I noticed recently that a small selection of YSL past favourites have been re released into a carefully curated Heritage range. I have always wanted to try Y by YSL, having read of its legendary green notes and its mossy finish- which is usually enough to get me hooked. I was not disappointed and upon finding a bottle in my local House of Fraser, I duly drenched myself in it.
When first applied, it reminded me of a bottle of perfume that has been sealed for a long time before being opened. There is a slightly “off” tang about it, like an old vintage perfume that has yellowed with age. I realise that doesn’t sound like praise, but it is, I can assure you. After a few moments there is a touch of green bitterness, not unlike Clinique Aromatics Elixir, and the aldehydes- sharp and uncompromising, dominate throughout the opening number. Y then dies down quietly in a powdery green chypre that fans of Chanel No 19 and Guerlain Chamade will enjoy.
Every flower is here: all the heady, blousey ones- tuberose, rose, honeysukle, hyacinth, jasmine. There is Orris root to, which calms any stray sweetness into submission.
The basenote is where this really gets my loyalty for life (actually, it had me when I took its lid off). With classic, textbook chypre characteristics, Y has a slightly bitter, slightly powdery finish heady with thick oakmoss, amber and patchouli. There’s benzoin, styrax and a touch of civet too, just to drive the point home.
I should point out that I cannot make any comparisons between this and previous formulations as I haven’t smelled them. Suffice to say, I was overjoyed to find a bitter, mossy green chypre on a modern day beauty counter.
YSL Y is fabulously retro and I fear that a youthful modern nose, attuned to sweetness and berries may wrinkle in disdain, which may explain why it’s not on the bestseller lists. Yves Saint Laurent Y is a classic-a green bitter chypre that you don’t have to seek out on eBay. It already smells vintage and it makes this nostalgic chypre fan very happy.