One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Fall of Man: Yves Rocher's Nature Millenaire Pour Homme

I think most of us, maybe all of us, who have large libraries of scents divide them more or less into seasons: we have light, fresh fragrances that would seem pointless in the cold winter and hothouse scents that would be overwhelming in the summer heat. I have a couple that have autumn written all over them--that so specifically call that season to mind that it would seem perverse to wear them at any other time of the year.

Six years ago, a fellow scent addict, someone with whom I exchanged e-mails and swapped fragrances by mail, wrote me to say, in essence, "Get on the phone and order Yves Rocher's Nature Millenaire pour Homme. Just do it. You won't be sorry." And I took her at her word and did it, and boy, was she ever right! It's become a mainstay, but only in the fall: I break it out in September and tuck it away a few months later, because it's the most autumnal scent in the world.

The opening is citrus notes and what the company calls "Earth scents", and what they apparently mean by that is "cool autumn air and fallen leaves", because that's exactly what it smells like. There's a suggestion of decomposition: amid the crispness of those leaves is the smell of loamy earth to which they're returning. You can practically hear it all beneath your feet.

The earthiness is soon joined by a barrage of masculine spices, including lots of cassia bark, verging on harshness; this scent is not interested in being smooth or comforting. It's rough and unrestrained: autumn is, after all, the segue into winter and the death of the green world, and any scent that celebrates that can't be afraid of a little harshness. (What would a nice autumn scent smell like? More on that in a day or two.)

Completing the middle note is a hard dark core of cedar and sandalwood, underlaid with a suggestion of burning...not leaves, which would have been interesting, but incense, paired with myrrh and a glaze of barely-sweet vanillic benzoin, just to prove that autumn is not all about death. It's astoundingly long-lived: it remains noticeable twelve hours after applying, and right now, twenty hours after I put it on, there's a little aura of myrrh and vanilla on my skin, like the merest ghost of I Coloniali's Mirra & Mirra.

A companion scent to the still-available Homme Nature, it's in the same bottle with that same leafless tree inscribed into the back, but in a brown glass rather than the fresh green of Homme Nature. I can't imagine why this scent was discontinued last year: presumably it was meant to make room for their two new men's scents, Transat (tedious fresh oceanic) and Hoggar (uninteresting, overly simplistic woody oriental), which feel like a revisiting of an older pair of much better scents, Antartic and Samarkande, in fragrance, packaging, and advertising. They made a mistake, as far as I'm concerned: Nature Millenaire could have been a mainstay in their fragrance line.



  • This is a beautiful, very interesting scent. I can only say one thing: it's a very unique oriental-woody scent, that does NOT smell overwhelming. It's amazing how all of those cinnamon, cedar, woodsy accords actually smell powerful but at the same time light as a cloud or mist. I don't know how to really describe it, in that matter it evem smells rather niche than "regular" perfume. It is soooo beautiful, it makes me soooo mad when I think YR discontinued it... I'm a REAL perfume addict, my collection has tons of other bottles in it... but this one... BRING IT BACK! BRING IT BACK!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:43 AM  

  • You're exactly right: it does smell niche. It's hard to believe that a mainstream house like Yves Rocher, which has produced some very good men's scents but all within the usual sphere of perfumery, created something so wonderful, and even harder to believe that they discontinued it.

    Luckily, I still have about two thirds of a bottle, so unless it goes skunky on me, I'm good for a while.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 6:15 AM  

  • The womans scent is just as wonderful as the mans. The way it mixes with the skin scent, and lasts all day in a subtle sexy whisper. I CAN NOT beleive the line was discontinued, and beg Yves Rocher to bring it back monthy. I encourage anyone who would like the line brought back to Email Yves Rocher as well. Nature Millenaire was my signature scent and I am lost without it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:23 PM  

  • Oh, yes! I found this at a yard sale, unopened, full bottle. I bought it for $1 smell-unsmelled. I love it! I always fear that something i love will never be available again. I guess that's life!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:47 AM  

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