L’Occitane Collection de Grasse Vanille & Narcisse and The Vert & Bigarade ~ fragrance reviews

L'Occitane Vanille & NarcisseThé Vert & Bigarade

La Collection de Grasse is a new quartet of fragrances from L’Occitane, all of them developed by the house's newly announced in-house perfumer Karine Dubreuil. On Tuesday I reviewed Jasmin & Bergamote and Magnolia & Mûre; today, Vanille & Narcisse and Thé Vert & Bigarade.

Vanille & Narcisse

blackcurrant, bergamot, narcissus, gardenia, vanilla and tonka bean

Vanille & Narcisse is the floriental of the collection, and was probably the one I had the least interest in before I smelled the set, but I'd say it's the best (and the most unusual) of the four, and the only one I would be tempted to buy — if these weren't so expensive (see the end of last Tuesday's review for a discussion of the price). The opening is bright, the dry down is a spicy, medium-weight creamy floral that earns the "sensual, enveloping skin scent" of Dubreuil's description. I would never have noticed the gardenia were it not listed in the notes, but it's there if you go looking for it and it adds some fullness to the heart notes; it is presumably also responsible for a persistent undertone of something like wintergreen which I noticed more on some wearings than others. The vanilla is pronounced but not overly sweet or foody.

It's a warm fragrance, and richer than the other three, but not so heavy that you'll have to pack it away for the summer, I don't think. It wears beautifully on a chilly spring day, at any rate, and the lasting power is decent. Very much worth a try.

Thé Vert & Bigarade

bitter orange, green tea, cedar, thyme and musk

I was a bit surprised to see they'd done another green tea, given that the brand has already done so many variations,* but this one is enjoyable, with a tart and dry citrus opening and a nice herbal edge to the dry down. I foolishly neglected to smell it next to the brand's "regular" Thé Vert, but am I crazy or has that one gotten blander slash cleaner over the years? If memory serves, I like this one much better, and just as well since it costs considerably more. The lasting power is just ok, which is probably as much as you can expect for a summery green tea, although I should also add that all four of the fragrances do better sprayed than dabbed (and be warned: the travel coffret is in splash bottles). I personally don't have any green tea needs that aren't filled by the old standby, Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert from Bvlgari (which can, of course, be found for a song at the online discounters), but if you're in need, this one is worth a shot, and next time I'm in the mall, I may check out the soap ($8) and body milk ($20). 

The L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse fragrances are available in 75 ml Eau de Toilette ($75 each) or in a coffret with 7.5 ml of each ($46, as of this writing marked down to $30); matching body products are also available.

*The US website, however, only shows the "regular" Thé Vert at the moment. The French site also has the Thé Vert au Jasmin, and I don't know if they still make the variation with mint. Thé Blanc was a limited edition and is long since gone.

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  1. sweetgrass says:

    I tried the new scents last weekend. The jasmine & green tea ones didn’t interest me much, and the magnolia one started out ok but descended into vagueness by the time I got out of the mall and was pretty much gone in about an hour. Vanille & Narcisse is easily the best of the bunch. I didn’t get gardenia in it at all. It kind of reminded me of L’Artisan’s Havana Vanille/Vanille Absolument (or whatever the new name is) but a little lighter and less plasticky. I didn’t like V & N much at first, but it kind of grew on me as it developed and I would occasionally get whiffs of it.

    • Robin says:

      It doesn’t really smell to me like gardenia so much as some of the components of gardenia, if that makes sense. The first time I wore it, the wintergreen impression was very strong.

      I just heard that L’Artisan got discontinued, which is a bit of a shock — I’d assumed it was selling. Hopefully I heard wrong.

      • RobWales says:

        My local dealer warned me about 3 months ago that the L’Artisan was being discontinued, so I bought the last 2 bottles he had. He can’t re-stock, so it does seem to have gone.

        • Robin says:

          Thanks. Figures.

        • Aparatchick says:

          I was told the same, which is why I’m now the proud owner of a bottle. Although it’s still on the L’artisan website, so ….

          • Robin says:

            Well, I’m guessing they still have some but have decided not to produce more.

