Diptyque Tam Dao and 10 Corso Como : Perfume Reviews

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Indian_beauty

Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

Since antiquity, the precious oil of sandalwood was sought after not only for its aroma, but also for its calming and restorative properties. Sandalwood would be ground into powders, macerated in oils for cosmetic preparations and made into pastes for incense sticks. Its oil would be co-distilled with various flowers and spices, producing fragrant attars. From the religious ceremonies to the beauty rituals, sandalwood and its scent are indelibly associated with the most intimate and spiritual of traditions in the East. Its rich fragrance envelops like an opulent silk wrap, clinging to the skin and melding with its warmth.

Yet, despite its popularity and uniqueness, sandalwood is a difficult note for the perfumer to employ, as its lack of a bright top note flattens a composition. Sandalwood dominated fragrances tend to be rich and heavy, as Guerlain Samsara with its 45% of sandalwood oil can demonstrate. Less successful compositions simply strike one as dense and opaque. In light of this fact, it is a pleasure to discover two fragrances that highlight the sandalwood without compromising its beauty. Diptyque Tam Dao and 10 Corso Como are often compared, however while they offer interpretations on the sandalwood theme, the results have sufficiently different nuances to consider exploring both fragrances. …

Tam_dao1

Like Do Son, Tam Dao is an essence of Yves Coueslant’s childhood memories. One of three founders of Diptyque, he spent a number of years in Vietnam, and the result are two Southeast Asia inspired compositions. Tam Dao created by Daniel Molière and Fabrice Pellegrin in 2003 is a lovely vignette capturing the rosy fragrance of sandalwood. It ornaments the rich wood with the green note of cypress, which lends a sharp, dry quality to the top accord. Herbaceous, peppery notes spill into the heart of the composition inlaid with the lily-like sweetness of rosewood. Its subtle touch lightens the sandalwood, which forms the base. Only after a couple of hours can one experience the full effect of the luxurious, yet dry sandalwood that makes Tam Dao stand out among the scores of fragrances attempting to capture the beauty of this precious wood.

Rajaranisculpture In contrast to the dryness of Tam Dao, 10 Corso Como is sensual and voluptuous like the carved dancers of Indian temples. It was created by perfumer Olivier Gillotin. Where Tam Dao is a burst of resinous notes, 10 Corso Como swirls like incense smoke over red rose petals. Olivier Gillotin, the perfumer behind the fragrance, rendered the sandalwood as smooth and creamy, with an interesting complexity attained by weaving a note of incense through the silky richness of the composition. While the bright note of frankincense disappears into the warmth of the base, like raindrops evaporating under the sun, its resinous tonality colors the arrangement, making the sandalwood and oud accord of the base more vivid and multifaceted. Perfectly balanced between the resinous woody elements, the dark rosy sweetness and the ethereal smokiness, 10 Corso Como is a sandalwood scent that fills my romantic vision of Indian palaces.

Either fragrance would be a perfect choice for a man or a woman who likes woody fragrances. Fans of Costes might appreciate 10 Corso Como in particularly, given its rose and incense over sandalwood composition. Dryness of Tam Dao has a more bracing, rejuvenating effect than the mellifluous whisper of 10 Corso Como. While both have a good tenacity on my skin, 10 Corso Como lingers longer like a soft calming breeze that always seems to be around.

Tam Dao is availalbe at Aedes, Bigelow Chemists, Fourseasonsproducts, as well as Diptyque boutiques in Paris, London, Boston, and San Francisco. 10 Corso Como can be found at Beautyhabit, Luckyscent.

Mughal miniature painting: Shringar, from exoticindiaart.com (click on the image to see the fascinating detail). Tam Dao ad from Diptyque website. Orissi Rajarani Temple sculpture from olywa.net.

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50 Comments

  • julien: I love the smell of sandalwood,but my skin doesn’t retain it very well.
    Samsara in edp is sweet and not heavy on me,can you imagine it?
    I also love Santal by Lutens,for it is luxurious…

    About dyptique,i don’t know well their perfumes…i know Phylosikos and l’Eau lente…but not this one,should try it,for you tented me with your review!

