Parfums DelRae Wit ~ perfume review & quick poll

Antonio del Pollaiolo Apollo and Daphne

When DelRae asked me to work on her new fragrance, 'Wit', I was charmed and very interested. First, with such a fresh, bright, fun and clever name for the perfume. Secondly, a fragrance centered around Daphne, a beautiful flower never really explored before in fragrance, and finally the story of Daphne, a mythical character full of intrigue, imagination and love.

That's perfumer Yann Vasnier, talking about the latest from niche line Parfums DelRae. I was likewise charmed and very interested when I heard about Wit, not least because Parfums DelRae is not exactly prolific: they've done nine fragrances since they debuted in 2000. In comparison to some niche brands, that's not even a snail's pace.

But they've all been worth waiting for,1 and there aren't many brands that warrant such praise. Wit, the fourth Yann Vasnier fragrance for the brand, joined my buy list almost as soon as I had it on skin, and yes, it stayed on my list even after several wearings.

So, as Vasnier said, Wit is focused on daphne. If you've never smelled daphne, it's one of the prettiest of the spring flowers, but I've never smelled the variety they used for Wit, daphne cneorum2 (and even if I had, I'm sure I could not tell you if this was true to the flower, nor would I care all that much — it does smell reasonably daphne-ish to me). Here's DelRae Roth's description:

Daphne is one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring. Its delicious lemony, neroli scent is such a surprise and delight in the chill and gray of winter. Such a bright and spirited presense [sic]. I knew at some point I would devote a perfume in celebration of this very lovely bloom that signals Spring, love and happiness.

That's accurate, but it makes daphne sound perhaps less full-bodied than it is, and the first thing you might want to know about Wit is that it is, indeed, full-bodied. If you've become accustomed to the perfume industry's tendency to use the term "spring-like" to mean light, breezy-airy florals, Wit may be something of a surprise. It's closer to earlier florals from DelRae (like Amoureuse and Bois de Paradis, although it isn't really as strong as either) than to some of the lighter, more recent "skin scent" offerings (like Mythique and Panache).

Wit starts bright and green, with a lovely burst of lemon; it's also richly floral right off the bat, with spicy nuances and a fair amount of sweetness early on, only partially tempered by the leafy notes (the whole list: meyer lemon, green mandarin, angelica, laurel nobile, daphne cneorum, jasmine, narcissus, mimosa, ylang ylang, amber, vanilla and velvet musk). You will make out the jasmine and narcissus in particular as it dries down, and while both the lemon and the green linger for some time, it does get drier, spicier and more vanillic over the first couple hours. The base is pale ambery-musky-woods. It's not skanky, really, but it's not clean and fresh either: just like flowers, right?

Verdict: Wit is beautiful, and easily lives up the 'spring, love and happiness' billing — unless this turns out the be the most stellar perfume year ever, Wit is certain to make my 'best of' list for 2014. The last floral that made me swoon like this was Le Labo Lys 41, and like that one, Wit will probably linger for years, or forever, on my buy list without getting purchased (as has DelRae Panache, for that matter). World, we need more 15 ml travel sizes, for, say, $50 or less? But if I could have just one perfume released so far this year, Wit would be an easy pick.

Wit is conventionally feminine, but more so in the opening than the dry down. The lasting power is good.

The quick poll: name the last floral fragrance that made you swoon, or, name a fragrance that says "spring, love and happiness" to you.

Parfums DelRae Wit

Parfums DelRae Wit is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, $150. For buying information, see Parfums DelRae under Perfume Houses.

1. Which is not to say I love them all. And yes, I really didn't like Emotionelle, but I'd say that if you're a huge fan of melon perfumes, it's a must-smell.

2. Captured via Givaudan's ScentTrek headspace program.

Note: top image is Apollo and Daphne [cropped] by Piero or Antonio del Pollaiuolo via Wikimedia Commons.

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86 Comments

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  1. egabbert says:

    Ooh, this sounds great!

