Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review: DIPTYQUE COLOGNES L'Eau des Hespérides

In case L'Eau de Néroli bored the genre into a neo-snooze, L'Eau des Hespérides is like waking by a kick in the head. This may be no L'Autre (1973), but it is still reassuring evidence that Diptyque has not lost its knack for creating off and off-putting transgressive scents of the Other. This is one of the things I best love about Diptyque.

But I still find L'Eau des Hesp
érides all kinds of vile.

The composition, however, is objectively very interesting. There is the requisite aromatic-citric aspect of it as an eau de cologne but standout here is the MINT. Unusual enough as a note in perfume, made still more unusual by putting it alongside an oddly dry orange--and with the addition of thyme, which seems to add a little saltiness, L'Eau des Hesp
érides somehow ends up a lot like a very cold slap of ocean wind.

Then it dissipates to a grassy, 'green' breeze that's merely cool. It's airy-ozonic--though more in the way cucumber is than melon--and watery, and yet, intriguingly still a little dark and bitter. Like pond sludge. Surprising, since the name suggests at least to me something more frolicking and pastoral. In fact, 'Hesp
érides' generally seems a misnomer, since even the neroli cologne is more citrus-oriented than this. Really, I think 'Arcadia' suits it better--as in 'et in Arcadia ego.'

Notes: orange, mandarin, petitgrain, red thyme, rosemary, mint, cedar, white musk.

Review: DIPTYQUE COLOGNES L'Eau de Néroli

The ho-hum entry in the cologne series. I find it forgettable in the extreme. L'Eau de Néroli is like an everyhouse citrus eau.

However, it is a perfectly serviceable as one. Fresh, clean, uncluttered, pleasant. Just the thing for a disgustingly sticky summer day. Evanescent; probably could be used a la Napoléon, by the gallon.

Lemon is not listed but it smells very lemon to me, especially in the opening, bright and lively, though softened by a mild, non-indolic orange blossom. Actually, it doesn't seem very neroli to me at all (a good thing, as its sharpness often gives me a headache). In fact, for me L'Eau de Néroli seems marked more by what it is not like than any distinctive commitment to anything. Not as sour as 4711, not as petitgrain-herbal as Extra-Vieille, not as soapy as Santa Maria Novella Colonia. Just sort of there, keeping its head down and filling space.

Notes: bergamot, petitgrain, verbena, tarragon, neroli, orange blossom, geranium, beeswax, white musk, cedar.

Review: DIPTYQUE COLOGNES L'Eau de l'Eau

Tarocco might have usurped L'Eau de l'Eau as my frequent-wear favorite, but I think L'Eau de l'Eau is the more interesting as a fragrance. It's also more obviously in the eau de cologne tradition, while I suppose the 'neo' spin on that genre is due in part to the addition of potpourri spices. Not too devastatingly new, however, since those spices trace to the original 1968 L'Eau, still in production and still insanely strong.

The 2008 L'Eau de l'Eau might be said to be a 'watering' of that. A distillation of the citrus-spice-herb essence of L'Eau, which is then mercifully given a watering-down. L'Eau... americano'd? That perhaps is more fundamentally the 'neo' of it, actually.

I guess some things could be said about l'année 1968 vs. the year 2008.

As for the scent, it is a very straightforward but light rendition of its listed heavy-hitter notes. Opens with what seems like equal parts bergamot/citrus, clove, and slightly soapy orange blossom, with a little lavender to 'ground' things, and this citrus-spice-herb essence stays fairly constant for me throughout, although it does sweeten a bit on the skin. Excellent longevity.

But though eau de cologne is not perhaps the most complex of perfume genres, the essence of L'Eau de l'Eau strikes me as complex enough. It's at once citrusy, sweet, dusty, spicy, soapy, floral, herbal, tonic, soft, fresh, warm--and all of it in beautiful balance. A true 'universal' fragrance, suitable any season, any occasion. In other words, very much in the spirit of an eau de cologne. And in my opinion very deserving of a Grand Prix du Parfum (in its class).

Notes: clove, cinnamon, ginger, pink peppercorn, orange blossom, geranium, lavender, benzoin, tonka bean, patchouli.

Review: DIPTYQUE COLOGNES L'Eau de Tarocco

I have to close my eyes to eat blood oranges. The flesh, all peeled and sectioned, really do resemble skinned muscle tissue--I can't help but think of a still-pumping live heart ripped out of the body, and the darker the pulp, the more I think slow-oozing blackening blood.

L'Eau de Tarocco, though, is nowhere near gore--though visceral in its own way. It's very authentically orange fruit: how it smells, just as it being peeled. Bright, juicy, sweet and tart and a tiny bit pithy-bitter. And grows sweeter as it progresses into the mild spices and rose, which form for me a kind of unobtrusive background haze, like a soft, vague, warm dust cloud of saffron and very mild cinnamon and even milder rose. And in this dust cloud is also some generalized woodiness, sheer, dry, not aggressively woody, and I think the incense must add to that general effect, as I cannot really pick it out alone. A nicely blended dust cloud.

It doesn't obscure the orange but neither does it contrast against it, exactly--at least not in a way that renders the orange blinking strange. L'Eau de Tarocco isn't strange at all. Not tremendously ground-breaking (though on the whole I do rather like Diptyque's entries for this recent trend of neo-colognes/eaux fraîches) but something that will get frequent use by me this summer. Refreshing but not harsh. Simple but interesting-ish. A bit like orange peel crushed on sun-warmed skin.

Plus, I find myself totally falling for the (confused) romance of it all. The romance of the 'exotic travels' copy Diptyque is always on about, the tarocco oranges, the palm trees, the spice camels loping in single file in a desert oasis landscape. I'm right there inside the label, like an A-ha video. OK. My only excuse is that the notes read to me like Moroccan cuisine, but even that is not particularly specific and half-written in by my own guilty exoticism about the place. Anyway. My favorite of the Diptyque cologne series.

Notes: blood orange, grapefruit, saffron, cinnamon, curcuma, rose, orange blossom, cedar, incense, white musk.