Diptyque Eau Duelle ~ fragrance review

Diptyque Eau Duelle

Eau Duelle is Diptyque's new unisex fragrance. The description — a fragrance that follows vanilla on its journey along the spice route — and the notes1 both sounded perfect. I'm fond of Diptyque, anyway: I love the vintage-look black and white packaging, and they happen to make two of my favorite reading-in-bed perfumes of all time: Philosykos and Tam Dao.

When I reviewed their last fragrance, Vetyverio, I noted that it started "out bright and fresh and energetic", and that the dry down was "an exercise in subtlety". The trajectory here is quite similar. Eau Duelle's opening is vibrant: it smells just like a vanilla gin martini with a twist of citrus peel. Then the spices come on fast, with a lovely overload of cardamom, and shortly after that there is a nice whiff of black tea and a whoosh of incense.

Then it all sort of quiets down. Eau Duelle lasts a long time, but the later stages smell mostly like a clean, dry vanilla musk, more transparent than not. Even applied heavily, you have to lean in and inhale deeply to catch the earthy and resinous notes.

As I said above, I like Diptyque. And not just for Philosykos and Tam Dao, mind you: I also love L’Ombre dans L’Eau (1983), Olene (1988) and Oyedo (2000). But in all truth Tam Dao, which came out in 2003, was the last one I was absolutely wild about. Since Tam Dao, Diptyque has become a kind of go-to house for muted fragrances on familiar themes. They're well done, in fact some of them are fantastically well done, but they aren't often surprising, and with the current glut of niche fragrances — it's hard to think of a single theme, vanilla included, that hasn't been explored to the heavens and back again in the last year or two — a little surprise is a welcome thing.

So Eau Duelle is nice, even darned nice. I like it much better than Vetyverio, which to borrow March's phrase (that's March of Perfume Posse), was likewise nice but just didn't seem to add anything new to the (vetiver) conversation. I wore Eau Duelle quite happily for several days, and if I had a bottle I'd wear it again quite happily. But I'm not absolutely wild about it, and I wish it were a little less well-behaved: an Eau Duelle Intense, perhaps? Amp up the black tea and the cypriol, make it all a little smokier? Of course, if you haven't become jaded by smelling umpteen thousand other new releases, it might be perfect for you, and as a side note, it layers quite nicely with Tam Dao.

Diptyque Eau Duelle was developed by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin. It is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette and in solid perfume. For buying information, see the listing for Diptyque under Perfume Houses.

1. The notes, other than two kinds of vanilla, include bergamot, cardamom, pink pepper, elemi, juniper, saffron, calamus, frankincense, cypriol, black tea, musk and amber.

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98 Comments

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  1. RusticDove says:

    Such a timely review Robin! I received an email from Beauty Habit featuring this scent just yesterday, so of course my interest was all stirred up. From your description, I’ve calmed down a bit and I think that Tam Dao is still the next Diptyque for me to sample – I’ve been curious about that one for so long. I’m also a fan of their packaging.

    • Robin says:

      Tam Dao is a longtime favorite, but know lots of people who hate it. I have not seen many reviews of Eau Duelle yet, but thinking it will be more of a crowd pleaser but have fewer devoted fans? Who knows.

  2. Bee says:

    I haven’t tried Duelle either, I’m not so much into vanilla. I I am a Diptyque fan too, and just wanted to say that they’re expanding the “art of body care” line, which I love, my newest buy is the velvet hand emulsion, with immortelle, chamomile, sesame oil etc., if you want to pamper your hands it’s either that or the “luxurious hand balm”.

    • Robin says:

      I know Jessica likes the body things. I have trouble spending so much on body things myself, probably because I’ve already spent my discretionary income on perfume ;-)

  3. Nina says:

    I’m on a real vanilla lust at the moment, so I splashed out on the smallest bottle of Eau Duelle. And you’re absolutely right – once past the first twenty minutes, it’s not so much vanilla as a pale caramel. I also get more than a hint of honey.

    • Robin says:

      Have you tried their solids? I wonder if they’re more concentrated. On this one particularly, that could be a big plus.

  4. RuthW says:

    Damned with faint praise.
    Thanks for the review, now I must check out Tam Dao!

    • Robin says:

      Tam Dao is a great scent, but you have to REALLY like wood.

      • crowflower says:

        Who said Tam Dao was like “being locked in a tea chest”?
        I have a bottle and I like it quite a bit.

        • Robin says:

          LOL…that’s a good description.

          • RuthW says:

            Then I will definitely try it – I love tea and wood and am trying to “explore” a bit more in the fragrance world this fall instead of sticking to my favored orientals.

