Sisley Eau Tropicale (2014) {Perfume Review & Musings}


Stylish Tropics


Your very first impression of the new Eau Tropicale by Sisley joining the ranks of Eau de Campagne (1974) and the Eaux de Sisley (2009) is that the perfume was obviously designed to smell oh-so-good by espousing the contours of your skin. That skin-friendly note, you can smell off the flacon even before spraying on the fragrance. Here is an aroma of affinity with skin... 

It might be the privilege of perfume-cum-cosmetics brands like Sisley to be particularly sensitive to the canvas onto which you layer the perfume and to its natural and ideal scent - and thus be able to incorporate this intuitive interest into a fragrance, perhaps even without being aware of it. At least you tell yourself that as the new eau smells very promising indeed. 

The first perfume notes to hit your skin take a step back from that sensation freeing instead notes of sappy greenery and freshly cut herbs. But then you are pulled back again into the skin-scent vortex. The perfume mellows quickly to a round accord meant to dress skin rather than the person.

The tuberose in the heart of the composition, which is signed by perfumer Domitille Bertier of IFF - the house is reluctant to use the image of perfumers but were generous enough to cave in and reveal her name - adds its flesh-like accents without coming across as fatale. It turns out that this is a willed effect upon which the house likes to put the accent explaining that "Tuberose is powerful, narcotic and disquieting - but the perfumer offers here an unusual treatment of it to obtain an aerial and solar tuberose made more sublime by Turkish rose and delicate violet."

The whole tropical atmosphere - as diverse as a sensory landscape involving screaming monkeys, ululating birds and cathedral echoes of sound in a rain forest - is cut through by delectable fruity accents. What would be the tropics without fruits?

A whisper of harder, grittier musks, but also similar to a natural facet of rosewood and lavandin which smells like them, feels a bit realistic and not necessarily needed to set up the ambience, but they're there. 

Turning the white musk infatuation on its head, you wonder if you are not sometimes reacting to their obtrusive presence the way people might have reacted to early aldehydes. After all, the latter are not exactly a refined smell. They can be harsh. They age badly. Aldehydes were not meant to be a subtle proposition but rather an energetic manifesto of the machine age. So a comparison between white musks and aldehydes might make you realize how some pedestrian "easy notes" can in fact be difficult and even jarring because they are in fact both banal and borderline unpleasant, yet revelatory of an age, the Laundered one, the Clean-Obsessed one.

In Eau Tropicale the general mellowness is somehow interrupted by this breach with sophisticated etiquette in contrast with the other, vegetal Brahmin musk: ambrette seed - think Chanel No. 18. This is a note which has a strong natural affinity with skin. It seems that white musk here is a signaller of a measure of challenge thrown to the nose. You might want to bathe for ever in softly glowing tuberose, frangipani cream and elegant and natural ambrette musk, but the perfumer needs dirtiness and grittiness; and here it comes in the shape of a rivulet of slightly harsh notes which feel synthetic but might be the hard musky side of rosewood. 

Otherwise, you can go back to the blissful sensation of being lulled in a macrame hammock on a lazy afternoon by both rich and elegant tropical notes which are gentle to the skin. 

The fruity facet is significant but rather subtle thanks to it being expressed by a dominant note of passion flower. So, where there is subtle muskiness - ambrette seed - there is also subtle fruitiness - passion flower. 

Eau Tropicale is a good option as an elegant, urban eau de Cologne in spite of the fact that you are supposed to be absorbing the scents and sounds of the rain forest. It is also of interest as a light tuberose perfume.The style itself is tailored. There is no effusion or too-muchness. The fragrance feels rich and exotic, but the person who wears it is staying cool and collected about the debauchery of the tropical flora and fauna - without being blasé. The perfume filters the surrounding world into an elegant, casual fruity chypré effect with an eau de Cologne longer drydown. It's a perfume at ease with itself and the world.

Fragrance notes: frangipani blossoms, passion flower, ginger, bergamot zest, hibiscus, tuberose, Turkish rose and violet. Natural essences of cedar wood, patchouli, and ambrette seed. 

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