Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise: A Rare Beauty

Day 3 of Annick Goutal Week
Heure Exquise is a rare beauty. I have worn Heure Exquise for years, to the point that I must take it for granted, because I don’t think about it or mention it near enough.

Heure Exquise was created by Isabella Doyen in collaboration with the late Annick Goutal herself and launched in 1984. In case anyone reading this doesn’t already know the story of Annick Goutal, she was originally a prizewinning pianist and model who became a self taught perfumer later in life. She unfortunately passed away in 1999, but her daughter, Camille Goutal, has taken the reigns of the company. To me, one of the best aspects of Annick Goutal, as a company, is that it stands alone, does not answer to any gigantic corporation, and therefore is able to maintain it’s products and brand identity as the owner deems fit. Since the passing of Annick Goutal herself I think Camille has taken the house in a slightly edgier direction, which for me, is wonderful. I see this as a natural, organic evolution of a brand and the quality of Annick Goutal products has remained consistently exceptional.

Heure Exquise is oftentimes compared with Chanel No. 19 and Hermes Hiris. The comparisons are apt only during the first 5 minutes of spraying. Similar to No. 19 and Hiris, Heure Exquise begins as a cool green aldehydic fragrance with iris and rose. I understand the comparison with Hiris but I see it mostly on paper, because Heure Exquise, in practice, is much less cold and rooty and more of a proper perfume, where I find Hiris to be an exercise in aromachemicals. Once Heure Exquise dries down, I don’t find much similarity with No. 19. In fact, the perfume it most resembles in style is Caron Parfum Sacre and while I enjoy Parfum Sacre, Heure Exquise is still more beautiful.

Heure Exquise begins and ends quite differently. It starts off aldehydic and green and very quickly turns into a gentle rose with iris and orris root powdering things up. Heure Exquise is a smidgen spicy and woody, however, the overall effect is a smooth gentle caress. The rose is ever so soft and nary a sharp angle in sight. It suddenly occurs to me that as much as I like Frederic Malle’s Iris Poudre, Heure Exquise trumps it on all accounts. The mysore sandalwood in the far dry down of Heure Exquise is quite simply exquisite.

Heure Exquise translates to “exceptional hour” in English so it’s meant to capture a similar time of day as Guerlain’s L’Heure Bleue; the sunset hour, twilight, just before darkness. The fragrance conjures classically styled perfumes and therefore a nostalgic and graceful impression is created.

I’ve always worn Heure Exquise in EDT but just realized it also comes in EDP. I would like to get the EDP soon so I can compare, plus another bottle of Heure Exquise will never go to waste.


em said...

This saved my morning(mood)thank you! Getting a sample of Heure Exquise, it sounds like it's just what I'm looking for.

waftbyCarol said...

I also love and wore this for years...since reformulation it is not the same . I'd love an older bottle of edp , my bottle is empty !!

MyPerfumeLife said...

Still loving the AG bottles. I know you're not as in love with them as I am - but I just think they look great!

Mals86 said...

Abigail, you are *killing my bank account*.

I looooove both No. 19 and Parfum Sacre, and two separate swap friends/Fragrance Twins sent me samples of Heure Exquise about 4-6 months ago. I tried it twice, once from each vial. Didn't like it - I found it uncomfortably dry. But alright already! I will give it another shot.

Do you find that weather affects how it wears on you?

CagneyFan said...

Lovely review. This is one of my very favorites from AG.

I do think there is a difference, though, between the newer version and the old, as waftbyCarol commented above. My old EdP is truly "exquise."

Abigail said...

Oh, dear! I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't even noticed a difference between the pre-reform Heure Exquise and the new. Maybe I have an old bottle? I've been wearing it since the mid-90's and probably bought my last bottle about 5 years ago. Arghgh, I am so upset to hear that it's changed!!!

Question: how does one find an old bottle of AG - since all the bottles look the same?

queen_cupcake said...

I've been loving this one ever since I first tried it, most likely post-reformulation. In fact, I didn't know that this one was reformulated but I am very happy with it as it is!