I’m always on the lookout for a bargain basement gem, but they’re not very easy to find. So I decided to look at two newer releases from Couvent des Minimes, a brand with a very solid line of body products and one cult favorite fragrance, the boozy vanilla Eau de Missions. Their latest creations are Eau Aimable (or Cologne of Love), and Matines (or Cologne of the Morning). One of them is worth trying if you’re looking for a bargain floral.
EAU AIMABLE — COLOGNE OF LOVE:
Like many of the Couvent des Minimes fragrances, Cologne of Love has a few different names. The actual bottle says Eau Aimable, but Couvent des Minimes’ American and British websites call it Botanical Cologne of Love. (I’ll use both names from this point forth.) Regardless of title, it’s a light eau de cologne with an orange label that is centered on fresh, non-indolic, neroli-like orange blossoms. On its website, Aimable’s description and notes read, in part, as follows:
Botanical Cologne of Love gives a feeling of well-being and serenity. [¶] Thanks to its Original Recipe combining Orange Blossom, a source of softness, with 5 Plants selected for their beneficial properties, this exquisite, sparkling, scented water perfumes the skin with a soft and soothing fragrance. The skin is fresh and perfumed, the body is enveloped in softness.
•Orange Blossom: source of softness
•Bergamot, Mandarin: sources of serenity
•Wild Rose: source of hydration
•Nasturtium: source of radiance
•Petitgrain: source of harmony
Cologne of Love opens on my skin with a translucent, billowy, but strong cloud of orange blossoms and cream, laced with a streak of lemon blossoms, then drizzled lightly with honeyed water and bits of mandarin pulp before being wrapped up in a crisp, clean cocoon. There is white musk, but not too much (at first). The predominant sense is of fresh, non-indolic, budding flowers growing in nature, splattered with bits of their fresh fruit. It’s almost like being in an orchard where the majority of trees are orange, but there are just enough lemon ones to give Cologne of Love the aroma of both flowers. I have some orange trees in my garden mixed in with a few Meyer lemon ones, and Eau Aimable replicates their combined aroma when in bloom perfectly. What I like about it is that the airy flowers are very sweet without being painfully gooey, cloying, or drenched with jammy thickness. I’d say the orange blossom skews green like neroli, but that wouldn’t be wholly accurate, either, because the flowers are almost candied, warm, heady, and drizzled with nectar that feels like honey water. The overall result has a refreshing brightness and naturalism without ever being overly crisp or clean.
What Cologne of Love really smells like is Couvent des Minimes’ old, discontinued orange blossom body cream. Some of you may be familiar with the product, as it was very popular. It was my personal, all-time favorite body cream, and that was primarily because of the heady sweetness of its scent. I never understood why the company pulled it from production and, later, when they began making colognes, wondered why they never created one that smelt like their most popular products. Now they have, with a whole fleet of matching items to boot.
While I think Cologne of Love is wonderful, I still prefer the smell of the cream. One reason is the clean musk which grows excessive for my tastes near the end of the 2nd hour. That said, it’s hardly as over-the-top as some niche fragrances that I’ve reviewed lately and it never smells like the revolting Bounce drier sheets, but I would have been happier without it. The second reason is that the body cream is… well, creamier, as you would expect. The element does grow stronger in Cologne of Love as time goes on but, obviously, it can’t match to an actual cream product.
Still, by the start of the 3rd hour, Cologne of Love is an equal-parts mix of sweet orange blossom, honey cream, and white musk, with a ghostly drop of citrus in the back. The honey cream reminds me a lot of the scent of their Shea & Honey product, albeit in weaker form here. Aimable doesn’t develop much beyond this point. The notes merely grow hazy and soft; the white musk fluctuates in strength; the honey turns indistinct; and Aimable becomes a simple, pretty orange blossom floral with cleanness.
All in all, Cologne of Love had moderate to soft projection, and rather good longevity for such an airy, light cologne. It lasted 7.25 hours, which was unexpected as my skin eats up floral soliflores with great rapidity even when they are eau de parfums, never mind mere colognes. That said, I think the presence of the clean musk has something to do with it, since my skin retains that note much longer than most. Still, on Fragrantica, quite a few people were similarly surprised by how long the light scent lasted. As for projection, it was better than I had expected. Using 2 sprays from my decant bottle, Cologne of Love opened with 4 inches of projection and wafted a scent trail of about half a foot. Those numbers soon dropped to 1.5 inches of projection at the end of the first hour, and roughly 3-4 inches of sillage. Cologne of Love turned into a skin scent after 3 hours.
