Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
The summer has been chilly until the past couple of weeks, and I have been wearing ambers and orientals rather than fresh colognes. For this reason, I wasn’t in a rush to seek out the newest addition to the Dior “Voyage” collection, which debuted in 2008 with a light and fizzy Escale a Portofino. However, Escale à Pondichéry suits my current mood perfectly, for not only it has enough warmth to make its straightforward cologne structure enticing on a chilly summer day, but it evokes the memories of my Indian adventures. While my next trip is not until the winter, I am consoling myself with scents that remind me of India.
The former trading post of the French East India Company, Pondicherry provides an inspiration for Dior. The composition uses a number of ingredients that hint at its Indian spirit: jasmine that is central to Indian beauty and religious rituals, cardamom that spices its cuisine and tea that defines the Indian economy. A tea based cologne, Escale à Pondichéry weaves a simple story of hesperides and woods, but it also provides a number of lovely accents along the way. Thus, the lemon zest and camphor mélange characteristic of crushed cardamom pods sparkle in the top notes, while milky sandalwood provides a plush backdrop. Although I rarely think of colognes as sexy, Escale à Pondichéry fits that descriptive quite well.
Yet, as lovely as Escale à Pondichéry is, I have to admit that it is not particularly memorable. Nor is it essential to my fragrance wardrobe, for that matter. While I have been wearing it almost daily for the past couple of months, I imagine that at the end of the summer I would be ready to move onto something else, or perhaps to return to my other cologne favorites that have more personality, such as Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien, Chanel Eau de Cologne, and Frederic Malle Cologne Bigarade. For the time being, however, Escale à Pondichéry delights me.
Escale à Pondichéry skirts the gender boundary, and it would be equally suitable for both men and women. For a light composition, it is surprisingly long lasting and robust. It includes notes of black tea, cardamom, jasmine sambac, woods, musk.