  5. Joe says:

    Oooh, I have a decant that should be arriving today or tomorrow, and I can’t wait. The idea of a vanilla that’s not thick and boozy, or sweetened, is very nice. We’ll see.

    Diptyque does do some good fragrances, but several leave me cold. I recently warmed back up to Tam Dao, but L’Ombre dl’E really doesn’t work on me. Of course, my faves are Philosykos, and the unloved L’Eau de Tarocco (which needs a lavish hand to be properly enjoyed IMO).

    Just curious, R., do you most usually (and specifically in this case) test from dab vials or spray? I know this has been discussed endlessly, but often I get a really different experience when I spray — I hope that’s the case and that this one doesn’t dry down too quickly to generic, close-wearing dry vanilla musk. Thanks so much for another great review.

    • Robin says:

      I test w/ whatever I can get my hands on (ha!) but in this case, it was a spray. I would call L’Ombre dans L’Eau a “difficult” scent…and IMHO the world needs more difficult scents and fewer well-behaved ones. And fewer scents in general!

      Another vanilla in this class, for anyone else looking for non-sweet: Le Labo Vanille 44. And Jo Malone’s vanilla anise one too.

      • Joe says:

        I thought that JM Vanilla Anise was really well done, actually.

        I definitely often enjoy difficult scents, but L’Ombre dans L’Eau verged on making me ill or headachy the one time I sampled it; I should give it another fair shake. And YES to fewer scents in general, but I don’t think anyone’s hearing us. :)

        • Robin says:

          I thought so too…a step up for JM, IMHO. They’ve been making more interesting scents lately. That said, I don’t know which I like better — that one or this. I wasn’t moved to buy either.

        • boojum says:

          I’ll be curious to hear what you think. I was tempted to join that split, but Diptyque hasn’t really floated my boat, other than Tam Dao (although this year, Philosykos started to lose its coconutty sweetness, and if it continues in that direction, I may add that to the list). The JM VA was dull and bland on me, unfortunately. Why, though, was I thinking you’d hosted l’Ombre?

          • Joe says:

            Oh, not me. I hosted a ginormous vat of Eau Lente though.

          • boojum says:

            Ahhh, that was the one. I disliked both, so easily confuse them. ;)

      • Ann N. says:

        Hi Robin, I’m a new poster and so very late to the Duelle party, but I have to ask: Is it just me or does it favor Creed’s much pricier Sublime Vanille, with its citrusy undertones? I like that one but not not anywhere near enough to spend the huge $$$$ on it. Thanks!

        • Robin says:

          Hi Ann, and welcome! I’m afraid I have not tried the Creed so can’t help at all.

  6. Abyss says:

    I sniffed this briefly on Sat and I pretty much agree with you. Perfectly nice and wearable but not hugely exciting.

    Oh and the store also had this in solid compacts. I don’t remember seeing these ‘in person’ before but I thought they were fab. Look like a shiny black pebble and feel really heavy and substantial in your hand. I don’t really do solid perfumes but they aren’t that spendy (£28 or so?) and I think they’d make fabulous gifts!

    • Robin says:

      I have not seen the solid compacts in person yet, but they do look darling, as do the new rollons in the colognes. I would love to have one.

      For anyone who has never seen them:

      http://www.nstperfume.com/2009/11/15/holiday-fragrance-gifts-2009-part-5/

      • Joe says:

        Nice. Just checked beautyhabit for these and I like the idea of the roll-ons… but Geez, Louise… $48 for 20ml of the eau de colognes?

        • Robin says:

          Yeah, you’re paying for cute packaging. I think they might be in silicone too (the rollons we’re talking, right? not the solids) and I don’t buy silicone fragrances.

          • Joe says:

            Oh, didn’t think of that. Just saw your old post about the rollerballs, referring to the “gel” formula. Anyway, yeah, the images on them are super cute, but that’s damn pricey. Oh well. I’ll print my own clear mailing label and stick it on a decant atomizer. LOL.

  7. Janice says:

    I love the first 20 minutes or so of this—“vanilla gin martini” is a perfect description. After a while what’s left seems to me like a very powdery, soft, not-even-very-musky vanilla, still pleasant but just not nearly as interesting. I’ll have to try layering it with Tam Dao.

    • Robin says:

      Come to think of it, that makes it sound like Hermes Eau Claire des Merveilles, which I also liked better than Eau Duelle (in fact, I ended up buying it).

      • Joe says:

        Oooooooh. You *did* buy it! Congrats. I’ve gotta see if my Sephora has that Eau Claire.