    You are a devil in disguise 😉

    Thanks for the review,dear.

    j. December 1, 2005 at 4:12am Reply

  • Judith (lilybp): A great review that makes me feel somewhat less guilty about having a (discounted) bottle of Tam Dao on the way when I already own one of 10 CC. But (as this implies) I really do love both fragrances. I find Tam Dao very calming, and 10 CC has become one of my current favorites. The fascinating balance that you describe so well makes it, in my opinion, ideal for the cool weather, and I find myself reaching for it repeatedly (it also lingers deliciously on several sweaters). December 1, 2005 at 7:11am Reply

  • Sisonne: Dear V, I own 10 Corso Como & really like it, I´ve worn it very much during autumn.
    Unlike you I don´t get an incense note in Corso Como, but in Tam Dao – it reminds me very much of L´Artisan Passage d´Enfer.
    Both are wonderful fragrances, but like Julien above already mentioned I also like SL Santal Blanc which differs a lot from other sandalwood fragrances. To me it´s sweeter & I always smell licorice – though I´m not sure if it is among the notes that SL used to create the fragrance.
    I wonder what Santal de Mysore smells like – I´ll have to test my wax sample. (Do you know if it comes at least a bit close to the liquid form?) December 1, 2005 at 7:16am Reply

  • marina: Ah, I so enjoyed this review. Love both Tam dao and 10 Corso Como (and Costes too). Not many (sandal)woody scents I don’t like…Well, I am not a big fan of Samsara 🙂 December 1, 2005 at 8:19am Reply

  • annE: V, a marvelous exploration of two closely related scents. I found Tam Dao “bracing” indeed, and I’m in the 10CC camp. I find sandalwood much more wearable when it’s warmed up a bit (such as in Costes). However, I am still searching for my HG sandalwood fragrance. L’Orientaliste Santal has come close; have you tried this yet? December 1, 2005 at 8:30am Reply

  • annE: V, a marvelous exploration of two closely related scents. I found Tam Dao “bracing” indeed, and I’m in the 10CC camp. I find sandalwood much more wearable when it’s warmed up a bit (such as in Costes). However, I am still searching for my HG sandalwood fragrance. L’Orientaliste Santal has come close; have you tried this yet? December 1, 2005 at 8:31am Reply

  • annE: oops! December 1, 2005 at 8:33am Reply

  • ChristinaH: I have sampled 10 Corso Como and Costes and enjoyed them very much.They are a refreshing break from typical gourmand or floral scents. I had remembered,I believe,was it you who stated that the Costes room spray seemed nicer as a fragrance than the actual Costes fragrance?If I am correct in assuming that it was you, could you please tell me the different nuances between the room spray and the fragrance of Costes?
    Thank you. December 1, 2005 at 8:46am Reply

  • whitebar: Great review. I also love Tam Dao. I’ve tried 10 CC and felt it might be too sweet for me so I guess I should dig out my sample and test it again. Another interesting sandalwood fragrance is Santal Noble by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. The woods are rich and deep and I think it is one of my favorite sandalwoods. December 1, 2005 at 10:10am Reply

  • Denver to Paris: AnnE, have you tried Chanel Bois des Iles? A great sandalwood, and an eternally chic fragrance to boot. Burberry Brit Gold is beautiful as well, but quite a bit sweeter and “busier” scent than Bois des Iles. December 1, 2005 at 10:28am Reply

  • Tania: An excellent comparison of two lovely sandalwoods. I prefer the Tam Dao myself, when I want to fall asleep in a soothing cloud of sandalwood. The dryness of it I find such a wonderful counterpoint to sandalwood’s general creamy, heavy presentation. Do you know if the sandalwood and rosewood are real or not? I think I remember reading that rosewood was desperately endangered, which is sad because I love its smell so much.

