Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau : Perfume Review

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One of the great vagaries of a perfume habit is how you can end up besotted with a fragrance that you originally disliked. Somewhere in the mid-nineties I came across Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau, a fusion of tangy blackcurrant leaf, dark rose, and white grapefruit. It was completely out of step with the perfumes I knew in those days when niche fragrances were more or less not known or available stateside.

reflections

At the time, I was wearing one of those huge glitzy florals (Dior Poison!) and L’Ombre dans L’Eau was its exact opposite. The green intensity of blackcurrant leaf in particular struck me the wrong way, as if the edges were sharp, cold, and brutal.  The fragrance smelled not of a shadow in the water (as its name would be translated from French) but of digging in a garden in the dog days of summer, hands in the dirt around a rose bush, with a heat haze dragging the bitter, earthy and resinous smell of tomato leaf through the thick air.  It was too photorealistic, this experiential French scent, and the leafiness was such that one might experience it as both a smell and as a taste, as if somewhere in one’s memory was trapped a childhood remembrance of biting into a tomato.

Many years later, I came across the scent at Barney’s and bought not just a bottle of eau de toilette but the solid parfum as well.  L’Ombre dans L’Eau is now one of my favorite summer scents and is one of only two or three fragrances that do not suffer strong personality changes in the Florida and Georgia summers.  The little solid parfum in its heavy black metal oval is a revelation.

L’Ombre dans L’Eau’s sharply green and leafy opening can be polarizing; it smells like the best day of summer rather than a commercially cogent idea of it.  The leaf note is pitched high and sharp against the dusky rose.  The rose emergence is slow and almost painstaking but it is there, in relief against that piney, sappy summer leaf.  The rose never fully blooms but becomes a soft and dark discernible rose note against which this leafiness settles but never leaves, joined by unripe and puckery blackberry tang. As it is with the memory of summer, the fragrance slowly fades out over a sweet trace of musky skin, leaving behind a light sweetness from tomato—it is a fruit, after all.

The parfum solid comes in a heavy black metal container embossed with the Diptyque logo. It’s a heavy little thing with a magnetic closure. The solid has a surprising sillage and tremendous longevity. Its fragrance follows the progression of the eau de toilette, but the EdT has a more startling opening where rose is less apparent and a dazzling grapefruit-like note steps forward. The EdT is fizzy and exuberant in its summery dress and the solid parfum is mellower, sweeter. It’s more of a second skin, if you might slip on the red robe of the tomato fruit and spend your July and August in it, resplendent.

Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau Eau de Toilette includes notes of rose, blackcurrant bud, amber, musk, and myrrh.  This fall Diptyque will release the richer Eau de Parfum version. Diptyque perfumes are available at Diptyque stores, Barneys, Nordstrom, Saks5thAvenue, and Blue Mercury.

Photography by Richard Hurd via Flickr, some rights reserved

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57 Comments

  • Elena: You had me at “the opposite of Poison”, which is the exact wrong perfume for me. Maybe that means that this is my holy grail perfume! 🙂 This sounds bracing and perfect for hot weather. June 26, 2012 at 7:47am Reply

    • Suzanna: Elena, it indeed does have a bracing quality to it. If you enjoy stemminess in a perfume, give this one a try! It doesn’t wilt, either. June 26, 2012 at 8:43am Reply

      • Elena: I ordered a sample and I really love it! I only wish that super realistic tomato leaf lasted a little longer, it was only a minute or two on me. This is just about the first rose I really like; I almost always find them too sweet or powdery. Lovely, thanks for the enticing review. July 8, 2012 at 8:12pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Elena, I am thrilled that you love L’Ombre dans L’Eau! Wear with enjoyment! You probably won’t run into anyone else wearing it, either. I always feel special when I apply it. July 8, 2012 at 10:05pm Reply

  • kjanicki: One of my favourites too! I have been wearing it in the spring, when the damp earth and green green smell of tomato stems seems like gardening, but I will have to try it in the summer heat now. June 26, 2012 at 8:41am Reply

