Doing the Lutenesque visuals for Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle is not enough. Although purple hues and mysteriously shut eyelids with a sophisticated maquillage on them (by Tyen, no less) have a way of drawing a perfumista's attention, the juice has to be really original in a galaxy of flankers adorning Sephora shelves to equally capture devotion. And it's not circulating on American perfumery countertops, you say?
The original Hypnotic Poison by Annick Menardo, with its trippy bitter almond and caraway opening, managed to jolt sniffers into a "love or hate" mnemonic sense (much like all her other perfumes do too, like for instance Black by Bulgari or Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka). There's simply no way to be indifferent to it! Of course even within the same fragrance spectrum there are the ultraviolet and the infrared ends: The Eau de Parfum concentration of the original Hypnotic Poison is the former; intensely bitter and fluorescent at the beginning like underground dance clubs with "black lights" over you and with a pythonesque grip on its audience. While the Eau de Toilette shares the latter's nightime vision ability, permeating a place and its wearer in a warm incadescence; almost a homing device.
To take the light analogy on spot, Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle seems like long-wave infrared or "thermal imaging": a completely passive picture of the objects in question based on their own thermal emissions only, rather than any external light or thermal source. Basically, if you got it, it will not oppose it, but it can't "work for you" otherwise.
The latest Christian Dior flanker in the Poison series, Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle, is essentially a vanilla orchid floral fantasy composed by François Demachy, a more floral variation on the best-selling 1998 Hypnotic Poison minus the frightful originality.
Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle opens with the slightly medicinal facets of dominant ylang ylang, soon mollified by rosa Damascena with its feminine, velvet character, almost cancelling out the medicinal. Although tuberose is listed in the notes, the effect is nowhere near the strange, cubist renditions of tuberose soliflores of niche perfumery, instead boosting a faceless rendition rather than the sex beast on steroids. The vanillic-ambery facets (plus a hint of cumin) are played in favour of the previous woody notes which conspired to make the 1998 Hypnotic Poison the non-sweet, powdery gourmand it is. Eau Sensuelle feels more floral and more "acceptable" standard vanillic, the same way that No.5 Eau Premiere is a lighter, more vanillic but less musky version of the original Chanel No.5. Only Dior's does not have as silky an effect as the Chanel's.
Still, those who didn't really like Hypnotic Poison or just couldn't "tame the beast" (it's no coincidence it's advertised with a python encircling Bellucci's voluptuous body menacingly!), will find this essentially watered down version to their liking. And this probably explains the reasoning behind its concept by LVMH in the first place. Is it a bad fragrance, then? No, but it won't make it into the next 50 years like the original Hypnotic Poison will, most probably.
The bottle reprises the shape of Hypnotic Poison’s in deep-red, subtly translucent glass, topped with a cabochon cap that looks purple, red or mauve, depending on the light. Really great work. Be aware that the outer box is VERY similar to the original Hypnotic Poison with only the Eau Sensuelle in small typeface below the name: therefore attention is required when buying so as not to confuse the two!
Available from major department stores in Europe in 50ml/1.7oz, 100ml/3.4oz and 100ml/3.4oz spray deodorant.
Notes for Dior Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle:
Top: ylang ylang, rose, orange blossom
Heart: orchid, tuberose, green notes
Base: sandalwood, vanilla, woods, musk.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: The differences between all the Dior Poison fragrances (the original 80s Poison, Tendre, Hypnotic, Pure, Midnight and their Elixir versions)