    10 Corso Como I have long described as a growly scent that reminds me of Eartha Kitt. Vampish, dramatic, knowing. It is much more intense, and reminds me of Bois de Paradis in temperament, although without the dreamy sweet fruity character. December 1, 2005 at 11:30am Reply

  • linda: Loved this review! It took me a while to grow into woodsy fragrances but once I started I didn’t look back. I haven’t tried 10 CC yet. Do I need it if I have Costes? After reading all of these comments I have a new list of sandalwoods to sample. December 1, 2005 at 12:21pm Reply

  • annE: Hi Denver to Paris!
    Yes, I’ve tried and love Bois des Iles; thanks for the recommendation. I thought the EDP was too sweet, though, and the parfum remains on my wishlist for Santa. 🙂
    Whitebar, thanks also for the MPG mention – I’ll have to test this one! December 1, 2005 at 12:23pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Julien, oh, you reminded me that I have always been planning to write an article on sandalwood and compare various fragrances. I love SL Santal Blanc and Santal de Mysore. They are really interesting, although I did not like Santal Blanc at first for its sweetness. Yet, for some reason I do not mind it now.

    Hope that you will get to try Tam Dao. You might find it interesting. December 1, 2005 at 12:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, I love when my fragrances linger in the manner you describe. I have always thought that these two fragrances were very similar, which is why I decided to review them side by side. However, after wearing them longer, I am discovering nuances that make both a must-try for anyone with a penchant for sandalwood. I also happen to like Samsara. December 1, 2005 at 1:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear C, I also notice licorice in Santal Blanc, which also strikes me as sweeter. Santal de Mysore is a dark, dry sandalwood, which smells of a very authentic sandalwood, in fact. The wax sample is ok, but not as representative as I would have liked. It basically captures the base notes.

    Have you tried Costes? I think that you might like it. December 1, 2005 at 1:25pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, thank you. I really enjoy all types of wood and sandalwood in particular. I am always reminded of the smell of sandalwood jewelry my uncle would bring from Iraq, where he was working in the 80s. December 1, 2005 at 1:28pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, I find that Tam Dao takes a long time to drydown. On the strip it persists as very dry, but on my skin it turns a little creamy about a couple of hours. It is not as voluptuous as either 10 Corso Como or Costes. I tried L’Orientaliste Santal, but while it was nice, I did not find it particularly outstanding. Have you tried Serge Lutens sandalwoods? They are quite interesting. December 1, 2005 at 1:31pm Reply

  • parislondres: I grew up with the beautiful aroma of sandalwood paste – used for religious ceremonies and as a beauty product – brides get decorated with sandalwood paste in the eastern part of India. I love the smell of fresh sandalwood paste. Fresh “chandan” as we call this in India is just gorgeous, warm and sensual. My favourite sandalwood product is pure sandalwood oil from Mysore. Also love the standard mysore sandalwood soaps. Chandan always puts me in a good mood. Nothing comes close to it. However, I do enjoy most of the perfumes you mentioned.
    Hope you are well and that all is going fab today. Mwah! December 1, 2005 at 1:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, it is definitely a nice break, isn’t it? I quite enjoy Costes in both formulations, although the room spray is darker and more incensey. It does not have the soapy edge that the fragrances does.
    I described the difference here:
    http://boisdejasmin.typepad.com/_/2005/08/perfume_review_.html December 1, 2005 at 1:32pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Whitebar, thank you. I will have to test Santal Noble by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. It is one of the fragrances from the line that keeps eluding me, but after you mentioned it, I will have to try it. December 1, 2005 at 1:36pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, thank you for a great recommendation! Brit Gold is another one that I like very much, although it is sweeter than either of the fragrances I described. December 1, 2005 at 1:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, I love your description of 10 Corso Como. I have always thought that its character is not unlike Bois de Paradis, although you are right, the lack of the fruity sweetness makes a difference.

    I am hard-pressed to say whether the rosewood is real or not. It does not smell as vividly as natural rosewood oil does, but it could be because it is well-blended. I would also imagine that even if natural sandalwood is used, it might accented by synthetic to give it a bright top note. Real sandalwood is rather dense and heavy. Diptyque states that Goa sandalwood is used in Tam Dao. Both fragrance employ a dose of Iso E Super to boost the base.

