We review California Rêverie, a citrusy floral Eau de Parfum (EDP) from luxury jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire.
Van Cleef & Arpels
In 1896, Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law, Salomon Arpels, founded the luxury jewelry company Van Cleef & Arpels in Paris, France. Van Cleef was the son of a lapidary; his wife’s father, a dealer in precious stones.
Salomon passed away in 1906 and his two sons, Charles and Julien Arpels, took over his half of the business. Soon after, with their brother-in-law, they opened the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique at 22 Place Vendôme—across the street from the Ritz hotel.
In 1913, the third Arpels brother, Louis Arpels, joined the business. In the century that followed, the two families opened boutiques in the world’s fashion capitals and most luxurious destinations. Van Cleef & Arpels’ pieces have been worn by royalty, such as the Duchess of Windsor and the Queen of Egypt, as well as celebrities, from Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor to Scarlett Johansson and Sharon Stone.
In 1976, Van Cleef & Arpels commissioned French perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena to concoct First, the luxury jeweler’s first floral fragrance for women. The fragrance embodied everything the VC&A seal stood (and continues to stand) for: It was discreet, but precious. Fleeting, but present.
With the turn of the century in 1999, Van Cleef & Arpels came into new hands: the Swiss-based Compagnie Financière Richemont acquired a 60% stake in the company, as did the Italian clothing and real estate group Fingen SpA, which, according to a press release from the acquisition, bought 20%. Certain heirs of the Arpels family held the remaining 20% of the shares.
Today, VC&A continues the legacy of Alfred and Salomon, and is widely known as a maker of some of the finest jewelry, timeless watches, and most exquisite perfumes in the world.
|House||Van Cleef & Arpels|
|Concentration||Eau de Parfum (EDP)|
|Description||Heady, opulent, and rejuvenating jasmine scent with a citrusy opening and a honeyed drydown.|
|Sizes||2.53 fl oz (75 ml)|
Denatured Alcohol, Fragrance, Water, Limonene, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl, Hexyl Benzoate, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Citronellol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Benzyl Benzoate, Geraniol, Citral
Source: Product packaging (in the photos), retrieved January 6, 2022
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Collection Extraordinaire, the Parisian luxury jeweler’s homage to the beauty and grace of nature, consists of a series of single-flower fragrances that aim to reinterpret the most beautiful natural ingredients in perfumery.
This brings us to California Rêverie, a fragrance that lives up to its name, inspired by the eternal sun and the ubiquitous palm trees along the California coast. This zesty, bright, and unforgettably nostalgic Eau de Parfum (EDP) is the epitome of summer; from the first whiff, you can’t help but be reminded of your childhood summers on the West Coast.
The top notes are neroli oil and mandarin orange. The heart notes are jasmine sambac and frangipani. The base notes are vanilla and beeswax.
To say that California Rêverie is one of the most lively summer fragrances I have ever tried would be a significant understatement.
The opening is one of neroli oil, the sweet, honeyed oil extracted from orange blossom, and of romantic mandarin orange. At the heart is opulent jasmine and prominent frangipani, which bring out the graceful and bright-natured character of this perfume. The dry down, albeit faint, is one of earthy vanilla and indescribably pleasant beeswax.
What makes California Rêverie different from most summer scents is that it doesn’t have that milky, sunscreen-y vibe to it. It’s seductive, but also graceful and elegant. It’s refreshing, but also opulent and ritzy.
As one of the few fragrances that doesn’t become cloying in summer, it can definitely withstand the heat. For the same reasons, though, it’s not suitable for cold weather, as it simply isn’t potent enough.
(Unless, of course, you want to be reminded of last year’s vacation, which might not be that bad of an idea!)
I only wish Van Cleef & Arpels’ California Rêverie lasted longer. And yet, I love it so much that I don’t mind re-spraying it throughout the day. The bottle is elegant, but large, so I can decant it and carry it in my purse.
California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels has poor longevity. Even when I spray it generously on my neck, behind my ears, inner elbows, and on my wrists in the morning after showering, it doesn’t last more than 2-3 hours on me.
You asked, we answered: Why some perfumes last longer than others
Sadly, weak longevity is accompanied by weak sillage. California Rêverie projects for 30 minutes—an hour if I overspray and spritz my hair—and then becomes a skin scent. Don’t expect to get many compliments unless you carry it with you and re-spray it every few hours.
Layer California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels with REPLICA Beach Walk by Maison Margiela for a salty, honeyed, and inimitable straight-out-of-the-Pacific-Ocean scent.
To sweeten California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels, combine it with Soleil Blanc by Tom Ford. The result will be a unique scent that combines the citrusy jasmine notes of the former with the lush sunscreen-lotion tones of the latter.
Van Cleef & Arpels offers California Rêverie in one size: a 2.53 fl oz (75 ml) glass bottle. The bottle itself is large and tall, minimalist and Art Deco, with an engraved VC&A seal on the bottom. It’s topped with a black cap, which clips securely in place, and a stamped hanging tag.
Read our guide: Which size perfume to buy?
California Rêverie by Van Cleef & Arpels is not an Eau de Parfum (EDP) for every budget; on the day this review was published, a 2.53 fl oz (75 ml) bottle cost $220 at Neiman Marcus.
Consider Jasmins Marzipane by Lancôme (for women), Terracotta Le Parfum by Guerlain (for women), and Aqua Universalis Forte (unisex) by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
If you love frangipani, you will love California Rêverie. This heady, opulent, and rejuvenating scent won’t be the longest-lasting in your collection, nor will it have the strongest sillage. Then again, it won’t matter. Because this is a scent you will put on for yourself.