I have always had an instinctive yearning for the tropics. In hot places by the ocean, things always feel more relaxing: solid, yet dream-like, more deathless and drowsing, and any perfume that thus reminds me of this sensation of heat and-leaden heaviness, of the torpor of flowers in the afternoon as waves glitter fantastically on the beach, is immediately attractive to me.

I love the sun, and the smell of salt water on skin. The mulch of the dark wet sand at the base of oceanic stems: that strange, overripe smell when the day is at its hottest and the vegetation tilts into a lassitude and sea creatures hide in their shells.

There are several curious perfumes I have smelled that have aspects of this odd, sea-organic facet, fragrances that veer away from the classic ‘beach’ smell of tropical flowers and coconut oil and trespass into more risk-taking zones of perfumery where strangeness is an essential part of the structure. Aftelier’s Tango springs to mind first of course, with its peculiar but compelling central note of roasted sea shells and champaca, but there is also the rotting beauty of the animalic, marine Manoumalia by Les Nez and its floral centre of pua kenikeni, equally perturbing in its evocations of places, cultures and smells that are zones beyond our own. No perfume of this genre, however,  comes close in beauty to the almost Botticellian, lustful and Venus-like strangeness that is Jean Jacques Brosseau’s rare Ombre Bleue Parfum (which I found a pristine bottle of recently in Kamakura and which I am planning to do a full review of soon. This is a beautiful perfume; erotic yet clear and dew-fresh, like swimming naked in the blue grotto in Capri ).

Other areas of the oceanic spectrum covered in contemporary perfumery include Hermès’ recent Epice Marine: a sea-doused curiosity that melds quite nutty, anti-intuitive notes of burnt spices and savoury flavours with a fresh, oceanic calone top note to interesting (if puzzling) effect, while last year’s Eau Mohéli took quite an innovative approach to the beach-side floral by trying a full 360° snapshot of a sub-equatorial ylang ylang tree, a ‘solar’ portrait of the flower that including its roots, its twigs, and its leaves in the midday sun.

The new Florabellio by Diptyque is also in the family of perfumes that not only evoke the freshness of waves but also the flora and fauna swimming below. Unlike more intensely algaeish perfumes such as Profumi Del Forte’s Tirrenico, though, Florabellia is a light, commercial summer perfume that only hints at these things, but is nevertheless still somewhat troubling. Like other calone-centred perfumes I have considered buying for the hot summer months here such as Aria Di Mare by Il Profumo (fresh; Adriatic) or Montale’s intriguingly ozonic Sandflowers (dazzling sea, and rocks, and baked sand), Florabellio is almost overinsistently fresh up top with its oceanic, salted note combined with sea fennel – a familiar combination in marine fragrances – plus an approximation of ‘apple blossom’ and osmanthus that gives the sea breezes a floral airiness which works quite enticingly as the initial top accord fades gradually into place and the perfume’s true originality then becomes apparent: an oddness lying in the unexpected, and possibly clashing, heart notes of coffee, and roasted sesame. Notes that were not, by any means, obvious on first smelling (and I don’t think I could have identified those particular ingredients if I’m honest); but there is, nevertheless, something most definitely something slightly jarring, yet also addictive, in these notes resting under the freshness that made me think of the scent that sun exposed sea plants give off when you pass them half-mindedly strolling along a sand dune, sensing intuitively the darkness and moisture, those life-teeming eco-systems of microscopic organisms that live beneath their solar-baked surface.

During the day that I was wearing Florabellio, this central note was the one thing that put me off the perfume while also the very thing that drew me to it: the pleasing illusion of sea-ness and clear-cliffed panoramas would keep bringing me closer, but then this almost dirty, animalish inner accord would bite my nose and I’d think no I can’t. It was the same on the scent strips that I left lying about; the floral, oceanic salt accord stronger and more tenacious that you might expect a perfume like this to be, the tension between the flowers and sea salt in the top, and the seemingly random addition of coffee and sesame in the heart creating an unusual aura whose perplexing and vexing qualities I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Compared to most recent commercial releases, though, this release is undeniably memorable, for me at least, and one of those fragrances you are not sure you could ever quite commit to, but cannot totally let go of either. Florabellio is a scent I can imagining being more and more taken with, actually, when the sun really starts to get powerful in the coming sweltering months; when I get dragged into the sweating exhaustion of the summer term, and start dreaming, heavily, of tropical escapes.


Filed under Flowers

16 responses to “FLORABELLIO by DIPTYQUE (20I5)

  1. Holly

    Damn. It sounds intriguing. I just read yesterday that some people interpret one of the notes as being hot diaper. Or warm diaper. Or just diaper. I immediately wrote it off, and now here you go enticing me.

    • No, I thought that note is dodgy, definitely, and it is VERY ozonic (but I don’t mind that on occasion); but I am still really loving the seascape smell on the scent strips (still very vivid). I am considering buying it. It’s that attraction repulsion thing.

      • (‘Hot diaper’ is hilarious incidentally).

      • Holly

        Yes, “hot diaper” is definitely hilarious. Perversely, when I read that I was vaguely intrigued. Then I tossed that on top of sesame and coffee, and decided in one day that I was not going there. I frankly imagine fecal remains from a well-tended parrot.. Why on earth that intrigues me is beyond my comprehension.

