Saturday, October 2, 2010

Diptyque - Eau Duelle

Vanilla bean gin and tonic

Sometimes I like a little background information on a perfume before I try it, it speeds things along and there are so many perfumes to write about. But other times I like to go in commando, without support. To have no idea what the perfumer was going for, but try to get a real first impression, uninfluenced by the marketing.

So, I flew blind with Eau Duelle. I knew vaguely that it was supposed to have vanilla in it, but that's all I knew before I got my sample.

Here are my first impressions:
Spray 1: Hmmm, what is that? Something herbal, but why does it remind me of alcohol? Oh yes, there's the vanilla, but what is that herbal/alcohol note? Is that mint?
Spray 2:  OH! Juniper berries! It's gin!
It's a gin and tonic. Dry, herbal, a touch citrusy. a little piney. And then, cosying up right beside the glass is vanilla. Not too sweet, or at least balanced by the G&T. A smoky vanilla bean. A darkly sweet Yang to the light, dry, slightly bitter and herbal Yin of the gin and tonic.

So, to teh internets I go, to research the notes for Eau Duelle. Strangely enough, Fragrantica lists no vanilla. What it does list is cardamom, elemi resin, juniper berries, saffron, tea and amber. Ooookay. Amber could be the vanilla, amber accords are often sweet and vanilla-y. Juniper berries check. Cardamom and saffron... no, I can't really smell those. But what is elemi resin?

According to Wikipedia, elemi "is a fragrant resin with a sharp pine and lemon-like scent." An aromatherapy site says it has a "light and mint-like aroma, with notes of lemon." (Cool picture there too.) So it seems to me that elemi is the major ingredient I am smelling in Eau Duelle. The scent that, combined with juniper, is giving me the sensation of a light, dry gin and tonic. Together with the smoky, sweet vanilla, I guessed that I had discovered the dueling duo behind the concept of Eau Duelle. So, finally, I surf to the Diptyque website to check my theory... Oh.

I was wrong. The Diptyque website states that "Eau Duelle is based on two contrasting scents--smoky frankincense, dark and animalistic, and fresh white vanilla, sweet and light."

Frankincense? Really? I love frankincense, but I thought that it was one of the few notes I could recognize right off the bat. Frankincense has a dry, uplifting, tickle in my nose feeling that I love, but I don't smell in Eau Duelle. Perhaps M. Pellegrin was working on a pine angle of frankincense or perhaps the smoke in the vanilla is meant to be an incense smoke?

Maybe I'm still on the wrong track. In this video interview, Fabrice Pellegrin says the concept of Eau Duelle was based on the two types of vanilla used, a "dark" bourbon vanilla, with animalistic aspects, and a "light" firnat vanilla. The two vanillas then take a journey along the spice route.

It's a nice story, but I don't find the vanilla that remarkable, nor do I find Eau Duelle particularly spicy.

Oh well. In the end, what does it matter? I like Eau Duelle. It's balanced, light and dark, bitter and sweet. It's great in cold and hot weather and I think it would make an excellent masculine or feminine (like all Diptyques). Excellent.

House: Diptyque
Nose: Fabrice Pellegrin
Notes: Cardamom, Cypriol India, elemi, juniper, saffron,
calamus, black tea, olibanum somalia
(Frankincense), firnat vanilla, bourbon vanilla


  1. I usually avoid vanilla fragrances, but I am very curious about Eau Duelle now.

    I love Diptyque as a house, and the contrast/duel concept(along with juniper, spices, frankincense and tea) has intrigued me enough to lift my vanilla blinders.

    This is a great review. Looks like diving in blind is a great way to get to know a fragrance.

  2. Thank you. I've read a comment from someone else that they found the vanilla too sweet, so it might depend on how you feel about vanilla. Give it a try anyway if you have the chance.

  3. "Going in commando" made me smile... I feel I should definitely give this scent a whirl, as vanilla and G & Ts are two of my most favourite things. In fact, I am off to make a G & T right now!

  4. Well ,it sounds very good - I must make the effort to try. L'Artisan and I don't see eye to eye very much .


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