First by Cleef & Arpels starts as a delicate floral, and it soon gets painted with the bright electric neon light of aldehydes.
It then adds an incense side with a quality that is almost balsamic, and reminds of frankincense, like a bunch of flowers growing on a bark with resin.The result is a sophisticated and mature floral (suitable for 45+), dark without knowing it.
Aldehydes play a big role here. I found them before in Baghari by Robert Piguet, and Hermes Caleche, but the most famous perfume to include them is of course Chanel n.5. The thing about then however (this is what I’m starting to think) is that, if not adequately counterbalanced, they can strip the soul out of a perfume. Which is exactly the issue with First perfume: it’s a sad fragrance. It’s solid and reliable from beginning to the musky and vanilla end, but it’s almost submissive in its attitude.
First is from 1978, it was the first fragrance launched by the French luxury house and one of the first created by Jean-Claude Ellena.