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.