Good Enough to Eat: En Voyage Perfumes Souvenir de Chocolat Trio
Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes is well known for putting her own spin on traditional perfume styles, and now she has taken on the gourmand family with great success. This much anticipated (and now multiple award-winning) trio of scents lives up to it billing, evoking the sweetness of classic favorites with an original twist.
I love vanilla in perfumes, from light and airy to dark and boozy, it's all good. Indigo Vanilla brings out an aspect of it that is new to me; thanks to the inclusion of sugared violets and a creamy, buttery musk, the vanilla has a cool, milky character that is very appealing and different. One of the great pleasures of baking is mixing the ingredients, and smelling this is like making my favorite cream cheese and butter shortbread cookie recipe, and topping them with violet frosting. Even so, it is not sticky-sweet like all those candyfloss vanillas, so it is very wearable even in warmer weather. Something fruity peeks out as it develops perhaps thanks to the hint of milk chocolate in the mix, which only adds to the hedonistic experience and gradually becomes more apparent in the long drydown. If I could make a dessert that tastes like Indigo Vanilla smells, I would soon need a new larger size wardrobe.
I have been waiting for Shelley to do an amber perfume, knowing it would have the warmth and radiance that is so characteristic of her work, and Captured in Amber is indeed marvelous - dreamy and hypnotic, so rich and deep that it's downright indecent. My immediate impression was that this fragrance was composed with a very high percentage of natural ingredients. Labdanum, tonka bean, vanilla, resins and spices form the “ancient” smelling amber accord, which is combined with silken dark chocolate, bitter orange and yes, real ambergris, the latter of which is extremely rare in today's fragrances, even the high end luxury scents. It's hard to describe what effect this magical ingredient does for a perfume, but everything is smoother, rounder, more finished somehow, like a stone that's been tumbled in a river and becomes as polished as a jewel. I will compare it very favorably to the hard to find Chocolate Amber from the Italian natural fragrance company La Via de Profumo; if you have ever tried that one, Captured in Amber is akin to it but spicier, more complex and not as sweet, and they are both wonderful.
The ultimate combination of coffee and chocolate for this mocha lover is Café Cacao, which combines top shelf perfumery materials to make what is perhaps the most decadent fragrance in the group. Along with the real ambergris also found in Captured in Amber, it flaunts a parade of sensuality; in fact, there is not a single note in this perfume that I don't adore. Vanilla, rose, cardamom, bergamot peel, espresso, dark chocolate, steamed milk and whipped cream, amber accord, musk, ambergris – who could ask for more? It all comes together seamlessly and even though it has all those gourmand notes, it is not too sweet or cloying, so the rich bitterness of the coffee and chocolate can be enjoyed as a counterpoint to the dessert ingredients. I prefer a gourmand fragrance that leaves room to breathe, and Café Cacao is a great example. The only problem with it is prying my nose off my arm when I wear it. Apparently Marie Antoinette liked to have ambergris in her hot chocolate; that is not an option for most of us, but with this fragrance we can get an idea of what that must have been like.
These three fragrances are also recommended for blending with each other to make your own delectable “recipes.” For me, Captured in Amber tends to overpower anything else, and its longevity is incredible, but the other two make a perfect combination. No matter how you wear them, the result is the same – pure pleasure!
Image credit: Candied violet and chocolate eclairs via Pinterest, original source unknown.
Disclosure: I received samples for testing purposes from En Voyage Perfumes.