        • Robin says:

          I know Nordstrom had it. Not sure about Sephora.

      • Janice says:

        Just wanted to say I’ve tried this layered now with Tam Dao and it’s great—it softens the TD slightly and gives a little oomph to the drydown of the Eau Duelle. Thanks for the suggestion!

        Still want to try the Eau Claire des Merveilles.

        • Robin says:

          Do try it! It’s more about cosmetic powder than vanilla though.

  8. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Yes, I, too, had a similar reaction. For the first few minutes I thought, I must have this! It reminded me of smelling the bark of a Jeffrey Pine in the Sierras when I was a kid. An adult peeled off some bark for me and said see, it smells like vanilla, and it did, but in an earthy, pine-y way. How interesting! But then the perfume died down so quickly to a soft, rather boring vanilla. Too bad it doesn’t last.

  9. crowflower says:

    I tried it a week ago and it must depend heavily on the musk portion (anosmic to musk, alas!). I sprayed lavishly and–nothing. I could only detect it when I crossed my own sillage a few minutes later–faint vanilla musk. I was surprised to get the musk at all.

    • Joe says:

      Thanks for making me laugh with “crossed my own sillage.” I envision myself walking in figure 8s trying to do that.

      • miss kitty v. says:

        Haven’t you ever done that? Walked into a room thinking, “Hmm… something smells good…” only to realize that it was you?

        • StinkPretty says:

          Oh, I know exactly what you mean–to smell one’s self coming (or would that be going?). Shopping with my dear hubby last weekend, I kept smelling something yummy. After sniffing him and the surrounding area, I had to conclude that the “yummyness” was just little old me (ok, one adjective there is true . . . .)

        • Seraph says:

          Have definitely done that. Spray something on in a small room, leave and shut the door, and then go back in every few minutes leaving enough of an interval for the nose to de-acclimatise…

    • Robin says:

      Some musks do that to me too…I can’t smell them up close, only from afar.

  10. boojum says:

    I haven’t been able to decide if I wanted to try this one or not, and your review just affirms that ambivalence. The notes sound fantastic, but Diptyque hasn’t done well for me, generally. I wish it was available somewhere nearby; always paying for samples gets tired.

    • Robin says:

      It does get tired — I think that’s part of what is so annoying about the glut of niche lately.

  11. Thanks for this, I’ve been so curious about this one. Looks like I can wait calmly now. ;-) Definitely sounds like it’s worth a sniff, though…

    • Robin says:

      Oh, I do think it’s worth a sniff. They really do a good job at Diptyque — they just maybe need to shake things up a bit over there? Hard to imagine them releasing Opone now, or Virgilio, L’Eau Trois, or even L’Eau.

      • bigpharma says:

        re: Hard to imagine them releasing Opone now, or Virgilio, L’Eau Trois, or even L’Eau.

        I was just in the Bleecker Street store in NYC they have all of these items. I picked up a bottle of Opone for fall/winter wear (perfect!) You should call and have them ship to you…

        • Robin says:

          I just meant it was hard to see them launching any those products now…they’ve changed since they released them.

  12. Tiara says:

    So glad you reviewed this — have been wondering. I’m with Boo, though that paying for samples is becoming tedious. (Which is odd because it used to be so exciting, at least for me.) Need to spend more time figuring out who is carrying what lines these days and get over my aversion to shopping.

    • Robin says:

      Agree it used to be exciting. There are too many now!

  13. violetnoir says:

    I loves me some cardamom, but that’s in the new L’Artisan Coeur de Vetiver Sacre, which I absolutely flat-out LOVE!

    But, if I see it, I will definitely try it. The only fragrance from this line that I have tried and love is Philosykos, but then again, for some reason, I have not tried all of them.

    Hugs!

    • Robin says:

      Oh good, because I’m about to test that one!

      • Excellent! Tom’s review on PST made it sound very tempting–and very much like something you might enjoye, R. Will be waiting to see if that’s true…

  14. I so wanted to love this based on all the press before it’s release. I smell no spices and the drydown after a lavish application, was nothing but a whisper of Vanilla. This has certainly been the year of Carlos getting overly amped up by the pre buzz of a fragrance release and being totally let down in the end. :(

    • miss kitty v. says:

      But that should also mean it’s been the year of Carlos not being totally broke, right? ;)

      • Yeah right Miss Kitty! I always find a way to spend money ( I don’t have ) on perfume…weather it be, a split, something just to low priced to pass up, etc.

