Some time ago I received a sample of a fragrance called l'âme soeur by Parfums Divine as a gift in a perfume swap. It took me a while to try, but when I did I was absolutely astounded!! I couldn't believe that I had never heard of this French niche house before ... and what was coming off my arm was sheer heaven.
I ordered their sample coffret and so began a really plush little journey into the olfactive art of Yvon Mouchel, créateur de DIVINE. From the outset, the experience has been one of absolute class and efficiency. The fabulous Aurélie (le service Clients DIVINE) kept me up to date with the status of my order from the time that I placed it to the time it left their offices to wing it's way to me. Postage was super fast (I waited less than a week from France to South Africa ... unheard of!!) and when I opened the outer box what greeted me inside was a superbly and securely gift wrapped parcel of elegantly presented samples. Who takes the time these days to hand write a note of thanks? Aurélie did ... and while this may be standard operating procedure at DIVINE it added huge helpings of star quality to the experience ... I was truly blown away!!
What follows are my meagre scribblings about this collection of fragrances. Let me preface all of this by saying that I am mesmerized by nearly all of them. Those that I've fallen irrevocably in love with will hopefully soon grace my perfume collection with their undeniable beauty.
This exquisitely layered floral is what tells the story of why I am such a fragrance fanatic. Considering that it's been around since 1986 that's no surprise, as it's around this time that my curiosity about and love of fragrances truly began. I am also a complete Tuberose junkie and the addition of it to this fragrance is inspired!
There is a faint touch of spiciness swirling around the florals here, holding them together as a cohesive whole and allowing them to project in radiant bursts of individuality. The drydown is simply beautiful, the vanilla rendered creamy by a musk that simply supports and is not overdone.
I find this fragrance to be strangely unisex, as many of these classic combinations of notes from yesteryear have become. I really don't care if this one is supposed to be a feminine ... on my skin it's absolutely gorgeous and I would wear it often. The sillage and longevity here are stellar ... Divine is sensual and mysterious ... now why can't both sexes be that ;o)!!
My translation here may be wrong, but I seem to remember the word 'infante' translating to 'infanta' ... a hereditary title for daughters of the reigning monarchs of Spain and Portugal ... like 'princess' I suppose. If that was the intention, then this fragrance is spot on! It has a certain 'young Royal' quality ... something that is definitely more for the 'sprightlier' set ... or for those of us for whom age is simply a number.
This is a beautiful bouquet of fresh white flowers making one think of a young Audrey Hepburn playing the fictitious Princess Anne in Roman Holiday. L'infante definitely has a fable-like romantic quality with it's superb 'happy ever after'-ness. (Please excuse me making up words LOL.)
L'homme de Coeur
If you are captivated by the shimmering glow of Iris then this, my favorite of the Parfums Divine 'masculines' is for you. I seldom atribute gender to fragrance, wearing pretty much anything I enjoy and that I deem to smell good. L'Homme de coeur would work just as well for the ladies but having said that, don't let me be the judge ... go out and try it!! Discretely elegant and refined, this wonderful fragrance based on Iris far surpasses (to my nose at least) other creations of the same genre. There is no need to mention them here ...
The base is once again supported by an inobtrusive Musk (a note that many of you reading this know I have a problem with) but the Vetiver and Ambergris are the true stars here ... and all the way through, right to the very end the Iris holds sway and enchants.
L'homme de coeur is unique, immensely wearable and simply subtle perfection!
I love a good blast of Aldehydes, especially the kind used here. Uplifting and sparkling, the first few minutes after application of Soeur sets the senses ablaze with anticipation of what is to come!
Faintly at first a soft, powdery jasmine appears, with a little twist however! I smell lemons ... not freshly plucked and cut ones, rather I'm reminded of sticking my nose into a jar of candied lemon slices ... sugary, but with the tartness still intact. I'm intrigued to know what is creating this effervescent effect as there is nothing citrus listed in the note pyramid. It's more than likely the Aldehydes!
