Issey Miyake Pleats Please ~ fragrance review

Issey Miyake Pleats Please advert

Take a look at the output of the Issey Miyake perfume house — it's mostly a long string of flankers and variations on 1993's L'Eau d'Issey. I included L'Eau d'Issey in 25 more fragrances every perfumista should smell, but let's face it: some classic perfumes smell better with every passing year, others, eventually, just smell dated. In the case of L'Eau d'Issey, I wholeheartedly second Tania Sanchez when she says it “reminds us mostly of Windex now”.1 The brand did make a recent attempt to find a new pillar with 2009's A Scent By Issey Miyake, a nicely done if not terrifically exciting fragrance. I liked it well enough but it failed to steal my heart, and as near as I can tell, it did not come close to threatening L'Eau d'Issey's status as the cash cow of the Issey Miyake brand.

So, on to the new Pleats Please, developed by perfumer Aurelien Guichard. I adored the bottle2 as soon as I saw it, and I adored it even more in person than I did in pictures (it usually works the other way around). The advertising is likewise perfect (here's the commercial if you missed it). So I had sort of high hopes, tempered by the news that it was a fruity floral with pear.3 I also had a long wait; as so often happens now, we stood by while Pleats Please launched everywhere in the world but the United States. There's already a stronger version out elsewhere (Pleats Please L'Elixir) and we've just recently gotten the first installment.

What does it smell like? Well, really it smells like a fruity floriental more than a fruity floral, but yes, with pear. The opening is sweet and heavy instead of light and sparkling, and has an overtly synthetic vibe that struck me as rather unfortunate.4 That, along with some of the heaviness, lessens a bit as Pleats Please dries down on skin. The heart is a sweetish fruity-musky thing, with the usual nondescript "flowers" rendered a tad dusky by a dab of ultra-clean patchouli. Pleats Please vaguely recalls too many other perfumes to name, but a persistent undertone of "chemistry lab" sets it apart from its competitors in the pink 'n fruity genre. The base starts slightly powdery and gets more so over time; it has a touch of spice but is otherwise your standard dryer sheet (the notes, in case it helps, are Nashi pear, peony, sweet pea, patchouli, vanilla, cinnamon and white musk).

Verdict: The majority of the reviews I've seen have been positive, some even glowing, so do bear that in mind and give it a shot. As for me, I pretty much hated it. Someone on the fragrance board at MakeupAlley mentioned the "awful sanitary towel-spicy base" and that pretty much sums up how I feel about Pleats Please. In the end, the pear was not really the issue — there are many pear perfumes that I diss for smelling like shampoo, but Pleats Please does not smell like shampoo, it just smells bad, and the leaden way it sits upon the skin seemed laughably at odds with the flowing, graceful movement implied by the advertising and packaging. I will say that the lasting power is excellent, especially for an Eau de Toilette.

Issey Miyake Pleats Please bottle & box

Issey Miyake Pleats Please is available in 30, 50 ($66) and 100 ($92) ml Eau de Toilette.

1. Tania Sanchez, Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, p. 231.

2. The bottle and the perfume are meant to honor the Issey Miyake Pleats Please fashion collection the brand established in 1989. I should note that comments about the bottle were mixed — some people really hated it. One reader's take: "It looks like a box of tissues in my grandparents house that they put some bedazzled homemade cover on."

3. I do have lots — really! — of friends who are fruity florals, but can't offhand name a pear-heavy fragrance I like. You should, of course, never judge a perfume without smelling it, and notes are often misleading, but a fruity floral with pear + peony does not sound delicious to me.

4. Of course, sometimes "overtly synthetic" works. Sometimes it doesn't. In this case, I was reminded of Angela's take on Lanvin Rumeur as "a thin, pink acrylic nightie that unravels in the wash." Reader Jonr951 noted in the comments to the Pleats Please announcement that it smelled "like a nail salon", and that's especially apt for the top notes.

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  1. eaudemale says:

    It smelled like something I’ve smelled before but I can’t remember what exactly.

