I have very fond memories of YSL Rive Gauche, (named after the arty Left Bank of the Seine) but it has been so embedded in my memory that I find it hard to de construct. When considering what to write about it, my first instinct was to write “Rive Gauche smells like Rive Gauche”, which of course, would make a short and inadequate review.
Created the same time as I was (1970) and launched a year later, Rive Gauche and its iconic tin canister has certainly played its part in my olfactory memory. My first memory of it is of my primary school teacher wearing it in 1978. I didn’t know its name then, but the scent memory stayed with me.
My mother then wore it in the 80s, which is how I learnt its name. My recent foray was yesterday, when I tried the modern formulation, and unlike many purists, I did not find it lacking. It was still very recognisable as Rive Gauche and the memories came flooding back, although the opening was a very 70s melange of powder, soap and white noise.
So what’s it like? It’s very 70s, yet timeless. The opening reminded me of Givenchy Ysatis, which isn’t good on me: it was soap, powder and dust. However, when this small fog cleared, the good old fashioned smell of Rive Gauche was there, just as I remembered it. It opens with clean smelling aldehydes, with a background of flowers: definitely Jasmine, Iris, and Rose. The flowers are muted though, in a refined sort of way, rather than the modern “in your face” way that can sometimes happen.
Dare I say it? The Iris calms everything down and keeps this both smooth and rich. It wouldn’t be the same without it. The finish is slightly woody (Oakmoss), but the florals stay true and rich. It’s so good I may consider getting a bottle. I rarely smell it on anyone these days, which is a great shame.
So hard to describe, yet I could recognise it in an instant. Are there any fragrances that you remember form when you were very young? Do you find them hard to describe or it is just me?