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Friday, December 01, 2006

Ladylike Perfumes. Perfume Review: Delrae Debut Eau de Toilette and Eau de Parfum

I talked about my favorite animalic musks and leathers, about my favorite sweet and tranquil gourmands, about my femme fatale scents. In view of my skanky tastes, it might or might not come as a surprise to you, but I have another favorite fragrance “category”, the one I call Ladylike Perfumes. It is easier to define a vamp than it is to define a lady. There is something indescribable and elusive about the latter. A scent has to have a certain seemingly passive composure, a certain delicate femininity, a certain slight aloofness about it for me to label it a ladylike fragrance. It has to smell “well-bred”, elegant, and, in its understated, refined way it has to be full of character. Dry, green chypres with not particularly dirty leather note are ladylike, white florals that don’t possess the come-hither kind of headiness are ladylike. The scents with prominent lily of the valley invariably seem ladylike to me. So do many aldehydic florals and many iris and violet scents. Many Diors (Miss Dior, Diorella, Diorissimo, Diorling) and even more Chanels (No 19, No 5, No 22, Cristalle, Bois des Iles, Cuir de Russie and Gardenia) are ladylike. The list would also include Lancôme Climat, Madame Rochas, Hermes Caleche, Caron Violette Precieuse, Balmain Ivoire and Miss Balmain, Jacomo Silences, YSL Y, Patou Caline, Divine L’âme Sœur, Malone Fleur de la Foret, Antonia Flower’s Floret, the new S de Scherrer and the new Lanvin Rumeur (the original, gorgeously sensual Rumeur was anything but the lady, but I digress…).

Up there in the refined Mount Olympus of Ladylike Perfumes is Debut by Parfums Delrae. With notes of bergamot, lime, ylang-ylang, green leaves, lily of the valley, linden blossom, cyclamen, vetiver, sandalwood and musk, the scent is fresh, graceful and rather deceptively delicate. I would describe it as young, but this youthfulness is not of the kind with which many brands seem to think their consumers would identify. There is nothing pink, candy-like and cute about Debut. It smells to me like a scent Dior or Balmain would have released for their younger clientele in the days past. I call this scent Miss Delrae.

Debut was first released as an Eau de Toilette. Recently that formulation was discontinued and replaced with Eau de Parfum. I do not find them so dissimilar as to rue the demise of the EDT or to understand the need for the EDP. The main difference for me is the fact that while the breezy citrus top notes in Eau de Toilette last for quite some time finally giving way to the cool floral heart, Eau de Parfum seems to almost skip the citrus beginning going straight to the beautiful lily of the valley, whose coldness is balanced by the creamy ylang-ylang, and the airy, spring-like linden blossom. The latter is actually the most prominent note on my skin, in Eau de Parfum, and is very apparent even in the drydown, along with subtle musk and sandalwood. In Eau de Toilette, lily of the valley is a little louder and is accompanied by a green, grassy note. I feel that one really has to pay very close attention to smell these subtle differences. EDT and EDP last equally long on me and have the same amount and the same kind of subtle, but always present sillage. In short, both are exquisite.

Debut Eau de Toilette is still available at Aedes and Beautyhabit, $80.00 for 1.7oz. The latter already sell Debut Eau de Parfum, $125.00 for 1.7oz.

The first image, Dior Bar Suit from the New Look Collection, 1947, is from The second image is from


Blogger tmp00 said...

I do love some of these: My mother wore Miss Dior at those ladies-who-lunch sort of things. Claire McCardell sundresses and meetings and bridge. I have friends who still wear Cristalle; it's a classic. Glad to read that there are some newer ones that are trying to keep that idea afloat.

Of course, personally, I am DYING to try the "human existence" that out-skanks even MKK!

11:09 PM EST  
Blogger Patty said...

For some reasong, LoTV is just like honey for me, and I wish that were not so. My ladylike perfume is definitely BdI and Caron En Avion. Those make me feel so grown up and like I should have glove on.

Have a great weekend, Marina!

5:34 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

I adore ladylike scents as well. They remind me of some bygone era that I would have certainly hated had I actually been a part of it, but in my imagination it's all about wonderful cocktail parties and Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly and chic little dresses. However, I couldn't wear Debut edt - it suffered death by citrus on my citrus amplifying skin. The edp sounds like it has serious potential if it skips that unfortunate first phase. Thanks for pointing that out!

