Sonia Rykiel Belle en Rykiel

I have a long-held, no-longer-very-secret desire to be the kind of whimsical gamine who could pull off the Sonia Rykiel look. You know the type: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Audrey Tatou, Michelle Williams. Alas, I have what the Monty Python boys termed “huge tracts of land”, so I rarely fare well with such gamine fare. I imagine that this is what the poor 1920’s gals who had to bind their chests to achieve the flapper look felt like.

The official notes for Belle en Rykiel, according to Fragantica, are: lavender, mandarin orange, red currant, coffee, incense, heliotrope, amber, patchouli, vanilla and mahogany. At first sniff, I was ready to write BeR off as a Lolita Lempicka clone. However, BeR has a delightful trick up its sleeve. The coffee note is quite prominent, and mingles beautifully with the lavender and patchouli. I would describe BeR as the missing link between Lolita Lempicka and Bond No 9 New Haarlem.

BeR is far more robust than I would have expected from a fashion house that I mainly associate with glamorous French waifs. While I will likely never achieve the look of the Sonia Rykiel ingenue, her fragrance suits me just fine. It’s also ridiculously cheap, $31 for 3.4 ounces on fragrancenet.

20 thoughts on “Sonia Rykiel Belle en Rykiel

  1. HUGE tracts of land!

    Totally feeling you here. I love the waif-like French aesthetic of delicate lace and slouchy clothing, but alas I am condemned to forever be a Marilyn.

    1. It’s so frustrating, because “Marilyn clothes” are not only extremely difficult to find, but not as fashionable as the gamine/hipster look currently is. My kryptonite is reading Anthropologie catalogues. They can only end in tears.

      1. Anthropologie or worse yet, Etsy. I go on Etsy all the time and see these lovely OOAK tops and dresses and almost buy them … and then realize, oops, these aren’t going to look anything like that on -my- body. It’s frustrating because I’m small, so small that I can’t find a lot of dresses that fit my shoulders properly, but apparently women can’t be tiny and also have shapely figures. You’d think with the way people are raving over Mad Men it might get easier, but it hasn’t.

        It becomes a problem when you don’t just want to simply look thin, you want to look like a veritable coat hanger wearing a wig just so you can buy certain clothes.

        My younger sister is about 4 inches taller and a rail. She looks good in tiny bikinis. I wear vintage-y throwback one piece halters and hide beneath a cover-up. It doesn’t help that my mum gave me a complex over having a larger bust for as long as I can remember.

        I have people on the street tell me they love my vintage look. Yeah, it’s not exactly intentional all the time, it’s just what I have to wear in order too look good because what’s at the height of fashion would look awful on me.

      2. Speaking of Mad Men, nothing agitates me more than the new Banana Republic Mad Men collection. Not a single one of those items looks anything like what Betty OR Joan would wear! It’s such a distinctive look, how hard can it be to imitate???
        I’ve mostly stayed away from Etsy because otherwise I would have no money, but I thought that they were supposed to custom-fit their stuff to the customer! Is this not true?

      3. Honestly, haven’t looked at it. Banana Republic and I aren’t friends. They tend to have what I like to deem the pretentious douche aesthetic. Now I’m curious though.

        And with Etsy, they do make clothing to your size sometimes. The sizing isn’t the issue, it’s the style. If it looks fabulous on some 5’10 waif with the figure of a 12 year old boy, I have no idea how it’s going to look with the girls filling it out. And so I stare and long and ultimately buy nothing. Good for my bank account, I suppose.

      4. In the old days, clothes were custom made. These days, clothes are “ready-to-wear” for some average woman who doesn’t exist! I’m tall (5’7″) and slim. Anything with a waist – dresses, fitted shirts, etc. – hits me around the ribcage, never at my natural waist. Drives me crazy. I suppose I could buy a larger size and have it altered, but what a pain! I keep thinking I need to start making my own clothes, or find a seamstress to sew for me. But who has the time or energy for that? So much easier to just find something off the rack that works, but it’s oh so frustrating sometimes!

      5. Bwahaha! The pretentious douches around me are still dressing in Hollister, I can only pray that someday they will upgrade to Banana Republic.

        Someone who always comes to mind is Kristen Chenoweth. She’s the best soprano on Broadway, plus she’s had mainstream success with Glee, but the girl dresses like a trainwreck. I have come to the conclusion that the poor thing must not be able to find any nice clothes, being 4’11” and not an A cup.

        Anyway, I must point out once again that you are awesome for having parlayed a shape that the fashion world considers a “disadvantage” into a style that random strangers compliment you on.

      6. Karin, exactly! Who are they designing for?? I’m a huge fan of the feminist website Jezebel, and I have read literally thousands of complaints from women of all shapes and sizes who can’t find well-fitted clothing to save their lives. There’s very little in the way of plus-size clothing, petite departments have been cutting back for ages, and now you tell me that tall people can’t catch a break either! I think that the fashion world is desperately out of touch with the women that it is supposed to be clothing.

    2. Karin,

      Yeah, no clue who they’re making these clothes for either. it’s ridiculous. I’ve seriously considered starting to sew a few outfits for myself. The problem is as you said, who has time or the energy? At the end of the day the thing I want to do is sew — which is a little ironic considering I -do- force myself to sew for my hobby but it takes a lot of self-coercion. I’ve spent the past several nights putting together a steel boned corset. I only have the energy for this kind of thing once every couple of months. It’s so much easier to just buy something from the mall. Express has been my go-to store for years, but lately their quality has declined and their sizing is all over the place. I am not pleased.