    I’ve been swooning over MdO Musc for quite a while. I have high hopes for Yin & Ylang, which I just got a sample of.

    • Robin says:

      And I still need to try Yin & Ylang! I have high hopes too.

  2. heatherhartroses says:

    I am so happy to see the positive review of Wit. I can’t wait to sample. My husband just purchased Parfums Delrae Amoureuse for my Mother’s Day present. To me this perfume reminds me of spring, love, and happiness. I hope she never stops making these gorgeous perfumes. Thank you for the review.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, nice Mother’s Day present! Amoureuse is beautiful.

  3. Holly says:

    I love Wit too, Robin.

    I recently got a sample of Histoires de Parfums’ Tubereuse Capricieuse which I find incredibly beguiling, and I hate tuberose. I succumbed to a very persuasive review, and I’m so happy that I did so. Definitely swoon-worthy.

    I agree with you, smaller bottles would be nice. Sigh …

    Yin and Ylang is on my sample list as well, which is no longer infinite but the sample sea in the closet is. :)

    • Robin says:

      I should try that HdP again…wish it had not been released as part of a trio because they’re all a blur now. It wasn’t love at first sight though.

  4. C.H. says:

    Oh cool–full-bodied floral piques my interest! I’m happy to wear sheer, but consequently I’ve got those bases more than covered…

  5. Ari says:

    It is not very common for me to swoon over florals. The last one must have been Osmanthe Yunnan at the Hermes boutique a few months ago.

    • Robin says:

      One of my enduring loves, Osmanthe Yunnan. Wish it were cheaper too, but at least it can be had in 15 ml.

  6. floragal says:

    Spring, love & happiness – how could you not want to at least sample. I’m enjoying my little sample of Le Labo Rose 31 I got over the weekend, and although its not making me swoon, I do think its beautiful. I think I finally get that I like spicy roses. Rose has not been my note, but with spice I like it very much.

    I love the name Wit! Definitely will add to my ‘must try’ list ;)

    • Robin says:

      Yes, Wit is a great name — surprised it was not already taken!

      And love Rose 31.

  7. thegoddessrena says:

    My most recent swoons were Oriza Legrand’s Jardins d’Armide and Caron’s Or et Noir, both of which instantly went on my to buy list. Spring, love and happiness equals Pretty Machine, no question.

    • Robin says:

      Pretty Machine — yep! I’d like a bottle of that too.

  8. mals86 says:

    I agree – Wit is really wonderful. Like you, I got plenty of citrus and leaf up top followed by jasmine and narcissus and a quiet base. It reminded me to some degree of my precious Le Temps d’une Fete (especially the most recent bottle, which is decidedly more floral).

    SO pretty. I’m thrilled with my decant. You’re right, it’s not quite as present as Amoureuse, but wears less close to the skin than Mythique.

    I really enjoyed Lys 41, too, though I can’t justify spending the $$ on it when it reminds me of several things I already own. Yin and Ylang is gorgeous as well. HOnestly, if there were nothing but pretty florals out there it would be a long time before I noticed. Embarrassing, just a tad. :)

    • C.H. says:

      “Honestly, if there were nothing but pretty florals out there it would be a long time before I noticed. Embarrassing, just a tad.” — well we can be embarrassed together :)

      • Robin says:

        Ha…I think eventually I’d notice the lack of something, incense maybe? But I wouldn’t be miserable if it didn’t last forever.

      • Holly says:

        May I join the club?

        • mals86 says:

          More the merrier!

          • C.H. says:

            Strength in pretty, girlish numbers! :)

    • Robin says:

      I can never remember, are they still making Temps d’une Fete?

      Glad to hear another vote for Yin & Ylang. And that’s also another great perfume name.

      • mals86 says:

        I THINK it is still in the “if you ask for it you can have it” status. And some places still have stock (BeautyHabit, I think?). I mourn, though. THat might be the closest thing to a signature that I have.

