Grandiflora‘s two magnolia fragrances are the latest in the wave of magnolia scents launched over the past half-year or so (see my review of another noteworthy launch, Zelda, here). Magnolia Grandiflora Michel was created by Michel Roudnitska, and Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine was created by Sandrine Videault, who was trained in part by Michel’s father, the legendary Edmond Roudnitska.
Magnolia Grandiflora Michel (Michel) is a blooming white magnolia, a luscious exploration of the creamy, sweet, and lemony aspects of the flower. It is a magnolia in bloom, skillfully blended. If not for really searching for them, and for the flowering of ylang ylang trees that are currently surrounding me, I wouldn’t pick out the individual notes in Michel. But since I am looking, I smell distinct notes of lemon, ylang ylang, vanilla, vetiver, and milk.
Roudnitska’s interpretation of magnolia almost perfectly matches how the flower smells, which is impressive. But for me, it doesn’t capture the magical quality of the flower, its size and waxy feeling of its flowers. Magnolias are almost other-worldly, and Michel doesn’t reflect that. It feels too restrained, too sedate.
Magnolia Grandiflora Sandrine (Sandrine) is a starched magnolia. If Michel’s interpretation is the fresh flower, Sandrine’s is a bloom that has been picked, sprayed with a copious amount of starch (the smell of starch is actually there), and laid out in a white bathroom. It is one of the more surprising perfumes I’ve smelled. Although I recognize that there is a lot going on structurally—a green-forward, chypre-influenced approach to the scent of magnolia, for example—the end result is so unusual that I find, when wearing it, that I can’t attend to the parts. Sandrine smells, most of all, like an ultra high end version of Ivory soap or wet wipes. It is the kind of scent that reminds me how iconic functional product scents can be, but simultaneously makes me sad that I can’t always appreciate a perfume that smells like one.
While neither of these perfumes lived up to my personal hopes, I have to say that the brand has done a lot of things I like. They launched just two perfumes to start, in pretty bottles with especially pretty labels (in person, they are a beautiful rose gold and moss green respectively, with a subtle sheen that looks very classy).
For a different and more satisfied take on Magnolia Grandiflora Michel and Sandrine, see Denyse’s review on Grain de Musc.
Sandrine Videault has, sadly, passed away. While this particular fragrance is not a favorite with me, I approach it with respect and appreciation for her undoubted talent. My heartfelt condolences go to her family and loved ones.
Images courtesy Fragrantica. Sample obtained at the Grandiflora store. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.