Some perfumes go: ‘Oh you poor thing, come rest your head on my ample and soft bosom,’ and then they enfold you and are sweet and gentle, and the troubles of the world ease a bit. Please imagine it, if you haven’t had the experience, because that is the best way I could think of describing Tonka Imperiale’s influence. It’s a kind perfume, and, as the world should know by now, kindness is much sexier than all the huffpuff one usually gets sold.
Thierry Wasser has done justice to the star of his creation; here tonka reveals its essential warmth and cherry tobacco allure. Curiously the vanillic tones are downplayed here but they’re not missed. The density characteristic of tonka’s odour profile is also absent but such richness would have been overbearing, as there are other powerful players here. Striking among them are nectarous notes: jasmine is mentioned in the official list but here it imparts more honey than a floral accent, and there’s some jammy fruit in shades of cherry and raspberry.
Subtle balancing accents of bitter almonds and green wood unobtrusively play their part, but on my skin Tonka Imperiale is a ‘come and bite me’ gourmand. It’s a genre I’m not particularly enamoured of but this is an example with great generosity of spirit rather than the usual brashness. The finish is creamy, mousse-like. I rest my head on its warm and inviting bosom.
I am less keen on Tonka Imperiale a few hours in, when the notes blend a bit too much and a formless, sweet, almondy cloud takes over. It’s still got a surface finesse, but much of the character is gone.
I really need to stop trying to review Guerlain fragrances after only wearing them a couple of times. My opinion always changes, I know I'll have more to day after a few wearings, but I get excited and review anyway. Well here's the original review, followed by a couple of updated thoughts, so everyone can see my first impression versus my feelings a while down the road.
What a beauty. Tonka Imperiale starts out with rich tonka, of course, but it's not so heavy and cloying thanks to some brightness by way of "bergamot" and "rosemary". It seems like Thierry Wasser likes taking one good note or accord and making it the star of the show while using other notes just to bring out certain facets of the main attraction. This is no exception. I would never say Tonka Imperiale has a strong rosemary note, but I do notice some herbal brightness giving the fragrance some lift. These little light-handed accents and subtleties are what makes his scents unique and are probably what make opinions about them so divisive, but in this instance the end result is magnificent. The scent is warm and sweet and while it doesn't exactly smell like food it's indulgent enough to make me physically feel hungry. The jasmine provides similar lift in the heart notes but again the main player here is still the rich, vanilla-like tonka. The base starts to come through hours later and it's really just an extension of the heart. A bit of incense starts to peek through just enough to keep the vanilla aspects from becoming too sweet and pudding-like. It almost gives it a dry, leathery undertone. And that's all.
Easily ten hours of scent from two sprays, with gentle sillage. This isn't a scent to wear to impress anyone but yourself, though it's not a complete skin scent. Not a signature daily scent, but in my opinion this is one to have a bottle of during the winter to feel cozy, luxurious, and indulgent.
Added 2/28/15: At first I really only got tonka with a few other slight touches, as noted above. After a while though my opinion started to change and now I feel that the scent is almost equally an incense fragrance. Sometimes the incense dominates the tonka, but sometimes it does not. It seems as though the more I spray the more I get incense, and the closer my nose gets to my wrist the more the beautiful incense intensifies. I believe that people walking by me would hardly notice any incense at all, it would just smell like "vanilla" to most people, and the smell that wafts up throughout the day is that rich tonka note. But if I ever feel like things are getting too sweet all I have to do is move in close and take a breath to get that smoky aroma.
This is one of my favorite fragrances to wear, even though I can only really wear it during one season, and not every day. Well worth the full bottle.
18th January, 2015 (last edited: 28th February, 2015)
Guerlain goes back to its majesty. I am not really a fan of tonka, so I procrastinated the approach to this scent. Which contrary to what I feared, is great. Beyond great! The opening is pure beauty, a sophisticated, rich, golden cornucopia of vanilla, amber, resins, aldehydes, jasmine, all together bringing in triumph a complex, faceted, rich, tremendously high-quality tonka note, well supported by a sweet, humid, rooty tobacco note. A warm, fairly unisex Oriental blend, slightly fruity too, refined and sumptuous and terribly pleasant to wear (at least for a while, especially for its first phase), well framed by a gentle breeze of petals and aromatic herbs which give this Oriental gem a touch of elegance halfway French and Mediterranean. The tonka note is perfect: dense, vibrant, round, precious, not cloying (to me it is, quite often) and not too almondy-roasted. It smells fresher and more vibrant than usual, partially probably due to its quality, partially to the simple yet totally clever composition which effortlessly enhances its nuances – from earthy to sweet. The tobacco note works perfectly in keeping the blend literally “down to earth”, providing a shady whiff of smoke, contrasting with flowers and citrus bringing their sunrays in. And in the middle, this vibrating, solid heart of gold made of amber, vanilla and tonka. Great and elegant silky-talc drydown, discreet and still carrying soft hints of tobacco and vanilla, with no synthetic aftertaste. A perfect blend of richness and Exoticism painted with French grace and sumptuosity, great and irresistible from the very first sniff to the last second on skin. Smells, and is, hell expensive, but (finally!) for a reason. Fantastic, and for me easily the best from this “exclusive” line.
Great sweet almond, baked goods fragrance but it also in a refine way and it's pretty much like that through the life of this fragrance. It's not a boomer off of your skin. Like SDV, it's weird that it seems to disappear then comes by with a wiff. If you are a guy who doens't like femme frags, stay away from this one.
This Guerlain is more complex than it seems. When you initially spray it on, you get an impression of just another gourmand. Maybe olfactory, but this one seems to disappear in a hour or so. I still like this one though. The almond note in TI seperates this one from an average gourmand. This one seems to have a bit more class. The only flaws are the projection and longevity. 8.5/10