Parfum d’Empire Equistrius : Fragrance Review


Patricia wraps herself in iris, sandalwood and amber and talks about some of her favorite fragrances from Parfum d’Empire.

Even if Equistrius, a fragrance from the French niche line Parfum d’Empire, hadn’t been named for an outstanding competition horse, I would have been intrigued by the well-balanced combination of some of my favorite notes in perfume. Although Equistrius can easily be worn year round, I find it especially suited to early fall, when the days begin to shorten noticeably, the southward-heading robins congregate in my backyard Kousa dogwood to devour its ripening berries, and the breeze carries a premonition of the chill to come.


Equistrius opens with refreshing green notes and violet, but eases quickly into a warm and buttery iris that is mouthwateringly delicious and demands frequent wrist to nose enjoyment. This is a soft, rather than a demanding iris, and perfume notes have included rice powder to convey this softness. What I get is more a feeling of rice paper: white, translucent, and richly grained, allowing the warm amber and milky sandalwood to show through, especially as the perfume continues to soften and develop on skin.

Chocolate, although often mentioned in the perfume notes for this fragrance, is nonexistent on my skin, but it isn’t missed as the rich iris, amber, and sandalwood more than compensate for its absence. The sharpness of vetiver in the dry down, though not over-emphasized, serves to ground the perfume and keep it from floating off into the stratosphere in a cloudy haze.

Those who are expecting a high degree of horsepower in this fragrance, after all it is perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato’s tribute to the glory of the Roman Empire, will be disappointed. Equistrius, though quite long-lasting, plays it close to the vest. This makes it an outstanding choice when you don’t want your perfume to precede you into a room and stay long after you have left. It is wearable with a capital “W” and will always occupy a prominent place on my dresser top.

Overall, I find much to enjoy in Parfum d’Empire collection, and my two other favorites are Azemour Les Orangers and Eau Suave. Azemour is a memory tribute to Morocco, the country of Corticchiato’s birth, and the orange groves his parents once owned. It is a transportive blend of hay, oak moss, and orange, all enveloped in sunshine and would also be a perfect early fall fragrance. Eau Suave, one of my favorite rose perfumes, combines rose infused with delectable peach, apricot, and raspberry and is inspired by the rose-loving Empress Josephine and the Napoleonic Empire. I wear this one year-round.

The only thing I don’t like is Parfum d’Empire’s decision to eliminate the 50 ml bottles in its line and only offer the 100 ml option. It seems puzzling, as many who might purchase a 50 ml bottle will balk at the price and quantity of the larger bottle. Additionally, the bottle redesign (a photo below) does not serve to brand the line as well as the previous design. The ultramodern bottle with pared down label graphics and simple cap does not adequately represent the celebration of the great Empires of the past.


Parfum d’Empire Equistrius Eau de Parfum includes notes of orris, violet, rice powder, chocolate, ambrette, sandalwood, vetiver, grey amber. Available at Aedes, Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie, Luckyscent, among others. 100ml/$145.



  • Amer: A wonderful fragrance and I agree, the new design and 100ml bottles are a bad decision. September 23, 2014 at 7:12am Reply

    • Amer: The old ones reminded me of egyptian temple pillars (a bit like the Liquides Imaginaires line). Can’t beat that for a combination of glamour and mystery. September 23, 2014 at 7:16am Reply

      • Patricia: Nice analogy, Amer. My message to the PdE bottle designers: “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!” September 23, 2014 at 11:46am Reply

  • rosarita: Parfum D’Empire is one of my favorite houses and I’m with you on the 100 ml bottles and new design, boo to both! September 23, 2014 at 7:41am Reply

    • Patricia: I wonder if we all boo loud enough they’ll hear us! September 23, 2014 at 11:47am Reply

  • rainboweyes: Equistrius is one of my autumn staples, it’s so soft and comforting… I get a hint of chocolate from it but you’re right, it’s more like chocolate rice pudding. As I wear it a lot, I don’t mind the large bottle in this case but generally I prefer smaller sizes. September 23, 2014 at 7:57am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi rainboweyes, I’m a bit envious that you get a bit of the chocolate note. Maybe it will come with more wearings [goes off to reapply Equistrius]. September 23, 2014 at 11:49am Reply

  • solanace: This sounds really good, with iris, sandalwood and the Roman Empire reference. But I agree about the packaging! Offering only 100 ml bottles is very perfumista-unfriendly, and you made a good point about the inadequacy of the new design. September 23, 2014 at 8:06am Reply

