I’ve started reviewing my batch of summer perfume samples!  It’s been a cool and rather damp spring with very few weeks consistently sunny and 70 or over, so I’ve had a slow start on my new options for summer heat. 

Annick Goutals’ Eau de Camille is one of those fragrances that has been on my to-try list for a long time, but for various reasons it never got purchased.  AG is a line that ought to suit me well.  Their design and marketing appeals to me and they have an emphasis on lifelike fragrance notes rather than abstracted/filtered versions of notes.  I’ve found that most of their fragrances don’t live up to my expectations, being either too sweet and naive (i.e. Petite Cherie) or containing a squishy herbal vegetative thread (Mandragore, Nuits d’Hadrien, Ninfeo Mio up close).  

Eau de Camille, I am pleased to report, is almost exactly what I’d hoped for.

Broken hedges, the crushed leaves of boxwood and privet in their springtime vitality, green green green, sap and leaf juices!  So enters Eau de Camille.  Maybe it’s the effect of hours in my childhood playing among the overgrowth in the vacant lot next door, sidling through the narrow passage behind our house lined with ivy and shaded by trees, but I do love a lifelike broken leaves note in a perfume. 

As the top notes drift away, the greeny leaf starts to play This One or That One with the scent of lilies, both the rich spicy-sweet white oriental lily and the small cool lily of the valley.   This part is really fun.  You get a sequence of leaf, candy lily, leaf, muguet, leaf.  The oriental lily is white and sugar-crystalled with a pink heart, yummy and intense while remaining in the realm of delicious rather than overwhelming.  It is very distinct but quite light: not an overpowering density of lily.  Honeysuckle is also a major component of the heart of this fragrance.  I loooove AG’s Le Chevrefeuille, a honeysuckle soliflore, and am delighted that the delicate honeysuckle found there makes an appearance in Eau de Camille.  Sometimes the honeysuckle is a vine wound amonst the shrubbery, and sometimes it is the nectar lifted on a breeze. 

As the perfume wears, the green eventually becomes a background, discernable as the underpinnings of a green floral.  The scent retains its light feminine heart nearly all the way through with that curious mixture of sweet lily and cool muguet.  It appealingly displays both the tenderness of feminine youth and the green vibrancy of life.  I can imagine wearing this on any summer day and feeling just about as pretty as it’s possible to get.   Apparently Annick Goutal created Eau de Camille in response to her daughter’s request for a perfume that smelled like their courtyard garden in the suburbs, and I think she nailed it. 

The sole reservation I have about Eau de Camille is that in the drydown, the flowers huddle close to the skin and the only notes apparent in the sillage are a greenish soap, sort of a clean and fresh sportiness that is not really in keeping with the sweet femininity up til then, and this stage lasts longer than I’d like. 

I am sure some people will find this perfume too aggressive in its greenness.  For myself, I love the green.  Eau de Camille goes strong for four hours or longer on me, plenty for summertime.  The sillage is perfect for my taste: enough that when I spray it on my wrist, I can smell it without particularly noticing where it’s coming from.  I’m reaching for it often on these early summer days. 

**** Four stars out of five.

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