On Fragrantica, the majority of reviews are overwhelmingly positive. One person thought Eau Aimable resembled Kilian‘s Love Don’t Be Shy, while another found similarities to his Sweet Redemption. I haven’t tried the latter, but don’t really see the connection to the former as Love Don’t Be Shy was a painfully syrupy orange creamsicle on me and not at all naturalistic the way Cologne of Love is on me. I think it will depend on personal skin chemistry. For one Fragrantica poster, Cologne of Love was “bombastically sweet” but she was only turned off it when her boyfriend said it resembled Tang on her skin. Another called Aimable a “lovely… sweet orange blossom delight” that, unfortunately for her, felt purely “gourmand,” would tempt her to eat and be a weight gain problem.
Those two negative-to-ambivalent reviews are the few exceptions to the adoring raves for Cologne of Love. Almost all the other comments describe it along the lines of a “heavenly little beauty.” Some examples:
- FRACKING AMAZING SCENT! […][¶] It is a sweet, wet, fresh, orange blossom. While sweet, it has this delicate floral undertone to it that really balances the fragrance and makes it BEE-U-TIFUL! The seville orange (bergamot) and petigrain — mmm lovely balance to the whole composition. [….]
- Like most of us members of this community, I have a lot of fragrances. Niche, vintage, designer, drugstore. Never tried this brand before [….] But oh… my… Lord… it is really one of the most absolutely beautiful scents I’ve ever smelled. [¶] Paradise. Found.
- Don’t look further for the best cologne with the most refined orange flower : this can compete with niche, high-end colognes, who are charged double or triple. [¶] I was searching for a good replacement of my vintage Hermes orange verte, wow, I found it with this one […]
- I fell in love with it at first spritz! This is like sticking your nose in an orange blossom; it must be a bee’s dream! It is not the orange fruit but the actual blossom. It’s sweet and floral and long lasting for a cologne. […][¶] Cologne of Love is a Summer breeze bottled. Do yourself a favor and buy this [….]
- this actually does kind of resemble Love Don’t Be Shy by Kilian! At just a fraction of the cost, I’m SOLD! Of course the sillage may not quite match Kilian, but the Longevity is fairly surprising for a Cologne – even though it keeps fairly close to skin.
- On me, Eau Aimable is mainly fluffy orange blossom with juicy mandarine pulp hiding within. The orange blossom here is undoubtedly sweet, but feels translucent at the same time, which prevents it from being cloying. The gentle touch of indole also helps to prevent it being full-on gourmand. I too find there’s a vanilla undertone, which slightly reminds me of By Kilian Sweet Redemption. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
For “Sherapop,” what was enjoyable was that the scent was not a “chemical soup” or soapy in an excessively clean way. Her review addresses the sweetness issue as well, so it may be useful to share parts of it here as well:
Eau Aimable is on the sweet side and is not at all soapy (à la Prada Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger), but it still smells clean somehow, and not in the house of Clean way. This is not an abstract chemical soup, it’s a wonderful combination of natural essences. […][¶] Anyone who likes sweet orange blossom perfumes is bound to like this, and even if you find some of them too cloying (Elie Saab, the one from Kilian…), this one may work for you. But it is sweet, so no one who dislikes sweet perfumes will like this creation. In fact, given the sweetness level here, another group of people who might enjoy Eau des Minimes would be the celebrity scent crowd. The difference is that this one smells natural, unlike those. It also costs less, amazingly enough. I consider this to be a fantastic budget niche bargain[….] [Emphasis to names added by me.]
All the reviews for Eau Aimable on the Couvent de Minimes website are positive, as are the 10 comments on Ulta where the fragrance is currently on sale for $28.50 for a 100 ml bottle. That’s a really good deal, though if you have concerns about sweetness levels, I’d recommend checking eBay for samples. I bought my 5 ml decants there.
Bottom line, if you love neroli or orange blossom fragrances that are simultaneously sweet but green(ish), and are looking for an airy summer cologne at a very low price, then you should give Eau Aimable a sniff. It’s widely available in both America and Europe. (For those of you in other areas, the Boots website seems to ship worldwide. See the Details section below.) Aimable is, indeed, very amiable. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)
EAU DES MATINES — COLOGNE OF THE MORNING:
Eau des Matines is sometimes called Botanical Cologne of The Morning. (I’ll just call it “Matines” from this point forth.) It’s supposed to be an apple fragrance, even though the company’s website strangely fails to mention that fact in its description. Everywhere else does, though, including retailers like Ulta and Marrionaud who carry the scent:
Le Couvent des Minimes Botanical Matines Fragrance leaves your skin with a scent of crisp notes of apple that mingle with the freshness of orange, lemon, and basil. The base notes of Woods, Cedar and Soft musk give a feeling of serenity. Suitable for men and women.
