Diptyque Eau Duelle

Duelle

I generally associate vanilla fragrances with creamy, gourmand notes. The idea of a rich vanilla conquers up images of delicious, decadent desserts and cosy evenings snuggling in front of a roaring fire. To me, vanilla is warmth and comfort. Which offers an explanation as to why my affection for Diptyque’s Eau Duelle wasn’t immediate! After reading dozens of raving reviews, I ordered a 100ml bottle of this niche fragrance with huge expectations of an extraordinary vanilla fragrance that would steal my heart. To be fair, it has secured a place amongst my favourites (having recently sold almost 50 ‘tried but unloved’ fragrances, this one still occupies a valuable spot on my vanity) but it took a few wearing’s to achieve this honour.

Eau Duelle by niche perfumer Diptyque, is an Oriental Spicy fragrance for both women and men. Launched in 2010, the creator of this fragrance is Fabrice Pellegrin. The fragrance notes are given as cardamom, elemi resin, olibanum, bergamot, pink pepper, juniper, saffron, black tea, musk, ambergris and bourbon vanilla.

Once again, my issue with Eau Duelle was one of expectation. Where I was expecting a sweet, creamy, edible experience, the actual result was a dry, smoky, cardamom fragrance much more reminiscent of a cool, summer, masculine scent. The incense, resins and spices change the vanilla from a dessert to an atmosphere! Described as a ‘green vanilla’, Eau Duelle is also rich with fresh juniper and pepper. It feels very free, energising and lively.

I read that the ‘Duelle’ (duality) of this fragrance is the contrast of Frankincense and Vanilla symbolising the cool and warm or light and dark. Not sure where the ‘frankincense’ was incorporated from as it’s not a listed note, but , I can see where this suggestion could be very apt. Even though this vanilla is the complete opposite to what I expect from vanilla fragrances in general, it is still very notable as ‘vanilla’ serving a very different purpose if that makes any sense?… just as salt boosts the caramel flavour in salted caramel, the vanilla undertones in this scent boost the cool, resinous spiciness of this fragrance.

Sitting proudly amongst my other ‘chosen’ fragrances, Eau Duelle is really something special. It stands apart due to its unexpected nature and sometimes you just crave something different. Wearing this today, for the third day in a row now, it is still showing the coveted ‘comforting’ qualities which I seek from vanilla fragrances but with a freshness and energy the others sometimes lack. The name ‘Duelle’ certainly fits the bill!

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Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille

Un bois vanilleI’m figuring it will come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following my blog so far that I’m a huge fan of vanilla fragrances. In fact, a large portion of my favourite fragrances are vanilla based… actually, it might be the majority of them! However, there are a few that are specific stand out vanilla fragrances for me and they are amongst my prize possessions. The heady warmth and creaminess from a true vanilla fragrance is something to behold. It’s intoxicating, comforting and delicious all at the same time. Whatsmore, I can bask in the beauty of these fragrances for hours and never get tired of them – unlike the inevitable gastronomic regret I’ll often have after indulging in any other sweet treat so such a degree!

I previously reviewed the masterful creation which is Guerlain’s Spirituese Double Vanille and it was my love of SDV which led me to discover Un Bois Vanille. This 2003 creation by the perfume house, Serge Lutens, is often compared to SDV and doesn’t readily pale in comparison. It’s not to say they are clones by any means. To me, SDV is generally more refined, deeper and creamier than Un Bois Vanille which has sharper and more peppery characteristics in the opening. The real similarities appear hours later in the in the drydown when both leave a powdered chocolate skinscent in their wake. Overall, I think that Un Bois Vanille would be similar enough to calm cravings for SDV when you want to ‘splash’ around an cheaper alternative (not that Un Bois Vanille is cheap by any means but it is less than ½ the price of SDV). Personally, I think it’s a fantastic twist of fate to have stumbled across another of these decadent vanilla creations with which I’ve become so obsessed with.

