Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bali Dream by Estee Lauder: a Travel Exclusive fragrance review

Fragrance brands have cottoned up to the fact that jaded travellers who have to sail through the Symplegades to travel by air are searching for a little escapism: anything really to make them get it through the tiresome waiting for their luggage to get checked, their passports to be scrutinized and their persons getting grind exceedingly small...
To alleviate those symptoms and to make an honest buck in the process, companies have invented the concept of Travel Exclusive: fragrances that are only available when you travel, at the duty-free shops in big airports. The trend had been noticed even two years before, in 2006 and re-affirmed in 2007: travel makes for serious inspiration behind fragrances.
The most notorious travel exclusive is of course the excellent Vetiver pour Elle by Guerlain, mysteriously restricted to French duty-free shops and arguably a very good feminine rendition of their iconic masculine with added floral notes.
But others have not been left behind: this year Lancôme launched Cyclades (named after the Greek complex in the Aegean sea), after Benghal (the name echoing the homonymous region in India) and Tropiques (a more general name evoking the tropics) in their "La Collection Voyage" (Travel Collection). Others include the unfortunately named JetLag by Azzaro (a fresh aromatic) and Lights of Champs Elysées by Guerlain (a gentle woodsy scent). Lauder has also played that game with Emerald Dream in 2007.

This year Lauder launched Bali Dream, an Indonesian-inspired travel retail exclusive for women in March. Bali has also been behind the weirdly named 7:15am in Bali by Kenzo, so there is something there...

"Follow tropical breezes to a flower-filled world. A place where Mood Orchids, Honeysuckle, Indonesian Jasmine and Pago Pago Coconut lead the way to a tropical paradise. Welcome to Bali dream".
According to Lauder, the top notes feature a profusion of Bali’s most prized flowers, moon orchids, along with magnolia and ginger. The heart is comprised of Chinese cassia, Indonesian jasmine, pepper, ylang ylang, gardenia, muguet and apple, on a background of woods and vanilla.
Although the impression that the notes would give would be a soft floral with a tropical tune to it and it is officially presented as a floriental, Bali Dream starts with an unmistakable fruity overture of none other than a mix of cantaloupe with indeterminate peach: apparently cantaloupe is the fruit of choice of late, as it appears in the latest Hermès Un Jardin après la Mousson as well. I admit that the mentioned apple did not register at all in my mind (at least not a real apple instead of the ersatz in shampoos) and leafing through Osmoz I see that it is not mentioned at all, which is rather telling.
Luckily the coconut is not emitting the evil fumes of a plug-in air freshener or the "dangling pine" pong of dilapidated taxis in 3rd world countries. It's pleasant and not loud, with a smooth ambiance about it and a very subtle, freshly spicy accent that might be due to ginger and pepper. The orchid accord with a vanillic backdrop is powdery, soft, velvety and indeed the protagonist of the composition, lasting well, trying to remind me for a brief second of the orgiastic abundance of the Singapore gardens.
The whole however doesn't really live up to the expectations of an exclusive that should have anyone booking a flight just to shop at the duty-free. Visit Bali for its magnificent humid landscape and exotic culture, but don't imagine for a second that this fragrance is its true embodiment.

Carolyn Murphy incarnates the face of the fragrance dressed in lilac-tinged chiffons to reflect the gentility of tones of the bottle.
The bottle of Bali Dream itself with its pretty matelassé recalls last year's Emerald Dream (a floral woody musk), which was -predictably- done in cool green.

Eau De Parfum Spray/Travel Exclusive in 50ml/1.7oz available at all Lauder travel retail counters at $85
There is also a 2 x 50ml duo set. The fragrances in the duo are individually packaged, making them ideal for gift-giving. Lauder has also created a Dream Destinations coffret. This features four miniature (4 x 4ml) edp sprays: two of Emerald Dream and two of Bali Dream. There is also a corresponding makeup palette.
Bottles of Bali Dream have already circulated on Ebay.

Notes (per Osmoz):
Top: ginger, orchid leaves, moon orchid
Heart: pepper, ylang ylang, cassia, jasmine, gardenia, tagete, plum, tuberose
Base: cedar, vanilla, coconut, Haitian vetiver, temple wood.

We will be offering a sample to a lucky reader, so please mention if you're interested in the comments.

Pic of Balinese dancers courtesy of on Flickr. Bottle pic via Ebay.


  1. Anonymous10:36

    I smelled Lancôme's Cyclades a week ago while travelling, and was tempted to buy, as I am very fond of citruses of all kind, and neroli & bergamot is always a nice combination! This perfume also had a kind of warmness very apt for late summer evenings..
    But I generally wonder why make a scent a travel exclusive if it is really a good one? Often one at tax free shops is in a hurry, the air is filled with a variety of scents/smells, and the judgement of taste is weakened by fatigue and shortness of time..
    This Bali dream I saw, but didn't try. So please add me in the draw! :)

  2. Anonymous11:01

    It sounds like something I would find boring maybe, although I like orchids and I like sweeter scents, but please enter me in the draw, thanks.


  3. I'm naturally curious, and would love to sample...

    Thanks for the opportunity !
    MWAH !

  4. I tried Cyclades and Benghal, but Bali Dream wasn't there.

    I don't get the idea behind a travel scent, except to make people think it is something special -- and a remembrance of travel.

    I'd love to try it too. I like Kenzo Amour Indian Holi.

  5. Dear S,

    I think you have given the answer to your question yourself!

