Road Trip: Review – Van Cleef & Arpels California Reverie

By Tara

I usually have trouble with jasmine-heavy perfumes. Nasomatto’s Nuda is too heady for me and the same goes for Serge Lutens’ A La Nuit multiplied by a hundred. I admire the apricot inkiness of Sarrasins (also by Lutens) but it’s just a bit too cold-blooded.

From reading about California Reverie I thought it might be the sort of jasmine I’d feel comfortable in. The Candy Perfume Boy thought so too and kindly sent me a decant so I could take it for a test drive.


California Reverie was released in 2014 and is part of Van Cleef & Arpels’ upscale Collection Extraordinaire. It was composed by Antoine Maisondieu who created Jasmin et Cigarettes for Etat Libre d’Orange, which was sadly a scrubber on me.

Top notes for California Reverie are mandarin orange and neroli; middle notes are jasmine sambac and frangipani; base notes are beeswax and vanilla.

We are not talking about a big, skanky, in-you-face jasmine here. California Reverie is the scent of jasmine at a distance. To be specific, it’s the scent of jasmine caught on the breeze while driving a classic convertible along the coastal highway in the Golden State.

You settle back in your seat, watching the Pacific Ocean glitter to one side of you while the orange groves pass by on the other. You enjoy the feeling of the wind whipping your hair as you cruise along.

Freewheeling on a sunny day before the heat of summer has kicked in, you feel relaxed and happy. The wide open road stretches ahead and where you end up is down to you and you alone. For once, no one else is calling the shots.

You take a deep breath, filling your lungs with sweet scented air.

California Reverie opens with a cheerful blend of mandarin juice and orange blossom. You don’t have to wait long for the jasmine to appear though. It wafts in within moments of spraying, feeling light and fresh.

The jasmine is supported by soft, creamy frangipani which helps give it that carefree, vacation vibe. The vanilla in the base is very sheer.

I find California Reverie has moderate projection and decent longevity.

Like most jasmines, it’s a tad too sweet for me and I would have liked to get more beeswax. However, like several others in this collection (including Orchidée Vanille), California Reverie is a high quality fragrance which is very pretty and easy to wear.

I think it would work well for those who like their jasmine indole-free and wispy. Some white florals can feel suffocating or rather grown-up, but California Reverie takes an airy, elegantly casual approach.


It’s a dewy, daydream of a fragrance that would be perfect for spring.

Read Olfactoria’s mini-reviews of some of the others in the Collection Extraordinaire.

How do you feel about jasmine fragrances?


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27 Responses to Road Trip: Review – Van Cleef & Arpels California Reverie

  1. Vanessa says:

    Lovely, dreamy review. I like quite a few of this collection, and I’m pretty sure I would love this too, so thanks for the heads up – I have not even heard of it! California Reverie would also have a particular personal meaning for me, because I did a project with farmers in California and got to drive the coastal road – and the Central Valley one – in a Mustang Cabriolet! (Okay so not a vintage car, but it was an unexpected upgrade at Bakersfield because they had run out of subcompacts. 😉 ) It was one of the best work assignments ever and I can’t think of a better scent to evoke the memories.

    • Tara says:

      V, I think it’s generally a really well done, accessible line. Loved hearing about one of your best ever assignments in California. Thomas gave me a generous decant so I must remember to get some to you. It would be great if it brought back those memories for you.

  2. Ines says:

    Honestly, jasmine so often takes the center stage I can’t really wear those perfumes. If there is too much jasmine, it overpowers my nose and that’s not good.
    Tuberose, on the other hand, there can never be too much of. 😉

    • Tara says:

      I know what you mean Ines. I think I’m the same in finding jasmine too overwhelming, but I really like the “idea” of a jasmine perfume so I continue to try (I think it’s because I love the natural absolute).
      Too funny you have no such issues with the attention grabbing diva that is tuberose!

  3. This sounds gorgeous for when a big girl jasmine is not what you’re after. I really like jasmine in all shapes and forms but a lighter style would be perfect for summer. I haven’t tried any from this line but they’re quite well regarded I think. Nice review as always. And that work trip of Vanessa’s sounds amazing.

    • Tara says:

      Love the term “big girl jasmine”. Yes, I think this would make a great jasmine option for warmer weather.
      This Collection is now available in 45ml (previously only 75ml) which is a definite plus.

