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When Idylle hit the shelves late in 2009, the response from Guerlain acolytes was muted. The realm of the soft-focus floral was, they felt, best reserved for flash-in-the-pan celebrity fragrances, not for one of the most revered perfume houses of all time. But Idylle isn't necessarily the sell-out some have claimed it to be and it deserves a second spray.
With astonishing diffusiveness, the scent plunges you headlong into the middle of a lush flower garden, where you can barely catch your breath long enough to take in the indolic notes that surround you. Jasmine, geranium, lily of the valley, ylang ylang. They all waft into view, managing to be both fresh and intoxicating, after which the real start emerges: a rounded rose, white and enticing, balanced by the faintest suggestion of delicate, petitgrain-like woods in the background. But it's at this point that Idylle almost collapses: the floral overload threatens to become headache-inducing; the heart yearns for a touch of something intriguing. Paradoxically, this is also the very moment when Thierry Wasser's effort demands a little more patience from our noses than most modern scents dare.
It stands to reason that an idyllic garden is a place where time is frozen. Sure enough, if you wait a tiny bit longer, the almost garish middle section of this scent finally softens and, more importantly, becomes drier. Guerlain have stated that Idylle displays a "chypre sensuality" - notice they haven't claimed it's an outright chypre - and you can feel the evidence in the drydown. Although the basic territory is still floral, the closing act - which seemingly lasts for ever - is arid and musky in a manner that may not exactly be elegant but is eminently wearable.
Although it's suitably multi-dimensional, Idylle is no masterpiece. It does not display the refinement or innovation of Guerlain's classics. But if you want to exploit its potential, treat it as a masculine. If Gaultier can pull it off with Fleur Du Male - and if trendy European guys can douse themselves with Anais Anais - there's no reason why Idylle can't have the same impact.
UPDATE OCTOBER 2010: The newly released eau de toilette is sold as a softer, "more feminine" version of the edp, and in a sense, this isn't far from the truth. The floral bouquet and the citrus undertone are, indeed, granted greater prominence, but they're my least favourite aspects of the scent anyway. I prefer the ambery-mossy conclusion, which is distinctly suppressed in the edt, creating an effect that I find 'girly' rather than feminine.
09 May, 2010 (Last Edited: 17 October, 2010)