These two fragrances were blind buys in the Envoyage sale. I trust Shelley’s work enough to know that even if it’s not to my taste, it will at least be interesting. Thankfully, I fell for both of these on first sniff! Here’s why…
Debut de Carmel opens with an almost lychee note… a watery, slightly green fruit that gains a little floral spice. It’s a near-mouthwatering, but more “refreshing” aquatic, tropical juice, that within minutes, transitions into a very clean, ivory soap with just a small touch of clove. Yep, the dominant soap accord was unexpected, and the transition is so rapid, and so literal, it was baffling the first time I tried this. I like soapy accords, but not when they’re bashed next to bitter floral greens (Antonia by Puredistance for example)… here, I could tolerate it… infact, I liked it, but hoped it wouldn’t stay this way until it end… thankfully it doesn’t :) instead, I find it quite a charming little phase of Debut.
Debut’s soap begins to turn creamy and a little sweeter as a vanilla, white musk, and a hyper-clean, subtle wash of apricot comes in. There’s a crisp lily of the valley and an abstract interpretation of white florals (gardenia) in here, with hints of soapy violet that reminds me of a non-aldehydic Stephen Jones by Comme Des Garcons, a love of mine. There is evening a fleeting smell of mineralic stone like in Stephen Jones. The dominating floral “feel” overall is Wisteria, another note I love. A slightly honeyed, powdery, purple floral that reminds me a little of lilac and heliotrope, but with a linden blossom feel… it’s like a combination of them all. A charming, very quaint, English smelling floral. Debut remains a squeaky clean, shiny, soapy floral with hints of soft fruits and musk – all atop an almost aquatic vanilla base. I can totally imagine that this doesn’t sound appealing, but I’m constantly drawn to it as something desperately easy to wear, and really comforting.
I love how Lucy over at IndiePerfumes said in her review: “how is it possible that the precise feeling of beginnings was captured in the form of a scent? There is something anticipatory and active in how the notes hold together, a sense of curiosity and innocence.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Really lovely work.
Carmel de Ville is a whole other story. It starts with tart, syrupy fruits, like a liqour. It’s spiked with sour edges of rhubarb, and yet sweetened with hints of brown sugar, fresh plums and peach/apricot. There are hints of powdery, honeyed florals (indolic jasmine?) – and the whole thing reminds me of an easier to wear… “prelude” to Chang Chang by Envoyage Perfumes… one of my favourites of her line. There is the same huge contrast of florals, tart fruit acetates that becomes totally holographic and impossible to pull apart, with an even greater dose of honey here. Where Chang Chang gets even more powerful with honey and cocoa, Carmel de Ville gets a little sweeter with a thin laquer of caramel, and a very urinous honey.
Now, the honey is what could be the thing that will make or break the fragrance for you. For me? It’s an absolute love. I adore things like Miel de Bois, Onda, (to a lesser extent) Absolue Pour Le Soir etc… Here though, that dry, slightly sour, animalic honey is enriched with all the jammy fruits and caramel that it becomes an abstract gourmand with an animalic edge. It’s fascinating to me, and something I feel hugely comforted in. It’s warm, human, filthy, but sweet and delicious at the same time. It’s become a bedtime staple for me :’) Much to my partner’s dismay… but there we go!
The honey is the dominant note in Carmel de Ville for me, along with the caramel, yet it remains holographic and multicoloured, never one-dimensional or predictable – a thing I adore about Shelley’s work. It settles into a sweetened patchouli/sandalwood much later on. If it sounds like your cup of tea, you’ll love it!
And as always I’m blown away by the gems in this line. Thrilled to have these :)
EnVoyage Perfumes – Carmel de Ville & Debut de Carmel – 15ml EDP – $40 http://www.envoyageperfumes.com