Van Cleef & Arpels First is a sparkling adelhydic floral. Just with that description alone this is one that many people are going to be turned off by saying that it smells “old lady”, a perfume term that I wish would burn in hell. I’m reviewing the EDT, other concentrations are available and I’m sure they are all different. I’ve sniffed the EDP in stores and for some reason, I liked the EDT better. It seemed to be more sparkling and easier for me to wear.
Launched in the mid-70’s, First has that vibe. It was a time when perfume was started to be laid-back, more effervescent, or energetic and “sporty” with such wonderful additions as Sisley Eau de Campagne, Estee Lauder Aliage, and Clinique Aromatics Elixir. First opens up as a blast of aldehydes. So, aldehyde haters, beware. I don’t mind a good punch of aldehydes because they continue to confuse my nose and make me ponder. From sour, to sweet, to powdery, my nose goes on a journey. My husband despises aldehydes, what a baby! So when I wear stuff like this/sparkling aldehydes, I hear about it. So, I pull these gems out and spritz myself lavishly when he is away. Anyways, First opens up as sparkling aldehydes. There is some punch to this stuff. Being an EDT, the sparkling aldehydes fade rather quickly. But, I’m still left with tartness and powderiness. I get that classic blend of “oriental” bergamot and mandarin that we often sniff in aldehydic blends. It wears like this for some time and then the jasmine and white florals kick in. It’s all heady and tart on me. Because of all of this, I see First as “sunny” and outdoors. It isn’t like most of those 70’s fragrances that I sniff and then imagine myself surrounded by cigarette smoke in a sweaty club in a Halston gown. Nope, this is strolling down the promenade in May sunshine, floppy hat, gold bangles making a noise in the breeze, a Laura Ashley dress and espadrilles. Yeah, my hair is feathered, but I look good 🙂 The dry-down is woodsy. It’s a clean musk, liquidy amber, with that 70’s sandalwood.
If you like sparkling aldehydes then you need to try First, but you probably already have ;). The EDT, like the bubbles in carbonated beverages, is short lived, about 4-5 hours in cooler weather wear. I can’t wait to sample this in warmer weather, 60°+. (At this stage, I’ll be ecstatic for a warm, sunny day!) However, I bet it lasts 2-3 hours in warmer weather.
Notes listed include bergamot, blackcurrant buds, aldhydes, mandarin, jasmine, narcissus, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, cloves, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, tonka bean, and amber.
Give Van Cleef & Arpels First a try if you are looking for a less recognized aldhydeic floral. Or if you like perfumes such as Estee Lauder Aliage, Estee Lauder White Linen (heck, all of the Lauders launched from 70-90), Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds (much heavier than First but they have similar notes, can see this being the “day” scent for the White Diamonds wearer), and/or Burberry Weekend for Her.
The 3.3 oz EDT retails for about $85….one of the awesome things about First is that you can get it really cheap on discount sites. Drugstore.com has the large size for about $45. Fragrancenet.com has First in the EDT, EDP, and sometimes the parfum for over 60% off.
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