Well, despite I really, deeply dislike this brand, its approach to perfumery and its utter pretentiousness, I must admit Dans tes Bras is probably one of the nicest offerings by Malle (that says it all). Still dull for its price range and with a quite mediocre evolution, but well, there’s worse than this. It opens as a laid-back, cozy, simple yet quite refined and clean – a soapy, warm, talc and soothing kind of “clean” - powdery scent which blends a sparkling bergamot head accord, a rich, pastel lavender-violet-heliotrope heart and a smooth, warm musky-vanillic base enriched by Oriental notes of (I think) tonka and soft woods – for once, I clearly get a decent sandalwood reconstruction, with its proper “milky soapiness”, refreshed by an edgy note of cedar. All tinged with a very pleasant and subtle whiff of earthiness, avoiding any plushy-sweetish gourmand effect often associated to this type of compositions. On the contrary, Dans tes Bras feels initially very airy and actually quite simple too, with no traces of the “complex sumptuosity” that you often find in this type of Oriental powdery scents. Synthetic as hell, but well played.
So, a classy and affable Oriental cloud of talc at first, with powdery-floral-woody notes a bit in the vein of Villoresi Teint de Neige, or Boucheron Jaipur, with quite some differences though: smoother, cleaner, way simpler, much fresher, less sweet and completely “un-spicy”, more focused on gentle notes of violet and heliotrope paired with crisp woods and pine-infused balsamic notes of lavender. I really appreciate the initial herbal-balsamic vein which brings in a touch of “fresh air” and makes Dans tes Bras smell like a weightless, almost “healing” interpretation of a classic powdery Oriental floral scent. It feels extremely soapy and comforting to wear, and it performs quite well, with a transition towards a drier, earthier... and sadly, so much more mediocre drydown, which just like a beautifully painted Barocque trompe l’oeil concealing your crappy toilet, reveals the “hidden nature” of this fragrance: a flat, extremely synthetic base of “white flowers”, musky violet and generic “soft woods”. Not abysmal, but it’s always disappointing to see some “magic” vanish away so soon, especially if you’ve just spent a hell lot of money for it. I wonder if niche brands work with marketing agencies providing them with reports calculating the average time a customer needs to try a scent, complete the decision process and pay for it, and compose their scents accordingly. The transition is truly sudden here – from an almost-very-good fragrance to a cheap fabric softener.
Nonetheless, despite the disappointing evolution, I don’t feel bashing this scent. Or well, just a tiny bit. Even if it smells more and more cheap as minutes pass, it still keeps a pleasant presence on skin. So overall I would surely consider this not full bottle worthy at that price, not even half of it, but if you get it as a gift and you inexplicably resist to the temptation of making some good money out of it, I guess it can be nice to spray this for a sunny morning out for grocery shopping – completely pointless, but I guess it’s the kind of nonsense bourgeois “shabby chic” acts many Malle’s customers love.
A soft, intellectual-type of fragrance..
With this fragrance, Frédéric Malle brought back Maurice Roucel (creator of Musc Ravageur) to make a scent which captured the smell of warm skin... salty, warm and sensual. To do this, Roucel used a lot of Cashmeran®, a synthetic compound which smells like soft wood, sweet almonds, warm spices and light musk. What you get is a very intimate creation (entirely synthetic), but very sensual.
It works on two levels I think. One as a powdery, purple floral type (violet flowers, heliotrope, hints of jasmine), the other as a darker woody, musky, almost mineral-like fragrance (with Cashmeran®, White Musk, Incense, Patchoulli and Pine needles). I think the combination of these two levels (sweet & powdery vs dark, earthy & woody) is what confuses people when experiencing it.
To my nose this comes across mainly as a sweet, musky, earthy, violet & heliotrope type of perfume. It basically has a warm, musky powdery vibe which could work on either a man or a woman. I would say this reminds me a lot of a cashmere sweater, worn in winter by the fire. I see this as a perfect cold weather fragrance. Also, like many of Frédéric Malle perfumes, a little goes a long way. This would certainly last for a very long time if sprayed on a scarf or a sweater or any other material... and I think it would definitely compliment autumn and winter clothing very well.