    • Patricia: I know, solanace, PdE seemed to have it all. Change just for the sake of change can be risky business. September 23, 2014 at 11:52am Reply

      • Amer: I bet it has to do with cutting down costs. The new design seems more industrial and generic to me. Perhaps it is cheaper to manufacture. September 23, 2014 at 1:45pm Reply

        • Patricia: I think you’re right, Amer, and I’d much rather have the quality of the bottle affected than the quality of the juice! September 23, 2014 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Ramona: This is one of my favorites year round. I lament the loss of the 50ml bottles as well. Three from this house were on my “to buy” list but since the change in bottle size I have had to cross them off. I’m very sad about it and did really like the old bottle and label design. September 23, 2014 at 8:43am Reply

    • Patricia: Parfum d’Empire: Listen to Ramona. You lost three potential sales from one customer! September 23, 2014 at 11:54am Reply

      • MikasMinion: You can add at least two more from me. I just have too many perfumes to have 100ml of most things. At this point, Ambre Russe is the only one I want that much of. I would have considered Azemour and Wazamba, and Corsica Furiosa is growing on me but I’lol settle for samples or decants unless they re-issue those smaller bottles. September 23, 2014 at 7:02pm Reply

        • Patricia: I’m in the same boat. Decants, swaps, and splits make more and more sense to me as my collection grows. September 24, 2014 at 9:24am Reply

  • yomi: Hello, lovely review. Didn’t they do market research before changing bottle size and redesigning? Interesting though in nigeria people also really love the 100ml sizes. September 23, 2014 at 9:24am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Yomi, Thank you! Yes, I would hope that they did market research. Perhaps the bottle redesign ties into an overall product revamping.

      I must admit that I love the look of 100 ml bottles (I bought 100 ml of Azemour), but I just have too much perfume to want that much from any one bottle. 🙂 September 23, 2014 at 12:02pm Reply

  • patuxxa: Oh dear, one more for the lemming list. You had me at iris, but iris, amber and sandalwood? Swoon. September 23, 2014 at 9:39am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi patuxxa, Equistrius is quite yummy, but the best aspect of it in my opinion is its wearablilty. I would definitely recommend your trying it. September 23, 2014 at 12:04pm Reply

  • zara: I remember trying this when it first came out and I liked it a lot (I don’t have my sample anymore, but I remember smelling a bit of chocolate in it?); I considered buying it, but never actually did and now, after they only offer 100ml bottles, I don’t think I ever will. Not that the bottle design would ever be something that would deter me from buying a perfume, but the new minimalist bottles are not an improvement, IMO. September 23, 2014 at 9:41am Reply

    • Patricia: I guess one could host a split in order to make this more affordable, but it sounds like a lot of work. It would be nice if the perfume companies offered 50 ml, 30 ml, and even 15 or 10 ml options.

      I have a 15 ml bottle of Hermes Eau de Merveilles that has lasted me years, even though I wear a small amount once a week. September 23, 2014 at 12:15pm Reply

  • Minka: I agree, it’s such a bummer about the loss of the 50ml size option. Also, the old bottle design seemed more suited to the house name, wouldn’t you say?
    I find Equistrius very indulgent as I get all the bittersweetness of chocolate without the guilt. Violet adds its haunting beauty, taking away the ‘eat me’ factor. It really reminds me of the softest leather purse, where among its contents you’ll find, ‘mostly’, chocolate morsels. (Love it). September 23, 2014 at 9:59am Reply

    • Patricia: Minka, I love your description of Equistrius as a soft leather purse containing chocolate morsels! Two of my weaknesses, after perfume, are handbags and chocolate. 🙂 September 23, 2014 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Elisa: Sounds beautiful! Iris is not one of my favorite notes, especially when it’s “demanding,” but I do like soft, powdery irises with some sweetness. Will have to find a sample.

    Another fave from this line for me is Wazamba, though sadly I don’t have any right now. September 23, 2014 at 11:42am Reply

    • Patricia: Elisa, if you like soft, powdery irises with some sweetness, Equistrius has your name all over it!

