Like erotic opponents distancing themselves from each other only to better aim at the heart with a fatal gunshot, the materials in Annick Goutal's fragrance Duel are juxtaposed, yet strangely sharing common ground. One can't shake the impression they'll both live to tell the tale, till a certain point at the very least.
Paraguayan petit grain, a distillate from the leaves and twigs of the citrus aurantia v.amara aka the bitter orange tree [learn about its many raw materials for perfumery here], gives the citrusy top note, Maté absolute provides a leathery undertone; this South American herb has an aroma between black tea and cut hay. The cunning thing is the two notes complement each other rather than oppose one another; the tang of the former provides a welcome suaveness to the pungency of the latter. Maybe they ought to reconcile and with Gallic charm and a gentle shrug of the shoulders decide to share the damsel after all, if she agrees.
The green aura of the combination of the two raw materials, petit grain and maté absolute (a common facet of both, their "touching back to back" so to speak) provides a summery diversion.
The house's art director, Camille Goutal, daughter of Annick, and perfumer Isabelle Doyen wanted to exploit the green character of mate absolute as well as its leather-scented backdrop into a modern, avant-garde composition that would appeal to those searching for something gentle yet substantial.
Its many facets (hay billowy softness, refreshing hesperidic tanginess, dry austere tobacco-leather) make it graceful and interesting.
Hints of tobacco and iris ground the airier, more fleeting notes in Duel without weighting them down. A prolonged fuzzy softness due to white musk is what makes the fragrance, although featured as a masculine in the Goutal canon, totally wearable by women as well. Like other masculine scents by Goutal, like the little known Eau du Fier, or the helichrysum roasted feel of Sables, Duel can be shared.
Personally I love using this cologne when wearing khakis and white T-shirts, with only sunscreen and mascara on my face, it seems to complement this kind of 'woman on a journalistic mission' rather well ; sort of gives me the energy I need in the heat to feel collected enough to pursue my line of research.
Bottom line: Duel is quite fresh yet oddly sexy; it smells the way Gabriel Garcia Bernal looks.
Available as eau de toilette 100ml at Goutal counters in select boutiques.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine:
Annick Goutal perfume reviews and news
The Leather Fragrance Series
Top 10 Masculine Fragrances
Gender Bender: Masculine Colognes Shared by Women, Feminine Fragrances Worn by Men