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Heure Exquise – Quite simply a stunner (New Fragrance Listing Friday, August 19, 2011)

Photo - Wikipedia- Sunset at Giverney - Claude Monet

 Heure Exquise  – the Exquisite Hour, or the Twilight Hour – seems such a quiet name for a powerful fragrance.

 From the Annick Goutal website description for Heure Exquise:
"A sophisticated trail of Turkish rose, a gentle powdery base of iris from Florence and Mysore sandalwood. This fragrance recreates the atmosphere of a rose garden that blossoms with the passing of each exquisite hour."

Well….sort of. This description lists the key notes and the creative inspiration, but if I took it at face value, I’d give this scent a big yawn and a pass. I can tell you that it is much, much more than the bland image of a rose garden conveyed by this description.

The short story of how I came to own a bottle of Heure Exquise involves a nose – mine – and a visit to the Annick Goutal store in Paris last year, where I sniffed it, and didn’t buy it, which I’ve regretted ever since, so a few weeks ago I finally gave in and bought a bottle of the EdT.

Heure Exquise is, quite simply, a stunner. Aldehydic  and intensely green out of the bottle, it let’s you know from the very first milli-seconds that this is a REAL perfume, made from QUALITY ingredients, by  a TRUE master - in fact, it was created by Annick Goutal and her mentor, Henri Sorsana, in 1984. From the sharp, sophisticated start of peppery rose and resinous galbanum, the scent moves into the iris heart, a little soapy at first and then changing into the perfect dry, powdery iris note, with hints of leather and damp earth. The dry-down offers sandalwood, a creamy, woody incense note when mixed with the iris and rose, with the slightest hints of dark vanilla and almond. The sillage is full, rich and wonderful.

Heure Exquise could be mistaken for a classic Guerlain – it’s that good. It’s been compared to Chanel No.19, the ultimate green scent, but its heart is much more sensual … if Chanel No.19 is hard shiny clear crystal, Heure Exquise is soft warm coloured silk. The development is actually quite linear but it has shades of dark melancholy which convey a powerful sensuality - dark green and purple like the Twilight Hour – and which give it a layer of voluptuous sophistication.  It’s simple but complex at the same time, and  I can’t imagine a 20’s-something wearing this , or even coming close to understanding it.

You might not even like Heure Exquise, if you don’t like green notes, and you don’t like iris. Even if you do like these notes, the key to experiencing the magic of Heure Exquise is patience – wait for the heart and the dry-down. That’s what fooled me in Paris, when I didn’t buy it – its true beauty didn’t emerge until later in the day. Standing on the hotel balcony enjoying the Paris sunset, I caught an intoxicating waft of Heure Exquise from my wrist – pure, powerful, timeless beauty – and I thought at that moment that this classic scent is well-named.

Heure Exquise is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.