      I don’t think I’ve tried Wazamba (though I love the name!). What does it smell like? September 23, 2014 at 12:20pm Reply

      • Courant: I love soft powdery irises. Drat! Another to covet. September 23, 2014 at 3:27pm Reply

        • Patricia: This one sound right up your street! September 23, 2014 at 5:21pm Reply

      • Elisa: Wazamba smells mostly like pine with some incense and a bit of tangy apple. So great! September 24, 2014 at 12:07pm Reply

        • Patricia: Oh, that does sound nice, Elisa! And perfect for fall. September 24, 2014 at 5:03pm Reply

    • rainboweyes: I bet you will like it, Elisa! The chocolate note I get is a wonderful bitter chocolate with at least 80% cocoa content – grated over rice pudding 😉 September 23, 2014 at 3:48pm Reply

  • Cynthia M: I can only add my voice to the chorus regarding both the loss of the elegant old bottle design, and the 100ml size (which is the bigger issue for me.) Equistrius does sound intriguing; I love a subtle chocolate note, plus that ambrette, vetiver and sandalwood base. September 23, 2014 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Patricia: Please try it, Cynthia M, and let us know what you think. September 23, 2014 at 5:24pm Reply

  • Austenfan: The first PdE scent I bought!. I really like it and your post has persuaded me to wear it tomorrow. In general I like what PdE has to offer, they seem to come out with good, solid scents.

    Talking about horses; are you familiar with Totilas? (the dressage horse. I had never heard of him until I watched a documentary about him and his two riders) September 23, 2014 at 12:24pm Reply

    • Patricia: I haven’t heard of Totilas, but will try to find the documentary you mentioned.

      Even with the small amount of dressage I’ve done, I’m in awe of the rider/horse connection possible through that discipline. September 23, 2014 at 5:33pm Reply

      • Austenfan: The documentary is in Dutch, and I don’t think there is a subtitled one at this moment, as it only came out a few months ago.
        To give you some idea I include two links to clips of Totilas under Edward Gal, both of which left me speechless.
        from a stallion exhibition September 24, 2014 at 4:01am Reply

        • Patricia: Wow! What a glorious creature Totilas is, and both horse and rider make it look so easy (it’s not!).

          His beautiful full turn on the haunches made me recall trying to teach my horse to do a half turn on the haunches. Although LJ does a beautiful turn on the forehand, the turn on the haunches eluded him, and his attempts to execute it were punctuated with small bucks of frustration! September 24, 2014 at 9:37am Reply

          • Austenfan: I’ve never even attempted a half turn, let alone a full turn!
            I love the harmony between this horse and this rider, there is complete trust between them. September 24, 2014 at 11:24am Reply

            • Patricia: Yes, there is…so wonderful when that happens. It’s communication on a whole other level. September 24, 2014 at 5:05pm Reply

  • jillie: You had me at violet! I will try to sample this. I am thinking it might take the place of my mourned-for Le Dix ….. September 23, 2014 at 1:06pm Reply

    • Patricia: It’s worth a try! Le Dix is one of the greats. I have a small amount of it that I put on from time to time. You have reminded me to pull it out and enjoy it before it turns. September 23, 2014 at 5:42pm Reply

  • allgirlmafia: ‘demands frequent wrist to nose enjoyment’…I like this line. Iris and Sandalwood are two of my favorite notes in perfumes (violet being the other) too bad this one is so expensive. September 23, 2014 at 1:54pm Reply

    • Patricia: …and only available in 100 ml bottles!

      You could always order a decant from one of the perfume decanters. Most often I find that a decant is really all I need. 🙂 September 23, 2014 at 5:45pm Reply

  • Tatiana: Quite often a bottle redesign indicates a reformulation of the perfume as well. Is that the case here? Or did they just redo the bottles? I initially bought a 50 ml bottle of Equistrius and find that I’m using it up more rapidly than I thought I would, as I reach for this scent quite often. Contemplating purchasing another bottle, but only if the juice remains the same. It’s hard to test it out before I buy as I need to internet order this scent. September 23, 2014 at 2:40pm Reply

    • Hannah: I’d like to know this as well, because Cuir Ottoman is supposed to be my next purchase but I haven’t tried it since the new bottle design. September 23, 2014 at 3:13pm Reply

    • Patricia: I don’t know the answer to this as I only have the old-style bottles.

      Victoria, can you help us out with this? September 23, 2014 at 5:47pm Reply

      • Victoria: I don’t think that they were reformulated drastically, but I haven’t compared side by side. September 24, 2014 at 2:47am Reply

  • Figuier: Lovely review- this is one I’ve really come to love. I purchased a sample set of the whole line a few years ago and have got great mileage out of it. But my Equistrius sample is almost gone, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a FB before they cut the 50ml. Oh well; I could always get another sample set I guess… September 23, 2014 at 5:00pm Reply

    • Patricia: I purchased the sample set too, Figuier, which is how I was initially introduced to Equistrius and other fragrances in the line.