        • hajusuuri says:

          The SA at the L’AP boutique at Henri Bendel told me the Vanille Absolument is being discontinued but it could possibly just be retiring the current packaging. It was 50% off. Two others – Coeur de Vetiver Sacre and Fleur de Liane are also being discontinued/repackaged and these are also 50% off. The worst part – the boutique is closing in mid-May :-(

          • Robin says:

            Oh, they’re leaving Bendel? Good to know, thanks.

          • Jessica says:

            Oh no, really?! I hadn’t heard that. Well, I’ll be visiting Bendel even *less* frequently if that happens…

      • sweetgrass says:

        Oh, it’s getting discontinued? I didn’t know that. I heard recently that Safran Troublant is getting discontinued too. Have you heard anything about that?

  2. HemlockSillage says:

    I agree that the Vanille & Narcisse is the winner of the bunch–unexpectedly for me, as I’m not a huge vanilla fan. It was interestingly spicy and yet kept a sheer impression.

    I will not be handing over any of my perfume dollars, I’m afraid. It seemed these scents were front loaded. They were pret-ty up top, immediately, but after 30 minutes, seemed very bland. (Vanille & Narcisse was the exception) The Jasmine & Bergamot had an odd synthetic note on my skin in a very short time. I just advise all to try on skin, and give it time. If I’d purchased on the spot, I would have been disappointed.

    I wonder if fragrances are calculated to appeal best on first sniff, to get the immediate sale. When I tell friends to wait, and see how a perfume develops, few are willing to take that time. If the top notes don’t attract my non perfume oriented friends, they consider it no further. Rant over. Be well. Have fun exploring!

    • Robin says:

      Yes, I’d say that’s very true of most fragrances these days — they’re designed to appeal on paper for a few minutes. I also thought that several of these needed more than 1 spray to make a good impression on skin, which again, makes it unfortunate that the travel coffret is splash.

  3. odonata9 says:

    Just got back from sniffing these. They had cones set up for all the fragrances in the store, so I liked not having to spray paper blotters over and over! I liked the green tea the most, though the vanille & narcisse was nice as well. I re-sniffed the regular green tea and I agree – the new one is much better and the regular one seems very different (not as good) from when I last smelled it, maybe a year ago. This store did have the Green Tea & Jasmine as well so seems it’s still available some places.

    • Robin says:

      Glad I’m not dreaming about the regular Green Tea — it also seemed flatter, maybe? — and good to know you can still find the jasmine one.

  4. Joe says:

    Thanks, Robin. I’ll have to swing by the mall and give myself a good spraydown with Vanille & Narcisse one of these days and take it for a ride. I’m definitely curious about it.

    I’ll have to compare the current Green Tea to the giant bottle that I’ve owned for several years. I hardly wear it anymore, but I do still really like it on a hot day.

    • Robin says:

      Let me know if you like it — and the verdict on the green tea.

  5. donanicola says:

    Prompted by your review the other day I swung by the L’Occitane in the City on my way home and sniffed the Vanille and Narcisse. Actually I did more than that I sprayed it on skin and got lovely whiffs afterwards at the gym! I wasn’t sure I could detect much in the way of narcissus, at least, not after the first hour which was a disappointment (L’AP’s Fleur de Narcisse remains in pole position for that note) but overall I really really liked it. For some reason I was reminded of Guerlain Bois d’Armenie. I wouldn’t spend that much on a full bottle but will be keeping an eye out for decant possibilities!

    • Robin says:

      Interesting about the Bois d’Armenie, I wouldn’t have thought of it.

  6. austenfan says:

    I tried two of these recently. The Jasmine and the Vanilla. I haven’t made up my mind about the first one, but I love the Vanille & Narcisse. I will probably want to get a bottle of the body lotion.

  7. violetesse says:

    Had the opportunity to try all of these a couple of weeks ago at the mall L’Occitane store.I didn’t care for any except the Narcisse and Vanilla. I thought the perfume too pricey for what it was, so I bought the body milk. I’m truly picky about what I will pay for a certain scent. It wasn’t the $75 that was prohibitive. I’ve spent way more than that for ones I love. This just wasn’t special enough…

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