When I smell a fragrance like Liu, I'm puzzled. It's the same puzzled feeling I have when I see them clearing yet another lot of trees to make way for yet another development of townhomes. It's the same puzzled feeling I have when I see the box office numbers for the junk Hollywood churns out, only to learn some small enchanting film I wanted to see in the theater has gone straight to DVD.
Oh, I forgot to clarify. You see, Liu, orginally created in 1925 and reissued for a fleeting moment again in 2005, is discontinued. I'm sorry Insolence fans, but I just don't get it. Why discontinue this classic and beautiful fragrance only so you can issue a fruity floral? (Okay, I'm making those events sound overly connected, as though they literally replaced one with the other, but still...) I understand about marketing and trends and so on and so forth, but really. American celebrity fragrances (some of them even quite pretty) are doing a fine job with the fruity florals. Just leave it to them, please, and continue to turn out classics.
Liu, if you're lucky enough to find it, has the following notes:
Top: aldehydes, rose
Heart: neroli, jasmine, rose
Base: iris, woody notes, vanilla
While not classified as a chypre (none of the characteristic notes are present), in the opening it's almost a dead ringer for Chanel No.5. I'm almost tempted to say it's like a Cher impersonator who does a better job at being Cher than Cher does. Or a Chanel impersonator that's better at Chanel. But it's not really better, it's just more Guerlain than Chanel, with that base of iris and woody notes and vanilla. It's powdery, earthy, slightly dirty, and ultimately comforting. Although rose is listed twice in the notes, I would not classify this as a rose scent. In fact, I barely notice it. Really it's all about the aldehydes, the jasmine, the iris...it's a glamorous and feminine scent that's unbelievably down to earth, a noble lady playing in her garden.
*bottle photo from eBay