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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eau Duelle by Diptyque

By Marina

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

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting! I didn't love Eau Duelle either. Your characterization of it being neither strongly contrasted nor clearly a vanilla scent, captures it perfectly for me. What do you think of Vanille Exquise (Goutal), how do those two compare in your opinion?

6:18 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked Eau Duelle enough, but it didn't hold together long enough for me to call it a perfume. You are right on about the difficulty of using vanilla as the star. Do you think there is anything that is vanilla-centered that you could really call a "proper perfume"? Sadly, I haven't found one yet, but I keep hoping.

7:04 AM EST  
Blogger Katy Josephine said...

I have not tried Eau Duelle, but I have sampled the others you mention. And you're right - both Havana Vanille and Vanille Tonka (which I'm posting about today) do a fairly interesting job of making vanilla interesting.

My favorite vanilla perfume is White Aoud by Montale. It is medicinal with a touch of tobacco. And the oud...yum. Vanilla takes its proper place with the other, well-balanced notes.

7:57 AM EST  
Anonymous Victoria said...

I really like Eau Duelle, which is probably my favorite Diptyque these days. What I enjoy about it is how despite the use of all these heavy, dark notes, it remains bright and radiant. Technically, this is interesting. Also, I am not a fan of obvious vanilla fragrances, so it is probably why I like to wear as well as just to study it.

8:11 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

To me the two are quite different. On my skin, VE is the perfumiest vanilla, so to say. It's not a vanilla perfume, it's a perfume with vanilla, if that makes sense? It has that fizziness, which I almost want to call aldehydic, which, to me, is a Goutal signature.

8:22 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Marla, interesting question. "Proper perfume" that is vanilla centered, to me would, by definition, be something More Than Vanilla, so to say, a complicated vanilla, vanilla with a twist, you know? So, again, Havana Vanille, Vanille Tonka, Tobacco Vanille...But as for "proper VANILLA perfume"- something totally, totally satisfyingly, richly, sweetly, uncomplicatedly vanilla...hmm...Kiehls Vanilla (don't know if they still make it), Lutens Un Bois Vanille, Gorilla Perfume Vanillary, one of the Comptoir ones, can't remember which one...and I know I am forgetting something obvious...

8:30 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I know we share the love of White Oud! I adore that scent, it's one of those I have consistently loved for several years, which is unusual for me, I go off scents so fast. Have you tried Micallef's Vanille Aoud? "Complex Yummy" too :)

8:32 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You know, I haven't thought of it that way! Maybe they INTENDED it to be like that, bright and radiant despite the use of heavy notes. In that case, they succeeded! My problem is I guess I probably always lean to dark and heavy(-ish) in a perfume.

8:34 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do love "ED", but I ignored the name and I ignored the notes. I don't get a vanilla scent from this one but a dry and radiant (as Victoria here has said)cardamon scent and I like this effect very much. White Oud is fantastic too.

11:07 AM EST  
Anonymous Sturdissimo said...

I understand the concept but it's really hard for me to imagine that combination. I like the mysteriousness of frankincense- it's not something I want to have sweetened up.

11:12 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

that's perhaps the way to go, no nitpicking on notes and names, just taking the scent on its own merit!

11:13 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Well, sometimes I am in a mood for hardcore incense, and in a mood like that I would frown upon any soft note nonsense. But sometimes it's fun to mix it up and experiment.

11:16 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

Perfect take on this fragrance. That exactly captures my reaction to it, which made me sad, because as a vanilla-lover who also loves complicated scents, I wanted very much for it to be one I loved. It's pleasant, but not very interesting, and not RAVISHING either.

11:26 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

certainly not ravishing, darn it! :)

11:28 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I think that a lot of the scents from this line are better as candles. Maybe because their candles are so wonderful?

11:35 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I kind of agree...

11:41 AM EST  
Anonymous ghostranchguy said...

i dumped some patchouli essential oil into my "blind" purchase... much much better now

3:27 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Ooh, great idea, some dark earthiness would do it good.

3:28 PM EST  
Anonymous March said...

I agree -- it should have been more, or less, of something -- I didn't get as much vanilla as you did -- and it somehow failed to create much interest.

4:25 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

yep, more or less, it's an inbetweenie the way it is :)

4:51 PM EST  
Blogger Brian said...

It makes me sad too, because I have such a soft spot for Diptyque. I love them as candles, room spray, perfume. Or did love them, in the past. I don't feel like lately they've had the same kind of vision they used to. I was rooting for this one but the reviews have been so consistently lukewarm that I don't feel compelled to try it. Portrait of a Lady, on the other hand, has had such a mixed reaction, so extreme on both ends, that I know I have to!

3:21 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

The became kind of tame. I mean, remember Eau Lente, L'Eau Trois? Good times...

3:23 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how different people experience fragrances differently. To me, Havana Vanille smells like an old, cheap cigar doused in vanilla air spray and left to smolder in a creosote ashtray. A real scrubber on me. Vanilla Duelle, on the other hand, is something that smells both incensy and like vanilla and it is neither too strong nor fake in the least. Love it.

9:17 PM EST  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Your review of this one is spot on; I'll stick with my beloved Montale Boise Vanille. It's so very nice to see you posting again, Marina. You've been missed!

10:02 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

you know, I can totally see how HV might be all that if it decided not to cooperate :)

8:26 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you!
I find Boise Vanille rather under-appreciated, don't you? It is sort of flying under the radar.

8:27 AM EST  
Blogger Scott said...

I agree with your review. I'm not a huge fan of vanilla (so take what I say with a grain of salt) but I found it a little heavy-handed and clumsy. If I had to pick a vanilla it would be Vanilla Gallante, which is abstract enough that it appeals to me. I just saw the Early Impressionists show at the De Young Museum (masterpieces from the Musee Dorsay), and it reminded me why the impressionistic, rather than faithful, representation of anything is more intetresting, moving, and lasting. The real thing? I get tired of it very quickly....

2:11 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

To me too, impressionistic is more, or longer, appealing than the real-life rendition. Vanille Galante is a huge favorite of mine too.

2:14 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree: all I smell is sickly sweet, rich cake frosting. I was excited about Eau Duelle after hearing some rave reviews and ordered a sample from Lucky Scent. It's funny, even vanilla extract for baking doesn't smell as food-like as this does to me.

5:22 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree. And what an interesting blog you have!

5:25 PM EST  

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