Y Le Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent (2021)


When I smelled Y Le Parfum by Yves Saint Laurent (2021), I fully got what I expected. Everyone in the upper-mid designer space dances to the beat of Chanel’s drum, but can’t quite master the moves in much the same way because unlike Chanel, they’re beholden to corporate overlords that maximize explosive short-term profit growth over long-term sustainability, meaning they can’t afford to take the risks or set the trends like Chanel does, but rather will follow marketing data and demographic research to a fault, pumping this data into AI machines that then spit out fragrances (or adjustments to fragrances that then become flankers) in order to achieve what the math says will be the widest potential market adoption. We’ve seen LVMH go down this path with sweeter and smoother flankers of Dior Sauvage (2015) dressed as higher concentrations, and now L’Oréal does it too with the Y by Yves Saint Laurent (2017) line. The monkey-see monkey-do behavior of these houses really just further alienate them from their once-great reputations, but alas.

Y Le Parfum immediately reads like Dior Sauvage Parfum (2019), with a massive slug of sugared tonka bean underpinning everything in the accord. Much of the “blue” accord in the opening, the “showergel” vibe created by the mixture of orange, lemon, juniper, ginger, and some galaxolide that depending on flanker, will then factor in apple, orange blossom, pink pepper, and additional ethyl maltol for sweetness, is collectively subdued in this version as expected. Y le Parfum instead just touches on the signature Paco Rabanne Invictus (2013) by-proxy opening then plunges right into the tonka, which is dressed up in a stew of patchouli, woody ambers posing as olibanum, musks, and a bit more lavender than the standard varieties of Y. Sillage is close as I’d gather from a parfum concentration, with projection dying off after an hour, but wearing steadfastly until you scrub from skin. Best use here will be winter time in romantic or casual night out scenarios, but this one has no formal or night club potential and wears too sweet for the office. On the bright side, Y Le Parfum is darker and denser so it feels a tad more mature than the rest of the range.

At very least, YSL waited until they had a bit more under the collective “Y belt” before dropping Y Le Parfum, with the clubber variant Y Live (2019) followed by the summer day-runner Y Eau Fraîche (2020), but they were both sort of superfluous themselves unless you’re a hardcore Y addict. If you are, then you now have a Y for work, play, cold, warm, day, or night, meaning you can gas out the rest of us with your aromachemical wake 365 days a year. Oh what joy! In all seriousness, I don’t hate Y Le Parfum, but the sweet spot for me is and will remain Y Eau de Parfum (2018), in which Dominique Ropion redressed his own work in the nightmarish original eau de toilette into something fuller, rounder, and more complete. Really, the line could have stopped there outside maybe the more aquatic flanker, as Y EdP can cover the clubbing and winter requirements on it’s own. Still, if you’re a huge fan, I won’t begrudge you picking this up, but I’m rather indifferent about Y Le Parfum because I don’t see the value in a darker, duller, heavier Y experience that does nothing to add or improve the DNA. Neutral

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