In Paris there is a wonderful tea shop in one of the covered galleries in the 2nd arrondisement called A Priori The. It has been a favorite of my wife's since her student days and her favorite thing to get there is their delicately vanilla scented tea. Eau Duelle takes me immediately to that lovely arcade with its sights and smells. I also smell cedar, or perhaps a burned-out incense note. There have been wonderful reviews written about the duality of the scent, its ability to connect polar opposites and create a new warm/cold, light/dark world. All true. To me, however, this just smells mostly like a smokey vanilla tea scent that is comforting and cosy, chic without trying too hard (much like the Galerie Vivienne). As unisex as a cup of tea shared by two lovers, the male/female duality is also very much in play with this scent.
As with all Diptyque fragrances, which are art in their own right, a review of Eau Duelle needs its own background in order to better understand its intention.
The name in French suggests a duel or fight between two opposing groups or individuals, as another reviewer has so aptly explained. In reality, this fragrance could equally be called Ebony and Ivory or Two Shades of Vanilla. And it is indeed all about the vanilla; but it is more than that as well. Two opposing forces of vanilla fight for survival in this celebration of one of the world's oldest commodities. One minute, I get a tea/incense-laden vanilla (compare to an unsweetened Epic Man by Amouage) and the next I detect a sweet vanilla that is good enough to eat.
Neither gets too cloying or overpowering at any one time. And it is also hard to see which of the two wins - because this scent (in the EdP) just lasts and lasts, even after a shower.
A certain thumbs up that has taken me a while to come to try but one that has been an eye opener to the wonder that is vanilla. And not a drop of Amber in sight!
I agree with the positive reviews here in that it is a comepelling fragrance and very well executed in its balance. Diptique managed to meld warm vanilla with cool herbals and it WORKS. This duel ended in a truce. It is intruiging. I was ready to run back to the boutique and buy a bottle. A vanilla that isn't sweet, that I could wear in the summer! Why then, the neutral rating? 4 hours later I'm sitting here with boring vanilla on my hand and I'm so disappointed and miss the excitement of the first hour.
Eau Duelle starts off nice with the juniper and pepper, but quickly turns into a linear vanilla bomb. The vanilla is nice but it's really too plain for me and IMO pretty boring. L'Occitane's Eau des Baux is a much more compelling version of vanilla as it pairs with a tobacco note and becomes interesting. After the boozy juniper opening, Eau Duelle is straight vanilla and lacks much character. In the end it's just not a memorable fragrance.
23rd May, 2015 (last edited: 24th May, 2015)
This smelled great on the tester but on my skin it was nothing more than straight, flat, unchanging, cloying vanilla. And I *love* vanilla! I have to imagine that it reacts differently to other people's skin since it gets so much love. On me it didn't smell any more interesting than an air freshener.
This immediately smacks of vanilla gourmand. The vanilla is subtle and delicious. The juniper is subdued and the saffron and Calamus adds a slight spicy brown bag paper smell (in a good way) with the black tea and amber warming it up. Definitely both men and women can use this. The notes I mentioned are very subtle. The vanilla is dominant but very subtle and elegant. This is the way vanilla should be done. Not heavy and not overly sweet.