    • Robin says:

      The range of fragrances mentioned as similar in the reviews I read was sort of astonishing — everything from Vera Wang Princess to Juicy Couture to Angel.

  2. Oh, boo. I loved this bottle too. I like what Beaute Prestige does for the Gaultier line so much more than what they do for Issey Miyake – it’s a bit weird.

    L’Eau d’Issey is one of the blockbuster aquatics that I never understood. I think the stuff smells HORRID. I can see the appeal in some of the aquatic fragrances of that era – Cool Water, CK One, Acqua di Gio – but L’Eau is just terrifyingly disgusting to me. Not just windex, but windex that’s molded in a toilet for seven months.

    • Robin says:

      I never cared for L’Eau d’Issey either, & agree – JPG generally does a much better job. Clearly it is not all about who holds your license, although that does matter.

    • egabbert says:

      Wore it and loved it in high school. Now I think it smells utterly revolting. Ditto for Clinique Happy. My jr. high perfumes fare better in my memory.

      • Robin says:

        Now I want to know what you wore in jr. high!

  3. Lys says:

    Spot on – and you’re able to analyze so accurately why this is a bad perfume!

    I’m surprised this has reviewed well as you report, unless this fact’s underscored by an affection for the designer and for the brand. The part about the lasting power made me laugh since generally, in a bad perfume, excellent lasting power is not considered an asset.

    • Robin says:

      I will say that I didn’t find any perfume blogs that reviewed it — if anybody did, I missed it. So the reviews I read were at places like MUA, department stores, and beauty blogs (and beauty blogs in general rarely give perfumes unfavorable reviews).

      • Robin says:

        All of which was meant to say that it may turn out to be a consumer favorite that is not popular with perfumistas? Or, may be that if/when more perfume blogs review it, they’ll like it way better than I did.

        But in all truth I’m going to be VERY surprised if it turns out to be a perfumista favorite.

  4. littlecooling says:

    I never really care for any Issey Miyake perfumes, except for L’Feu. I really miss that one. I wish they put that out again. One can dream, right :)

    • Robin says:

      Le Feu was one of the all time great failures. I do wonder sometimes if it would do better on the market now than it did then.

      • littlecooling says:

        Could be. Maybe now, that the niche stuff is much more popular. I would love them to put it out again. In the same bottle and perfume. NOT change it. But they probably would, if they put it out now.

  5. Rappleyea says:

    I always enjoy your reviews, Robin, even when I know that I will never even try the perfume, much less enjoy it!

  6. Abyss says:

    This is the first time I hear of it which probably means that I really ought to venture into the outside world more often…but it’s freezing and, if anything, this sounds like a good reason to stay in.

    Anyway, pear always smells like acetone to me so I’m not surprised about the nail salon mention.

    P.S. *whispers* I loved L’Eau D’Issey as a teen.

    • Robin says:

      Interesting about pear = acetone. I have not noticed and will have to pay more attention next time I smell something pear. Which I’m hoping is not all that soon….

      L’Eau d’Issey was not out yet when I was a teen — there, we’ve both dated ourselves, LOL…

  7. Karin says:

    Oh, this sounds awful!!!!

  8. Karin says:

    Oh, and if anyone’s interested in a great pear fragrance – MDCI La Belle Helene. Yes, expensive, but as mentioned in many threads about this line, the sample sets purchased directly from MDCI are very reasonably priced for what you get…plus, you get to apply the purchase of the sample set toward the purchase of a bottle. :-)

    • Robin says:

      Yes, do think that’s a great fragrance for someone other than me. I called it “my favorite pear”, but even then did not love it.

    • nozknoz says:

      I agree, Belle Helene is really beautiful. I haven’t bought it yet, because I have Traversee du Bosphore, Daim Blond and Mata Hari, and it seems like the same leather-fruit idea with pear instead of apple loukhoum or apricot. I might have bought Belle Helene if I had tried it first, and I do have a decant. Also, I’m still hoping to find a way to enable myself into it. ;-)

  9. Jill says:

    Thanks for this review, Robin! I, too, have yet to find a pear fragrance that I love or even really like. Too bad, though, because that bottle is awfully appealing!

