10/13/14

Eau des 4 Reines (L'Occitane)



My brother happens to be a huge fan of L'Occitane's fragrances, and owns five or six of them, making the brand his number one choice. He only has eight to ten frags. He's not a huge fragrance enthusiast, so this seems about right. For some reason, L'Occitane is the gateway niche brand of Connecticut, and the go-to for young guys and gals who don't know a lick about perfume, but want to wear something "fancy" and "obscure." The Danbury Fair Mall has a sizable shop frequented by New York Staters and western Yankees of means, and last I checked it was as pricy as ever, given what you get (basically your average mall scent).

Eau des 4 Reines is the third L'Occitane I've worn, putting me considerably behind my younger sibling with this brand, but it inspires no urgent need to catch up, as I find it to be a disappointment. I should make clear though that I think it's a good perfume, and worth checking out if you're a lover of rose scents. There's nothing wrong with it, quality-wise. It's made of decent, long-lasting synthetics, and possesses a delicate floral character that is at once abstract and regal, postmodern and stuffy. That's an odd balance to strike. The most direct comparison I can make is not to any single perfume, but to one part of a perfume, the base of Creed Spring Flower.

Spring Flower opens with a barrage of sour fruit notes that become somewhat sweeter with time, before dissolving into an intricately delicate and transparent floral bouquet, mostly light nuances of rose, jasmine, muguet, and freesia. The effect is very fresh, green, yet also watery and sheer, reminiscent of a toned down version of Tommy Girl's "fresh" notes. It is quite dynamic for what it is, and note separation is very good if you pay attention. It also smells much more natural than it is given credit for.

Eau des 4 Reines is a significantly less dynamic recreation of Spring Flower's bouquet, with the same emphasis on delicate petals and clean, watery freshness. I guess the idea was to capture the essence of roses in a fresh vase of water. This is fine and well, but for some reason the balance is off, and the watery aroma chemical overcomes the florals, creating an unfortunate hand soap effect. An hour into the drydown, the light rose and jasmine notes of Ed4R are smudged out completely, and there's no longer any point in searching for anything distinct.

As I said before, the rose note is decent and rose lovers should at least give this a try, if they can find it. I believe it's been discontinued, but like any discontinued scent, its ghost haunts the grey market. Just don't expect anything along the lines of Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose or Jo Malone's Red Roses, both superior roses in every way. And if you enjoy the basic idea of this fragrance, but wish it were more interesting, Spring Flower is the answer.




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