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Bombay Duck London

Diptyque Eau Duelle

A baby’s head.  A lover’s neck.  Heck, even smelling your own unadorned, unfragranced skin can sometimes be one of the loveliest scents in the world.  Which is why, probably, there was a bit of a trend for ‘skin note’ fragrances, a few years back, epitomised by Clinique’s Simply (launched 2003, now Simply Disappeared, unless you’re happy to trawl the web).  Well, after a bit of a trail through a spice market, that’s what Eau Duelle mellows down to:  a delicious, can’t-stop-sniffing-my-own-inner-elbow sort of skin-scent, cosy as a fleece blanket, comforting as custard.

The custard reference isn’t entirely a coincidence, because actually, this sets out to be a play on vanilla – ‘a delicious reminder of crème brulée and other exquisite treats’, as they lyrically put it.  Unlike some plays on vanilla, I don’t find anything powdery or sugary about this – no icky candy-store dimension.  Instead, there’s a leather note (think:  inside of vintage Birkin bag, not DFS sofa), and enough tobacco to have my husband enquiring whether I’d been hanging around a smoker.  (No way!  Personally, I have never quite fathomed how I can so love tobacco notes in fragrances, yet be totally tobacco-averse when it comes to parties/restaurants/even walking down the street behind someone who’s lit up.  One of life’s great mysteries, that.  Personally, I’d have said the tobacco-smokiness of this was more Lapsang Souchong than Marlboro Lite, but there you go.)

If I close my eyes and sniff, I’m Tardis-ed inexplicably to Paris, to a Left Bank salon du thé, with leather banquettes, an éclair on my plate – and someone on the next table drinking one of those spicy decaffeinated teas that an old PG-lover like me never quite gets the point of.  (It is another of life’s mysteries and marvels that merely breathing fragrance can place you so squarely somewhere else in the universe.)

This is called Eau Duelle, I guess, partly because it’s unisex – and it’s not overtly sexy.  Funnily, occasional surveys seem to throw up a statistic that men find vanilla perfumes seductive, because they’re reminded of Mummy and childhood – but that’s a wee bit Freudian for my taste, and (aside from Shalimar) I’ve never really observed that’s the case.  Eau Duelle is very, very subtle – in contrast to Shalimar, which has never heard the word ‘subtle’ breathed in the same sentence.  It purrs, like a brand new and rather shy kitten.  If it was a sound, it would be a far-distant owl’s toowit-toowoo that you have to strain your ears to hear.  As it is, Eau Duelle requires you to get up close and very personal with your own body (hence the elbow-sniffing) in order to enjoy it.  (However, in a world in which OD-ing on scent in an office environment is definitely frowned-upon, it’d be perfectly safe to wear this to work and nobody – except you – would be any the wiser.  In that way, it’s a bit like expensive underwear that you wear to the office because you’re worth it – not because you expect to be unexpectedly ravaged in the Stationery Cupboard.)

The other element, so Diptyque tell us, is something called ‘calamus’ – not a note I’m aware ever of encountering before, also known as ‘sweet flag’ (and native to India).  Tibetans, apparently, use this to meditate – and yes!  Bingo!  That’s what else this reminds me of:  stepping inside an Oriental temple, or even a downtown Manhattan yoga studio where a class just finished.  (There are slight incense-y echoes, too, of Fresh’s ‘Pray’, in their Eat, Pray, Love edition, which I reviewed recently – equally meditative and Yoga-perfect.)  Calamus is sweet, but not sickly – ‘like raw choux pastry’, they say, which is kind of weird because I wrote the éclair allusion above before I read that.  There’s a whisper of chai (that’ll be the cardamom), and Ceylon black tea (trust me, tea is an ingredient we’re poised to see a lot more of, next year).  I get gin-and-tonic, too:  a juniper note, I’d put my money on that.  Allegedly there are some musks in there (don’t get those, personally) – but all in all, it’s pretty yummy, albeit in a very downplayed, Loro-Piano-cashmere sort of way.

Eau Duelle doesn’t shriek its presence, but those-in-the-know – those who get within nuzzling distance, and enjoy its skin-on-real-skin nature – will know that it’s really rather good.  Yummy, actually – and quite possibly my favourite Diptyque yet…

PS  The Scent Critic would like to apologise for the paucity of postings lately.  I have been finishing a book (writing, not reading), with all the associated madness linked to hurtling towards a heinous deadline, which is now met – meaning my nostrils and I can once again have a life.

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1 comment to Diptyque Eau Duelle

  • natalie

    Thank you for such an enlightening review! I purchased this fragrance without having smelt it and having read your review I am certain that I have made the right choice. Thank you.

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