Bipolar Bear – Review: Annick Goutal Songes

The following review is from the OT archives, first published on November 2010. I’m happy to report that my relationship with Songes has drastically improved since then.

The moral of the story? Revisiting your old fragrant failures, is definitely worth it. What you thought of as your worst foes may end up being your best friends…

What is it with me and Annick? I adore the house, I like the romantic ideas behind the fragrances, I think the late Annick Goutal and her daughter Camille, who heads the brand since Annick’s untimely death in 1999, are highly likeable, I respect Isabelle Doyens work, I love the bottles, the entire visual presentation of the line, and still I am having a hard time finding a perfume that is an immediate winner for me.

This time I am struggling with Songes.

It was created by Isabelle Doyen and Camille Goutal in 2006. Official notes are: frangipani, tiare, jasmine, incense, vanilla, copahu balm, pepper, ylang-ylang absolute, vetiver, sandalwood, amber and styrax. Camille Goutal allegedly was inspired by the fragrant beauty of the frangipani flowers at sunset on the island of Mauritius. Songes means something like “to think about in dreams”.

It starts out with an incredibly strong burst of heady white flowers, the frangipani combined with jasmine and gardenia. That is where my reservations with the scent come in, I can take each of the three alone (well, maybe) but all three together – that is too much. And they are tenacious! In the first hour it has almost scrubber qualities for me, but when I am being brave and hang in there, for the sake of the blog, (and nobody is around for me to bother with sillage overload!!!) I am rewarded with a wonderfully soft and in contrast to the beginning, almost demure and feminine fragrance that entices and invites to dream, just as its name suggests. If I could have just the drydown, this perfume would be a winner for me. As it is, it strikes me almost as being a little schizophrenic or bipolar in its loud exuberance followed by demure, introspective and somber beauty.

The question is: Can I stand the first hour of unrelenting, overpowering heady white floweriness?

Do I have to? I don’t know.

What do you say? Do you wear fragrances that are not all good, all the time? Is your perfume allowed to have “bad” sides or do you wear only those that fit like a glove?

I am torn. Songes is not a shy creature, it has a big personality, does it match mine?

It does in the drydown, but our style upon entering a room is decidedly different. But maybe there is something I could learn there… (maybe not the bipolarity though ;))

Songes is available in 50 and 100ml Eau de Toilette and 50 ml Eau de Parfum in the regular feminine bottle as well as 100 ml Eau de Parfum the “moon bottle”, that has been available in various limited edition-incarnations over the years.

Picture sources:, some rights reserved thank you!

About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
This entry was posted in Annick Goutal, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Jasmine, Tuberose, Vanilla and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Bipolar Bear – Review: Annick Goutal Songes

  1. Tara says:

    I only tried Songes on the basis of its good online reputation and I was expecting something deep and tropical but it was just too much screechy white floral. I’m very interested to learn that you have had much better luck with it recently as I wouldn’t have considered re-trying it otherwise. I have also come a long way with white florals since the early days when I first tried it. I’m glad you are re-visiting some of your early reviews with updates.

    • Olfactoria says:

      My white floral horizon has expanded a lot recently, so I tried Songes again, and I’m glad I did. My top white floral is Rubj though, and for an all-out tropical perfume I’d suggest you try Montale Intense Tiaré, yum!

  2. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Frangipani (Plumeria) was love at first sight, and one that is going to last until the end of my life – I love that FLOWER (tree) since I have first seen it on the dreamy Magnetic Island (Queensland, AUS), just seconds after feeding tame wallabies… (you see, it etched deep traces into my heart – it was more than 10 years ago). Sadly, I can’t stand any parfume (yet) claiming to contain the note of Frangipani, sigh.
    (I’m in Heeley awe right now, anyway…)

    Have a lovely weekend, B.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Not even Ormonde Jayne Frangipani?

      Your Australian memories sound so lovely, I hope you get to go again soon!

      • Lady Jane Grey says:

        Not even O.J. – Frangipani is usually in combimation with other white flowers, and the “concoctions” are just too heady for me… (so far)

        • Olfactoria says:

          The search is on… I would love to find a perfect memory of your frangipani tree in a bottle for you.

          • Lady Jane Grey says:

            Oh my, it should be something light and aerial and young, carefree and happy and transparent… Noses out there, did you read this ?

  3. masha7 says:

    Songes (in a tie with Mandragore) is my favorite AG. But, like you, I didn’t cotton to it for awhile. In fact, it was only after I’d worn Vamp a NY, and then the infamous Manoumalia for a week, that I went back to Songes and found I loved it! It seemed so restrained and gentle after Manoumalia….