The Jasmine continues developing almost narcotically and as a very majestic Rose appears, I'm reminded of classic French perfumery and why it's been around for so long. L'âme soeur is solidly classic ... built to last like a Louis XIV ormolu desk ... strong but delightfully twisty and curly with so much to look at and revel in. The notes fit together beautifully, like the tiles of a gorgeously intricate parquet floor. One realizes that they all belong together ... one not being able to exist without the other.
This dries down softly and sensuously, with the ambergris providing a touch of animalic ripeness and the Ylang Ylang a hint of butter-like creaminess. It lasts a good 8 hours ... which always makes me happy! My favorite of the entire collection.
It took me a few wearings to come to terms with L'homme sage. I'm not one for traditional 'mens' fragrances and the first few times I tried this I was struck by it's evident stoic masculinity.
This is a fragrance for a gentleman of the first order ... manly and studious with a penchant for a pair of antique horn rimmed spectacles as he reads by the fire in the library of his stately home, cigar in hand, cognac close by. He's the type of man that one could count on in a pinch, posessed of superior intelligence but content to quietly observe the world around him. The strong silent type ... everything I'm not :o).
As much as I would like to, I doubt very much that I could pull this one off! The combination of saffron and mandarin with the woods, incense and amber here are just superb. Unfortunately I'm bit more of 'turquoise convertible Bentley Azure' than I am the newest and most plush 'Range Rover'.
In many Rose and Patchouli combinations, the former is thoroughly and unceremoniously 'thumped' into submission by the latter. This is not the case with L'inspiratrice.
As I've sampled my way through the Parfums Divine collection one thing is evident ... the ingredients are deftly handled and suberbly blended so that they don't neccesarily stand out individually, but rather form a sum of the whole. Yet again, I find this fragrance to be a wonderful cohesion of fragrant delights reminiscent of the way a theatre smells backstage. As a performer, this is somewhere that I have spent a lot of time! Faintly dusty ... ever so slightly waxy, like a well traveled makeup case opened beside a huge bouquet of opening night roses. Now to some that may sound completely bizarre, but the notes here conspire to bring to my mind an object that my professional life could not do without ... it's simply amazing!
Are you a fan of the so called 'lipstick rose'? If so then without a doubt give this one a go ... but be prepared - you may want to chuck it all in and run away for a life on the stage!!
L'être aimé - Femme and Homme
A duo of fragrances created for those of us madly in love, convinced that the one in our arms was destined for us by the universe ... soul mates! The name, 'beloved' should say it all.
I have to be honest when I say that I prefer the femme version. It's rich, dense and beautifully layered. On me it's not particularly feminine ... but when one is a mad fan of Tuberose, what is :o)? Instead, I really love the way the Jasmine combines with the woods here ... and the Labdanum with the Vanilla. I have no idea what Imortelle flowers smell like in nature as I've never had the pleasure, but if they are responsible for the honeyed caramel effect here then they must be truly gorgeous. This fragrance is warm and uplifting, like basking in the glow of a setting Tuscan sun. It reminds me of Autumn ... and that melancholy feeling one gets when the light changes on a Sunday afternoon - definitely a time when one should be walking hand in hand with that special someone.
I don't dislike the Homme version ... again, I'm just not 'manly' enough to pull it off successfully. It does, however, compliment the Femme in a curiously symbiotic way. As averse as I am to layering fragrances I tried just that with these two ... the result was magnetic!!
Unfortunately, this is the only fragrance by house Divine that I'm not impressed with. Let me qualify that statement by saying that it has nothing to do with the smell itself (which is lovely) and more to do with the fact that it's cast in the mould of an Eau de Cologne. Now, I have what I call 'perfume munching' skin, so an Eau is never really going to do it for me. My skin devours Eau Divine in under an hour, leaving just the faintest trace of Labdanum behind.
My adventure into the world of Parfums Divine has been nothing short of SPECTACULAR!! As I sit here writing the end of this entry, I have retested every last one of them on my skin while I have been referring to the notes I made when testing them separately. As an avid parfumista, I cannot recommend these fragrances more highly!! There is something here for everybody and if you are like me ... more than just a few to add to the collection, not only to have but to wear!
Now starts the daunting task of selecting those I cannot live without :).
A big thanks to Coutureguru for contributing this wonderful review article. !!!