesting” and most “perfume-y” perfume I own, but it works perfectly in professional contexts without totally boring me, so I’m glad for it.

    And now, I will go put on my sample of S-ex before bed, as one of the truly weird samples I have that stand out for me.

    • Angela says:

      I think she must have a pretty strong bond with the Micallef line–I understand Micallef did a house fragrance for her. I don’t know much about the line, to tell the truth. But my guess is that S-ex is in a whole different ball park!

  7. mals86 says:

    Yep, that’s pretty much it: ylang and vanilla and coconut. Nice, but dull. At the same time, you know, it might be just the ticket for the kind of cold dreary winter day that has one longing for the tropics, or at least a hot buttered rum.

    • Angela says:

      I didn’t even get much coconut, despite what the marketing materials said. And as for the rum, yet another reason for Havana Vanille!

  8. Nile Goddess says:

    If it’s such a luxury fragrance, why does it come in recycled EL Private Collection flacons?

    • Angela says:

      Good eye! I didn’t even notice the resemblance until now.

    • ockeghem says:

      Too funny! Yes, the bling on the Micallef bottles has me less than impressed — more bling on the bottle than in it!

      • Thalia says:

        Ha! On the bedazzling. I actually love the blingy bottles. Perfume’s a totally frivolous luxury item and a pretty/unusual/whimsical bottle is a plus for me. Not $245 worth of plus, perhaps …

        The only Micallef I’ve tried so far is Black Sea, and I do really like that one. It’s pretty and likable, but not as sweet and more interesting than this one sounds like. And the bottle’s EVEN PRETTIER — too bad I only have a decant.

        • Angela says:

          The main thing that gets me about a heavily ornamented bottle is that I feel bad throwing them away–yet I really don’t have any use for empty perfume bottles.

      • Angela says:

        The Micallef bling isn’t exactly my favorite sort of bling, but it would definitely be a party on your dresser!

  9. ggperfume says:

    Oh, I wish you’d been able to try the version with the gold sheen effect! That idea has me laughing – the sort of cosmetic one can find at the drugstore at a price rather less than $245.

    • Angela says:

      I would have been a sensation at work!

  10. Daisy says:

    Here I am to be the voice of dissent. I have tested Ylang in Gold ( the shiny one) twice….I don’t think I can stand to do a third test. It was awful on me….I truly expected to LOVE it….the notes list has me nearly drooling in an embarrassing fashion. Alas, it goes on so harsh…all scratchy edges. What I wouldn’t give for the coconut and sweet smooth charmeuse that Angela got!!! There wasn’t a bit of that in my samples spray! I sprayed one good sized blast onto my forearm at about 9 PM…..resisted the urge to wash it off before bed at about midnight (there was that gold shimmer to consider, afterall) and by the next morning; it was pretty nice….who knows when the smooth floral-vanilla-sandalwood part showed up….maybe 3 am, 4 am? I don’t know, I had my arm safely tucked under several blankets.

    • Daisy says:

      Just so you know that I have recovered from my ordeal: after my shower I doused myself liberally with Chanel LE 1932 and now I’m a happy camper. :)

      • Angela says:

        Just another thing I love about you, Daisy–you know how to move on when you need to!

    • Angela says:

      I can’t even imagine what a good-sized spray would do! I merely dabbed from a 5-ml sample. Yikes! I guess I don’t want to know.

  11. dolcesarah says:

    This may not be the place to ask but Micalef has a Mouska and its really ice. I’m leaning toward Mona D’Orio’s Musc though, haven’t tried Patricia’s musk. I am so excited about Mona’s I know there must be another 2-4 that I might as well try before I buy. Any recs? I absolutely think that this could be my favorite winter smell.

    • Angela says:

      Parfums d’Empire has a new musk, Musc Tonkin, too. I’m not up on my musks like I should be, though. This would be a great question for the open thread this weekend.

  12. eminere says:

    The bottle somewhat resembles Estee Lauder Private Collection.

    • Angela says:

      Someone else noticed that, too!

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