Where the Eighties were all about the size of your phone (big), your hairstyle (big), your shoulder pads (big) and your perfume (gigantic), the Nineties became the decade of anti fashion and everyone calmed down a bit. After the brash gilt of the opulent ”Greed is Good” Eighties, the vibe was suddenly less is more and the Nineties became the caring, sharing Nineties where we started to look worried about leaving all the lights on the Eighties.
Suddenly it was all about Britpop, The Spice Girls, Meg Ryan rom-coms, pinafore dresses, Princess Di’s divorce, boybands with “curtain” fringes, blazers over bras , Friends, and the Rachel Cut.
Whilst many Nineties fashions faded away into history, Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey stood strong among the rubble and remained a runaway bestseller throughout the Nineties, the Noughties and the Twenteens (I made up that last word, but you can borrow it. What else are we going to call them?)
Created in 1992 by the same Japanese designer who kept Steve Jobs in trademark black turtlenecks, Issey Miyake’s L’Eau D’Issey was an immediate bestseller and still is. I remember it coating many a dear friend of mine in the mid nineties and just smelling it now takes me back to those turbulent years in my mid twenties.
Top notes are (with thanks to Fragrantica): Cyclamen, Freesia, Roses, Melon and Lotus
Middle notes: Carnation, Lily, Lily of the Valley and Water Peony
Basenotes: Woods, Tuberose, Amber, Sandalwood, Musk, Osmanthus and Cedar
If by some tiny chance you have never smelled this ubiquitous Top Ten scent, I can safely say that many of the floral notes are either not there or drowned out by the aquatic/ozonic/melon accord. This is primarily melon/calone and the flowers listed are a pretty chorus, but by no means do they take centre stage. I would also say that the base notes described would give an impression of a much woodier musk scent, which this is not.
Having said all that, this is certainly pretty and light, as was its intention, and it also heralded a genre that hasn’t gone away: Clean.
Clean, Laundry Fresh and Fresh Cotton and Fresh Linen and ooh, everything that makes you smell as if you’ve just come in from being hung on the washing line to dry in a gentle breeze. I don’t hate this trend, and sometimes I want that Linen Fresh thing going on, but in general, I want my perfume to be more challenging and interesting than just “clean” (especially when the opposite can be such fun! I’m talking to you Bal a Versailles, you filthy madam!).
L’Eau D’Issey almost became a victim of its success in so far as it was everywhere. Having said that, I’d rather smell this than its ubiquitous contemporary Thierry Mugler Angel, which is the same age and couldn’t be more different.
Personally, Calone has never been my cup of Earl Grey, but putting aside my subjectiveness for a moment, this is a brilliantly done scent and has stayed at the top of its game for over two decades. This is no mean feat when you think how many perfumes are discontinued on a yearly basis.
My theory is that in all the stress and chaos and busy-ness of modern life, some people need and want a drop of something pure to gently bring them back to earth again. And who can blame them? L’Eau D’Issey does that very job and does it brilliantly.
Issey Miyake L’Eau D’Issey is widely available. Try allbeauty.com