        • Robin says:

          Hopefully it will stay in stock in the PdN stores, at least — I think there are a few like that. Or there used to be.

        • songeuse says:

          That was my understanding too, based on what I read on Bois de Jasmin (apparently Victoria contacted them directly to ask if they were discontinuing it). I wonder what exactly that means though… could you email them and ask for a bottle? Would it be a lot more expensive than before?

  9. Omega says:

    Beige, Chanel. Love the frangipani.

    • Robin says:

      That one is pretty :-)

    • nebbe says:

      Ditto! I love wearing Beige to professional events because I feel so classy wearing it.

  10. teri says:

    Parfums Del Rae is as close to a Holy Grail perfume house as I have. Everything they do is a must-try, if not always a must-buy. Emotionelle disappointed me because I’m not at all a melon person when it comes to scents, but not because it was poorly made or not properly thought out. I admire PDR for releasing scents one at a time and putting considerable thought and effort into making each one individual and special. I have to admit, the moment I read this article I hied myself over to LuckyScent to order a sample.

    Last truly breath-taking, world-stopping swoon-worthy floral for me was Malle’s En Passant. I know it’s been around a while, but I just sniffed it for the first time several months ago. Wow. Just wow.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, agree with the wow for En Passant! Hope you’ll like Wit, do report back.

    • C.H. says:

      Yeah I was going to say, for genuinely swooning, lilacs seems to do it for me–En Passant and After My Own Heart both make me feel some feelings!

    • Oakland Fresca says:

      Oh I do love En Passant too. But on me it is more like “In Passing” as its stay on my skin (and even clothes) is very very brief! Sad sniff…

  11. Rappleyea says:

    This sounds beautiful, and I usually like Vasnier’s fragrances, but they’re just a little too sweet for me to wear. I’ve traded away the few I actually bought.

    Last floral that made me swoon: Vol de Nuit extrait. Ha! I’m old. ;-)

    • Robin says:

      This one *is* sweet, but thought at the beginning that it would get sweeter, and it had the opposite trajectory. Still, sweeter than Mythique or Panache.

      LOL…yeah, that shows your age!

  12. nozknoz says:

    I have a bottle of J’Adore that I think is the 1999 original. I put that on a few days ago and it was swoonworthy. Calice Becker is a genius.

    • Robin says:

      Sometime I’ll have to seek out a vintage version, I do hear it’s nothing like the newer.

      • Omega says:

        May have to seek out an older bottle..the newer is J’bore.

        • nozknoz says:

          J’Bore is right! :-)

      • nozknoz says:

        There is a post on one of the blogs that illustrates the older box, if you find one in a box.

    • mals86 says:

      I don’t like J’ADore, but I don’t remember smelling it until about 2008, and something tells me I haven’t smelled the real thing. L’Absolu I had a sample of, though, and it’s lovely.

      • nozknoz says:

        L’Absolu is worth owning, too, for most anyone who likes jasmine.

  13. Merlin says:

    I haven’t smelled as much from this house as I would like to, but I do have a small decant of Eau Illuminee. Quite a difficult poll question, as I’m not much of a girl for florals. Guess I would have to say Tubereuse Criminelle:)

  14. Suzy Q says:

    Robin, you are my scent twin most of the time, so I’m anxious to sample this. I like Bois de Paradis from this line the best so far.

    Seville a l’Aube: the first time I sprayed it on I nearly fainted. Bought a full bottle immediately and never looked back.

    • Robin says:

      Yeah, there’s another I’d like a full bottle of! Wonder if L’Artisan will change their minds & keep it in the line.

  15. galbanumgal says:

    yay, just ordered a sample–this sounds quite appealing. Orangers en Fleurs made me swoon–it’s a jasminey orange blossom.

