Diane is the latest fragrance release by fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg who is making a renewed attempt at fragrance development after "D" which launched in 2003. At the time, "D" was seen as a comeback perfume as well, after a long lapse from the beauty business. More recently in 2009 , "D" made the news as some New Yorkers had issues with the fragrance-branding strategy of the DVF store located in the Meatpacking district. In the past, DVF signed three other perfumes: Tatiana (1975), Volcan d'Amour (1981) and Forest Lily for Avon (1998).
For "Diane", much advertising energy has been put into the endeavour as well as business savvy as is apparent from the manner in which the fragrance was conceived. There have been flash mobs in wrap dresses, branded taxi cabs and elegant parties taking place in several fashion capitals of the world. Her name, which has a 70s-80s connotation, like the Charlie-like tag line she uses for her new scent "Be the woman you want to be" is seen again on newspaper kiosques in Paris and on the perfume advert showing the arm and hand of an elegant woman craddling the bottle, which looks like the perfect golden charm match to the heavy gold chain bracelet she is wearing. Von Furstenberg has enlisted the help of Chantal Roos to nail it this time...
"Diane" the fragrance does not really correspond to its daring motto, "Be the woman you want to be," unless a certain surface conservatism is necessary to reach that goal. And so it is less of a "Be the perfume you want to be" and more of a "Be the many perfumes potential customers might relate to."
The perfume comes across as a rational effort to encompass both the older generation of mossy-chypre wearers and the younger generation of musky-chypre wearers while conveying some of DVF' personal floral taste preferences, as well as her sense of feminine seduction. A contrasted accord of violet and frangipani is featured in both versions of the scent but is especially noticeable in the Eau de Toilette version, which is more nuanced. Labeled as a new addition to the family of woody-floral chypres, the composition process was entrusted to perfumer Aurélien Guichard of Givaudan.
For DVF, what appears to be paramount was to create a perfume which would flatter a woman's sense of self-worth and perception of her own beauty and power. In this respect, I do not see anything flawed in the impact the perfume might have. It will make a good impression. It is however, for me, a little too controlled and calculated to be called truly beautiful.
I will concentrate on the Eau de Toilette version as I think that it contains most of the personality of the scent, while the Eau de Parfum is an extension of it which proposes a richer, more seductive (in a nocturnal sense), as well as blended-in feel. The EDP wears closer to the body but projects very well.The Eau de Toilette is more luminous, more immediately projective, more sparkling and lasts very well on the skin. It seems more interesting to me thanks to the subtler pairing of violet with frangipani which becomes more indistinguishable in the Eau de Parfum which privileges a velvety sensation although ultimately the latter is more lasting, with the violet-frangipani accord appearing better on the outer orb of the sillage than within your intimate space.
Official notes: frangipani, violet, patchouli, myrrh, musks.
The main artistic, inventive part of the scent is found in the tension between a cool, romantic violet note and a creamy, solar frangipani, which is a charming, idosyncratic pairing, which could have been made much more characteristic of the whole perfume. One can therefore appreciate it, but it does not define the personality of the scent enough throughout. The, a priori, contrasted accord appears to the nose to be harmoniously bridged by a soft, bitter almond note with some anisic nuances hooking onto the fresh fennel aspect of violet while the milky nuance of it establishes a continuum with the creamy frangipani. Later on, an accord of suntan lotion which first evoked Bergasol to my mind surfaces emphasizing the solar, hedonistic dimension of the composition. As the Eau de Toilette dries down, it leaves your skin smelling of the beach and suntan oil. Otherwise, the intent seems to have been to create a seductive and elegant chypre perfume, with a few twists and adaptation to current mores. What the perfume perhaps lack in emotion, it makes up in systematic, careful thinking, a little too careful, in my opinion.
"Diane" structurally speaking is the justaposition of a more classic-feeling chypre with mossy underpinnings with a musky chypre in the lineage of its ancestor Narciso Rodriguez for Her then Dior Midnight Poison and Gucci by Gucci EDP. The ubiquitous rose-patchouli-musk accord has also been successfully inserted in Idylle by Guerlain to appeal to younger, hipper women. Those have also been called "neo-chypres" in response to the perfumery creative crisis provoked by the ban on the use of liberal doses of oakmoss, which has been replaced by transparent, clean patchouli notes also sometimes referred to as "white patchouli" notes, before reconnecting more recently with oakmoss cleaned up of most of its allergens, thanks to the progress of research. In terms of chypre-perfume colors, it is like an overlay of golden shimmer over semi-transparent pink. In terms of their bases, it is also a fundamental contrast between dark mossy bases and lighter, waner ones.
The more classic-feeling chypre referenced here would be Eau du Soir by Sisley, a perfume which smells like a chypre standard thanks to its rich, luminous qualities and well-contained, polished personality. Onto that meeting of two different generations of chypres, a main floral accord has been grafted described by Diane Von Furstenberg as a yin-and-yang balance, one found between a flower of the shade, violet, and a flower of the sun, frangipani. The composition has also been freshened up thanks to a conspicuous fruity note of lychee, which appears as the main twist on the basic building block of a rosy and musky neo-chypre. Then sweet, white vanilla has been more generously added than is usual in a chypre perfume. The myrrh is not conspicuously resinous, but rather used for its heft and folding-in quality, especially apparent in the EDP version where it contributes to a more indistinct, blended-in sensation, a hallmark of quality for some, of a lack of excitement for others.
"Diane" smells good, no doubt, but it is also a fine commercial machine, launched with several hooks to catch the customer. The lychee note makes me think that it is there to keep a door open to the Asian markets. The EDT and EDP can be seen as day and night scents. The composition was designed to be trans-generational. It commits however to the chypre family, with a proclivity to being an Oriental, still. The only place where a measure of originality and sense of self was preserved is in the violet-frangipani accord, which seems to be a genuine reflection of DVF's sense of contrasted color pairings seen in her designs. But clearly, the fragrance was designed to please as best it can. There is something overly cautious and middle-of-the-road in this approach which puts a bit of a damper on the whole glamorous project with a revivalist feminist twist à la Charlie. More passion, explorations, and "fracas" would have been welcome.