    • Suzanna: kjanicki, I think you will enjoy L’Ombre just as much in the summer as you do in the spring; I know I do! June 26, 2012 at 8:44am Reply

  • Hana: Oh my…I didn’t know about the upcoming Eau de Parfum! I must have that -L’ombre dans l’eau is one of my all time favourites! June 26, 2012 at 8:51am Reply

    • Suzanna: Hana, I’m excited about it too! Anxiously awaiting! June 26, 2012 at 9:38am Reply

  • Alexandra: Dear Suzanna,
    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely review about my favourite L’Ombre! It is dark, deep and mystical, yet so natural. It is my signature perfume, and I will buy the solid version thanks to you!
    Hallo from Greece! June 26, 2012 at 9:26am Reply

    • Suzanna: Hi, Alexandra! Glad you enjoyed the review. It is as you say “dark, deep and mystical” and so fresh. Thank you for sharing that L’Ombre is your signature perfume. I think you will love the solid as much as I do. I have mine sitting here as I type in rainy, humid Florida and it smells energizing to me, fresh and green. June 26, 2012 at 9:39am Reply

  • Ariadne: How lovely this scent is offered in solid form. I am a huge fan of solid perfumes not only for their convenience for travel but for how long they last on my skin. June 26, 2012 at 9:45am Reply

    • Suzanna: Ariadne, I was a stranger to solids until I impulse-bought this one and I agree with what you say about convenience and longevity.

      This one also has nice sillage! June 26, 2012 at 10:33am Reply

  • Lucas: The only Diptyque I’ve tried so far was Philosykos which smelled terrible on me. I had to scrub it off I just couldn’t stand it’s smell.

    This one sounds much better! June 26, 2012 at 10:23am Reply

    • Suzanna: Lucas, I have Philosykos and it isn’t great on me either. Fig is a tough note for me to wear. I don’t suppose it smells unpleasant on me, it just isn’t something that blossoms the way, let’s say, rose or jasmine would.

      L’Ombre to me is a rose men can enjoy! June 26, 2012 at 10:34am Reply

  • Zazie: Suzanna, that picture of yours is amazing.
    It really touches me, I don’t know why.

    L’ombre dans l’eau is a great name for a fragrance – but I don’t have much luck with Dyptique! June 26, 2012 at 11:56am Reply

    • Suzanna: Zazie, thanks for the compliment about my picture! It is from a series I did on the North Florida springs, and I did it to challenge a dictate that in order to make a good reflection picture, the water must be still (this from an art course I took).

      Re the Diptyque: It took me a long time to appreciate L’Ombre dans L’Eau, and I need to revisit the house as a whole. June 26, 2012 at 12:07pm Reply

  • Meg: That last line simply sends me! Wonderful. June 26, 2012 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks, Meg! June 26, 2012 at 12:33pm Reply

  • Nikki: I love that picture, too! Gorgeous! Where can we see more?
    Regarding the perfume, Victoria had suggested it to me once as I love black currant in everything, i.e. creme de cassis and so on! First by Van Cleef also has a black currant note. I will try the solid, hopefully it will be ok in Arizona as we have to really watch which perfumes to wear because of the nasty killer bees and paperwasps. I got attacked wearing Habanita, they must have thought I was an animal! Just a little FYI for people living in those climates, check out killer bees as they are now almost everywhere in the US and extremely dangerous when one wears perfume (and without perfume!), also dangerous to animals. This is the time of year… June 26, 2012 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Nikki, you can see more if you click on the “About” section in the bar above, and then go to the bottom of my profile where you can access my Flickr photostream Once in Flickr, I have sets of photos arranged by topic. If you would like to see more photos of the springs, find my set called “Rivers, Creeks, and Springs” and click that folder (you might need to bring up my whole folder list to find it).

