I associate YSL with everything trendy, edgy and experimental, and its latest fragrance is no exception. LIBRE is about contrasts. A quintessentially masculine structure and an ultra feminine heart. The elegance of Paris married to the vibrancy of New York, where it was conceived by IFF’s Master Perfumers Anne Flipo and Carlos Benaïm.
When YSL sent me LIBRE for review, I dug deep into the background of how it was created. I’ve been especially interested in anything YSL-related lately, having watched an incredible documentary about Saint Laurent himself in spring this year. I also did a lot of research about a large YSL exhibit back in 2017, so my increased fascination with the brand has been ongoing for the last couple of years.
LIBRE is a freestyle take on the fougère, a classic style for men’s fragrances featuring lavender. Flipo’s provocative move was to gender-bend it into a feminine scent, just like Yves Saint Laurent re-tailored the tuxedo for women. She customized fougère’s key ingredient to highlight its flamboyance with Diva Lavender heart from Provence, emphasizing the warmest, sweetest facets of the essence. When Benaïm fashioned the most sensuous Orange Blossom absolute she’d ever smelled, revealing the hidden, burning-hot character of the sweet white flower, she fell for it instantly.
Vanilla from Madagascar and a classic ambergris note, Grisalva, flesh out the femininity of the fougère structure and add a burning intensity to its addictive floral heart. After seven years and an incredible 1,500+ variations to precision-cut its lush accords, Libre emerged from the match between the two master perfumers.
To break it down further, here is the complete list of all notes:
- Top notes: Mandarin oil, petit grain oil, lavandine France oil, blackcurrant accord
- Heart notes: Lavender oil, jasmin Sambac absolute, jasmin Grandiflorum India absolute, orange flower absolute
- Base notes: Vanilla extract Madagascar, cedarwood oil, ambergris accord, muscs
The packaging is striking and memorable, as always. Designer Suzanne Dalton did the unexpected: she flipped the iconic YSL logo on its side, bent it to follow the sharp angle of the bottle and nailed it to the glass. Echoing the sensual fusion between metal, glass and fragrance, a precision-cut glass V underlines the décolletage of the Y.
It’s the kind of bottle that really stands out and is almost like an accessory of its own. It would make a wonderful gift too. The gold and black combinations make this a truly powerful design.
Dua Lipa is the face of this YSL fragrance and is featured prominently in the campaign video.
This fragrance retails for $125 (50 ml bottle) and $168 (90 ml bottle).