Eau Duelle by Diptyque
Eau Duelle, named so because of the alleged presence of dueling accords, one of vanilla, the other of frankincense, is Dityque's take on what I like to call a "complicated vanilla" genre. As in- vanilla paired with contrasting/unexpected notes to achieve the yin-yang, unisex-ish, oddly attractive, "not for little girls" effect. Examples? L'Artisan's raw, smoky, immortelle laden Havana Vanille, Montale's resinous, patchouly-heavy Boise Vanille, Patricia de Nicolai's Vanille Tonka (name speaks for itself) and even her newer Vanille Intense, also juxtaposing vanilla with the vegetal, sweet fleshiness of immortelle are just a few that come to mind off the top of my head. All of them had done the "complicated vanilla" better than Eau Duelle.
The thing is, when you go for an effect, you have to do it to the full or not at all. ...Put enough frankincense in the composition, so it can successfully challenge such a strong duellist as vanilla... As it is, vanilla kills all opposition right from the get go and emerges victorious, strangely perfumey and cake-like. Cardamom and saffron try to throw a gauntlet, and I can smell their pleasant piquancy for a while, but they disappear all too soon. Black tea? Forget it. Overall, there is just no there there, in Eau Duelle. It is probably too muddled for somebody with a hankering for just a nice, rich, proper vanilla. And not muddled enough for a contrast-seeker like me... It would definitely make a nice, if subtle candle...
Available wherever Diptyque is sold, $88.00-$120.00.
Image, Duel After The Masked Ball by Jean-Léon Gérôme, is from jeanleongerome.org.