      Enjoy! June 26, 2012 at 12:40pm Reply

      • Nikki: It is truly exquisite, Susanna! Thank you for the link, will go there later on.
        Just bought the solid perfume because of your description, lovely little feminine box it comes in! If I don’t like it, will have to send it to you! June 26, 2012 at 12:50pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Nikki, I hope you enjoy the solid parfum as much as I do. It’s a softer, subtler way to wear this scent. June 26, 2012 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Nikki: red lipstick and Mitsouko….well, well, you are prepared for everything! June 26, 2012 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Nikki- :–) June 26, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Ah, L’Ombre Dans l’Eau. There is no more realistically green perfume out there! It’s too green for me, though. My favorite Diptyque is the jasmine-bomb, Olene. June 26, 2012 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Elizabeth, I really do need to revisit Diptyque and since jasmine is one my fave florals, Olene will make a great starting point! June 26, 2012 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Elisa: I love this one too! So green and tomato-y at first, and so bright and tart (I see fuchsia!) as it dries down. I just had to go spray some of this on. I’m on my second decant, some day I’ll buy a bottle… June 26, 2012 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Decants are a good way to go, Elisa, with this scent. I find a couple of sprays lasts me well into the next day.

      Fuchsia, I can see that! June 26, 2012 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Alyssa: What a terrific review! I was craving a big white floral a moment ago and you totally sold me on this. Putting some on, now. June 26, 2012 at 3:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Alyssa, at the moment I waver between BWFs and L’Ombre. I have on L’Ombre today and yesterday I was in No. 22. June 26, 2012 at 3:30pm Reply

  • Perfumista8: Thanks for the great review. I’ll have to revisit my sample of this. I tried l’Ombré twice before and thought it was too green but my tastes have been changing. I’d previously sworn off rose-focused fragrances but this year I can’t get enough of them. June 26, 2012 at 3:35pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Perfumista8, I felt the same way and then I fell head over heels for this tart, rosy scent. I hope you will enjoy L’Ombre as much as I do. June 26, 2012 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Amer: I love the green aspect of Ombre and the breeze-through-the-canopy opening. The rose is subtle and beautifully androgynous. I am a bit disappointed by the drydown however, because it falls in a flat pink-ness (if that makes any sense to you). Some incense CO2 would be a great addition to the list of notes. I have solved this by layering with one of your favorites, eau froide! I put Eau Froide first. Try it and tell me what you think 😉 June 26, 2012 at 6:30pm Reply

    • Amer: Oh and I too love Diptyque Solids’ cases. They feel like precious charms rather than functional objects June 26, 2012 at 6:32pm Reply

      • Suzanna: Those cases are surprisingly heavy, aren’t they? I love to pull one out of my bag; it’s a conversation piece that happens to smell great. June 26, 2012 at 9:11pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Amer, I have not tried that new Lutens (this is Suzanna speaking). On me, the L’Ombre drydown retains bristly top notes well into the wearing, and then becomes a tangle of green twigs, resinous myrrh, and musk. June 26, 2012 at 9:13pm Reply

      • Amer: oops. Sorry, didn’t see who was writting. Honest mistake. June 27, 2012 at 3:35am Reply

        • Suzanna: No problem, Amer! I’m glad you leave comments on my posts as well as on Victoria’s. Thanks! June 27, 2012 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Amer, hmm, I will have to try that. L’Ombre dans L’Eau and I have a cordial relationship at best, even though I think that it’s an excellent fragrance. As much as I love these rich green notes, I can sometimes find them hard to wear. But I’m curious to try the layering combination you suggest. June 27, 2012 at 8:15am Reply

  • Anna Minis: I agree with Zazie, the painting is really beautiful. it reminds me of the words of Kandinsky: ”every colour has a soul; the combination of colours give an emotion”.These colours give a feeling of deep silence and mystery. June 27, 2012 at 7:11am Reply

    • Suzanna: Anna Minis, it’s a photograph I took at a local springs, not a painting. We get some pretty wild reflections in the springs when the water is disturbed and I captured this one as I walked along the banks.

      Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for your comment about Kandinsky. June 27, 2012 at 9:24am Reply

      • Victoria: It does look like a Kandinsky painting and a bit of Van Gogh’s Starry Night! As someone learning photography, I now realize how much skill it takes to capture such an image. June 27, 2012 at 9:27am Reply

  • Jesus: Glad to see one of my favourites getting such a high score in one of my favourite blogs. Thanks for the review! June 27, 2012 at 8:22am Reply

    • Suzanna: Thanks for stopping by, Jesus–another fan of L’Ombre! I’m glad to see that men are wearing this scent. The tomato leaf note is easily unisex–genderless really. June 27, 2012 at 9:25am Reply

  • Morgen: Suzanna, your reviews are just beautiful. I don’t think I could wear this perfume, but the comparison of wearing this perfume to being enrobed in a tomato skin is so unexpected and startlingly effective. Thank you 🙂 June 27, 2012 at 10:23am Reply

    • Suzanna: Morgen, you are welcome! Thanks so much for your kind words. That is indeed what the experience of wearing L’Ombre is for me. Sometimes perfumes are items of apparel and are worn in the sense that one wears a dress or a new hat. June 27, 2012 at 11:17am Reply

  • Anna Minis: Suzanna, you have a painters eye! June 27, 2012 at 11:23am Reply

    • Suzanna: Anna Minis, thank you! These natural wonders of North Florida are like paintings! June 27, 2012 at 11:57am Reply

  • Ariadne: I have to chime in on the all original photography on this site. It definitely compliments the perfume dreaming I do here and differentiates this blog from others. Brava! June 28, 2012 at 9:05am Reply

    • Suzanna: Ariadne, I’m so glad you are enjoying the photography. I also feel it is a complement to the posts and sometimes I can “smell” a scent through one of my pictures.

      Victoria has always wowed me with her food shots, including the most recent! June 28, 2012 at 4:37pm Reply

  • slinkypanther: Your wonderful review allowed me to revisit L’Ombre. I am so glad I did! I cannot stop myself from smelling my wrists obsessively to absorb the dark mystery that unfolds. L’Ombre reminds me somehow of a decadent, overgrown garden from a neglected belle epoque mansion. I cannot wait for the EDP even though the EDT is quite strong. I ended up purchasing the roll-on perfume oil that is very concentrated and will tide me over until the EDP is available. Let me add that my Siamese cat loves it too. His fur smells quite delightful since I’ve started wearing this. July 9, 2012 at 9:17pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Slinkypanther, I am happy that you have fallen for L’Ombre dans L’Eau. I, too, cannot stop sniffing it, which is another reason the solid pot of perfume is handy (I keep it my desk).

      I wonder about the EdP, too. I adore the EdT and sometimes I prefer EdT to EdP simply because certain fragrances seem brisker in EdT.

      Enjoy! July 10, 2012 at 11:05am Reply

  • Marieke van den Elsen: It took me a while but it remembers me of ‘In love again’ by Yves Saint Laurent. Do you agree? November 13, 2012 at 7:33am Reply

    • Suzanna: A bit, yes. In Love Again in turn reminds me of Ce Soir ou Jamais from Goutal. November 13, 2012 at 8:55am Reply

    • Liz K: Ok, now I will have to try it. Is it a lot like In Love Again or just reminiscent? I had to pass on Kelly Caliche since it was just too like ILA, my husband couldn’t tell the difference. November 14, 2012 at 12:05pm Reply

      • Suzanna: ILA is more citrus than L’Ombre and I think more sparkling, too, and L’Ombre has more green notes. November 14, 2012 at 3:35pm Reply

  • joyce: I love LDL! I first tried the toilette and used it up. Light and lasted only in the morning for me. I tried the perfume and that I felt was a little stronger but stayed on a bit longer. I would like to try the solid now. You mentioned it had more of a staying power. How much do you apply when using a solid perfume? When comparing all 3, which do you prefer? December 21, 2013 at 4:20am Reply

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