    • Robin says:

      And I like the L’Elixir bottle even better! But can’t imagine a heavier concentration will appeal to me unless they really reworked it.

  10. behemot says:

    I think the shape of this bottle is interesting, but the look of pink juice, and how it smells..
    A big NO :(

    • Robin says:

      I’m pretty sick of pink juice too…wish they’d move on.

  11. jonr951 says:

    A “chemistry lab” is exactly what it is! Great review Robin, really! : )

    • Robin says:

      You called it first :-)

      • jonr951 says:

        Haha! Yeah, sorry Issey, but this one was a disaster in my book.

  12. annemarie says:

    Surgical precision as usual Robin! Delightful!

    This has been in Australian department stores for months. I tried it, disliked it and instantly forgot about it, but I do now recall the heavy, humourless opening. .

    I was actually looking for A Scent; I had seen quite a positive review on one of the blogs and thought I’d give it another go. But in my local department stores I could not find A Scent. The space was all turned over to lavish displays of Pleats Please. I wondered if A Scent had been d/c, but I see it is still on the IM website. But maybe A Scent has been a poor seller?

    EL’s Pleasures is the only one of those clean, transparent fragrances of the 90s that I ever bothered with, and its the only one I bother with now (wearing it today). Of course it does have more heft than most of those others, but like them (and Pleats Please) it can, on an off day, have a whiff of chemical lab about it.

    • Robin says:

      Heavy & humourless pretty much wraps it up.

      I do not wear Pleasures, but can totally see the appeal, and it’s actually (to me) a great example of a perfume that smells wholly synthetic but also smells great. I wish there was another word for what I meant, because I do think a fragrance can smell totally synthetic but smell great — there’s something about Pleats Please that really does fit with the Angie’s cheap pink acrylic nightgown.

      • annemarie says:

        Amusing to think that all the marketing around Pleasures references ‘natural things’: pretty flowers and fluffy puppies and the like.

        That nightgown metaphor is brilliant!

  13. poodle says:

    I’m not much of a pear person. If I see this I’ll give it a sniff but it doesn’t sound very promising.

  14. nozknoz says:

    Robin, I know there is a good reason to review dreck that I don’t remember very well – something about a high proportion of NST readers being interested in mainstream perfumes? I suppose warning them away from the worst is basically a public service. Or hoping the companies will listen and learn? It’s certainly important to speak up. Nonetheless, with so many launches, I’m always panicked about not meeting the perfume love of my life simply because I didn’t think to try it. It always seems like such a missed opportunity when your talents and skin time are lavished on something so unworthy, rather than on something indispensable that we might otherwise miss. Sorry, this is probably the S.A.D. talking.

    • annemarie says:

      Oh yes, I’m always interested in mainstream. As niche gets more and more wildly expensive – out of my reach really – I still look with hope to the fragrance floor at my local dept store … :)

    • Robin says:

      Not totally sure if you wish I’d review less dreck, or less mainstream in general?

      There really are more people here interested in mainstream than you might think. Beyond that, it is not like I ever ignore a “must try” niche masterpiece in favor of a mainstream fragrance that I hate — if anything, the number of fragrances I find that I would call indispensable is laughably small (niche AND mainstream), and would hardly provide enough material for me to even write the 1 review a week that I usually manage.

      Will also say that these days, the line between niche and mainstream in terms of the juice (not the rest — the advertising & price & whatnot) is sometimes VERY thin, and the amount of expensive niche dreck very large. And if I try 2 “meh” fragrances in one week, and one is from a little known niche house and one is from Issey Miyake, I’m way more likely to review the Issey Miyake — it is of more interest, both to me and to a larger number of readers.