7:29 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Well, I love most of the scents you classify as "ladylike"--although I do think Diorling and Miss Dior have something else going there as well:)--but I couldn't wear Debut. It was simultaneously too much citrus and too light as a fragrance for me. Perhaps I just can't do this company: I find the much-loved Amoreuse absolutely smothering.

7:38 AM EST  
Blogger chaya ruchama said...

I love ladylike scents as well !

Probably, because I adore juxtaposition-
There is a naughty part of me that LOVES to say something completely ghastly, with sangfroid, in a mellifluous and beautifully modulated tone...[it's usually something horrendously foul, too !]!

It must be the standup comic latent in me.

Anyhoo, you can add Infini,Pois de Senteur,Chanel #22, Crepe de Chine, and many more to the list...

LOVE the photo !

7:52 AM EST  
Anonymous newproducts said...

Though it may be easy to define the semblance of a lady, you are right, M, that it is hard to define what a real lady is. Debut sounds delightful...for spring. I think I will visit it then. I'm glad to hear that the new EDP skips the citrus.

The two most ladylike perfumes I own, I think, are Soir de Paris and L'Heure Bleue. Though the latter, I think, is a little deceptive. It is almost like a woman who is trapped by society's dictates of a lady...or a woman who knows how to be and *is* a lady, but also knows how to *not* be one.

7:57 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

I liked all the Delraes. Having said that ... this was my least favorite, it's a little green for me (LOTV is tricky for me.) I'm trying to think what my ladylike scent is ... Baghari? Would you count Jil Sander 4? Oddly, it's not a category I have a lot of contenders in... ;-)

8:03 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Ack, I forgot about Cristalle. Most certainly ladylike.

Human Existence out-skanks everything. It smells of sweat and private parts. Seriously. Not just kind of alludes to them like MKK, for example, but really, realistically smells like them.

8:58 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Honey, really? So interesting, because for me it is an absolutely non-sweet, pale-green note.
"Like I should have glove on"- the best way to describe this kinds of scents!!
Have a great weekend too!

9:00 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Well, exactly. I am not nostalgic for any social and political conditions of days past, but I am longing for that kind of elegance.

I think Debut EDP has a chance with you. Much less citrus than in EDT, at least on my skin.

9:01 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh they certainly have got it going on :-) It's the leather, I think. But they are still real ladies, those two.

As for Delrae, how about the exquisite Bois de Paradis? No? Too sweet?

9:03 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I love juxtapositions as well. And I love your additions to the list!

9:04 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh my goodness, what a great description of L'Heure Bleu! I completely agree.

9:06 AM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Did you like Eau Illuminee more than Debut? That one is my least favorite Delrae scent.
Baghari is ladylike, especially the new one...there is something dirty lurking in the original version...although I think it still manages to be a lady :-)
Jill Sander 4...The Almost Golden Pearl :-) Yep, sort of borderline ladylike for me :-)

9:08 AM EST  
Blogger Erin said...

Oh, this one just did not work for me. The linden, oh, I have trouble with the lindens. Mix LoTV in there, which is a bit hit and miss for me, and you have a real problem. Weirdly the combination smells sort of melon-ish on me (and its *not* just my baby's honeydew shampoo, I swear.) Now, I like melon notes sometimes, FM PdTherese for example, but this was just all wrong somehow. Love Amoureuse, but Bois De Paradis was too *sweet*. Darn my wood-eating skin...

11:37 AM EST  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

Sigh. Everyone loves Bois de Paradis--but yes, too sweet on me:(

12:12 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I used to have trouble with LoTV too. Then I smelled Guerlain Muguet and at the very sniff it magically converted me into a LOTV fan :-)
I adore the melon in Parfumd de Therese and Diorella.

12:30 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

That's what I figured :-(

12:30 PM EST  
Anonymous AngelaS said...

I'd like to add Le Dix and Arpege to the ladylike category, too. Something about prominent aldehydes seems to say "lady" to me. I'm glad to hear, too, that I'm not the only person that Boid de Paradis doesn't work on! It smells so lovely in the bottle and so yucky on my skin. Well, $$ saved.

12:47 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh those are definitely ladylike too!
B de P was love at first sniff for me, and till today I did not realise that it was so tricky for many people. I

1:24 PM EST  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

M, I've journeyed into unfamiliar territories with you today. Thank you.