I find Un bois vanilla to be an absolute delight to the senses. Imagine, if you will, a rich combination of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, incense, resin, smoke, spice, coconut and honey. This sweet experience is thoroughly addictive. The dessert-like qualities are almost enough to satiate any sugar craving you may have but I don’t find it cloying or overpowering at all. For me, it excites the senses. I’m careful to stress that this fragrances suits ‘my’ tastes though as there seems to be quite a lot of contradictory reviews online… As always, personal tastes are a very subjective thing and skin chemistry plays a large part as well. Some people just find this too overpowering and too sweet. Others find it too complex and almost confusing. It’s a good example of why you really need to try and sample fragrances whenever you have the opportunity. I’d dare say that if you’re a die-hard fan of vanilla fragrances like I am, you’d be enchanted by this scent though. It’s a fantastic example of how masterful blending and quality ingredients can create pure olfactory magic.

Hermes Elixir des Merveilles

Elixir Des Merveilles

Sometimes it can be difficult to put my finger on the right scent for my mood or state of mind. This morning I wanted something warm but fresh and invigorating… the scent I sought needed to be cosy and comforting but bright and happy as well, as if to take me away to somewhere relaxing and chilled out. It occurred to me I had the perfect scent for this occasion and it’s one I’ve barely used since buying it many months ago… Today, it just had to be Elixir des Merveilles by Hermes.

Elixir des Merveilles is a flanker (or sister fragrance) to Eau des Merveilles which was released in 2004. Elixir des Merveilles was released a couple of years later in 2006. These fragrances are Oriental Fougere’s which essentially classes them as fresh and herbaceous. Fougere perfume is typically more common amongst men’s fragrances but Elixir des Merveilles is marketed as a women’s line although this is debatable among the perfume community. Many, including myself, believe it’s has some very masculine qualities although I also believe those qualities add to its allure immensely. The fragrance notes include peru balsam, vanilla sugar, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli, Siam resin, caramel, oak, incense, orange peel and cedar.

This one is different and we all know how much I like ‘different’! After having both Eau des and Elixir des Merveilles pop up on my fragrance radar many times, I decided to buy a couple of samples to test them out. I eagerly awaited the arrival of my samples because the reviews on these fragrances, particularly Eau des Merveilles, sounded rather bizarre… A very common interpretation of the fragrance was that it reminded people of the beach, particularly how they might smell after having spent a day at the beach! I guess this is probably a combination of fragranced body products, sunscreens, salt and sweat! So the samples arrive and I dab some Eau des Merveilles on and, low and behold, it DOES smell like the beach! It starts very warm and musky but with a strong dose of fresh orange. The orange dissipates very quickly though and then this oceanic smell starts to emerge. It’s warm, salty, aquatic and sort of sweet but the strangest thing is that, to me, it really did smell like I’d spent a day at the beach! Although it’s not mentioned as a note, there are many reviewers wondering whether ambergris (or the synthetic version at least) is included in this fragrance. That would certainly explain the marine, animalic, salty and sweet nuances in Eau des Merveilles. Ofcourse this raises a bit of a quandary… as enchanting as this atmospheric fragrance is, I’m not really sure I want to step out of the shower, spray this on and smell ‘unwashed’!

Enter, Elixir des Merveilles which proves to be a softer, and more wearable, version in my opinion. In the Elixir, I find that the ‘beachy’ smell is still there but is much more mellow allowing the prettier notes to step forward. I can pick up the patchouli, caramel, orange peel and incense and its truly beautiful. I’m recognising something very familiar in this fragrance and, as it evolves, I find it more and more endearing. Actually it’s reminiscent of a men’s aftershave I’ve lusted over in the past (I wish I could identify which one!) and there’s nothing like the power of the right aftershave to make me lose all self-control! The fragrance is very deep and resinous and the longevity is fantastic. I’ve been wearing this for almost 9hrs now and I can still easily smell it as I move. Whatsmore, it has served its purpose beautifully as each time I inhale this magical potion, it brings a smile to my face and reminds me of lazy days at the beach breathing in all the magical aroma’s that waft across the warm sand.

