L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque, which means in French "The Shadow in the Water", is one of the modern classics of perfumery - and of niche perfumery in particular. Composed in 1983 by perfumer Serge Kalouguine, it remains memorable for its delicate combination of rose and cassis leaves and fruits. If the EDT of 1983 featured Bulgarian roses, the 2012 EDP showcases Damascena rose. Here, we review their kinship and differences...
L'Ombre dans L'Eau Eau de Toilette (1983)
A very sweet opening of cassis buds, crushed cassis leaves & forest smells gives way to a leguminous, yet sweet jammy rose with accents of lemon grass, amber and ambergris. The EDT composition fully espouses the inner artichoke spirit of Bulgarian rose, this idea that in Bulgarian fields, roses smell of the Victory garden, of artichoke often, of asparagus and leeks occasionally.
This true-to-life facet has not been eradicated but rather encouraged to express itself as a blooming rose would, with gusto. This slightly Jansenistic, meagre vegetaly facet evocative more of poor meals in a monastery, of clear ascetic soups eaten on wooden benches and in stony halls, is counterbalanced by sweetish amber, but also the astringency of citruses going in the direction of citronella.
If you take a step back, you realize that L'Ombre dans L'Eau Eau de Toilette conjures up a rose growing in a garden - it smells outrageously fresh and natural. It is a rose perfume which is beyond trends, offering a unique olfactive imprint, which is immediately recognizable to the initiated. As the clove note, both spicy and metallic makes its way, your conviction is further reinforced that this is a rose fragrance whose main pretension is to be as unfashionable as can be. You will have to follow this timeless rose - she will not follow the diktats of current taste. Her personality is preserved thanks to spices and good, natural soil.
One could see a respectful and distant relation with Chamade by Guerlain in this use of cassis leaves and a sweet ambery rose.
L'Ombre dans l'Eau Eau de Parfum (2012)
The eau de parfum, launched nearly forty years after the eau de toilette, offers further work on the unconventional leguminous facet of L'Ombre dans L'Eau EDT, but styled dry and blanched this time, while adding a leather accord to darken and deepen the jus. If you wore leather leggings or trousers and rolled in the grass during the hypothetical period of time of a dewy morning in a rose garden, this would be the aromatic profile at the beginning.
Past this motif, the composition takes on a chypré quality, with better projection and more willed sophistication than originally found in the eau de toilette. The EDP is more dressed up; it aims to impress and shine in society paying homage to urbane mores rather than insist on gardening. The first scent is fresh and natural; the second scent is more tailored and in-control, while keeping the essential characteristics of the first. The EDP also betrays more intensity.
If you happen to study both perfumes side by side, the first one, the edt, gets overwhelmed by the edp due to the latter's augmented intensity. The edt on its own however remains a delectable, poetic composition. But it is like trying to listen to a Renaissance ballad next to speakers diffusing rock music. Just. don't. even. try. - unless you have to, with all due precautions, for a review. If you do, the edt will then seem to turn into a pale aquarelle featuring peonies drenched in rain rather than seriously perfumed roses.
The edp offers the added twist of a smidgeon of costus, it seems, that plant which smells like unwashed hair - one of the dirty smells of perfumery that perfumers clamor for to add a touch of humanity to their compositions; or perhaps it is Amyris, with its smoky wood facet. At any rate, if apprehended comparatively, the EDP leaves a more forceful impression thanks to underlying, discreet complexity and a darker palette of notes.
You could have both and wear the EDT during the day and the EDP at night, if you're a die-hard fan of the composition. But if you were to have to choose, we'd recommend going for the EDP for its greater olfactive impact.