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Bombay Duck London

Sisley Eau du Soir

So, you’re going to Glyndebourne.  Or the Royal Opera House.  Or maybe a very, VERY important black tie dinner party.  Well, one of my default scents for seriously grand occasions has always been Sisley Eau de Soir:  a chypre that is about as adult, as sophisticated, as reach-for-your-tiara as a fragrance ever gets.  Sisley, of course, is a brand more generally identified with extremely luxe skincare, with serums-a-go-go, with precious creams to keep ageing at bay from women who drive Mercedes and work out in their own back-garden swimming pools.  But those in-the-fragrance-know also appreciate Sisley for a handful of magnificent scents, too, of which – as long ago as 1990 – Eau du Soir was the very first.  Allegedly, its perfumer – said to be one Jeannine Mongin – created only this fragrance, and no more.  Perhaps she figured that she could never top this bold chypre creation. Now, Eau du Soir is extremely divisive:  you love it or hate it (I definitely fall into the former group, or you wouldn’t find it featured on The Scent Critic at all.  The Queen of Spain also wears it, which may be the only thing she and I have in common.  By contrast, Luca Turin and I would be pistols at dawn over this, because he’s anything but a fan.)  Its overture is pure gin-and-tonic (but not in a Home Counties way):  dry, so dry;  juniper-y, with a twist of mandarin and citrus, a touch of apothecary’s herb garden.  Fleetingly, if I close my eyes, it reminds me of Vent Vert or maybe Givenchy III.  The true sophistication of Eau du Soir emerges with the heart notes:  enveloping, cocooning, intriguing.  It’s dark, it’s sultry, it’s as deep and mysterious as, oh, Loch Ness.  There’s lilac (and the obligatory rose and jasmine, albeit underplayed) – and on my skin, at least, it’s just a tiny bit like Mitsouko, as if I can hear that favourite fragrance of mine playing like the sound of distant drums in the background.  This is less fruity than Mitsouko, but there’s still a hint of peachiness to soften its sharp green nature.  (Not the icky peach that’s turning up in so many current scent launches, but the juicy, drippy lusciousness that you get from the real thing).  There’s a ‘face powder’ element:  the tiniest sweet breath, like snapping open a vintage compact in which the violet scent of the beige pressed powder has all but disappeared.  And maybe you’ll encounter something metallic in there, too, as it fuses with the skin – not steel-y, or nickel-y;  sort of how I imagine molten gold would smell, fusing with the woody base notes, which include patchouli (just a touch, not too much).  NB  It has incredible staying power. This will still be on your skin long, long after the curtain’s gone down, the diva’s picked up the roses strewn on stage and the last autograph is signed at the Stage Door. Eau du Soir is unbelievably elegant and luxe, and so is the bottle – unlike anything else out there in the marbled beauty halls, with its gold ‘face’ on top, a little like that of the Rolls Royce mascot.  That’s what this is.  The Rolls Royce of chypres.  It belongs on someone in the real leather back seat of a Silver Shadow, purring its way to an afternoon performance of Tristan & Isolde, with a picnic, a tartan rug, a magnum of Krug and some inherited silverware in the trunk.

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