I often cringe when a perfume is regarded as “Old Lady”. For one thing, the old ladies round my way smell better than the young ladies. It’s the older crowd that wear Estee Lauder Cinnabar and Aromatics Elixir, and the younger crowd that smell of Sweet Shops. Secondly, Old Lady is often used as a term for any perfume with powdery notes or a powdery drydown. My ears prick up when I hear someone describe a perfume as “Old Lady”. To my mind, it usually means a decent Chypre is up for grabs. It does amuse me however, when I hear my mother describe a perfume as “too Old Lady”. She is 67 this year, and very far from Old Lady herself.
However, “Old Lady” interpretations can vary wildly from nation to nation. I hear from a French friend of a friend that Cacharel LouLou is regarded as Old Lady over in France. Over here in the UK, Yves Rocher Clea would be regarded as Old Lady, with its powdery soapiness, but such is the demand for it in France, that Yves Rocher has kept it going since 1980. That’s no mean feat from Yves Rocher, who decimate ruthlessly.
Clea is an Oriental scent with powdery notes and a soapy drydown. It is spicy in a muted way, i.e Vetiver and Sandalwood, and has excellent longevity. The bottle is vintage in style, not quite out of fashion, but definitely early 80s: the version I have is clear glass with a gold lid. The strongest notes are Amber, Roses, Patchouli and Lily of The Valley. Clea smells of clean lotion and clean talc and has just enough of a Patchouli hit to be alluring. If it was a colour it would be a translucent Ambery glow.
This reminds me very much of the much mourned Avon Timeless, and would also go down well with fans of Lanvin Arpege. In fact, I prefer this to Arpege as it has all the oriental, powdery glory with none of the peaches.
Considering the timeless quality of Clea, going strong for 34 years now, the price is a steal. Yves Rocher prices vary a lot from week to week, but I bought this alongside a £15 bottle of Yves Rocher Yria and got it for free: otherwise it’s only around £15 for a 75ml bottle.