Describing a particular scent is hard. Trying to conjure up an idea of how something smells invites all sorts of comparisons. Thus it is that immortelle, the fragrance note from the Helichrysum, or everlasting, flower is oft-described as smelling of maple syrup. That´s more accurate than comparing it to, say, a banana, but doesn´t really do the smell justice, because it´s more complex and peculiar than “maple syrup” would suggest. Here are some other common descriptions: a strong straw-like, fruity smell; straw, honey and tea; as well as words like warm, sweet, caramel, coumarin, fruit-honey, tonka. Osmoz.com says “essence of immortelle gives chypre, floral and amber compositions a particular charisma” and characterizes the smell as “red fruit, syrupy, nut, honey-flavored, tobacco.”
Annick Goutal Sables is, I think, the Queen of Immortelle – its powerful, oddball herbaceous sweetness is probably a love-it-or-hate-it. I have held the bottle in my hand a number of times but never quite manage to get the credit card out – unlike some of the other AGs, it is one of those fragrances that will not go away, and after 36 hours on my arm I really wish it would. Sprayed on a wool sweater it has the half-life of nuclear waste. But it is definitely worth a sniff. If Duel lasted one-third that long I´d own it.
Dior Eau Noire is a less challenging rendering of immortelle than Sables – it also smells of lavender, thyme and cedar, an elegant evening scent, and it is surprising because it manages to be dark but not heavy or dense. (An aside: all three of the Dior colognes – Eau Noire, Bois d´Argent, and Cologne Blanche — are worth sampling. I think they were released as “men´s scents” but are borrowed across the aisle pretty heavily by women.)
Finally, L by Lolita Lempicka is a warmer, brighter treatment of immortelle. I´d taken note earlier this year when it came out (including its absurd Little-Mermaid-ish bottle) but never got around to sniffing the sample Patty sent me. I tried it recently, and I was completely charmed. Notes are: bitter orange, cinnamon, immortelle, vanilla, woods, solar notes, musk. L is a sleeper fragrance, and if you overlooked it or dismissed it outright the first time, fall is the perfect time to reconsider. It has enough immortelle to be interesting but not assertive, and wrapped in its cocoon of gentle spices, woods and vanilla-musk it is a gourmand-ish comfort scent. I am on record as being not a huge fan of gourmand scents, but since Maurice Roucel created this one, I suppose I´ll make an exception. Helpful hint: layering it with 10 Corso Como gives it a wonderful herbal/incense base and mutes the vanilla when the immortelle starts to fade.
immortelle flower: osmoz.com