Monday, May 16, 2011

Guerlain Idylle Duet: fragrance review

Perfumer Thierry Wasser was allegedly inspired by the work of classical composer Hector Berlioz (he of Symphonie Fantastique fame), specifically from his 1841 opus Les Nuits d'Été, towards evoking a certain feeling in Idylle Duet, Guerlain's latest fragrance and a flanker to their release from 2009, Idylle. Whether he succedded in that task or not, you will be able to judge by listening to the piece below (Op.7, Villanelle). As regards the fragrance, it's an entry that could stand in any other mainstream brand. Which, for Guerlain, is a let down, I'm afraid.

Patchouli, a sweet & sour mix of "special harvest" origin (allegedly), non heady-shop-y variety can be sensed from the very beginning of the composition of Guerlain Idylle Duet, imparting a "modern" feel, flanked by floral notes. Technically a floral woody, although presented as a floral, Idylle Duet is not wildly different from the original, although it differs in a couple of points that would make a difference to a trained nose. The core of florals beneath the always-on-the-front-of-the-vortex patchouli is that ever popular screechy floral accord of sanitisied jasmine, peony, freesia, and lily of the valley. In short, a commercially successful "base" of best-selling aromachemicals that are bound to stir the strings of familiarity in most (and irritate the hell of me); in fact this was especially present in the original Idylle, which clearly aimed to catch the Narciso Rodriguez type fans. To pursue the comparison with the original, Idylle Duet further lacks the raspberry top notes of the original Idylle, as well as the perceptible muskiness in its base, although the well documented staying power of white musk is summoned to make it stay the course.On the blotter it's imperceptible, but it grows in strenght as time passes.
Bypassing that, the rose here is a little liquerish, a little darkish, good traits, but something is missing. Rose and patchouli are such a popular combination that either tilting the scales towards the woody leafy constituent (as in Voleur de Roses by L'Artisan) or towards the multi-petalled wonder of nature (as in Portrait of a Lady or the rather better Une Rose in the F.Malle line), one is bound to come up with something at least memorable. Instead the new release, despite its limited edition nature, is passable but ultimately forgetable, like a catchy jingle you heard in passing.

Fragrance notes for Guerlain Idylle Duet:
Bulgarian Rose, Indonesian Patchouli, Jasmine, Peony, Freesia, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lilac, White Musk

Idylle Duet comes as the latest feminine mainstream distribution for the house of Guerlain,(apart from the two new Aqua Allegorias, Jasminora and Rosa Blanca, announced here and more on which shortly) but it's a limited edition ~apparently due to its ingredients, but don't hold your breath. The new Guerlain fragrance is available in Eau de Parfum concentration in a 35ml flacon shaped like its antecedent. The box presentation is the same as the one for Ode a la Vanille but this time in rosy gold.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Guerlain fragrance reviews, Guerlain news, Floral fragrances.

Soprano Jessye Norman sings Villanelle from Hector Berlioz's Les Nuits d'Été Op.7 on poems by Théophile Gautier. London Symphony Orchestra, 1979, conducted by Sir Colin Davies accompanies.


  1. Anonymous18:55

    I love Jessye.

    The original Idylle edp was way too much patchouli for my taste, and I can't imagine I'd get on with Duet any better. I do like the EdT version, which has the patchouli volume dialed way down and the LotV bumped up; I have a decant and have actually enjoyed it very much - but as you say, it's more like Coco Mlle than a classic Guerlain.

    Over the weekend I tested Floral Romantique, which is (I think) the newest of the Elixirs Charnels, and it reminded me quite a bit of Idylle. Do you have an opinion on the matter?

  2. M,

    she is mesmerising, isn't she? Impressive vocal range, terrific feeling.

    Honestly, I was so bored that they did a floral woody musky (a la Narciso) ~them TOO!!!~ that I couldn't put into words what annoyed me. It's pleasant, if we want to be objective, but we've come to expect more of them.

    I'm not particularly enthusiastic on any of the Charnels for some reason, although the Oriental and Chypre are quite nice for what they are.
    I have a surprise post on another (great) GUerlain tomorrow, though!

  3. Love Jesse Norman. Saw her many years ago at the Met where she performed in Parsifal, the performance was made even more exciting when someone in the audience died of a heart attack!

    The bottles remind of nail polish.

  4. Mimi Gardenia17:46

    I quite liked this one ! I also prefer Idylle EDT to the EDP.

  5. TFC,

    oh my! talk about memorable!!! (Gosh, this is so strange, almost traumatic in a way)

    You were lucky to hear Jesse live, she's so impressive!

    And yes, geez, they do look like nail polish. Good eye!

  6. MG,

    ah...then you're after a lighter scent for that effect. I would have prefered it darker, more sinister, more humid...But I do remember the edp best of the original.


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