      • boojum says:

        That would assume he always sniffs before he buys…… ;)

    • Robin says:

      Oh no, did you buy it unsniffed??

      • Of course I did….GRRRRRRRR. HA!

        • Joe says:

          Hey, at least you split a good bit off to suckers … I mean ENTHUSIASTS like me. Now I can’t wait. :-/

          • HA! You may very well like it Joe…hey ya never know huh? ;)

  15. lovethescents says:

    Love Phil and Tam as well. Was very disappointed when I popped into our local Diptyque retailer and the SA hadn’t even heard of Eau Duelle. She gave me a snarky look and said, “Duel is Annick Goutal, not Diptyque”. Ah! Amateurs!–she said snarkily ;-)

    • March says:

      That’s very funny.

    • Rappleyea says:

      I’d love to know if you go back in and if so, what your response is.

      • nozknoz says:

        Rapple, I just noticed that you have a new gravatar (might only be just showing up on my system) – can that be OAK MOSS?

        • nozknoz says:

          Ah, should have read down further before I spoke – it is oak moss – HUZZAH!

    • Robin says:

      Always funny when you know before the SA…

  16. March says:

    Hmm. I;m still looking forward to trying this. And when I was in Paris in the spring at Printemps (?) they had a Diptyque boutique, and it reminded me how much I miss having a place to go sniff them. Remember when those scents were everywhere?

  17. Jill says:

    This sounds good to me, but I think I’m liking your suggestion of Eau Duelle Intense even better! I’ll have to give this a sniff sometime — I haven’t tried much at all by Diptyque.

    • Robin says:

      I do think they’re all worth trying! Not that that is helpful, LOL…

  18. london says:

    The vanilla gin martini part sounds like Apothia Velvet Rope. Is there any similarity?

    • bigpharma says:

      Definitely not. Velvet Rope is much more feminine. I think Duelle is 100% unisex, and not as gourmand as Velvet Rope, IIRC.

    • Robin says:

      That’s such a fun scent! It is colder and more citrusy, and keeps the martini thing far into the dry down…and then it’s also smokier. This one is only like a martini for about 15 minutes, then it warms up.

      I keep meaning to get a Velvet Rope candle.

  19. Rappleyea says:

    I always love your reviews, Robin – so “diplomatically” honest! This doesn’t sound like my cup of tea however – pun intended. I’ve learned that tea notes go wonky on me and don’t work at all. Unfortunately, neither do fig notes as I learned to my chagrin when I tested their Philosykos.

    • RusticDove says:

      Oh no Rapple, fig not working for you just makes me sad. I SO love fig.

      • Rappleyea says:

        I sure love to eat figs so I just *knew* I’d love them in perfume. But all I get is a strange plastic smell. Everyone raves about Philosykos and I’m so sorry that I just “don’t get it”.

        • RusticDove says:

          :-( *Sniff* On a happier note – pretty new Gravatar! :-)

          • Rappleyea says:

            Thanks for noticing! It’s the sadly regulated and virtually non-existent in perfume oakmoss.

    • Robin says:

      The tea here is not strong, at least not on me…but who knows if it would go wonky anyway!

  20. cazaubon says:

    I haven’t been too excited by the last few releases by Diptyque – their scents seem to have gotten too tame and watered-down. My favorite is Oyedo. I tried Eau Duelle but there wasn’t near enough oomph to it.

  21. Isa says:

    I love many Diptyque scents.
    I own full bottles of Tam Dao and Vetyverio, and I think that someday I’ll buy Philosykos and L’Eau Trois (if I can find it).

    Thanks to your review, I’m looking forward to trying Eau Duelle. I love vanilla when it’s soft and not cloying. I enjoy wearing fragrances like Kenzo Amour or Perfect Veil.

    • Robin says:

      I think they still sell L’Eau Trois in France (?)

      Hope you’ll love Eau Duelle!

  22. CM says:

    Thanks for the review. It’s definately now on my list. to try. Citrus? Vanilla? Spice? Musk? I love Diptyque and L’Ombree dans L’Eau was my very first FB Perfumista Purchase! It’s great for spring – I love green scents. Tam Dao is still in my “Like Alot” box trying to decide whether to FB or not FB. For a woody scent, I think I prefer 10 Corso Como. Anyway… I can’t wait to try Eau Duelle. I really liked Bath and Body Works Lemon Vanilla… this might be a more well travelled citrus vanilla musk!

