Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Sometimes I read a fragrance description, and even though I know not to attach too much importance to the notes, the idea of a perfume is conjured nevertheless. Would a fragrance called “in your arms” evoke anything but the warmth of a hug? When I first read about Frédéric Malle Dans Tes Bras created by perfumer Maurice Roucel, I imagined sweet violets folded into creamy layers of musk and vanilla—soft, tender and comforting.
At first, Dans Tes Bras seems to take me along the expected route of sweet and pretty. As soon as the liquid seeps into my skin and the alcohol evaporates, a violet unfolds. It starts out as soft and caressing, with a jaunty green accent that tempers its bonbon like sweetness.
The initial illusion of a mild caress is fleeting, however. At first, I was not prepared that Dans Tes Bras’s next turn would take me into much more passionate territory. The spices smolder under the violet petals, turning them dark and rich. The opulent musk that occupies a territory between woods and ambers–Cashmeran of the marketing copy–adds its sonorous timbre.
Dans Tes Bras takes its cues from the voluptuous perfumes of the 1980s-early 1990s: Yves Saint Laurent Paris and Lancôme Trésor. Like those fragrances, Dans Tes Bras uses its floral accent as a pretext to talk about woods and musk. As such, it is not a violet, but a violet tinged wood. The late drydown is an interesting interplay of dry and sweet, powdery and creamy. It is warm and comforting, but also unexpectedly dark.
I admit that I do not wear Dans Tes Bras as much as the indulgent Musc Ravageur, another Roucel creation for Frédéric Malle. However, whenever I reach for my sample for an occasional spritz, I become aware that Dans Tes Bras still surprises me. This makes me realize that we are in together for a long haul.
Frédéric Malle Dans Tes Bras includes notes of bergamot, clove, jasmine, violet, heliotrope, cashmeran, patchouli, sandalwood, and musk. Editions de Parfums fragrances are available from Aedes, Barneys New York, Frédéric Malle boutiques and directly from Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfums’s website.
Image: Blue Lovers (1914) by Marc Chagall.
Sample: my own acquisition
Bonus reading: The French Ministry of Culture recently awarded the order of “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” to five perfumers: Daniela Andrier, Françoise Caron, Olivier Cresp, Dominique Ropion and Maurice Roucel. Denyse of Grain de Musc attended the event, and you can read her story here.