  16. garamascara says:

    The last perfume I swooned over happened to be a floral, Baiser Vole. Lilies aren’t usually a favorite of mine, I have trouble with DK Gold, but I really love the Vole. I procured a sample at Nordstrom and every time I think I cannot still love that, I go and smell it again, and yup I still love it. The good news is that I can actually afford it.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, that’s the rare affordable beautiful floral!

    • Omega says:

      DK was maybe too sweet for you? Is for me.

    • AnnS says:

      I really like Baiser Vole too. I tried to resist for a long time, but last year I broke down and bought the very small bottle. I don’t regret it at all. Actually I find it a softer more every day, but still special, fragrance very similar to the dry down of DelRae Amoureuse. Amoureuse isn’t for all the time b/c it is just so rich. But BV can go on easy and be just right.

  17. annemarie says:

    I have never tried this brand, and I really must.

    The last spring floral that made me … well not swoon perhaps, but sigh with happiness, was that old classic, Yves Saint Laurent’s Y. Sharpish at opening, but then softer and more comfortable for hour after.

    Honourable mention to Osmanthe Yunnan. I rank that second because of the price. Yes it comes in 15 ml bottles but you can’t buy them singly; I got mine in a four way split of a gift set. Sigh.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, do try DelRae, it’s a great line.

      That’s how I get my 15 ml bottles too :-)

  18. AnnieA says:

    Although not quite a swoon, Ferre was very pretty. Also, “spring, love and happiness” = Dioressimo.

  19. Marjorie Rose says:

    I don’t think I’ve tried anything from this line. Full-bodied piques my interest, though!

    Haven’t full-bore swooned in a while. And I don’t tend to be drawn to the straight-up florals as much, but this past year I have worn Tauer’s Zeta a lot in the warmer weather, and it is pretty, and happy and springy and passionate.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, Amoureuse is as full-bodied as you can get!

  20. Nlb says:

    I love Daphne! I remember these bushes with pink clumps of flowers, that used to grow outside a wood near my childhood home; I don’t know if someone had planted them or they grew on their own.

    It took me a little while, to figure out that they were Daphne plants. I’ve always remembered that rain-fresh and tea like, yet fatty, lemony sweetness of those flowers. Fatty but fresh in the way lilac is but without any powdery undertones. Almost like lemon, grapefruit and jasmine custard, drizzled with bergamot oil.

    This sounds glorious ;)!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, now I want that perfume: lemon, grapefruit and jasmine custard, drizzled with bergamot oil.

  21. I had high hopes when I ordered a sample from Luckyscent. Some of DelRae Roth’s scents are wonderful on me. Not this one. It hits my skin with a screech, clings and stays for six hours of absolute linear aggressiveness. No development, no softening, nothing but sharp, bitter floral. Of course I have weird skin chemistry. YMMV.

    • Robin says:

      Oh, what a shame!

    • annemarie says:

      Funny, you are describing my experience of Jour d’Hermes EXACTLY. Sharp and uncompromising for hours until it finally fades. I wish I could smell it as other people seem to.

      • Oakland Fresca says:

        Ha. I have sampled and resampled J d H, and it just “is” on my skin. I keep thinking it must be something I ate, or I am tired, or another perfume must still be on my skin… On me not so much sharp as persistent treacle. It has gotten such great press that no doubt I will continue to sample it when I get the chance…

      • mals86 says:

        THere is something icepick-y about the middle of Jour de Hermes – which given my usual taste, should have been very much my thing. But I can’t manage it.

  22. AnnS says:

    Wit souds wonderful! I like Amoureuse enough that after going through two small decants, I finally bought a bottle last year. And I have a bottle of Bois de Paradise, but I only wear it occasionally – it is really powerful. I’ve not tested the whole DelRae line, but I am very impressed with the complexity and gorgeousness of the ones I have and I’ll try to get myhands on Wit. The last white flowers fragrance that made me swoon over it’s beauty and cry over it’s cost was Amouage Beloved. Sigh. Someday……..