  4. Suzanne says:

    The fact that you are now enjoying Songes will be my motivation to re-try it, even though I had decided some time ago that I wasn’t going to bother again. In the past it has come off to me as a rubbery weird white-floral … weird in a way that wasn’t the faintest bit pretty. This really surprised me, as being a white-floral lover I thought I’d get on so well with it.

  5. I love Annick Goutal too. Songes is beautiful, but not necessarily for me. My mother adores white flowers, but they can sometimes give me a headache if unrestrained.

    For me, I can grow to love a fragrance even if initially, I am not really that enthralled. That being said, when I grow to love it, I grow to love all of it (even the parts that I didn’t initially). I’m not sure if I could wear something all the time that was bipolar . . .

    This post reminded me of something that I started asking myself a couple of years ago in an attempt to cut back on clothing purchases that I never seemed to get around to wearing. I would say that if I had any small doubt that I could rock it, I would put it back. That doesn’t mean that I have stopped challenging myself, but I haven’t been wrong so far, and almost everything in my closet now gets good and constant wear because I love it.

    I don’t know if you already tried looking, but I started wondering if there might be something else in the AG line that would have the drydown you love, but without the white florals?

  6. Figuier says:

    I adore Songes, in both edt and edp, and wear it all the time, it’s my perfect pick-me-up at all times of the year (tho not suitable for teaching sensitive 19-year-olds!)

    I remember though being in Les Senteurs enquiring about jasmine-based scents – Songes was suggested, and, after a quick sniff, rapidly rejected. It was only after blind-buying the edt heavily discounted from the now-defunct Rei Rien as part of a larger order that I completely fell for it. It’s the most sunshiney, ridiculously lush-and-feminine perfume I own. It doesn’t exactly fit my personality but nonetheless I love dousing myself in its conventional femme frivolity. Do persevere 🙂

  7. Undina says:

    I didn’t like Sognes much when I twsted it last year but since my tastes change I will re-try it eventually. Though I doubt that I would ever love it: I might change from “can’t stand” to “it’s ok” or from “it’s nice” to “love it!” but I don’t remember ever skipping several stages at once.

  8. Civava says:

    I like challenges, and some perfumes are very challenging. But as we all know now, our taste is subject to a change and I learned to leave one door always open in case if I change my mind. But I don’t like to wear this kind of perfumes regulary, just from time to time to spice things up when I get bored ;-). It’s so funny how I struggle sometimes, wanting to like it, but cannot no matter how I try.

  9. Civava says:

    Lovely picture ;-).

  10. smellythoughts says:

    You always seem to time a review perfectly with my lemmings and such – I actually have snatched up a 50ml bottle of this (with 40ml remaining) on Basenotes in the “Free to a good home” thread! LUCKY ME. I adore Songes, I actually planned to buy it recently (but now I don’t have to ;))
    I don’t actually find it that heady, and find the vanillic drydown lightens it somehow? All yummy stuff!

  11. Alexandra says:

    Reading your reviews is getting increasingly odd: I think I am on exactly the same fragrance path but about 12 months behind! I want to like AG and the bottles are so cute, but they just do not agree with me. Something in the base of all of them seems to turn sharp and harsh. Songes was a real disappointment as I am on something of a jasmine kick, and this should have hit the spot: it didn’t (on a side note Nasomatto Nuda absolutely did – wonderful stuff, just ridiculously expensive – boo).

    When I wear Shalimar I grin and bear the first hour, it isn’t unpleasant, but I just don’t get it; the next 12 hours on the other hand are heaven!

  12. Pingback: Monday Question – What Is Your Favorite White Floral? | Olfactoria's Travels

  13. Pingback: Blog Sale! Get Great Perfume For A Great Price! | Olfactoria's Travels

  14. Pingback: Vanilla Perfumes: The Best of The Best Presented by Neil Chapman, Perfume Lovers London, New Cavendish Club, Thursday 27th March 2014 | Olfactoria's Travels

  15. Pingback: Powder Puff – Review: Huitieme Art Parfums Poudre de Riz | Olfactoria's Travels

  16. Pingback: Alyssa Harad in Conversation with Persolaise, London – 20th May 2014 | Olfactoria's Travels

  17. Pingback: Songes by Annick Goutal | The Scented Hound

  18. Pingback: Romantic Vanilla – Review: Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille | Olfactoria's Travels

  19. Pingback: Summer On The Balcony – Checking In | Olfactoria's Travels

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s