I was incredibly excited to try Robert Piguet‘s Mademoiselle Piguet, one of the company’s 2012 five-piece Nouvelle Collection. “Mademoiselle” (as the company simply calls it) is supposed to be “part Lolita and part Louise Brooks,” and a tribute to orange blossoms. I have a huge soft spot for the Robert Piguet brand, as a whole, for personal, childhood, historical and nostalgic reasons. In fact, I was practically weaned on Fracas, alongside YSL‘s Opium. Plus, I love orange notes and orange blossoms. So something that seemed like a lighter but orange blossom-based version of Fracas had to be fantastic, right? It had to be a guaranteed safe bet for me and a shoo-in, right? How wrong one can be….
Mademoiselle Piguet is a floral eau de parfum that was released in 2012 and created by star perfumer, Aurélien Guichard. Robert Piguet describes Mademoiselle as follows:
She is delicate and irresistible, innocent and sultry, part Lolita and part Louise Brooks. With Mademoiselle Piguet, Robert Piguet Parfums has chosen to pay tribute to both the romantic and sensual associations of orange blossom. Mademoiselle Piguet is a new generation floral fragrance, but its alluring character makes it a perfect addition to the Piguet family of feminine masterpieces.
Top note is bergamot; middle note is orange blossom complimented by almond and apricot tones; base note is tonka bean.
Mademoiselle Piguet opens on my skin with a deafening salvo of green. The note is so sharp, pungent and abrasive that it makes my head spin. This is an orange blossom that is much closer to the most bitterly green of bigarade or petitgrain, so green that is completely raw, and far from the delicate sensuality of the flowers. In some crazy way, it almost feels like the greenness abrasiveness of galbanum. A minute later, the perfume suddenly turns incredibly sweet. It’s bewildering to have so much raw, sharply bitter, petitgrain-type orange alongside so much sweetness that a dentist would be alarmed. As the moments pass, the initial toxic blast softens, a little, as the sugary syrup grows and a hint of the orange blossoms emerges amongst all that neroli. It made my teeth hurt.
Alas, another thing rears its head: a hugely synthetic note is exactly like mosquito repellent. It is also oddly mentholated, leading me to imagine an orange blossom version of Serge Lutens‘ Tubereuse Criminelle, only one combined with tropical bug spray, saccharine levels of sweetness, and nuclear amounts of bitter greenness. I suspect that, even if the bug spray doesn’t show up on everyone’s skin, many will find the sweetness of Mademoiselle Piguet to be extremely cloying, especially when the vanilla base starts to stir.
I have to admit, at first, I found the strange polarity and contrasts of Mademoiselle Piguet to be quite fascinating — even if only intellectually — once the DEET-like, mentholated aspect stopped beating me over the head. I said, “at first.” My interest didn’t last long because, frankly, there wasn’t a huge amount more to Mademoiselle Piguet than sugary-sweet orange blossoms, bug spray, bitter green undertones, and a subtle vanilla base. That truly was about it. For hours and hours, and hours…..
In fairness, there were some minute, microscopic changes to the perfume. By the end of the third hour, the bug spray element did die down to a mere squeak, and I did detect the smallest iota of almonds fleetingly in the middle of the fourth hour. Yes, the green undertone eventually faded, around the sixth hour. And the perfume’s sillage did change quite profoundly: from a huge, enormous wallop in the first 20 minutes, to something significantly softer by the 90 minute mark, before dropping further with subsequent hours.
Nonetheless, the changes were of degree, not of kind. Mademoiselle Piguet’s core essence never budged, remaining in one constant, linear line until the bitter end when it became just a faint trace of orange blossoms with a slightly powdered vanilla. It took 12.75 hours for it to die on my voracious, perfume-consuming skin — a sure testament to the synthetics underlying it.
There is a vast split in opinion about Mademoiselle Piguet. On Fragrantica, posters seem in two opposite camps, with people either adoring the pure blast of “orange blossom absolute,” or despising it with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. A small sampling of thoughts:
- Not for me, this one! Something sweet and cloying and artificial IMHO. Even if I am not fond of a fragrance, I usually give it time for both of us to calm down. Couldn’t this time. A scrubber.
- This will definitely not be on my buy list; the sniff test seemed OK at best, but on my skin it was terrible. An overly sweet, overwhelming floral that had a very synthetic tone.
- Medicinal start, but a semi-sweet medicine, which is at least more appealing than a straight bitter herbal. I don’t believe floral/woody/musk is the correct classification for this – it seems more like an oriental woody. […] for me, is just tolerable. Definitely a try before you buy.
- Beautiful deliciously sweet honeyed Orange Blossoms in full bloom! Stunning!!! I love this so much, must get a bottle asap. If your an Orange Blossom fan, please do try this, it is so sweet its like honey has been added for good measure. I find this is incredibly strong & long lasting, which is also a huge plus.
- Love the warm powdery scent with subtle peach undertone. Starts off a bit chemical but warms up quickly. Agree with others that it could be classidied as a milky tuberose.
- it’s overwhelming me in the most unpleasant way. I tested a small sample upon my wrist hours ago and the florals attacked my nose in an aggressive manner. I can’t believe there are only three notes in this bottle of juice. I smell florals, on top of florals, on top of florals, in the top, middle and base notes. The smell is really intense but not in an invigorating manner. [… The] florals in this perfume are so heavily dealt in this fragrance to the point that it’s a big turn-off instead of a memorable turn-on. It smells more like an air freshener that has been sprayed way too many times. […] Please don’t buy this one blindly. It’s an experience you’re likely to never forget.
I must say, I don’t smell any tuberose in this as a few of the Fragrantica commentators found, nor any other florals or peach. I do, however, agree that Mademoiselle Piguet hardly seems to be a “Floral Woody Musk,” as Fragrantica contends.
There aren’t a ton of in-depth, blog reviews for Mademoiselle Piguet. The Perfume Magazine loved it, calling it a “head-turning” and one of the most feminine perfumes the reviewer has smelled in years, before adding that it was perfect for brides or for something like a Cotillion. The Perfume Posse‘s Ann liked it quite a bit, despite finding its start to be synthetic:
Mademoiselle Piguet was quite nice on my skin, bergamot and orange blossom making pretty at the start, but easing later into some milky warmth, courtesy of the tonka. No hint of citrusy tang here; the OB is sweetened and smooth, almost candied. And that little something I mentioned above [the synthetic note] bothered me for a moment and then it was gone. […] Mademoiselle Piguet isn’t going to knock any orange blossom favorites out of rotation at my house, but it has a sweet, romantic, uncomplicated vibe that’s pleasing.
Finally, the Persolaise blog received samples of the full Nouvelle Collection from Robert Piguet back in 2012 and seemed to enjoy Mademoiselle more than the rest, writing:
Mademoiselle is the instant smile-inducer. A soft, sweet, pretty-as-daisies citrus-floral (complete with aldehydes and a powdery, vanillic base) it radiates naive charm and an almost adolescent optimism. In those selfish moments when parents of girls hope that their little princesses won’t ever grow up, this is probably the scent that accompanies their tender imaginings.
I wish I could like it, especially given my huge soft spot for Robert Piguet. The most positive thing I can say is that the longevity is extraordinary. But I would never recommend Mademoiselle Piguet — even for those who like incredibly sweet, sugary florals — without a definite skin test first. Please, this is not one to buy blindly. Ever.