So as our Aussie winter continues, perhaps seize an opportunity to try this jewel out the next time you pass a perfume counter… it just might give you a moment of beachy bliss too!

Tom Ford Atelier d’Orient Plum Japonais

Plum Japonais

Yet another fragrance that may have been made specifically with winter in mind! This gem is one that I’m very proud to have in my collection and I’ll treasure to its very last drop… strangely though, it’s one that I don’t tend to wear very often (which may be a good thing as its been discontinued). My apparent lack of interest in wearing it is by no means a blight on its scent or character but more to do with this fragrance being somewhat of an atmosphere to me rather than something I’d wear to portray a mood. It’s dark and sultry, smoky, warm, spicy… It reminds me of a cellar or an oriental teahouse, lots of wood and dark, luxurious furnishings – and a wafting of incense. Plum Japonais stole my heart the moment I first smelt it and entrances me each and every time I’ve encountered it since. To this day, it reminds me so incredibly strongly of something, and it’s something so close, and yet I can’t grasp it. One day I’m sure it’ll hit me in a blinding flash…

Atelier d’Orient Plum Japonais is another of the exclusive collection by designer Tom Ford. It was released in 2013 and is classed as a fruity floral. As advised by a Sales Rep in Hong Kong, this line is noted as being quite linear rather than having an evolution of opening notes, heart notes and base notes. The fragrance features japanese plum, saffron, cinnamon, immortelle, plum blossom, camellia, agarwood (oud), amber, benzoin, fir and vanilla.

My experience of Plum Japonais starts with what seems to be fortified plum. It reminds me of a plum port or liqueur. It’s sweet, resinous, smoky and spicy. I don’t pick up a floral characteristic at all, just slightly sweet, warm, dried fruits with a boozy overtone and incense – lots of incense. I find this fragrance insanely relaxing. It’s quite ethereal but cosy, warm and comforting at the same time. I feel as if it cocoons me with its rich notes and I feel inexplicably safe and content. As previously mentioned, I feel as if Plum Japonais is an atmosphere or a place rather than a mood. It’s a dramatically lit, dark, wood panelled room. The furnishings are oriental inspired, deep burgundy and abundant with soft leather to match the cellared wine or port stored in the corner. Everything oozes class and character. Exotic, spicy incense scents the air. The entire scene is very dreamlike but intensely comfortable and comforting. Peaceful. Timeless.

This is yet another magical elixir that I’ll treasure for as long as I have it… it’s a good thing I don’t feel the need to wear it every day. Hopefully I’ll have it to escape to forever.

Dior Hypnotic Poison

IMG_1041

This morning, as I dressed for work, I pondered which perfume to write about next. As has become my habit, I like to wear the fragrance I’m intending on writing about to inspire myself. I decided on a particular fragrance that is remarkable for its amazingly true citrus notes but as I reached for the bottle, I halted… it was 4°C outside and the idea of a spritz of this fresh, zesty potion just chilled me to my core – I couldn’t do it. Instinctively, I reached for what is perhaps one of the warmest fragrances in my collection, Hypnotic Poison by Dior.

Hypnotic Poison is one of the powerhouse fragrances of the late 90’s. As suggested by the name, it is one of several flankers of the legendary Poison fragrance that is one of the icons of 80’s perfumery and a flagship of the Dior perfume house. It’s another polarising fragrance that seems to split people into either lovers or haters. Hypnotic Poison is remarkably distinctive and it’s one of the few that I can immediately identify from the slightest whiff. Strangely, the only fragrance I’ve come across that is even vaguely similar is Versace’s Crystal Noir which shares many of the same notes but has a notably fruity tone that brings out the coconut more – very reminiscent of Pina Colada. This makes Crystal Noir seem distinctly summery as opposed to Hypnotic Poison signifying winter for me. Mind you, I’ve read many reviews saying that Hypnotic Poison is best experienced at warmer temperatures but I think I’d personally find this a bit overpowering and heady in the heat. Each to their own ofcourse! The distinctive strength of Hypnotic Poison is likely what causes people to have such differing opinions about it. The powdery almond and dreamy coconut vanilla opening is very bold and raw and, even though I love it, there are some days I just don’t feel strong enough to face it.

