Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Vivienne Westwood Libertine

Lovers of Chanel Cristalle, Yves Saint-Laurent Y, YSL So Pretty, Jean Patou Colony or Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil might love this little-known and now unfortunately discontinued Fruity Chypre featuring a unique viburnum note (like Vivienne Westwood Boudoir). Libertine can be perceived as light and fresh at first, as it is quite green and seemingly sparse, but being a Fruity Chypre, it morphs into a somewhat musty stewed fruit accord, like boozy pineapple and passion fruit mingling with woods and oakmoss. It's described as an understated fragrance on many sites online, which leads me to believe most Chypres are described as such by the industry. If it means the scent has a sophisticated woody-mossy backdrop that darkens or mutes the overall composition, then understated is an appropriate word; however, I think the scent still packs a sillage, and shouldn't be applied too liberally. I also wouldn't call it a fresh scent per se; maybe saying it's a complex, perfumey scent with some high-pitched accents, an overall clarity or transparency (and again, a strong, enveloping sillage) along with some deep, heavy notes (as woods and moss are), is closer to the reality. Perhaps by understated, they mean that the implied sexuality of the composition is understated but definitely there, lurking underneath the light floral surface--underneath, like the dirt that supports the flowers, that gave them life.

I've seen Gwen Stefani associated with Libertine but somehow, I don't see her as a Chypre person but more of a straightforward white floral and fruity lover--but maybe her taste, like mine, is all over the map. After all, perfuming is more fun when we can freely wear what we're in the mood for at any given time, not giving into the constraints of the industry's rules. Libertine is a daring scent, very unique and probably one that might grow on you (as it grew on me) over time even if you find it strange at first. Then again, maybe not, and that's OK, too. You won't know till you try it. Love it or not, I think Libertine is a quality creation, worthy of pontificating its significance over tea and scones.

Vivienne Westwood Libertine (2001): grapefruit, pineapple, passionfruit, lily of the valley, honeysuckle, bergamot, rose, oakmoss, patchouli, musk, amber

One more thing: I've read online that some people find Libertine salty-smelling. I believe that salitiness is due to salicylates, because I learned at Le Labo that they create the salty beach accord with salicylates. Furthermore, I know salicylates create a smooth consistency in perfume, which Libertine has.