I’m one of those weirdos who actually likes a touch of apple in my fragrances, probably because it’s so rare and thereby a novelty that stands out from the more typical fruit that I always come across. In this case, Matines has basil and cedar for an added twist, but the real clincher was a reference to pear blossoms flowers in the Now Smell This announcement of the newly released scent. (Mint as well.) Putting all of that together, the complete note list seems to be:
Apple, pear blossom flowers, mint, basil, cedar, orange, lemon, musk.
Matines opens on my skin with apple water turned crisp with cool, chilled lemon, then sprinkled with a pinch of fresh herbs. The latter don’t really smell like either basil or mint, and are wholly indistinct. The tiniest suggestion of woodiness weaves through the background, feeling equally nebulous. Moments later, a gentle, clean sweetness ripples over the scent, smelling like golden pears imbued with floral, clean musk. The pear is a pretty note, but a very elusive one that quickly vanishes to the background where, once in a while during the first 5 minutes, it will show its face besides the cedar. The clean musk remains, alas, growing stronger by the moment.
Matines’ undistinguished, generically pretty start is intangible and fleeting. Within minutes, the apple is clobbered by the musk; the lemon turns hazy; the basil vanishes; and all the remaining notes are swallowed up by a wave of Bounce-like laundry cleanness. Less than 10 minutes in, Matines is a generic, synthetic “fresh and clean” bouquet that smells extremely close to a Febreeze fabric and room freshener that I own. Matines is virtually indistinguishable except for a heightened degree of abstract citrusy crispness (that feels quite sharp) and a wisp of fruitiness. Less of a clone but equally similar is one floral version of Bounce drier sheets that I have in my laundry room. It’s that utterly indeterminate, vaguely floral-ish, vaguely fruit-ish, vaguely citrusy crisp bouquet that abounds everywhere but lacks any characteristic other than excessively industrial cleanness. Sadly, my Febreeze smells smoother and more pleasant than Matines.
Matines never changes from its artificial crispness. All that happens is that the white musk turns high-pitched and shrill before a sliver of creaminess arrives near the end of the 3rd hour. For a little while, it alleviates things (to a small degree), resulting in a creamy-ish floral musk with a hint of citrus. Then, things turn south again at the start of the 5th hour, and Matines turns into a pure laundry aroma that is indistinguishable from Bounce drier sheets. It finally dies away an hour later. All in all, Matines lasted just short of 6 hours on me, but I suspect that is solely attributable to the fact that my skin chemistry retains white musk longer than most.
I assess fragrances on a sliding scale of criticism. One simply cannot judge a low-end or drugstore brand by the same criteria used for mid-range niche scents, let alone something from Roja Dove, Amouage, or SHL 777. It would be ludicrous, not to mention unfair. But there is nothing to Matines that stands out in terms of scent from what you could find at any drugstore. I think it has even less character than a more affordable $14 Bath & Body Works spray, and certainly feels cheaper than some things from Victoria’s Secret.
Fragrantica has no entry for Matines, not under that name or its alternative Cologne of the Morning title. I found one small personal blog called Nothin’ Fancy Really that briefly discusses the entire Matines beauty line and gave the cologne a very positive review, except for the fact that it lasted a mere 15 minutes on her skin. There is little in terms of actual scent analysis beyond a later reference to “crisp and fresh,” but since this is the only thing I’ve found on Matines, I might as well quote it:
I’m a bit torn, because I. Freaking. Love. This. Scent. It’s so beautiful … So perfect, and unisex as well. I want to wear it every day, unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned several times, my skin drinks up perfume like nothing and it disappears on me in 15 minutes. If your skin isn’t like that, it might stay for hours, I’m not sure, but I’ve found a good solution – use it as room spray! […] At 28,50€ it’s a little expensive, but if you adore the scent like I do, you won’t have too much trouble with that price. [Emphasis in the original regarding the disappearing act.]
Well, I’m happy it works for her as an air freshener. I personally don’t think that is a very positive recommendation for perfume, not for $38, not for €28,50, or for any price at all. One might as well buy Febreeze. One of its varieties is virtually the same scent, but for $30 less.
My advice is to avoid Matines at all costs, but give Eau Aimable/Cologne of Love a sniff if you like neroli and orange blossom in a sweet, creamy bouquet.