For me this will be the winter of Comme des Garçons Daphne Eau de Parfum. Within half an hour of a dab from a sample tube, I was at my computer ordering a bottle, budget be damned. Its warmth, complexity, and femme fatale vibe were irresistible. At the same time, I think hordes of perfume enthusiasts will detest Daphne. Its sweet thickness might drive comparisons to marshmallow fluff and talcum powder. But I’m smitten.
Perfumer Antoine Lie created Daphne using notes of bitter orange, incense, saffron, rose centifolia, Tunisian jasmine, tuberose, iris, patchouli, oud, amber, and vanilla. Essentially, Daphne is an oriental scent featuring tuberose with all the baroque fixings. It’s named for Daphne Guinness, a British celebrity who seems to have earned her fame mainly through eccentric chic and a prominent family.
Daphne opens with bitter orange and tuberose. The orange isn’t a fleeting top note — it wears into the perfume for a few hours. Just as the bitter orange starts to fade, incense slightly soured by oud takes over orange’s role balancing the tuberose and jasmine. Soft amber and vanilla soften the perfume’s edges from first spray to deep dry down, but the vanilla and orange avoid the dreaded “Orange Julius” effect, probably because of the tuberose’s intensity. No one will smell Daphne and say “saffron!” although knowing it’s there I can pick it out. Patchouli-phobes don’t have to worry: Daphne’s patchouli doesn’t stand out until the scent’s very last gasps, some time the next day. The whole effect is velvety warmth, slightly powdery, tingling with white flowers in a box of incense and orange peel.
Daphne’s tuberose and jasmine especially attract me. Often tuberose — like diamonds — comes off as too cold on my skin. Jasmine, as much as I love it, can feel barely grounded. In Daphne, the tuberose is as warm and earthy as silk velvet, and jasmine lifts it up. It’s a combination that in Daphne plays as more Sophia Loren than Elizabeth Taylor.
I’m raving on and on about Daphne, but I highly recommend sampling this one before deciding whether to buy it. It’s a big, crowded, and potentially smothering fragrance. If you long to live in a condo featured in Dwell, have nothing on your mantel but one vintage Blenko vase, and you like your perfume lean and airy, go elsewhere. If your dream home is something you saw once in a 1930s fashion magazine, and your mantel is loaded with your nephew’s parrot sculpture, a chalkware lamp shaped like a Turkish boy, and a mishmash of flowers in varying stages of decline in a variety of flea market vases, step right up. I especially think you should try Daphne if you’ve ever been tempted to layer Comme des Garçons Avignon with Rochas Femme.
Daphne comes in a red velvet pouch in a box that feels like it’s made of linen cardboard and is textured white on the outside but satin black on the inside. The bottle is of thick glass in an elegant but modern shape. “Daphne” is etched into its belly. Daphne only comes in one size, 50 ml, and one strength, Eau de Parfum. (Attention Comme des Garçons executives, this one would make a killer candle). For information on where to buy Daphne, see Comme des Garçons under Perfume Houses.