I'll be honest, Dans Tes Bras is not a perfume to be fully understood at first sniff. It took me a long time to understand and warm up to it. This is why I call it an "intellectual" perfume, because once you realise how cleverly this is made, you really start to appreciate it even more. Nearly all the notes are synthetic, but they are very expensive and the perfume as a whole is extremely well made, but can be complex to a lot of people who don't have too much experience with a wide variety of perfumes. Synthetic notes, when used in the hands of a master perfumer like Maurice Roucel or Jean-Claude Ellena can influence incredible perfumes and make them works of art. Therefore there is no shame in buying a perfume that has a high concentration of synthetic notes (like in Dans Tes Bras) but especially when used so cleverly and inventively by the perfumer as to give you something really amazing to wear.
Even though I refer to Dans Tes Bras as an "intellectual" type of fragrance, I don't think you really need to have an incredibly advanced range of smell to appreciate this one. I think most people would see this as a sweet, musky, powdery scent (which is warm and sensual and expensive smelling). Another group of people may find it too dark and earthy and "weird" if they are not used to it. From my own experience, I've found that you actually need to give this one time on your skin, and a few wearings in the right amounts, that's when you can really start to appreciate it... and if you research how cleverly this has been created, you will perhaps understand and maybe appreciate it even more.
Get a small sample, wear it sparingly over a few days in the right weather, and see if you like it. Upon wearing this, you may get the impression of being in a deep, warm hug with someone you love. After all... it's name, Dans Tes Bras means In Your Arms.
Congratulations to Maurice Roucel! His Dans Tes Bras for Frederic Malle wins my award for Weirdest Top Note in Recent Memory: mushrooms. Not earthy forest-floor-and-compost mushrooms, either. Nope. These are cultivated mushrooms – the ones that come pre-sliced in the produce section of your local supermarket. Heck, I can even smell the little cardboard cartons that they come packed in. The much commented upon and peculiar “hairspray” top notes of Roucel’s Insolence have nothing on this oddball opening gambit.
The mushrooms dominate for roughly half an hour before a slightly sweet, aldehydic (or is that salicylate-seasoned) violet accord partially displaces them. The dank, musty echo of the mushrooms offers an unconventional but effective counterweight to the violets, and keeps Dans Tes Bras from becoming cloying or claustrophobic as some violet-rich scents can be. (Dans Tes Bras’s violet accord is also spiked with a cool, brisk, peppercorn/camphor accent that I’ve caught in Bertrand Duchaufour’s Magnolia Romana and perhaps Serge Lutens’s recent Serge Noire. Could this be the new niche fragrance note du jour?)
As it evolves, Dans Tes Bras becomes progressively more dry, warm, and woody. After two or three hours there’s very little sweetness remaining – just a shadow of floral notes over velvety-soft woods. The Frederic Malle marketing copy proclaims that Dans Tes Bras is meant to evoke “the odor of warm skin.” I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but I will assert that Dans Tes Bras functions as a “skin scent.” While not exactly weak, it is highly transparent and wears very close to the skin.
In temperament and style Dans Tes Bras is about as far removed as possible from Roucel’s first composition for Frederic Malle, the flamboyant and extroverted Musc Ravageur. Where Musc Ravageur is a brash and provocative exhibitionist of a scent, Dans Tes Bras is a guarded, demure, yet mysterious fragrance. Anyone expecting the exuberance of Roucel’s Insolence, Tocade, or Misssoni will be disappointed, but Dans Tes Bras’s understatement mustn’t be confused with blandness. It’s an odd, puzzling, and unique scent, with a decidedly “synthetic” flavor. Not synthetic as in “cheap smelling,” rather synthetic and proud of it. Once the mushroom accord recedes, there’s nothing remotely naturalistic about Dans Tes Bras, and even those photorealistic mushrooms possess an oddly surreal quality.
