On Trial: Elie Saab’s Le Parfum L’Eau Couture

This irresistible new fragrance is well worth the price

Say the name Elie Saab and most people imagine couture designs in rich fabrics worn by the super rich. But a fragrance? Sure, I wanted to roll my eyes up at another fashion house launching an eponymous scent, but this time I didn’t. When I learned the fragrance Le Parfum L’Eau Couture ($73) involved a collaboration with Francis Kurkdjian, who is a demi-god in the world of perfume, I was beyond thrilled. I knew straight away this scent was going to be wuuunderful.

Having spent countless gratifying hours at The Scent Bar on Beverly sniffing out the nuanced notes in Kurkidian’s own line of fragrances, I can say the curiosity of his subtle concoctions is the perfect complement for the couture house. It’s Kurkdjian’s unpredictability, richness, and character—he’s come up with more than 40 creations for major fashion designers—that get me to hand over the credit card without a second thought. Though I’m not sure what I respect more: Kurkdjian’s particular aesthetic, which defies categorization, or the fact that he eschews the clichéd copy of fragrance billboards and TV ads, which are commonly as dated as a Harlequin novel.

L’Eau Couture is a fresh, light flanker (a.k.a. sequel) to the 2011 Elie Saab Le Parfum original scent. It dances on the divide between the green blooms of bergamot and orange blossoms and the mature petals of magnolia, with a graceful gourmand twist of almond. Love it or loathe it, vanilla is present, though its a restrained sweetness, which makes the scent a safe bet for office wear with an 8-hour-plus longevity. I want to say it’s a sophisticated creamsicle in a bottle, but I fear that would gravely insult Kurkdjian’s desire for idealized purity. It is pure, but not quite virginal, like those famously saccharine scents aimed at the younger market. This is for the woman who disses mass-marketed celeb scents in favor of something naturally stirring and modern. After the notes have settled, I find the fragrance hugely irresistible and well worth the price.

 A native Angeleno, Navdeep Mundi is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has studied beauty products for more than 18 years. She spends her days directing media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.