    For instance, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc uses synthetic sandalwood, and the result is just as interesting, although very different from what you might expect from the natural. December 1, 2005 at 1:44pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Linda, I have both, although my example is probably not the one to follow. 🙂 Costes is rosier and heavier on incense, so the accent is on the incense, rather than the sandalwood. However, the question to ask is whether I would really need both. In my case, no, but I want them anyway. 🙂 December 1, 2005 at 1:46pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, here are some more sandalwood recommendations for you:
    Etro Sandalo
    Madini Santal Blanc
    Chanel Egoiste
    Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo
    Costume National Scent Intense
    L’Occitane Sandalwood
    Santa Maria Novella Sandalo
    L’Artisan Santal December 1, 2005 at 1:48pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Dear N, I love how you described chandan as warm and sensual. Its smell will always be associated in my mind with India and the wedding. I remember seeing planks of sandalwood being ground to paste before it was applied to the forehead of the main participants in the religious ceremony associate with the wedding (pooja).

    In preparation for my exam, I applied a little on my wrists. I am wearing Samsara EDT today, and it is putting me in a great mood. December 1, 2005 at 1:55pm Reply

  • ChristinaH: You know your a good writer/reviewer when I can remember what you said all the way back in August!That is a testament to your skills as a perfume reviewer!! 🙂 December 1, 2005 at 2:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: You are very kind! I am glad that you liked that review, and of course, it makes me happy hearing this. 🙂 December 1, 2005 at 2:03pm Reply

  • annE: V, thank you so much for your recommendations – I will try those which I haven’t yet. You’re right about the L’Orientaliste – it’s not outstanding, but I like its simplicity, and it has the benefit of being inexpensive. 🙂 I have not tried SL Santal Blanc yet, so my testing is by no means complete! Your and ParisLondres’s mention of chandan makes me perfectly envious. It sounds so lovely. December 1, 2005 at 2:18pm Reply

  • linda: Aha! More fragrances for my list. My husband is already starting to complain about my perfume collection taking up too much space. 🙂 December 1, 2005 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Tara: Another lovely review! I enjoy both 10CC and TD, especially layered over my favorite Rosewood body lotion by Savonnerie de Bormes. 🙂 December 1, 2005 at 2:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: A, yes, very true about L’Orientaliste! It is very reasonably priced.

    I hope that you will find something interesting among the fragrances I mentioned, and if I think of some others, I will let you know. I also love sandalwood in Madame Rochas.

    If you would like to experience the real sandalwood oil, I would recommend ordering a sample from Eden Botanicals. I have purchased from them in the past, and was always pleased with the quality. December 1, 2005 at 2:30pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: L, you have to find a reason to complain too asap! 🙂 I am sure that he has some hobby.

    I tried to reply to your email, but it bounced back. December 1, 2005 at 2:33pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Tara, thank you. I have not tried that particular lotion from Savonnerie de Bormes. Anything rosewood is enough to tempt me, I have to admit. Layering rosewood lotion over either one of these fragrances sounds wonderful. December 1, 2005 at 2:34pm Reply

  • Robin: Love Tam Dao, but can’t get used to 10 Corso Como. Your description is perfect though, as always! December 1, 2005 at 4:42pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: R, thank you. I do not remember if you liked Costes, which I find to be reminiscent of 10 Corso Como as well. December 1, 2005 at 7:20pm Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I have tested Costes & I like it, but I was a little bit disappointed with the drydown. I think the opening notes are much more interesting – I wish it would stay like that all the time! December 3, 2005 at 7:21am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, yes, I loved the incense and rose accord very much, however since I am a big sandalwood fan, I did not mind the slighly soapy tinge in the drydown. It is very comforting. Speaking, I would recommend Costes room spray. It is great and more incensy. Unfortunately, it is more linear and darker, and I am not sure if you might like that part. December 3, 2005 at 2:20pm Reply

  • Kate123: Thank you for the lovely review! Tam Dao is my very, very favorite of all the perfumes I’ve ever tried. It is so comfortable to me, just what I always want to smell like. But I only let myself wear it every once and awhile because of the issue Tania mentioned. It seems appropriate somehow that the fragrance I love the most also makes me feel guilty every time I wear it. How Catholic am I? Very. LOL.

