Citrus and green tea are a classic combination and Yu Son by Altaia is a delightful mix of the old familiar and the new. It evokes the experience of putting your mother’s perfume on only to find it smells different on your own skin, but not totally divorced from the memory of the scent that you hold. There’s definitely something comforting about this fragrance that we found evocative of childhood and warm summer days.
Mandarine, green tea, orange blossom, iris, vegetal amber and guaiac wood.
Altaia, or, more correctly: ALTAIA (because it’s an acronym for A Long Time Ago In Argentina) is the product of a husband and wife team. They started their empire with the Eau d’Italie products and branched out with the Altaia range in 2012. And no, I am not going to capitalise Altaia throughout. It looks weird.
You can read the somewhat convoluted story of their getting together to form the company here. Although like all perfume marketing, probably best to avoid reading that unless you have a strong gag reflex or a penchant for Disney films.
Anyway, nauseating marketing aside let’s get on to the scent itself…
Don’t be put off by the initial blast that you get from this fragrance. It isn’t exactly all that nice; it’s acrid and sour, almost amonia-like, fleetingly. The first few times we tested this it came as a shock each time and it seems unlikely that something so challenging can mature and mellow into a pleasant fragrance…and yet it does.
The initial spiky edges of the fragrance smooth out really quickly and morph into the zing of citrus. The scent notes for the fragrance say mandarin, but what came through quite strongly to our testers was grapefruit, sour and tangy with just the edge of bitterness remaining quite pleasantly. It’s a very bright fragrance with lots of energy about it, but it isn’t the most complex scent we have tested and is rather linear in how it wears (by linear we mean that it doesn’t transform very much from start to finish and that the notes don’t change as you wear the perfume throughout the day).
After the grapefruit a sweet but green note emerges, like lily before it becomes overripe and foetid (probably the iris listed in the scent notes). If you imagine a freshly cut flower at the point at which the bloom is just opening when you can smell the sweetness of the petals but also the green of the sap and you will come close.
Very quickly the fragrance has shed the initial mis-step and become something really pretty.
The perfume continues in much the same vein as it develops; scenty, green and soft citrus. It’s very warm and welcoming, sweet but not sickly, green but not lush, clean and uncluttered. There’s a warm dryness to the fragrance which makes the citrus softer and less sharp than the average citrus-based scent. As the scent wears the citrus becomes less discernible as a note in itself and instead lends more of a zing to the overall fragrance.
The green tea note is the most discernible element in the base of the fragrance, there’s also a touch of wood in there too with the mellowness of amber to give the fragrance longevity and full-bodiedness.
The impression these elements provide is again comforting, warm, familiar. It’s moisturiser on skin fresh from the bath, it’s grating lemons to make a cake, it’s summer, it’s catching a whiff of a citronella candle as you watch the sun go down in the garden. It’s all these things, but it’s not a scent with lots of layers, nor is a scent that develops a lot from start to finish. Neither of these things in themselves are real criticisms, however, lots of good scents are linear or linear-ish in form. Just bear this in mind though if the journey of a perfume is something important to you when you wear.
The other stuff
The longevity of this perfume is absolutely fantastic, it just lasts and lasts all day and right through into the evening with no need to reapply. The projection of the scent is also good – it’s moderate rather than totally loud and shouty, but that’s a real plus point. It stays with you all day at a really nice level.
Yu Son is marketed as a unisex scent, and it can comfortably be described as such, however, it does tend towards the more feminine end of the scent-spectrum and we felt that it might be a little too stereotypically female smelling to have wide appeal with men. That said, it would be an unusual scent composition for a guy, which could make for an interesting wear. Try it out and let us know what you think.