Givenchy released their first Dahlia Noir fragrance in 2011 and if I’m being entirely honest it failed to register on my radar in either a positive or negative way. For this reason their latest edition – Dahlia Noir L’Eau – comes as a complete surprise because it most definitely piques my interest.
Before I go into the specific reasons as to why L’Eau is worthy of a sniff here’s some background; one thing that you must know about me is that as a general rule of thumb I do not like ‘green’ perfumes. There are a good number I respect (Chanel N°19, Balmain Vent Vert and Maison Martin Margiela to name a small handful) but it is very rarely that I’ll wear them – in my house it’s most definitely not that easy being green.
Dahlia Noir L’Eau is green but in a very delicate way, it seems to stem from nature, hinting at wisps of grass and flecks of pollen on the wind, whilst simultaneously appearing beautifully abstract, as if it was made with an artist’s warped idea of what constitutes a landscape.
Billed as the “scent of a fleur fatale suffused with delicacy” L’Eau opens with a fizz of bitter, grass-tinged neroli, a note that is often vibrant and happy, but in L’Eau it comes across as austere and almost aloof. Hints of earthy iris powder add a vegetal transparency in the background, cutting through the airier top notes, providing variations in the fragrance’s texture.
A pale rose lurks within L’Eau’s heart, floating effortlessly into the greenery, almost as if the flower’s petals were painted hues of mint, adding a flash of peppery flower stems to give richness and depth. Unusually for rose, a typically demanding note, the rose in L’Eau does not feel the need to draw attention to itself, instead blending seamlessly in to the tapestry of aromas.
The base is a lightly dosed chypre of cedar and patchouli, both of which add a fuzzy texture to the proceedings. Chypres tend to be heavy on the moss and dark, bitter notes but L’Eau’s approach is very soft and contemporary in keeping with the mood of the rest of the scent and it avoids the cardinal sins of being wimpy, wan or too clean.
L’Eau feels like an essay in pastel colours – specifically green and beige. It captures the spirit of nature within these shades, contrasting the plants with an unusual view of earth. It does all of this in an incredibly accessible way with the balance of the contrasts being spot on, meaning that there is enough of the bitter, weirdness in the background for it not to be considered safe and just the right volume of wispy green notes to ensure that things don’t become too harsh.
Sometimes the most intriguing fragrances can come in the most unassuming of packages and it is with great surprise (and pleasure) that I should find something so wonderful hidden within the clean lines of Dahlia Noir L’Eau’s bottle and green genre the scent sits in. You owe it to yourself to wear volumes and volumes of this fragrance this spring.