I say vintage… all I know is my bottle is oldish. I don’t even know if the fragrance has been reformulated much… I don’t think so… anyway :)
I noticed I reference this fragrance quite a lot (both here and on my YouTube channel). I’m not too sure why, it’s not exactly a favourite of mine, but I do get drawn to it every now and again.
I also have a massive jasmine plant growing in my bedroom which is literally stinking out my whole apartment (beautifully of course!). My narcissus is practically a brown crisp with dead leaves that I can’t quite bring myself to throw away yet – and considering the two main florals I get in this are jasmine and narcissus, this is probably a good time to write about it :)
First opens aldehydic and soapy – very old-school, with a fruity astringency up top that smells intense and dated. A touch of peach, a bit of honey, and a faint indolic accord that pretty accurately conjurs a narcissus accord – only with a big bar of soap rubbed over it.
The development is very slow – which is very nice. The aldehydic opening hanging around for a lot longer than expected, the “soap” practically producing suds in my nose until they let the florals underneath become a little more dominating. The leading jasmine is nice – a hint of indole adds to the old-fashioned feel of First rather than add something challenging. The narcissus and jasmine pretty much merge together at this point and round out into a very smooth, honeyed floral accord.
I get a touch of carnation and clean rose – a bit of warmth and spice but minimal underneath the pastel florals. There’s a hint of dewy greenery, the slightly de-sweetened honey note still going strong – a dry woodiness underneath smells physically hot on my skin with a bitter edge that smells a little like glue. Yes PVA glue.
A civet/jasmine combination could easily turn my stomach, but its balance just about helps me to continue enjoying First – it’s not too strong, not too “thick” – just a hint of piss pants to soil First in (what is now) a typical, old-fashioned, urine-musk as I call it :) It smells like decay.
Ok doom and gloom blah blah, I sound so unsure about this fragrance don’t I? I totally am that’s the thing… but let me continue…
So the piss pants, soap, dated florals and bitter honey manages to be both thoroughly enjoyable to me, and pretty gross too. In the later drydown (much later) – there’s a touch of sweet vanilla, a dry woodiness (sandalwood) – that’s smooth, classical and expected.
What I don’t like about it – is the flattening of the florals into a persistent, non-dimensional floral accord that truly grates on me in time. WOAH where did that come from?! Harsh. Ok… I did some Googling on this before I started my review… turns out Jean-Claude Ellena used a ton of hedione in this. He brags he uses “Ten times more hedione than in Dior’s Eau Sauvage”… fantastic. Ok so this may have been a big deal at the time as it was a new material and what-not… now though (at the time of this review) – for me, I can totally smell that. I didn’t recognize it as hedione (even though I have a sample of it lying around somewhere – gah!) – but this literally engulfs the jasmine in a watery, green, grandiflorum-y layer – tainted with honey, and that’s what we get until the end. Doesn’t sound too bad no? It is for me anyway – I just see it as an unnecessary mass in the fragrance, like if it sat down, a roll would bulge out… what the hell am I on about.
For me, the hedione note gets boring – but the PVA glue accord keeps me amused I suppose.
So I will continue to wear First to bed and not out the house where I can’t experience the irritation I get when smelling most of JCE’s work.
So there you have it, probably the most unglamorously worded review of First :) Thanks <3
Verdict: I like it I promise!