      I love it when perfume companies offer these sets, which are generally quite affordable. September 23, 2014 at 5:53pm Reply

  • annemarie: This discussion underscores a Tania Sanchez directive: ‘If you love something, buy it.’ Otherwise you could be sorry.

    On that basis I really ought to buy a FB of Bottega Veneta (the original). There are other soft leathers around but none that I find so wearable. Problem is, BV is quite expensive where I live. Should I or shouldn’t I? Will I or won’t I?

    As for Equistrius, I get quite a bit of chocolate and no iris to speak of. I find it rather powdery in a stifling, can’t breathe sort of way. September 23, 2014 at 10:44pm Reply

    • Patricia: Oh dear! That doesn’t sound good.

      I hope that you’re able to buy the BV original, since it sounds like it will get a lot of wear. September 24, 2014 at 9:40am Reply

  • Alysen: I love Equistrius in autumn and winter, then Eau Suave for spring and early summer. I’ve had two sample sets, like most of the scents, and I was just about to press buy on 50ml of each of my favourites earlier this summer. Sadly I haven’t found a decant option for them yet. I would love 30 or 50ml, but like most of you, I already have a cabinet full of perfumes. September 24, 2014 at 4:05am Reply

    • Patricia: My two favorites! Though I only have a large decant of Eau Suave, it has lasted me a pretty long time (I’m an under-sprayer).

      How annoying that you haven’t found them available from the perfume decanters. Where do you live? September 24, 2014 at 9:45am Reply

  • Annikky: I like many PdE scents and was incidentally wearing Eau de Gloire a couple of days ago. The only full bottle I own from them is Aziyade – I went to Place Vendome with the intention to buy an austere iris and ended up getting this cumin & cherry syrup. Go figure. I don’t wear it that often, but sometimes it’s perfect, like right now: I’m heavily jetlagged and weary and Aziyade helps.

    With Equistrius, I think I like the idea of the perfume better than I like the actual scent. Still, it’s a lovely fragrance, interesting and original. September 24, 2014 at 10:23am Reply

    • Patricia: Any perfume that can help with jet lag is worth its weight in gold! 🙂 September 24, 2014 at 1:57pm Reply

  • johanob: One of my all time favorite Iris perfumes,alongside Iris Gris,Iris Silver Mist,and 28 La Pausa.I came across this review today,as it was my SOTD!Lol!Always puts me in a good mood too,as does reading this lovely blog,after the week from hell I had…Happy Weekend everyone! September 26, 2014 at 6:36pm Reply

  • Patricia: Thank you, Johanob! Happy weekend to you, too, and I hope that next week is better. 🙂 September 26, 2014 at 8:37pm Reply

  • Gentiana: A pleasant and intriguing Iris blend… It was for a long time on my wishlist. Now that it came to its turn and made my final decision for a FB, i have to discover this new, plain, dull bottle design.
    I can’t get the marketing and aesthetic thinking of Pd’E – not the only one who abandons an original and recognizable design for a boring “modern” one. Yes, Caron, speaking of you, dear…
    Question: how is the new edition – regarding the smell – compared to the old one? I try to close my eyes… To open my pocket: No more 50 ml bottles- that’s annoying … the new edition is with 20 Euros more expensive – once more annoying…. January 21, 2015 at 11:35am Reply

    • Patricia: Hi Gentiana, I don’t think that the perfumes have been reformulated, only the bottles redesigned. However, my bottle (50 ml.) is one of the previous bottle design, so I can’t say for sure.

      Ugh. I hate it when redesign is done simply for the purpose of having a “new” look and some marketer justifying his/her job. January 22, 2015 at 8:09am Reply

      • Gentiana: Hello, Patricia, Thanks for sharing my opinion on non-logic redesigning issues…
        I am puzzled seeing that a well constructed, original and coherent concept, reflected in the ingredients and composition of perfumes, sustained by a fitting design – in short, creating a personal STYLE, that means a Difference Factor in marketing – is abandoned for something so plain, so usual and totally non-original… It is like having all the necessary for flying but turning back to stick with the crowd in crawling….
        Well, it seems we can’t help it, mourning is no progress …I seriously consider to write my honest opinion to Pd’E.
        I will order samples from the Pd’E site, for comparing with the old version. January 22, 2015 at 8:36am Reply

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