      • nozknoz says:

        Sorry not to be clear – I agree that you need to review mainstream perfumes for all the reasons that you, Merlin and Jillie mention. I, too, certainly want to know about any mainstream perfume that is worthwhile, and yet it’s clear that many of these lines have gotten lazy (or cheap and cynical). Odds were low that the 26th Issey Miyake would be wonderful, and fairly high that they spent the Pleats Please budget on packaging and advertising, rather than the juice.. Meanwhile, I’m reading about new lines basically every week but never hearing if what they did is any good, and often can’t find any review of a scent I’ve come across on ebay or a commenter has mentione.

        • Robin says:

          Gotcha. So, basically it’s about what fragrances are important enough to review.

          Totally understand your point about the odds of the 26th Issey Miyake scent, but that’s not really what it is from my perspective — it’s only the 2nd Issey Miyake pillar since I started blogging almost 8 years ago. So that makes it of interest to me — that is, I would want to know if it was good or bad, way more than I’d want to know about the latest brand new line — especially since the vast majority of brand new lines that I do get to try are meh, and I assume they’ll disappear within a few years (and I’ve watched while many of them have done just that).

          But totally get that not everybody has the same interests. Hopefully we have some kind of mix here between the 4 of us writing perfume reviews, but hey, we’re never going to review more than say, 10% of new launches over the course of the year.

    • Merlin says:

      I’m another that enjoys the niche/mainstream ratio here; due, not only to price but also to availability. I like being able to read a review and then sniff the frag myself without having to order samples etc, etc – even if its not one that is rated highly!

  15. Jillie says:

    Thanks, Robin, for your lovely description. It sounds like just the sort of scent that I can’t tolerate and which will sell really well; I am sure it will haunt my shopping trips as hoardes of young girls waft around in it!

    Have you ever smelt EnJoy? Patou created it to appeal to the young fruity/floral market and it has a pear note. It was surprisingly good (and actually more chypre than anything) and, not surprisingly, was discontinued.

    • Robin says:

      I never did try EnJoy! But willing to believe that pear can be done well.

  16. Lotta says:

    Half off topic, deep red by Hugo Boss is all pears to me.
    Havent seen this one around in My city, but no rush then..

    • Robin says:

      Thank you! I admit I mostly ignore Hugo Boss, so good to know.

  17. austenfan says:

    I used to love L’Eau d’Issey and pretty much hated Le Feu. Which admittedly I sniffed only once from a department store tester. Who knows I might like it now. I am not as revolted as some by aquatic fragrances although I find L’Eau quite unpleasantly loud.
    I don’t think I have any fixed opinions about pear; I love Petite Chérie, which to me smells of peach more than pear.
    Still, I don’t think I will make a huge effort to try this one. I found A Scent pleasant enough but ultimately boring and not my thing.
    Your review is as always excellent.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks, that’s another good example. Petite Cherie is a lovely scent — I don’t own it, but can totally see the appeal.

  18. Dilana says:

    Wow such hatred. I saw the bottle in the mall and instantly adored it. I sprayed some one myself. As I recall I was instantly bored. About an hour and half later I sniffed my wrist, and it smelled beautiful. Then I remembered that I had sprayed Infustion D’Iris on that wrist. I smelled the “Pleats” wrist. Nothing. I smelled it again. Nothing. Maybe it has one of those artificial muscs or lily scents that I can never smell.

    • Robin says:

      Yes — guessing you’re anosmic to something, because it definitely lasts longer than that!

  19. Omega says:

    awful bottle

    • Robin says:

      Ha…it is like last year’s Florabotanica for me, that is, wish I could have an empty one to put another fragrance in!

  20. irisfreak says:

    You’ll get more pear from AG Petite Cherie if you’re still looking around. It’s OK to wear little-girl frags!

    • irisfreak says:

      Oops, just noticed someone already brought up PC.

  21. eminere says:

    Does the pear in this resemble Jo Malone’s?

  22. starrynight says:

    When I initially smelled this perfume, I loved it but it ended up being headache-inducing. The first time I tried it, I just thought it was one of those days (I’m prone to headaches) but when I had a headache after trying the perfume the second time, I knew it had to be the perfume. I tried it on the third time just to make sure… and it had the same effect.
    However, the bottle didn’t do it for me. I was more interested in the scent.

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