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Parisienne is a fairly new (2009) perfume by Yves St Laurent, created by perfumer Sophia Grojsman - the woman who also created YSL Paris back in 1983. This is definitely one for a younger audience, with its not unattractive pastel bottle and clear liquid: technically, Parisienne is in the floral perfume category, but like many modern perfumes it's very sweet and also has definite aspects of sugar and candy. The main reason I tried this is because it was marketed as having a "vinyl accord" (a plastic, completely artificial note in it) and I was eager to see what that would be like from a mainstream perfume company.
The packaging is nice enough, if not that special: a pale mauve box with "YSL" in large purple letters and "Parisienne" in, er, slightly tacky gold lettering over the top. There's a black band around the bottom of the box with "Yves St Laurent" written on it. The bottle is reasonably good but not very inventive - a round, clear glass offering which looks just a little bit like a grenade! The juice inside is the palest mauve, there's a black sticker on the front with "YSL" written on it and the top is gold, concealing a spray.
THE PERFUME ITSELF
Parisienne is all about violets for me. It starts with a lot of alcohol which takes a good 30 seconds to calm down, then once that's cleared, a strong yet watery violet note comes to the forefront - it's not really fresh violet, though, more like artificial Parma Violets, but without any of their powderiness. Imagine that someone has dissolved some Parma Violet sweets in a glass of water, and that's approaching the effect of this perfume at first. The single note continues for a very long time (which is unusual and not all that interesting) before being joined by some sweet fruity berries which smell like blackcurrants. What with the artificial violet going on, the berries don't smell natural either; they're transformed into their sweet or candy forms.
The top notes start to give way to the middle notes after about an hour, and something which might or might not be the "vinyl accord" appears - a sort of faint plastic tang briefly replaces the berries underneath the violet, then is just as quickly gone. If I'm honest, the middle notes are underwhelming, just sitting there without doing much or developing, just doing the same artificial violet thing that was happening in the top notes. Plus, the middle notes seem to go on forever - the base notes don't appear for another 2 hours.
When they do come, however, Parisienne livens up a little bit with some white florals appearing and finally taking over from the violet which, if I'm honest, is starting to get really quite sickly. The white florals don't give it any depth, nor does the hint of vanilla which appears at this point; it just stays watery and liquid right up till the end. Overall, the scent probably lasts for about 5 hours, and the sillage isn't bad (I kept getting wafts of it as I moved around, but it wasn't choking or overpowering).
I really like violets, and I'm intrigued by scents which have plasticky, artificial or otherwise weird notes - although I don't like it per se, I am fascinated by Bandit and I'm keen on Bulgari Black, so I'm open to invention and experimentation in perfume. So, given all that, I'm forced to conclude that the problem with Parisienne is that there wasn't any experimentation - the vinyl note, if there was one, was so fleeting that one could argue it lacked the courage to stick around! Not only this, but it was such a disappointingly one-note perfume that I just couldn't bring myself to wear it and get bored all over again, and as I've said, I'm speaking as a fan of violet scents.
It's definitely one for younger women - probably teenagers, actually, as it's incredibly light and a bit flat. It never develops into anything dark or complex, so it might be good for a warmer day. My pet hate in perfume is sweetness turning into soft vanilla, and it certainly doesn't do that, so I suppose it has taken a slightly different direction to most modern perfumes; it's also not cheap smelling or specifically nasty...just uninspired and irritatingly uncomplicated. I wouldn't be averse to smelling it on someone else, nor do I think it's horrible, but if you're going to give it a try then I advise that you make sure you and everyone else around you really, really like violets before you commit to five hours smelling like the Parma Violets factory!
Also, I don't know what this has got to do with Paris. But then, the adverts featuring Kate Moss writhing around in the back of a taxi weren't all that Parisian either - but you can't call a perfume "Blackpool" and expect it to sell, can you? Frankly, both the ad campaign and this perfume are just not classy, angular, intriguing or sexy enough to be really Parisian. Sorry, YSL. Better luck next time.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Parisienne is still relatively new, so it's easy to find in most places: anywhere with a YSL concession, airport duty-free is a good bet or there's always trusty Boots, which stocks three sizes: £69.45 for 90ml EDP, £49.02 for 50ml EDP and £35.75 for 30ml EDP.
Yves Saint Laurent YSL Parisienne Perfume; has a rich floral centre of Damask rose, paired with a powdery violet and sharp vinyl note that gives Parisienne its deliciously seductive edge / It begins with cranberry, peony and blackberry and has a rich base of amber, cedar, musk and a hint of vanilla, for a provocative and sensual end.