1 marzo 2014

Y by Yves Saint Laurent (1964): un truc en plumes

There are perfumes that step into our life without asking permission at an age when we don't have anything but our nose to understand them. Thanks to my paternal grandmother I met Y by Yves Saint Laurent during the '70s. Beautiful and vain, her memory is more related to that green trail rather than to bursts of love and maybe that's why it entered my emotional world like a sort of invisible embrace. On January 2014 this glorious chypre celebrated its 50th birthday, let's celebrate dancing with one of the muses more Saint Laurent than ever: Zizi Jeanmaire!

Jacques Bercia and Michel Hy, pupil of Jean Carles, created the first perfume for the infant prodigy of fashion keeping away from both romantic florals like Diorissimo and troubling diva fumes like Fracas. In fashion Saint Laurent introduced the trapeze line and the fluid sharp silhouettes setting off the woman. Likewise the perfumers brought the androginous elements of classics, first of all Ma Griffe as a tribute to Carles, and mouldered on them an elegant green chypre with a joyful attitude, just kissed by a peach's pulpy lips. The waxy and rosy halo it exudes is all about parisian chic and makes it part of the '60s renaissance of chypres started with Madame Rochas and Calèche, less shady and angular that the '40s ones. Unfortunately L'Oreal has carved out most of the complexity from the current Y, but what I regret most is the pure perfume which richness you can have an idea by smelling its latest brilliant descendant: Vero Kern's Mito extrait de parfum.

Behind the bergamot brightness and the galbanum brisk verdancy, the opening of my vintage perfume hides a little domestic yard, never mind if in Marseille or in the beloved Marrakech where the smell of thyme mixes up with the one of fruits in the sun. Florals are crisp, ruled by gardenia fading in the unperceivable smoothness of jasmin. Originally the opening was crossed by the citric milkyness of magnolia that later disappeared in the first reformulations. The base is simply flawless, sexy with resins and an animal whiff yet dried by the roughness of vetiver, and dances with the feathers of musks and a coquettish iris touch for the great ending.

Coco Chanel said fashion passes while style remains and I think Yves felt the same about his first perfume. So while many see the ispiration for Y coming from the couture, I think he looked further thinking of perfume as an attitude, an invisible signature you can bring everywhere, no matter what you wear because you wear "la robe invisible d'Yves Saint Laurent" (declaring perfumes as a democratic luxury). To me the perfect embodiment of this mood is represented by his long collaboration with Roland Petit started in the '50s and specially his muse Zizi Jeanmaire. Her fresh look as neat as the bottle designed by Pierre Dinand and her beautiful legs highlighted by Saint Laurent's black costumes make her the most glamourous artistic expression of the intellectual rive gauche, the perfect model for that invisible dress.

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