Sisley : Eau du Soir

Claude Monet

The Water Lily Pond (1900) by Claude Monet

Created by : Jeannine Mongin, Hubert d’Ornano, Isabelle d’Ornano

Date : 1990

Genre : Old school green floral chypre

Concentration : eau de parfum

It was serendipity that recently brought me to Eau du Soir when I opened up my magic closet and went hunting for something different. I’d been wearing a lot of the same perfumes recently (Chanel, Hermès and Jean Couturier) and I was in the mood for something big like Paloma Picasso.  And so when I saw the very colourful box of Eau du Soir, I thought… yesss! … perfect for the dead of winter with the grey skies, the mountains of white snow and the arctic-cold air.

Eau du Soir was a gift from a friend with impeccable taste in perfume but the first person to introduce me to Eau du Soir was Clarisse Monereau.  Clarisse is a French-trained perfume expert who came to Montréal and opened a perfume school but has since returned to France.  (I stand corrected.  A reader tells me that although the school has closed, Clarisse is still in Montréal.)  I had invited Clarisse to accompany me to Tosca at L’Opéra de Montréal and I loved her perfume,  “What are you wearing?”  She answered, “Patchouli oil with Eau du Soir on top”.  Wow!  What a powerhouse and perfect for Puccini.

My regular readers know that I don’t list notes because they rarely tell you what the finished product smells like but I’ll make an exception today.  It’s decidedly a chypre so I’m getting a solid base of oakmoss and patchouli.  The top and middle notes are truly symphonic… a big, loud, complex mixture of rich smells and colours… jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris and a flower native to Spain, syringa, which I believe is from the lilac family. Just imagine Aromatics Elixir and Paloma Picasso combined… with maybe some Sisley Soir de Lune thrown in.  Big and beautiful!

Eau du Soir has got great throw and sillage.  It will announce your arrival and hang around long after you’ve left the building.  And, it’s extremely long-lasting.  I went to bed with it Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights!  I absolutely love this one.

Chanel : Les Exclusifs – Coromandel

Created by : Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake

Date : 2007

Genre : Patchouli amber

Concentration : eau de toilette

After being addicted to Coriandre for a couple of weeks, I decided to try some diversion therapy and my magic closet did not disappoint.  I remembered having worn and loving Coromandel so I gave the patchouli-centric marvel another try and it seduced me once again.

Now, you must know that I have two friends who wear straight up patchouli and I really don’t like it.  I don’t know where they buy it and I haven’t asked them but it smells like some kind of headshop essential oil.  A former friend used to mix it in with his shower gel so that it really reeked when he got close to me.  Thankfully, we were only friends and our get-togethers were mostly restaurant affairs where he sat across the table from me so I could eat without the patchouli.

In contrast, Coromandel couldn’t be more beautiful.  Its perfectly calibrated amber heart of vanilla, musk, benzoin and frankincense is topped off with a gorgeous patchouli veneer that stays fresh and interesting for several hours.  There are moments at the beginning when the vanilla sings slightly out of tune but the patchouli seems to keep everything in check and the sweetness subsides almost as quickly as you notice it.

My eau de toilette lasts me all day long and I NEVER tire of it.

If you are looking for a bottle of Coromandel, Chanel has strangely retired all the eau de toilette concentrations of their Exclusifs line and are offering Coromandel only as an eau de parfum.  I don’t know how much it has changed to the original, mine dates back to circa 2010, but it is certainly worth a try.

When Coco Chanel first saw a Chinese coromandel she thought she would “faint of happiness” and so she decorated her apartment above the 31 rue Cambon atelier with several coromandels.  What a lovely way to live!


From Coco Chanel’s apartment.

Ex Idolo : Thirty Three

40s photo of the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove.

40s photo of the dance floor at the Cocoanut Grove.

Created by : Unknown perfumer

Date : 2013

Genre : Rose patchouli

Concentration : eau de parfum (at least)

One of my favourite courses in library school was Collection Development, i.e. what to buy! With all that is being published and evermore shrinking budgets, libraries are becoming more and more choosy. The Acquisitions Librarian of a large library in Québec City gave us a presentation of their purchasing policy. It was detailed and complex and fascinating. And the presentor ended it with, “And, of course, we NEVER buy first novels!” I said, “Excuse me, did you say never?” He answered, “NEVER!” (Unless of course the novel becomes a best-seller or a subsequent novel becomes a best-seller or the first novel wins a literary prize… but I digress.)

So… here we are with a first perfume launched by Ex Idolo from an unknown perfumer. Should I review?  Well… the creative force behind Ex Idolo, Matthew Zhuk, sent me a lovely email and a sniffing expedition was in the works so I decided to give it a try.

Both Matthew and the SA at Etiket talked about Thirty Three as being an oud… “thirty three” being the age of the oud which was used… but actually, it’s not really an oud perfume, not on my skin anyway. Yes… the oud is front and centre for the first 20 minutes, but it quickly takes a backseat to a beautiful, quality rose-patchouli accord which is the heart of Thirty Three. Yes, there is musk and some powder and maybe the oud is in there somewhere but for the most part it’s an exquisite red rose-patchouli… not yellow roses, not pink, RED! Over time, the patchouli disappears, the powder lingers as does the rose, and a soapy note emerges (perhaps the musk) making me smell cleaner at the end of the day than when I stepped out of the shower that morning!

So… what impressed me most? I would say the quality of the materials. That rose note is exquisite.  In addition, the composition is good… no rough edges, no overly chemical smells. It has a few twists and turns but I like that in a perfume. The longevity is similar to extract strength. And, Thirty Three is totally legible which I think is a plus in these days of “just feel the perfume.” There are others in the same genre but this composition straddles deftly between a rose soliflore and one of the many big rose chypres on the market making it quite unique. I would say its closest competitors are David Yurman and Jo Malone’s Velvet Rose and Oud. Evidently, Matthew Zhuk has been able to steer Thirty Three through a narrow opening on a crowded dance floor.

Now people who read me regularly know that I never discuss bottles or names but I love the bottle and I particularly like the art deco-inspired font. There is some marketing savvy behind the packaging.

Overall… it’s very beautiful and if you’ve been thinking of adding a quality rose fragrance to your collection, check this one out.


Ex Idolo's Thirty Three - beautiful presentation!

Ex Idolo’s Thirty Three – beautiful presentation!

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