The revived Austrian house of Lubin has been on fire in the last few years, and some excellent perfumes have resulted. Their newer perfumes are modern, with restrained, reserved, contained ingredients, and personalities, that seem common to perfumes that come from northern and Central Europe, in contrast with many of the Mediterranean's more exuberant niche houses. I think this difference largely rests on how lab-grown the fragrances' ingredients smell, and the wearer's appreciation for, or tolerance of, materials that smell edited–clean jasmines with no indoles, pretty roses with clipped accents, plus menacing woody ambers that could drown a Motörhead concert, and bouncy saffron-Ouds that smell like nothing except their own peculiar selves. Some great perfumes have come from this house's recent efforts, especially the colossus that is Korrigan, and then there are some others, that smell like classical perfumes, reworked with these edited ingredients. Grisette is one of the latter, a youthful, springtime feminine, with a synthetically boosted punch that makes a long day's wear, a bit of a chore, as I prefer pretty florals drawn more from life.
I will try not to wander too far off the reservation, now, but a miniature rant seems appropriate, in the context of this review. Much modern perfume, has become about this sort of editing, a process of slicing, or carving away, at recognizable ingredients, and reducing, or replicating, some of them, with mutated and synthetic features. This technique can give the resulting perfumes a grimness of mein, as a cleaned-up jasmine is like a tight lipped smile, rather than a full throated laugh, and a bit of enthusiasm, would benefit this perfume's girlish character. Maybe, the perfumer wanted that effect, but I cannot, personally, connect with it. Jasmine is far from the only perfume ingredient that has been subjected to this kind of treatment, but it is one of the most common, as a little jasmine goes into almost all perfume, and it seems like bare, space-age jasmine accords are a thing now, with the house of Dior making their Uber minimalist Joy their current pillar offering. Perhaps, it is an olfactory expression of Kim Kardashian's monochromesque wardrobe, which has a deceptive plainness that does not suit my own tastes. I appreciate the aesthetic, but I am not a minimalist. I like comfortable old things, and my sartorial basics tend toward more more texture and pattern, a preference that translates into the perfumes I love. I have learned to enjoy some of Byredo's more austere offerings, but I struggle with perfumes that use of these sterile materials in complicated accords like Grisette's, because there is a lot happening in this perfume, and the way it has put its jasmine on a muzzle and leash, illustrates how the rest of the perfume's floral components are also treated.
Grisette is built around a jasmine-rose accord of the type I have just described, with a soapy muguet accord that seems to gain traction, as the perfume develops. It is like hearing a beloved classical piece of music replicated with synthesized strings, that are not quite plastic enough to gain the crystalline beauty of late 1970s/early 1980s synth strings, they just seem to be missing their traditional warmth, and the perfume is discordant at its calibrated levels. A little less volume, might take off what I believe is ita unintentional edges, as the accord is drawn from life, and would benefit from a lighter hand. I do not think this perfume is trying to be a Piguetesque diva, so it is like a lovely young woman with surgically augmented breasts, silicone injected lips, and too much contouring makeup, where plump natural features, are already beautiful, in their youthful freshness. From a distance, or in dim light, things look very attractive, but close range, the effect is jarring.
To clarify, I have no objections, to obvious artifice. I love electronic music, it is something I understand, and create in real life, and I find beauty in the glorious sound of Gary Numan's highly treated string accords, the click and hum of arpeggiated sequencer programming. But, these sounds can lose their appeal, if they simply substitute for what a live violinist can do, and it seems like, paradoxically, the closer to approximating the sound of human hands and wooden instruments, the more grotesquely artificial these sounds can become. It takes taste, and care, to get the sounds right, and the difference is like the lush, gorgeous, orchestral sounds of a Trevor Horn production, like Horn's exquisite work on Grace Jones' Slave to the Rhythm, versus the recreated classical Muzak I hear at my local dim sum restaurant, and Grisette is like the latter. It needs either more, or less, enhancement, my choice being for less, for such a theoretically pretty perfume to work.
Grisette isn't awful, it just needs something, perhaps an airier sensibility, as it feels too tightly wound, to be the perfume, that I think it strives to be. Even its vanilla base, where it could loosen its hair a little, seems too controlled. Some texture, some creaminess, some resin, would contrast with the perfume's monotone floral ingredients, and their tightly bound composition. It is suggestive of a well-tended and carefully landscaped garden, but, look closely, and you see that its flowers are artificial. It is very tastefully composed, and its predictable loveliness works in theory, but I want more, or less, from it. In the hands of a minimalist master like Jean-Claude Ellena, it could work much better, perhaps because Ellena has a talent for adding an element of strangeness, and grace, to his perfumes that fit into similar spaces, like his underappreciated Rose Ikebana, which has a watercolor softness that is missing here. Grisette also sits awkwardly on skin, as its soapy musk would have benefited from a more elegant, silkier texture, and a melting connective tissue that I have found in other modern pretty perfumes in this same family, from Ormonde Jayne's Privé to Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle.
I cannot fault this perfume's technical performance. It projects away to at least six feet, and lasts for at least 12 hours, too long for me, for this type of fragrance. I am not certain whom to recommend it to, as it seems aimed at young women, but its presence seems too powerful for what it is, and would distract, rather than enhance, the appearance of the wearer. I have noticed similar problems with some of Lubin's other perfumes, and, I think, the amount of effort and complexity that went into Grisette could have been justified if the perfumer had aimed for more elegance and less raw power. This is the type of perfume that has been done better by so many other houses, that I would recommend Annick Goutal's lovely Rose Splendide, Miu Miu's L'Eau Rosée, or any of Cartier's recent florals, over Grisette. Perhaps the current obsession with performance was too tempting for the perfume's creative team to ignore.
It is a quality scent, and clearly well considered, but it is simultaneously too much, and not enough. I have given it two carefully observed wearings, before I have come to these conclusions, and I feel like warm weather, its natural habitat, would only exacerbate the problems I have with it. I cannot help, but feel like it is in Lubin's lineup, because they felt like they needed something like it, instead of considering what they could do with this accord, in the context of the house's aesthetic, as Korrigan shows how creative Lubin can be, when they try. Two stars, and thumbs sideways.
After a brief bergamot-citrus introduction, a pleasant rose more develops, a bright and fresh rose that dominayes the first few hours. Later jasmine is added; throughout this it is mainly a floral scent at that stage.
The next stage is a bit sweeter, and turns into a nice vanilla base, which is enhanced by a subtle cedarwood background; the floral side is fading gracefully.
I get moderate sillage, adequate projection and six hours of longevity. Pleasant in spring, a floral-vanilla composition with elegance. Neither sensational nor brilliant, it does not exude synthetic characteristics too blatantly; it is unobtrusive and hence good in the office. Lubin is working on restoring its fortunes and reputation. 3/5
Great fall/winter scent. On me, I don't really get any of the grapefruit at all. It is a beautiful blend of rose, incense and musk with an initial hint of bergamot, and with the drydown, it becomes a softer very feminine floral musk. It is quite overpowering on me, so a little goes a long way. Noticeable silage for about 3 hours, then it becomes more of a skin hugging musk. I find it very pretty, with a seductive edge; flirty big-girl EDP :) It reminds me of Lubin's Black Jade, another great sexy fall scent.