    • Robin says:

      I used to really love Debut, but my bottle turned and have not replaced it. I think they changed the concentration in the meantime, and then maybe reformulated it again…too lazy to test it all over again.

  23. eswift83 says:

    Great review, Robin! Makes me want to check this one out. They’re not new, but EL Tuberose Gardenia and VC&A Gardenia Petale were the last springy florals that had me at hello.

    • Robin says:

      I forget to wear my Tuberose Gardenia! They should do a flanker for that one.

      • eswift83 says:

        Agreed! It’s lovely the way it is but I could see it going earthier.

  24. Zazie says:

    I swoon for florals as easily as a bear will stick his fingers in honey. :D The latest “OMG want want want” happened yesterday evening, as I tested out of boredom Houbigant’s orangers en fleurs. I had just spent easter at my father’s house, where his citrus plants were in full bloom and assaulted by happy bees – I kept complaining inside my head for the lack of real good honest OB perfumes… (No need to mention the usual OB suspects, to my nose they fail the real thing) – There, I think I found “my” OB perfume. :)

    Wit sounds lovely, though the only DelRae perfume that I really liked was amoureuse…

    • Robin says:

      That’s 2 votes for the Houbigant!

    • mals86 says:

      That Houbigant is truly beautiful – a very floral, non-soapy orange blossom.

  25. austenfan says:

    I’m so glad to see a review of this. I’m a fan of this house and a great lover of green florals. The mention of jasmine and narcissus makes me believe this will probably be another purchase at some point. I adore Amoureuse and Emotionelle in particular, and happen to be wearing Mythique today.

    Last floral to make me swoon was ironically Chanel No.5 in extrait. Did not at all expect it, as I was never very fond of the EDT.

    Spring and happiness: Le temps d’une fête or La haie fleurie.

  26. Safran says:

    Looking forward to trying Wit soon, DelRae fragrances are all unique and of great quality imo.
    The last floral fragrance that made me swoon, was Jour d’Hermes. What embodies spring in a bottle for me, is L’Amandiere from Heeley, among others of course.

    • Robin says:

      I need to go try that Jour d’Hermes Absolu…

  27. Sarah K says:

    The first time I sprayed Wit I thought “spring in a bottle”, perhaps even more so than Le Temps d’une Fete. I love daphne and this is the closest I’ve found to the scent in fragrance form, thought Wit is a touch more abrasive than the scent of the flower. I’m not sure I was really swooning the first time I tried it, but I like it more each time I try it, which has to be a good thing. Definitely my favourite DelRae perfume.

    • Robin says:

      Good to know you think it’s close to the flower. Or at least, closest.

  28. shellyw says:

    Is there a brick and mortar store in SF? Or a counter that carries it in SF?

    • Robin says:

      If there is, I’m not aware of it…Beautyhabit & Luckyscent in SoCal both carry it though.

  29. Kseni says:

    Hi,

    Does anyone know where I could get them in London. They were in Les Senteurs and Liberty but not any more, if memory serves me right, which almost never :)

    Thank you

    • Robin says:

      I’m sorry but I really don’t know. I know First in Fragrance has them, in Germany, and they do sell samples.

  30. bastet says:

    The last fragrance that made me swoon was Amouage Jubilation 25, although I have to admit it made me think of sex, love and happiness rather than spring. For spring I especially love Chamade, although I wish it was not so fleeting (if only I could afford the extrait).

  31. donanicola says:

    Oh I’ve been waiting for a review of this one and nearly missed it. So glad I didn’t given it’s a goody. Love the smell of daphne and respect Parfums Delrae. I O/Ded on Bois de Paradis years ago hence respect rather than love;) My current Spring love frag is Mito Voile. Also vintage Diorella. I will seek out a sample of Wit somehow, thanks for the review Robin.

    • Robin says:

      They are easy to OD on, the early ones…but I think so beautiful. Hope you will love this one too, and do report back on whether or not you think it’s a decent rendition of daphne, if you love the smell too.

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