This oriental vanilla is marketed by Christian Dior as opening with apricot, plum and coconut with heart notes of tuberose, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose and Brazilian rosewood. The aforementioned almond and vanilla are noted as base notes along with musk. Strangely, I find this fragrance pyramid to be quite inaccurate to my nose… to me, the floral heart notes appear only after the almond, coconut and vanilla start to settle and the fruits mentioned are only a background tinge a few minutes in before dissipating altogether for the most part. From the opening to the final skin scent many, many hours later, this fragrance is a warm, creamy ‘dessert-like’ scent that is beautifully blended and very gourmand. An hour or so in, the edible qualities seem even more amplified to me with a chocolate and caramel nuance starting to seep in as well. There are ever so slight florally tones of jasmine and tuberose wafting through but they only really serve to accent the soft, but very present, sweetness.

As a side note, I find the inclusion of plum in the opening notes to be significant as this is a key note in the original Poison. While wearing Hypnotic Poison, every now and then I pick up the plum and it’s suddenly vaguely reminiscent of the original iconic fragrance.

Hypnotic Poison is comforting, cozy and delicious. It’s the type of perfume I’ll spray on before bed just because it makes me happy. But it’s also decadent and slightly dark. There is quite a bit of online hearsay suggesting that this potion is quite the aphrodisiac too! I can understand this suggestion as there is definitely a heady sensuality about Hypnotic Poison that is hard to resist. It’s all consuming – you feel as though you can taste it as much as smell it and the olfactory memory of Hypnotic Poison seems to carry with you for ages after you’ve inhaled its deep, rich notes.

If you’re not already familiar with Hypnotic Poison, be sure to grab a tester the next time your near a Dior counter… even if you’re not sure at first, try a touch on your skin and see what happens. You just might find yourself addicted to her hypnotic ways as well!

M.Micallef Ylang in Gold

Ylang in Gold

I’ve developed quite an obsession with Ylang Ylang over the past few months… Initially, I kept seeing it touted as a ‘tropical’ fragrance often paired with coconut (which is another fragrance love of mine) and as I was looking for a new fragrance to wear on our Cambodian holiday, something tropical seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I decided on Guerlain’s Lys Soleia (which was the subject of my first blog review) and I bought a shiny new bottle to take with me. As fate would have it, our Cambodian villa was named Ylang Ylang (the staff giggled whenever we said the villa name – don’t know what that was about!) and the resort spa featured Ylang Ylang body products for their treatments – apparently it was all meant to be! Anyway, we returned to Australia and my Ylang obsession was in full flight. Every time I neared the gorgeous bath and body products we’d bought home as souvenirs from the spa, the exotic smell of Ylang Ylang whisked me back to the sights, sounds and tropical heat of Siem Reap. This is why I love perfume so much – for me, there is no better way to relive a moment in time than to capture it in fragrance. I scoured the internet for the best Ylang Ylang fragrances and found a handful that looked promising. M. Micallef’s Ylang in Gold topped the ‘best of’ lists a couple of times and I was wrapt to find an Australian site that sold it – even more wrapt to see it significantly discounted in an EOFYS sale!

So it finally arrived a few days ago… I was initially taken aback to realise it features a gold shimmer in the fragrance itself – which just goes to show how much attention I paid when ordering it! This is a special edition to which they’ve added dust of nacre, or mother of pearl, and it does lend a spectacular visual element but I was immediately worried that it might look gaudy and/or mark my clothes… thankfully neither concern was justified, the shimmer is very discreet and easily washed off. However, there is a non-shimmer version available as well if that is preferred. The very solid, heavy bottle is nicely decorated with Swarovski crystals and a faux gold cap which gives a feel of elegance and exclusivity. My excitement at sampling this gem was a fever pitch!