      I think after a while they will. I work inside NW DC and so the majority of people I see are all rockin’ some Banana Republic and the business casual khaki pencil skirt/pastel cardigan uniform.

      I rather enjoy being an anomaly among the masses, but I’d like it a little more if I could actually feel good about myself when I go shopping. Unfortunately, everything I wear tends to be oversexualized because pencil skirts tend to fit just a little snugger when you have hips. It’s rather off-putting at times — or rather, all the time because I like looking fashionable but I’m not dressing to be catcalled at. In recent months what I used to respond to with maybe a tiny laugh and go about my business now has digressed into disgusted glares at the moron who thinks loudly honking at me while I stand on the street corner is totally the way to compliment others.

      More than anything I’d like to be more waif-like so I could simply blend a bit better. I don’t appreciate being treated like a sex object because of my figure. But I think we’ve both touched on that before. Marilyns in a fashion world best suited for Audreys.

      1. Dude, you nailed it. I’ve had people ask me why I don’t dress more modestly. Why is it so hard for these people to understand? It’s not the clothes, it’s the body. Short of an expensive and painful surgery, there’s not much that we can do to desexualize our clothing. An innocent turtleneck on my friends magically becomes Slutty Librarian on me.
        Somehow I suspect the catcalling is not really about compliments at all. I think it’s more to put us in our place, to remind us that as women, our most important goal in life should be to appear attractive to/please men.

      2. Exactly. A turtleneck and pencil skirt and heels … what is considered I suppose typical office attire suddenly turns into some sex farce when I’m wearing it. It’s like I’m supposed to unpin my hair and pull off my glasses and seduce my co-workers. And it doesn’t matter what I wear. Some how it gets perceived as ‘sexy’.

        I was wearing a sheath dress over a blouse with a wide belt a few months ago and a coworker asked me if my father — yes, my father who lives 5 hours away — knew how I dressed. I just glared. He didn’t deserve an answer. Though, seriously, this guy’s misogyny is more of the whole, ‘Oh you’re a girl and I have daughters and so I want your delicate little self to be safe out in this big bad city. You -kn0w- what men want!’ instead of the complete objectification, though in some ways I view it as worse. I understand concern, but really at the end of the day I’m a very independent capable WOMAN who was happily going through life without a man’s ‘protection’ for years.

      3. Oh Christ. Yes, the “this is for your own protection, little lady!” paternal thing. As if dressing differently would suddenly silence every obnoxious man in DC. I actually notice that I get more harassment in huge sweatshirts, probably because *shudder* they make me look about 14. How many fathers even notice what their daughter wears, anyway??

      4. Eew. So terrible.

        But yeah, seriously when I was 19 I dyed my hair black for the first time. It had been red. Passed my dad as I headed out the door to go to class, he spoke to me & said nothing about my hair … because he didn’t notice. It wasn’t until later that day after he had been talking to me again for several minutes that he finally noticed and asked, ‘Did you do something to your hair?’ And this wasn’t just some subtle change. It went from copper red to blue/black and he didn’t realize a change.

        Yeah. I really don’t think my dad would notice or care especially since there wasn’t anything super revealing about my clothing anyway, oh and yeah, I forget, I’m kind of an adult. Apparently, this memo was lost on said co-worker.

        But it’s for my own protection.

        The only person — man or woman — who I allow to really question what I’m doing for my own safety or whatever is my fiance’ and that’s only due to what part of town I may be in and seriously that’s a safety in numbers kind of thing, not because I’m a woman. If he didn’t understand that, we wouldn’t be together.

        Excuse me while I straighten my back seam stockings and then fret over that large mysterious man who might just be waiting for me behind some dark corner while I walk back to the Metro station in my dangerously high heels.

  2. I bought this one unsniffed at TJMaxx for practically nothing (2.5oz for $14.99) – thought I would really like it based on the notes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me at all. Not sure what turns me off. Maybe the amber? One of my many cheap unsniffed purchases that made me realize – unsniffed at any price is not worth it! Scents I don’t like end up cluttering up my collection – and even at $14.99, those costs add up. Anyone want it??? I also have many other bottles I’d love to get rid of…

    1. Exactly, unsniffed bottles = slow death for the bank account. I always, always think “But it’s so cheap!” Then before I know it, all the money is gone and I never get around to getting any of the pricier things that I know I would love 😦

  3. Even if it’s something I’m probably not going to ever sniff or wear, I love it when someone reviews something that costs under $100.00

    Now, I know that a lot of the good stuff is really expensive, but I’m sort of past “expensive = good”.

    Today’s review makes me happy (as did the DK Gold, and Chocolovers) just because you’re not a snob 😉

    But back to this one… the bottle is beautiful, and if I get a chance, I will try this On Skin.

    1. Bwahaha! I am way too cheap to ever be a snob. Perfume can be an all-consuming hobby, so every once in a while I have to remind myself that *whisper* it’s just fragranced alcohol and water. And spending more than $100 on fragranced alcohol and water is not a very sound financial decision for a college student with no source of income.

      1. My husband is looking at me sideways because I just exploded with laughter.

        Nope, not a sound financial plan, this perfume addiction… *whisper* sometimes I don’t buy groceries. But we’re a young couple, so that’s kinda hip (right?)

      2. Well, let’s consult Sex and the City on the subject:

        “When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I bought Vogue instead of dinner. I found it fed me more.”

        Yep, you’re good. 🙂

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