  4. Sandra says:

    Lovely review Tara. I want to go on a road trip now and smell jasmine tinged air around me. Thank you for taking me with you on the ride. I will be sure to give this a smell. Xo

    • Tara says:

      I’d love to do a road trip like this too, Sandra.
      Have you tried Orchidee Vanille from this line? A good summer vanilla that might appeal to you.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Another gorgeous review, Tara. I love the way you describe the California road trip, and I can really vicariously smell this perfume, as I just got back from a vacation to the Isle of Palms in South Carolina, and the jasmine was blooming all over the island, as well as in Charleston where the magnolia trees were also in bloom. It was heavenly! It sounds like this perfume might come the closest to smelling like jasmine in the wild, and there is a woman that my husband works with who is looking for that true jasmine smell, so maybe I’ll recommend this one to her. As for myself, and your question about jasmine perfumes, I used to think they were too much and difficult to wear. But now I love April Aromatics Jasmina, La Via del Profumo Tawaf, and I think that Puredistance White smells of jasmine tea, even though jasmine isn’t listed among its notes. There is also a perfume called Juliet by Juliet Stewart that is a soft, alfresco, Italian-style fragrance featuring jasmine. It’s very pretty and very easy to wear – you might like it, I think.

    • Tara says:

      Oooh Suzanne your vacation does sound heavenly indeed! Happy to hear it was such a wonderfully fragrant trip. I hope California Reverie works for your husband’s colleague if she can get to try it.
      Thank you so much for your softer jasmine perfume recommendations. An alfresco Italian-style version sounds very appealing.
      I have been testing White recently so I was interested to read your thoughts. I will bear jasmine tea in mind when I go back to it over the weekend.

  6. Nemo says:

    I love how the review matches so well with the picture and my memories of California! I am curious to try it now, even if sweet-ish jasmine and mandarin orange perfumes are not usually my sort of thing 🙂 Thanks for the lovely review!

    • Tara says:

      Well that is such a great compliment, thanks Nemo!
      I’ve only been to LA and would love to go back to see more of California one day.

  7. Hey there Tara,
    I often wonder about this collection but always pass it by in search of other things. Next time I will stop and try.
    Jin grabbed a convertible car and drove us from LA to Las Vegas last year. It was really wonderful, if this frag is ANYTHING like that experience it will be a winner.
    Portia xx

  8. cookie queen says:

    Hi Tara! I adore the smell of real jasmine,( honeysuckle too whilst I think of it) – but do not care to wear it as a perfume. At least not with jasmine being the main thing. I am sure it might be hidden in some things I have tried though. I love the VCand A bottles. Bis Bald!! xxxxx

    • Tara says:

      Hey Val, I wonder if I’ll ever find a jasmine centric perfume that works for me. No great loss if I don’t, but I;ll continue to keep a look out. The new Hermes Jardin sounds like a nice light jasmine.
      The bottles are lovely. Bis spaeter!

  9. Asali says:

    Beautiful review as ever Tara, and a gorgeous dreamy landscape. I’ll probably never be a full on jasmine fan, but having said that when it’s done perfectly it can be immensely elegant. I think the few jasmines I own I really love, these are ‘special occasion only’- and come to think of it, that’s all I need. Jasmine is just not an everyday floral for me- but never say never- this ‘jasmine at a distance’ perfume do sound like it could do the trick.

    • Tara says:

      Yes, jasmine can be really elegant and I definitely think it’s perfect for special occasions.
      I’d be interested to know the ones you really love.

      It is a dreamy landscape isn’t it?

  10. Undina says:

    I should have read your review first and then tried California Reverie. Now I’ll have to re-try it 🙂 In your description it sounds much better than I remember it smelling on the paper strip.

    Jasmine… I like at least several jasmine-centered perfumes but I cannot say that it’s my favorite leading note.

    • Tara says:

      Ha! I’m sure there’s no need. It’s just that airy, fresh jasmine is wearable for me so this one appealed – aside from the sweetness, which was a shame.

  11. Figuier says:

    This sounds intriguing, although the sweetness might be an issue. I actually love ‘big’ jasmines – Lutens aside – and find Nuda a delight to wear! But I also like airier varieties – By Kilian’s Love and Tears, and the wispy tea’d version in The pour un Ete. And in any case, your description is wonderful – I’ll certainly try this out if I see it in-store.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Figuier
      I enjoyed reading about the jasmine you wear. I need to try Thé pour un Ete again. I think there was a minty note that put me off, I can’t recall.
      I hope you don’t find California Reverie too sweet when you get to try it. I seem to be very sensitive to sweetness at the moment so I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  12. Sun Mi says:

    Ah, California Reverie. It is so pleasant, so utterly perfect for summer. I really enjoy this one, and enjoyed reading your take on it! I wish I had some, I would douse myself in it right now!

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