As I inhaled the golden shimmer of Ylang in Gold, my first thoughts were of effervescent, sweet fruits! It didn’t strike me as a tropical fragrance as such but more of perfume mixed with fruit lollies. Not bad by any means but not the notes I was expecting. The Ylang Ylang isn’t overly dominant initially but as the top notes fade away, the divine golden flower steps forward. The whole experience is a well-blended assortment of sweet, tangy and yellow floral notes. I find it surprisingly addictive actually. Initially, I was disappointed that it was so different to my expectations but the reality is that it’s a beautifully bright and sweet, fruity ylang fragrance with a warm, creamy undertone of vanilla and coconut that keeps it grounded. The longevity of the fragrance is average with it only lasting 3 to 4 hrs on my skin after which I can only smell it as a skin scent. I definitely don’t mind respraying as the opening is so divine but I find it unnerving due to the potential to run out quickly as this perfume will not be cheap to replace! Plus, when I like something this much, I’m always nervous they’ll discontinue it – it happens more often than you’d expect with popular fragrances!

Ylang in Gold has secured a place amongst my top shelf fragrances next to Ylang Ylang counterparts Guerlain’s Lys Soleia and Terracotta Le Parfum and Lola Lempicka’s Elle L’aime. And yes, Terracotta and Elle L’aime are slated for upcoming blog posts!

Guerlain French Kiss

French Kiss

I feel extremely lucky that I stumbled across this beauty and even luckier that I was in a position to buy it. I wasn’t aware at the time but French Kiss had only just been released when I had the opportunity to sample it in Hong Kong at Christmas last year. The funny thing is that it wasn’t even me who picked up and sniffed the bottle – it was my husband. Moments later and he’d spritzed it on my arm and the magic began. He was also the one who made the decision of us buying this over Gourmand Coquin which had been the fragrance I’d put at the top of my ‘must try’ list. Incidentally, I remember Gourmand Coquin smelling of toasted marshmallows, rum and praline and it’s still on my ‘want’ list for the next time I get near a Guerlain Exclusive counter. Since then, French Kiss has started gaining somewhat of a cult following and for good reason. It’s sheer luxury and completely personifies what you’d expect from a Guerlain Les Elixirs Charnels Exclusive Collection fragrance.

The Guerlain website describes this scent as a Glossy Floral which seems rather apt as ‘Glossy’ captures that brazen burlesque-style glamour that sums up this fragrance to me. Beautiful, bright and bold with a blend of notes that showcase the exquisite ingredients and absolute refinement that Guerlain is known for. This is the essence of femininity  and oozes a fun sensuality that sets it apart from many of the other Les Elixir Charnel fragrances which, although magnificent, don’t seem as easy to wear as French Kiss. If there is such a thing as ‘Casual Couture’, this might just be it!

From the first moments I apply French Kiss it’s an absolute treat. It opens with a delicious mix of sweet lychee, tart raspberry and a powdery rose. I also get a marzipan note in the background which lends a solid creamy base to an otherwise impossibly bright and fresh, fruity opening. The rose strengthens and is joined by a luscious violet and lively iris that bring to mind similarities with L’Artisan Perfumer’s Drole de Rose and Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose – all three fragrances share that retro vibe.

For me, the base notes of vanilla, heliotrope and musk evolve slowly but only really serve to make the fragrance warmer as it ages. The freshness of the beginning eventually morphs into a creamy drydown but the same sweet and tart ‘berry-like’ notes from the opening remain throughout. The longevity on French Kiss is exceptional for me with 3 or 4 sprays still being easily noticed 24hrs later. Mind you, I’d expect no less from a perfume house of this calibre and a fragrance in this price range.

Sassy, sophisticated but not that serious, French Kiss epitomises glamour done in an ‘easy to wear’ way. This gorgeous fragrance is definitely one of the jewels in my perfume collection.