    More importantly: what happens if it is indeed really, really good and it is not widely available ~does that make for lost sales? Or does it drive the desire to get it more and thus gives a boost to the brand in general? (I'm thinking Vetiver pour elle in this instance).
    What do you think?

    You're of course included.

  6. Dear Aline,

    it was exactly ground-breaking (so yes, you probably have smelled something along those lines already), but it's pleasant and you might like it.

    You're in the draw.

  7. Dear I,

    of course you're included!
    I can understand how someone would be curious. I wasn't excited, obviously, but it's not bad either.

    In any case and for anything new, worth testing even if only for getting it out of our system, LOL!

  8. Dear Karin,

    I don't exactly justify the idea either, although I can see your point and you're right: serving as a memento of the trip.
    Although air travel is not as glamorous as it used to be ever since those stupid how pleasant could a memento of what often results in incovenience really be?
    In that instance I bet they thought it would be at least distracting ;-)

    You're in the draw, of course.

  9. Anonymous16:07

    Is it watermelon or cantaloupe in the new Hermes? I've read different accounts. The lavender bottle is gorgeous. Please enter me in the drawing, and thank you!


  10. Please enter me in the drawing. This one seems to be getting a better review than the previous Emerald Dream. I admit I rather curious about Lancome's Benghal.

  11. Calypso,

    thank you for your comment and you're of course included. Good luck!

    The new Jardin features a cantaloupe accord, not watermelon: living in a country that consumes both by the truckload I speak with some authority ;-)

  12. Dear Jen,

    of course you're in!

    I can't tell you about Emerald Dream because I never tested it. If what you say is true though, then ED must have been really dull...
    I don't find that most travel fragrances capture the air of the place they're inspired of, in general (although Cyclades in particular seems to contain all the right notes -haven't tested yet)

  13. Anonymous17:19

    sounds lovely for summer, please include me in the drawing!

  14. Welcome Rachel, it's very fit for summer and you're of course included! Good luck!

  15. Anonymous19:18

    Curious enough, Emerald Dream has been launched in general retail in my country (with no mention of its previous life as a duty free exclusive).

  16. A ha!! What an interesting comment, Sylvia, thanks so much!

    That should tell us something! ;-)

  17. Anonymous22:00

    Sounds interesting. Please include me in the drawing.

  18. I can but echo everything that has been said so far: I just don't get travel exclusives.

    Many of them, from what I've read here and there, seem to be the usual fruity-floral share (so, hm, it would be along the same lines as front-loading, making the consumer buy in a hurry something that is not very good, based in this case on its hard-to-get status?)

    On the other hand, you have beauties like Vetiver pour elle and (the inanely named, inanely bottled) Vol de Nuit Evasion, which is none other than my beloved Attrape-Coeurs in eau de toilette. These, well, they elude me. I don't understand the rationale, there!

  19. Maitreyi1978,

    I have of course included you! Good luck!

  20. Dear S,

    you're not alone, obviously :-)
    Indeed there is some thinking behind this that goes the way you are describing.

    I am overjoyed to hear VdNE is like Attrape Coeurs in EDT! Another French blogger (Octavian) praised it and now it's on my sniffing list to be sure.
    I wonder, does it have anything to do with them being reserved to French airports? (meaning they are tied to some country with a perfumery tradition, after all; so an aromatic memento from there should be good).

  21. I couldn't quite believe it at first! I mean, re-bottling and renaming a scent in the process, ie from Guet-Apens to Attrape-Coeurs, is already weird, but since they do it for that whole Parisiennes collection... but actually giving a name that sounds like a flanker of an unrelated scent and a bottle emblematic of two other unrelated scents to something that's only a different concentration of an existing scent, that takes the cake, for sure! ;)

    So, I asked the ladies at Champs-Elysées, then tried it on to make sure: yup, it was Attrape-Coeurs all right!

    It's worth all the praise, it really is lovely. I hope you can try it soon!

  22. A ha! More info confirming it! Thank you so much dear S. I will try to do so, I love Attrape Coeurs

    You know, when I first heard the name (Vol de Nuit Evasion) I had commented someplace that it sounded like an air-raid plan for Iraq!! Completely silly name. As to choosing it and using that emblematic bottle (indeed!), I think they though it would bode well with the travelling idea and airplanes. Not the brightest idea, you might say and I wouldn't disagree....

  23. I'd love to try this; please include me! :-)

  24. Dear Claudia,

    you're of course included! Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Hello!
    I've got Emerald Dream and it's delicious, so fresh and it smells like summer. I like very much Estee Lauder fragrances, but I did not try Bali Dream. Please include me! I'd love to try it!

  26. Anonymous21:06

    I am intrested ina a sample - as always :)

  27. Anonymous04:21

    Coconut and cedar? Everything else, and those two alone, sounds good. Please enter me in the draw.


  28. Alicia,

    good to hear of someone who is enjoying last year's edition.
    I have of course included you, so good luck!

  29. Elve,

    you're in the draw, naturally! Best of luck!

  30. Janet,

    thank you for stopping by and for your comment.
    The notes sounds delicious, it's true. And really, it's not bad.

    You're included! :-)

  31. Anonymous01:23

    Hi Helg,

    Just wanted to submit my name for a chance at the drawing. :)


  32. Dear Dawn,

    hi and hope you're very well. Did the move go well?
    Thank you for stopping by and of course you're in the draw! :-)


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