A Scented Advent, December 2

A Scented Advent, December 2

It’s the second day of Advent (and the second day of final exams at the university where I work — ugh). As regular readers here know, some of us were chatting back and forth about Advent calendars on our blogs, and lo! a plan was born. I have a refillable Advent calendar, and I have placed in it some of the surprise samples sent by a kind perfumista, only looking to make sure the samples will fit in the little drawers. So I don’t know what I’m going to get on any given day!

Today’s SOTD is Diptyque’s Eau Duelle, in the eau de toilette fomulation, created by Fabrice Pellegrin and launched in 2010. Wow, vanilla! I like this a lot, because it’s not a very sweet vanilla; it smells more botanical than gourmand. The website lists only vanilla, pink peppercorn, and cypriol as “raw materials”. Fragrantica lists its notes as: Bourbon vanilla, elemi resin, cardamom, juniper, pink pepper, olibanum, black tea, ambergris, bergamot, saffron, musk. The brand also describes it as “an ode to travel and vanilla. Along the spice route, the vanilla at the heart of Eau Duelle takes on new aromas: luminous, addictive accents of calamus and dark, smoky nuances of cypriol. Travelling through time and over borders, Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar reveals itself between darkness and light.”

Cypriol is a fascinating substance. It comes from the root of an ancient plant in the same family as papyrus. The Society of Scent describes its aroma as a combination of vetiver, patchouli, and cedar, with hints of pepper and bay leaf. That would explain the non-gourmand aspect of Eau Duelle; it really is more botanical — an herbal vanilla. When I first applied some to my wrist, most of what I smelled was a gust of vanilla, and that remains strong throughout. As it dries down, though, more and more of the herbal and woody facets of this fragrance emerge, in a pleasant, cozy way. One commenter has said that wearing Eau Duelle is like wrapping yourself in a cashmere blanket; I would add that you’re also drinking a cup of vanilla chai or other spiced tea while wrapped in said blanket.

Bottle of Bourbon vanilla extract with vanilla bean pods
Bourbon vanilla beans and extract; image from nativevanilla.com

I can’t distinguish all the notes listed on Fragrantica, but I do pick up hints of cardamom and juniper. The website also mentions calamus, both in its description and as an “olfactory accident”, whatever that means. Calamus is another ancient plant; Egyptians wrote about it as early as 1300, when it may have been used in perfumes. In our own literary history, the poet Walt Whitman used it as a symbol of homosexual love between men, and his masterpiece “Leaves of Grass” includes a series of poems known as the “Calamus Poems” or “Calamus Sequence.” Its odor is said to be warm, spicy, woody, with green notes. It’s entirely possible that the many notes listed by Fragrantica are really different aspects of just two substances: cypriol and calamus.

I could definitely see myself getting a travel spray of Eau Duelle some day. I’ll be interested to see, once I’m out and about more, whether I get any comments on it; there’s something about vanilla notes that really attracts people. It reminds me of Le Couvent des Missions’ original Eau des Missions cologne, a cult favorite with many perfumistas. Interestingly, it came out just a year after Eau Duelle, in 2011. If you’re yearning for that long-discontinued scent, try Eau Duelle.

Refillable wooden Advent calendar
My fragrance Advent calendar