The Hedge of Perdition

– a review of Parfums Delrae ‘Amoureuse’

Being a perfume blogger can be a perilous undertaking, Every time you try an unknown, you’re putting your nose on the line and sometimes your sanity with it. Any reader of the Arabian Nights will know that bottled jinn – or genies – are not to be trifled with.

So I will happily try anything new that takes my fancy and tickles my curiosity, I’ll happily challenge my own preconceptions, I’ll travel down those paths unknown and see where I end up, and I’ll haul my wizard’s hat of words with me to see if they can play nice with the genies.

Except that once in a blue moon, all I hope for is that one beautiful moment that takes my breath away, a magic carpet ride revealing marvels I never knew before. And likewise every other blue moon, I have some expectations that I might find it.

My Scent Twin, the marvelous Suzanne of Perfume Journal, sent me a generous sample of something I’ve wanted to try – Parfums Delrae ‘Amoureuse’. And for once this blue moon instant, I had a hunch that it would be…beautiful. From the reviews I read on Basenotes and Fragrantica and even the review Suzanne gave it, I had a few ideas of what to expect. I also had a few misgivings when she wrote in an email: ‘You’re going to LOVE it!’ Love in this case all too often comes with dollar signs attached. Like me, Suzanne is a Green Fiend and chypre fan, so when she says ‘pay attention’, or ‘you’ll love it!’ I always do since she’s usually right.

Damn her! 😉

The fact is, ‘Amoureuse’ is stunning. If you like or even love some of the great greens of yore such as the eponymous Deneuve, Jacomo’s Silences or Antonia by Puredistance, you might well fall in love with ‘Amoureuse’.

Created in 2002 as an ode to the Victorian boxwood hedges of San Francisco by Michel Roudnitska and Delrae Roth, ‘Amoureuse’ – not my usual association with the green chypre genre – opens with one of the loveliest accords I’ve ever met, a gravity-defying pas-de-deux of tangerine and cardamom so green and uplifting, you’re helpless to do anything other than smile and be happy. In any other perfume, that combination of spice and citrus would fade quickly as the star attractions of the heart notes take over. ‘Amoureuse’ is not any other perfume, and neither is the way it develops.

Instead, as the tangerine lingers for at least an hour before it very slowly fades, the cardamom bring out the heart notes from the wings, and it grows. And grows. And grows! It takes off into the stratosphere above my skin like some perfumed green and magic beanstalk, and the fatal – at least to me – blend of tuberose, jasmine and Tahitian ginger lily begin to bloom in a time-capture slow-motion fast-forward of b-l-o-o-m. That sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. Tuberose can be a dominating diva, and for some, the tuberose predominates and on others the jasmine steals the show. On me, the cardamom continues to dance, somehow reining in these divas to give equal starring moments to that Tahitian ginger lily, and suddenly, I’m transformed from my usual, drab workaday self into something über-glamorous and incredibly chic, and not until then do I completely understand the name…Amoureuse.

Amorous. Sexy. It is indeed – very! – sexy, in a grown-up, self-assured, confident manner. No blushing violets or ingénues need apply.

‘Sexy’ in my perfumoholic world has all sorts of associations with so many of the great classics. One cousin of ‘Amoureuse’ comes to mind here, and that is Piguet’s Fracas, but ‘Amoureuse’ is greener and far less in-your-face tuberose. The bouquet of tuberose, jasmine and ginger lily somehow meld seamlessly in a wondrous mélange of gorgeousness, and by the time oakmoss, sandalwood and honey arrive very many hours later, I’ve reached the conclusion that this perfume is about as good as it gets in terms of sex appeal.

Of course if I said that, my reviews would be a lot shorter!

I was nervous when I read honey listed in the notes. Honey and I don’t get along except for internal purposes. ‘Amoureuse’ is softly sweet yet never cloying, the honey cut by oakmoss and sandalwood so it never turns into Honey Monster Havoc. Throughout, it remains green, effortlessly elegant, and just a little…heady.

If one of your main concerns with niche perfumes is receiving a bit of bang for your buck, in other words something that lasts a bit longer than you can blink, I had better warn you – ‘Amoureuse’ has astonishing powers of preservation. This is a perfume I wouldn’t apply lavishly unless I wanted my surroundings to swoon, and this also takes commitment – these sixteen hours after applying, the stunning drydown is still present, and I sprayed very lightly. It would be perfect for a romantic dinner date or a night at the opera, for dressing up and showing off your most effortlessly chic self, but I’m enough of a former punk and present iconoclast to say I like nothing better than pairing something super-luxe amazing with my everyday jeans, if only to discombobulate my surroundings!

This is not the first time Suzanne has led me down the garden path and past the boxwood topiary of perfume perdition, and my bank account has a sinking feeling…it will surely not be the last!

But after all, what are friends – and Scent Twins – for? I can tell you.

We love and we live to share beauty too great for just one of us to appreciate!


Top: Tangerine, cardamom

Heart: Tuberose, French jasmine, Tahitian ginger lily

Base: Oakmoss, sandalwood, honey

Parfums Delrae ‘Amoureuse’ is available at Luckyscent, First in Fragrance, and from the Parfums Delrae website.

Image: The breathtaking Les Jardins de Marqueyssac at Perigord, France

PS: Dear lovely Suzanne, you know where this is going, right? 😉 The next time you call something ‘smack water’, I’ll know I’ve been warned! 🙂