    Another reason I don’t wear it too much is because I don’t want to ever get sick of it or not be able to smell it anymore. I used to wear it to bed every singel night, and I noticed I wasn’t smelling it anymore. But you know what? I’m going to spritz some right now. 🙂

    If I had a choice of how I’d want people to remember me after I’m dead, that scent would be it. 🙂 December 3, 2005 at 11:03pm Reply

  • Sisonne: V, unfortunately I´ve never seen Costes roomspray over here…I would like to test it though I´m very picky 😉 when it comes to incense notes in a fragrance – I just like it when it´s rather subdued (e.g. in L´Artisan Passage d´Enfer). Wheneveer I get the chance I´d be happy to test it, though! December 4, 2005 at 7:28am Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I forgot to mention that I think it´s very hard to find sweet fragrances that I like to wear on a regular base. Mostly I find them too sweet, almost cloying.
    My favourites in the category “sweet without being overwhelming” ;)are Etro Heliotrope & Ginestet Botrytis.
    What are your favorites? I´d be grateful for some suggestions 🙂 December 4, 2005 at 7:32am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kate, oh, it is wonderful to have a fragrance one loves so much. Tam Dao is indeed very calming, and yet somehow uplifting. I always feel serene wearing it, and it is a nice feeling.

    Sometimes I also do not wear some of my favourites too often for the same reason as you–I do not want to get tired of them. December 4, 2005 at 9:55pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I know what you mean about sweet fragrances. My favourite sweet fragrances tend to have a dose of wood in the base. For instance, I like Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradis. Serge Lutens Boix range is somewhat on the sweet side, which I like. Fruity-sweet is what I find difficult, unless again, that sweetness is laced with woods. As for the gourmand category, I like Organza Indecence (and the original one too). Yet, none of these are the fragrances I can wear on daily basis. December 4, 2005 at 9:58pm Reply

  • Sisonne: V, thank you for your suggestions. I tested my sample of Bois de Paradis some days ago & found it very interesting, yet I do not know if I can imagine to wear it very often. I think I have to re-visit 🙂
    Would you be so nice to tell me if you can compare the SL Bois fragrances to DelRae – are they sweeter or equally sweet? Which one is less sweet?
    I have another off-topic question: What do you think about SL Muscs Koublai Khan? Does it differ a lot from FM Musc Ravageur -which always reminds me of vanilla cookies 😉 – Is it more animalic & not as soapy as a lot musc scents tend to be?
    I´m still debating on whether to get Chanel Bois des Îles (perfume version) or not…I´m really not sure what to do…*sigh*
    Today I´ll re-test Costes & perhaps CdG Kyoto – I just can´t bring myself to wearing something sweet at the moment. I have to be in a special mood for that! December 5, 2005 at 7:19am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, I also have to be in a mood for sweet fragrances! I actually compared Bois de Paradis and Bois et Fruits under my review of Bois et Fruits, however the rest of the Boix range is much less sweet. Bois de Paradis has lots of rose and fruit, and they give it a different tonality.

    SL Muscs Koublai Khan is very different from Musc Ravageur. It is not sweet, but rather very animalic. It is not as sweaty on me as on some other people, however it is definitely balmy. I find it very comforting, but many are repulsed by it. December 5, 2005 at 2:33pm Reply

  • Sisonne: V, I only tested my wax sample of Muscs Koublai Khan, but I´m very eager to test it in the liquid form – the wax sample didn´t put me off at all, but as you know most of the time the wax samples don´t give accurate impressions.
    Will re-read your review on SL Bois et Fruits 🙂 December 6, 2005 at 7:49am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: C, yes, the wax sample did not put me off, and now that you are asking me about it, I recall thinking that the wax was only a bit softer than the EDP. I hope that you will like it. December 6, 2005 at 2:13pm Reply

  • SarahR: Has anyone tried Olène? I have just been given a bottle and cannot top wearing it – I don’t usually like white flowery types of fragrance, but this is sublime. November 21, 2006 at 2:20pm Reply

  • Surbhi: I tried Tam Dao today. It smells a lot like vetiver from Malle. Could be my nose. But I also smell lot of sandalwood in VE as well after the initial green. January 21, 2016 at 2:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: It used to have even more sandalwood, but it was reformulated to be more cedary. Still very good, though. January 24, 2016 at 7:53am Reply

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