My lasting impression of Dans Tes Bras is of a subtle, sophisticated, abstract scent that travels far during its development without ever making too much noise. I must also say that why Frederic Malle is marketing it as a feminine fragrance is completely beyond me: Dans Tes Bras is as gender neutral a scent as I have smelled in years.
I should say at the outset that my reason for sampling this was to experience dusky floras expressed in a unisex scent. That, this is not, but it is incredibly good.
Huge floral opening of jasmine, and I thought, heliotrope, although the latter is listed as a base note. I wish I detected more clove. Within the first ten minutes or so, the violets attain prominence and significantly (perhaps unnecessarily) brighten the space. There is a slight suggestion of a candy shell--violet pastilles have been mentioned--throughout the opening, but this is not a candy scent. Palmolive has also been mentioned, and I have to say, I agree, but this is merely a brief detour. Don’t worry about it, it fades within a half-hour or so.
The drydown is something entirely different. The early stage is evocative of the way your partner smells at the end of a day at the beach: traces of salt, sea air, and non-descript lotion smelled close on the body, with perhaps a violet or two blooming a block away. Actually, it’s not merely evocative of this, this is literally what it smells like. Very sensual. A few hours into the drydown, the evolution continues, with the salty edge giving way to a musk that thankfully never dominates, the whole remaining subtle and discreet, yet increasing in sensuality. There has been much talk of scents that smell of sex. This may be one of those, but it is not brash or pornographic, it is soft and intimate, as the name suggests. The heliotrope is very subtle, if present at all. Others have found it overpowering, but that was not my experience. Additionally, the fungal/mushroom/bread notes are not present on me. Longevity is great. Projection and sillage are fairly low, but appropriately so. If they were stronger, it might become vulgar.
Thumbs up for the closely worn beachy and nearly erotic drydown, even though I keep wondering, "do I want to smell like this, or do I want my partner to smell like this?" followed by "does a woman ever want a man to smell like this?" I am still not sure how to answer. I can only say that the fragrance is exceptionally good, irrespective of the wearer's gender. Quite a journey.
27th February, 2013 (last edited: 25th March, 2013)
I have a carded sample of this and I find it REALLY doesn't work on me. Apparently my skin will amplify Heliotrope (based on reading Ayela's review) and it goes Very plastic-y on me . My impression was and is LATEX PAINT with a teeny bit of floral something that barely pokes it's head onstage.
As my family tends to be DIY-ers we paint some room in the house every year or so .Alternatively I will be painting /touching up the wear spots at work or church so the scent of latex paint isn't something I really crave or find very comforting or sensual.For me this is one of the few Roucel scents that doesn't really impress me.At least it's one of the pricey ones .
DTB is a sensual, stunning, and very high quality woody, coniferous, and musky violet and heliotrope scent that is artfully composed and aptly named. It is literally evocative of being in the arms of one’s lover fresh from the shower and still naked. In other words, it smells like freshly showered skin but with a hint of natural underarm odor detectable because no deodorant has yet been applied. Nevertheless, this aromatic juxtaposition (of freshly showered skin and slight underarm odor) is very alluring to me—it is real, familiar, comforting, and true to life. It is downright romantic and carnal, which seems to be a signature of Roucel’s work. Maurice is a master.
Incidentally, I get the mushroom tone that others have mentioned, but I only get it in the opening. Besides, I actually like it. Further, like "nthny" below, I too get the green Palmolive associations, but mostly in the very beginning. In fact, in addition to mushroom and green Palmolive, I also get Choward's Violet Mints in the opening.
Projection, sillage, and longevity are all great to excellent.
As for the negative reviews, I obviously neither share in them nor am I surprised or even disappointed by them. I am unsurprised because DTB, like ISM, is high art (as someone else described), not just perfume. Sometimes, it takes time to appreciate a masterpiece like this (in fact, it admittedly did me). I am also not disappointed by the negative reviews because it will make my wearing DTB that much more unusual and special.
28th December, 2012 (last edited: 06th January, 2013)