    • Robin says:

      10 Corso Como is wonderful, and hope you’ll like the Eau Duelle too.

  23. nozknoz says:

    Thanks for reviewing this, Robin! I LOVE L’Ombre dans L’Eau, Olene and Virgilio, which I think they discontinued. Which supports your idea that they would not have released these interesting scents today. Shame, really, but I guess we should rejoice that they are still producing most of the old daring ones and haven’t reformulated them beyond recognition. :-)

    • Robin says:

      Virgilio was especially and odd one…I liked it though. Not love, but like — I did keep a decant. I think they might still sell it in France? But not sure.

  24. littlelotus says:

    I will have to give this a sniff! As for the solids, the Philosykos solid was my first fragrance buy from Diptyque (when beautyhabit had it briefly last year): it wears close to the skin, like you’d imagine, and it lasts ALL day. The coconutty-sweetness is definitely more prominent in the solid form. Now that I own a FB of the EDT, I will be layering this winter :) And BTW CM: the Tam Dao shower gel is lovely, and leaves you pretty well scented just by using that alone!

    • Robin says:

      I have not tried the shower gels but hear they’re fab. I can vouch for Philosykos soap, which is just wonderful. And thanks for the info on the solid!

  25. donanicola says:

    Pitch perfect review if I may say so. I liked this alot but it doesn’t add anything different to my collection as my favourite non sweet vanilla is Vanille 44 and I have that. The only thing which might swing a purchase though is the totally darling solid perfume in the black case. Gosh but it’s lovely and I felt was stronger than the edt spray. Certainly it hung around longer.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, so glad to hear the solid is stronger! Too bad I’ll probably never get to try it. Jealous of your Vanille 44, that is such a great scent.

  26. mals86 says:

    “Vanilla gin martini,” with tea and spices and incense, sounds really good to me. I like vanilla – a LOT, witness my love for Vamp a NY, Emeraude, Shalimar Light, Vanille Tonka, etc., etc. – and a new angle on it would be wonderful, but if it’s that quiet, it’ll just disappear on me. Shall I just go ahead and pout now?

    I really liked L’Ombre dans L’eau and Ofresia, but not enough to buy either one, even in decants. I don’t Get On with fig, so probably the less I say about Philosykos, the better. I haven’t even tried any other Diptyques, so I can’t speak about the line as a whole – except that I haven’t been inspired to test many of their scents, and perhaps that’s a telling point.

    • Robin says:

      Sure, pout!

      This is WAY quieter than any of those, even Shalimar Light.

  27. For years, I’ve been proud and adult, wrestling with difficult scents, wearing them with great pride, wafting difficulty behind me. Not a fan of vanilla or rose, I wore my sharp cypres and my smoke-soaked leathers because. . . .one day I couldn’t remember why. And then I couldn’t wear them anymore. It was the day I tried on Tulipe and began to cry. It was just beautiful. It was OK to like beautiful. It didn’t all have to be a daring choice, a glass-sharp sillage. It doesn’t all have to be a challenge.

    Over the next few weeks, I began to like what smelled good on me. And Duelle is wonderful on me. It stays, it doesn’t smack people and pull their nose hairs. People ask to sniff my wrist, and I’m not the demographic where that means anything else except “I like the fragrance.” And i do, too. I love this.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, would absolutely agree that not everything has to be difficult or challenging to be worth wearing…and so glad this one smells so good on you! (Actually it smells good on me too, just not for long)

  28. Santemon says:

    I liked this too, a very pleasant comfort scent, something you could easily wear to bed to be cosy in winter. To me, its like lightly spiced milky tea, kind of Chai light with a vanilla pod thrown in. Nice.

    • Robin says:

      Always good to find another comfort scent for winter — glad it works for you.

  29. Valentine says:

    I love vanillas that aren’t syruppy sweet and ordered a sample of this from Aedes. I have to say . . . I LOVE it. It’s a bit funny, since, unlike most of the other commentators, I found it too masculine and cold initially but then loved as it warmed up and spiced up on my skin. I ordered SL Bois Vanille and Santa Maria Novella Viniglia, and I have to say . . . this blew both out of the water. I unfortunately haven’t tried as many vanillas as I would like, but this seems most reminiscent of a happy mix btwn. Farmacia SS Anunzia’s vanilla and Tokyo Milk Dead Sexy. I’ve only worn it a few days but will prob order a bottle.

  30. fly006 says:

    Have to say got this for my birthday in March, i absolutley love it! Its perfect for a date,as soft soothing and sweet! I have had a lot of comments of people asking what i am wearing, a lot of male friends love it too! I love it on cold miserabel days, when i am chilling indoors in my comfys! It makes me smile! so if you want to be soothed but gently seductive! Buy it!

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