1:35 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

You are so welcome :-) What was new, ladylike category in general or Debut in particular, if I may ask?

1:59 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Let's see (I just did this for Robin .. like remembering the names of the Beatles!)

1. Paradis
2. Illuminee
3. Amoureuse
4. Debut

The Amoureuse is a litle gamey even for me ;-)

The Paradis is just .... swoon-worthy.

2:18 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Our Top 1 is the same. Mine would be:
1. Paradis
2. Debut
3. Amoreuse
4. Illuminee

2:25 PM EST  
Anonymous Leopoldo said...

I've read about DelRae, but never sniffed. But really I meant the ladylike category - sometimes i'm a total naïf - and this is one example. total lack of awareness, beyond sniffing the sillage of Madame Fancypants and her bescarved chums as they stroll past me on the street..

2:32 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

LOL at Madame Fancypants :-)

2:33 PM EST  
Anonymous Nez said...

When I wear a velvet jacket and a long skirt, I feel like a lady:). Those days I like wearing Cristalle and Miss Dior even I am 26. I didn't smell Debut, but I will try it ASAP.Thank you for the nice review and the phrase(ladylike):).

2:47 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Velvet jacket and long skirt- very elegant.

2:59 PM EST  
Anonymous timam said...

very nice post, M, and one of my favourite categories. perfumes that I perceive as ladylike (and make me feel that way, obviously), are: Hermes Caleche (the quintessential ladylike, all-occasion-appropriate), Bvlgari Rose essentielle (a clean, fresh dewy lady ;)), AG Songes (a seductive but reserved beauty which brings to mind warm summer nights), AP Maitresse (a classical but modern lady who knows exactly what she wants), Carnal Flower (innocent and calm), most of the Creeds (eg Fleurissimo, Tuberose Indiana), Fracas (a lady with a naughty side). there are some others which I forgot to mention, I'm sure.
looking forward to hearing more of your faves from this category :)!

5:14 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I think Agent Provocateur might be upset at their perfume being called ladylike...but I actually agree with you. Maitresse is sophisticated and tasteful, there is nothing particularly "provocative" about it :-)

5:17 PM EST  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

What a lovely review! I love, love, love the Dior suit photo you used. I want it!

10:40 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I want it too *sigh* I love this look.

10:41 PM EST  
Blogger katiedid said...

Awwwww... you've warmed the cockles of my cold, cold heart with the New Look photo! Although, I must biased-ly admit my "ladylike" scent is Fath de Fath (original.) Sadly, I am anything but ladylike!

And oh Climat! It's weirdly almost a comfort scent for me. It's like a wrapping a warm fuzzy green cashmere cardigan around the body. Climat seems almost more like "lady of leisure" in so many ways!

How surprising to name Floret... that's my wearing-overalls-for-the-day fragrance. So fresh it seems like a ain't nuthin' to do but nuthin' today type of fragrance :)

8:52 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

Whether she is wearing overalls, rubber boots, baseball hat or whatever, Floret lady is still a lady :-)

9:21 PM EST  
Blogger katiedid said...

You've changed the look of the place! It looks all Miss Dior to me now! (It's the houndstooth patter, which is stamped in my mind as Miss Dior no matter the context anymore.) It's a new look with the New Look, hee!

10:17 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

That was exactly the idea! :-) I call it my New Look new look aka Miss Dior Template :-) Geek, moi?

10:18 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me Debut edt is not a ladylike perfume, it 's youthful, sexy for women of all ages, feminine but not ladylike.
Its transparence, simplicity and minimalist esthetics avoid sophisticated overtly ladylike perfume composition elements and pitfalls.
I cannot wait to test the edp version, just afraid it loses some of its itense freshness.

4:46 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

It does seem a little less fresh than EDT.

4:51 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your review! hopefully they realise they need to commercialise both concentrations.

Debut is the only Delrae I love enough to own a bottle. I found Amoureuse too strong and mature, Bois de Paradis too sweet although there 's a beautiful floral stage I love but that doesn 't last long. I like Eau Illuminee but not enough to enough to shell out $125.

6:49 PM EST  
Blogger colombina said...

I think Bois de Paradis is my very favorite from the line, but I realize it might actually seem a little on the sweet side.

6:52 PM EST  

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