Diptyque Geranium Odorata Eau Florale (2014) {Perfume Review & Musings}


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Grabbing the Spotlight, for Once in a Few Centuries


Just a few whiffs in and the new Geranium Odorata by Diptyque provokes a muted, inner laughter in you as if you had just read a funny joke, well delivered. The story-telling timing is right and the twist has been revealed. And then, later on, there is a second, more private joke inside the drydown. The French being Cartesian by intellectual training, you can expect some solid logic at play in the most sensual of perfumes. It's the square mind contained within the circle.

Geranium Odorata is, to a large extent, a play on reverse snobbery, and this makes it not only a pleasantly fresh and sensual perfume, but one endowed with humor...

We admit to initially being intrigued by the idea of a geranium fragrance composition by the house of Diptyque, not because the scent is rare or special but precisely because, at least in French culture, the aroma is one of the most approachables there is, and catalogued by most as homey. Closer attention paid without olfactory and cultural blinders to the scent of Geranium Bourbon will actually reveal a subtle and suave fragrance, one which is underappreciated.

The announcement for the new perfume signed by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin of Firmenich came not long after we discovered that maverick fashion designer Paul Poiret's favorite scent was - surprise! - that of the unassuming geranium. It is surprising if you think of his lush, Oriental fashion and taste for spectacularly ostentatious Parisian parties. It is less so, if you think that olfactory preferences are intimate, unconsciously-triggered and not concerned with social impact, whenever sincere. Besides being at the creative forefront of his time, fashion-wise and perfume-wise, Poiret was a noted family man, naming his fragrance business Les Parfums de Rosine in 1911 after his eldest daughter and his textile print business Les Ateliers de Martine, after his second daughter. So, it fits his personality to a T in a way to have had a predilection for the perfume of geranium, that brightly colored, modest plant which simply and even stereotypically adorns Parisian balconies. 

Geranium Odorata opens on the characteristically soft, green and sweet scent of Bourbon geranium, which has been mixed with African geranium from Egypt to enhance its floral tonalities. The citrusy nuance has been tuned down although it is present, but less in-your-face and citronella-like. There are discreet woody and earthy aspects to the scent of the flower, which float in and out. But what is really amusing for those in the know is to see how the relationship of geranium to rose has been reworked in this perfume.

Geranium is often used in a supporting role to Rose, trying not to appear to blatant and being there by virtue of its resemblance to its pricier sisterly scent. In this new composition, the geranium flower is offered in majesty while the rose softens down its impetuously fresh and brisk character.

Geranium can smell like a rough rose, but here the gold standard of rose has been discarded. It is clear who here the central figure is - it is Geranium. This is why you can say that there is a reverse snobbery motif at play: the power relationship has been reversed. This symbolic displacement feels like a mini Revolution of 1789 trope. It is definitely Republican in spirit. 

The natural freshness of the floral geranium blend has also been made more sensual and velvetier thanks to vanilla and tonka bean. The second olfactory "joke" you find in the fragrance is that perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin has had the idea of combining geranium with a subtle and unreported tobacco accord plucked from his other opus for the house, Volutes (2012). It fits with the main creative idea for the fragrance which is to propose an androgynous enough rosy perfume to appeal to both men and women. 

This latest Eau Florale by Diptyque, just like its associated launch, Eau de Lavande, looks at, shall we say, Democratic, Republican flowers while improving their images, but without excess or pretentiousness. Apart from that, Geranium Odorata is a perfume which is both sensual and fresh with a nice simplicity of purpose. 

Fragrance notes: geranium, bergamot, green cardamom, cedar wood, tonka bean, pink peppercorn and Haitian vetiver.

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