      • Well in my case it was that idea that I was rather repetitively going on about of the mulch beneath the dune plants: I love the contrast between dry sun kissed odours and the moisture beneath the roots, and I definitely got some of that with Florabellio.

        Perhaps also it is simply because 90% of perfumery now is so terribly dull that the idea of a parrot’s loaded diaper being in the base of a perfume makes it suddenly seem very alluring.

  2. Iuno Feronia

    Thank you for your review. When I first read about the new perfume I wanted to Test it. Now after reading your post I am sure. Is it similar to Sail from Aqua di Portofino?

  3. Monsieur Narcissus, if I could regain all of the combined time I have spent researching rare vintages mentioned on your blog I’m sure I could have achieved such feats as perhaps constructing a replica Hadron Collider, sculpting a marble, post-modern masterpiece, or maybe even making it so the simple task of opening my wardrobe doesn’t result in an avalanche of designer dresses (not the worst way to perish).

    I’m super curious to try Ombre Bleue Parfum and after a bit of eBay stalking have found a few bottles, but how do I know which is the proper vintage?? I see on Basenotes that the fragrance underwent a change of name in 2005. By the way, do you happen to know any good spots in London to find vintage perfumes??

    I’m attending an event at Diptyque later this month to sample Florabellio and the usual autopsy list of notes included within. Do you have any others from Diptyque that you might recommend??

    • I don’t think you will be excited by any of the recent Diptyques, all fresh and zesty, but they are all quite nice in my opinion. They used to be much more daring and freaky, such as L’Autre, which smelled of curry and rank armpits, or Virgilio, a weird basil. Shame they don’t seem to make any of those any more.

      As for Ombre Bleue and 2005 etc no no no that had nothing to do with the original, which came out in the late 80’s and was quickly discontinued. The Vintage Perfume Vault does an excellent review of it and the bottles concerned.

      I don’t know if you are familiar with the original Ombre Rose parfum, but it was a classic, haunting, very woody/musky, dense, almost salty rose perfume that was perfect for its time of the New Romantics in eighties pop: a brilliant perfume.

      I suppose Ombre Bleue (which I just found by accident once at a flea market) was a follow up to it, but it came and disappeared very quickly, probably because it was so strange. It’s almost indescribable in fact, a kind of animalic beach floral that is rich and deep and yet watery and fresh. I find it utterly stunning, which is why I was so gutted when I spilled my bottle recently. I couldn’t believe it. Why would it have to be that one (it was only mini).

      But then the perfumes gods must have been looking because to my unbelievable surprise, I found the very same bottle in a small antique shop not long afterwards, and just smelling it in the box I honestly felt as if I were in a lagoon. A blue lagoon. It’s like the perfume of Aphrodite.

      The 2005 bottles you are talking about I would imagine are related to all those Brosseau new editions that were released around that time (and I do know that the Bleue one had nothing to do with the perfume I am talking about). I actually bought the Jasmin Lilas one and liked the Violette Menthe a lot as well, but they had nothing to do with the original perfumes and smelled a lot cheaper.

      Check the Vintage Vault article and then go for it if you can find it. It would make a glorious perfume for summer (though it is VERY unusual: be warned – there is no guarantee it will be what you are expecting as I find it very difficult to effectively describe).

      Please let me know though if you do get it.

  4. Tora

    If you have a chance, do try Paris-Seychelles from the Parfumerie Generale cruise collection. I think you might love it.

    • I immediately was attracted to that line when I saw it, actually ( I am SO not on the woody niche tip like everyone else) so thanks for the guider: I will seek it out. What is it like? Beachy and dreamy?

  5. A note of “apple blossom” in this, how intriguing. Is it pronounced or just fleeting? The apple blossoms are in full bloom in the meadow and it all just smells so glorious; would love to be able to experience that scent in a proper fragrance. Will have to try this just to see if I could sense the apple blossom note.
    You were spot on with Ombre Bleu, it truly is the only scent able to evoke a floral beachy feeling in me. Sadly it was around for such a brief window of time, happy it found it during that period and have lived it ever since. No other scent can really move me the way it does. It is one of what I call my top three scents of distinction, ones that truly bring back a profound memory; the other two being Fleurs d’Orlane and Ma Liberté de Patou.

  6. ninakane1

    Just been dabbling in Dyptique! The Florabellio is bizarre – I could have sworn it had patchoulie in but the guy said it was cinamon I was smelling! It has a sharp Herbes de Provence note somewhere in there. But the real attraction-repulsion scent for me in there was L’Eau de Trois which has all the frankincense, iron and blood of some heavy Catholic ritual! It penetrated right throught to my subconcious instantly recalling a dream I had just before waking of eating liver (I’d forgotten I’d dreamt this until I detected the meaty metallic liver note at the core of the scent – God knows what that is!). It has all the cloying, sweet bitterness of Turkish coffee, and even now, despite having scrubbed my arm numerous times, retains its offally saccharine presence on my skin tenaciously. I am intrigued by Diptyque as a house – would like to know more about it.

    • ninakane1

      Three days later and my rucksack is still pulsating with some taut, mulchy floral hangover from L’Eau Trois! It has the smell of school dinner orange blancmange! Will it ever go?? Ugh!

      • Haven’t semelle Trois for years. Some of those old Diptyques were really quite odd indeedy.
        Have you smelled L’Autre? Unbelievable. Pure armpits after a curry. Quite fascinating in a way.

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