Sometimes I forget what a good elegant scent can do, for me it has the power to make me feel put together, not ostentatious, but like your own skin is perfectly fine and everything is clicking together. The thing about an elegant scent to me is that it must like feel like a melange of notes, no note is above the others, and yet there is a defined story. I know that is a lot to require out of a scent for it to be considered elegant and I admit there is a lot of Chanel influence in that assertion but that is how I define elegant scents.
On the other hand it is even harder to find an elegant scent with quirk, quirk is rather hard to describe but for me it has to be that note that strikes out and brings something new to the conversation but at the same time is utterly smooth in its compelling addition. Well if you are looking for a sort of unique contrarian elegance then I think you probably should seek out Monsillage's Vol 870 YUL-CDG. Vol 870 YUL-CDG is a bit of a wonder because perfumer Isabelle Michaud created a classic elegant scent that I would feel comfortable wearing at an elegant soiree or a bohemian retreat.
The beginning of Vol 870 YUL-CDG is all about the the osmanthus absolute for me. I adore osmanthus so I am always excited when I see a perfumer take the note and go in a different direction with it. Frequently osmanthus is paired with tea or used as a supporting player, but in Vol 870 YUL-CDG Michaud chooses to let osmanthus star. This is an osmanthus full of dried apricots and hinting at the resinous note that you smell in osmanthus absolute it is lovely and warm so different from other floral notes that once again I am reminded that I find shocking that it is not used more often in perfumery. There is a tannic quality to osmanthus that keeps the sweeter wine like qualities of it in check, it is the sort of scent that balances out the cold sweet of ylang ylang with tannins of black tea and the delicious tartness of dried apricots, it is one of the most naturally layered and complex notes you will ever run across.
What enters next is a rather genius pairing for osmanthus, the notes of balsams. I grew up on a ranch that was high enough in elevation that we had a variety of fir and pine trees and one of my favorite things to go do as a child was to play with the sticky fragrant sap of those trees much to the annoyance of family. Vol 870 YUL-CDG pairs osmanthus with pines and firs, the resinous and balsamic notes play beautifully with the osmanthus creating an elegant but frankly adventurous scent. The mingling of forest and ripe fruit is sensuous yet clever. The woven pairing of osmanthus and balsams play for hours on the skin, the fruit receding with time, and the drydown containing hints of musk, amber, and vetiver. It is a smooth blending that creates warm woods quality on the wearer.
Try if you like Ormonde Jayne Woman, Sonoma Scent Studio's Jour Ensolielle, or Le Temps d'Une Fete by Nicolai.
first image from fragrantica.com
second image Moki Mioke