It seems appropriate that as the UK has been bound up in rather melodramatic smog (complete with drizzle) recently that I turned to a delightfully sunny fragrance for escape, Caron’s 2013 release – My Ylang.
Caron’s output is much smaller than that of it’s historic rival – Guerlain. Meaning that a new release is a rare thing of excitement, my sample should have come with one of those greeting cards that plays a tune, in this case, a trumpeted fanfare to announce it’s arrival.
My Ylang fits neatly into the genre of ‘solar floral’, a term which could be interpreted in a number of ways. Elena at Perfume Shrine suggests that molecules called salicylates (which occur naturally in the Ylang Ylang plant) are a vital component of the solar effect:
“To the perfume student these molecules present fascinating facets on the path of creation because salicylates encompass complimentary aspects and aid diffusion, making fragrances open up and "expand" in a sunny, exhilarating way. Gardenia, tiaré, and frangipani accords are usually built on salicylates and their summery vibe warms our heart even in winter.” Perfume Shrine
The ultimate sunshine girl, Bardot.
Typically, salicylates have been long used in sunscreen lotion which is probably why we associate perfumes containing these molecules with the joy of the holiday season. Guerlain’s Lys Soleia and Terracotta fragrances, Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess and Lancaster’s Sunwater all emit a veritable ‘Thomas Cook’ aroma that remind us of time away from work spent in the throes of heat and decadent leisure. It’s no wonder we love them.
However, another association occurs for me as there is a definite whiff of Nivea Crème radiating from My Ylang. Nivea was for many years my mum’s choice of skincare meaning that the ‘Nivea note’ signifies love, warmth and protection to me.
This how it wears:
My Ylang opens with a gargantuan burst of citrus and ylang. If you’re curious about what ylang actually smells like, you can take a whiff anywhere that sells essential oils as it is often used in aromatherapy for it’s anti-depressant and sensual properties. Oddly, I really dislike it on it’s own but when mixed with other aromas it becomes a thing of beauty. Mandarin Orange is the only official listed citrus but there is a ‘bells of St. Clements’ effect similar to that found in Jour D’Hermes, but significantly less spiky. A little blackcurrant creeps into the fruit bowl in a very pleasing manner. In recent years this note has been used in abundance, often paired in a sickly gloop of flat sweetness. YSL’s Manifesto and Armani’s Si were responsible for creating ‘blackcurrant haters’ as they introduced to the world their berry puddings, effectively giving us all olfactory diabetes. When blackcurrant is used in collaboration with barely sweetened background (as in My Ylang), it offers us a dazzling edge of greenery and piquancy that ‘lifts’ the composition in a similar fashion to the use of aldehydes. Paired with a trace hint of lily of the valley, you could can sense an atmosphere of nature thriving.
My Ylang is complex, unsurprisingly for Caron who are masters of ‘the journey’ i.e. creating perfumes with a great transformation from start to finish. The different facets of the scent feel almost as if they are moving, dancing about, weaving in and out of our perception. Underpinning the dance lies a grounding base of authentic vanilla that is detectable throughout the journey. It isn’t particularly sweet, simply warm and comforting. Unlike many other solar florals, there are no tropical fruit or coconut elements, which keep it a long way from becoming a genre stereotype.I’d recommend My Ylang for those who are seeking a cheering lift, an essence of summer and a fragrance that offers a multifaceted ride. It does however retail at a high price. For a less expensive (but not as delightfully complex) alternative, a similar vibe can be found in Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia. Failing that you could root out last summer’s flip flops, download The Isley Brother’s Summer Breeze, sip away at a Pina Colada and hope the weather looks up.
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