L'Eau du Trente-Quatre: a non-flanker, water for summer flanker
Diptyque’s newest release, L’Eau du Trente-Quatre, is meant to be the warm weather companion to the line's signature scent 34 Boulevard Saint Germain. At first sniff, it's hard to pin down what the two have in common. You might not even smell L’Eau du Trente-Quatre as being a flanker. Maybe it was never intended to be a flanker? This is the description from the Diptyque website:
“A lively interpretation of the original 34 Boulevard Saint Germain, the new fragrance captures the essence of the original boutique, during the time when the weather changes and the greenest notes take over from the warmer and more sensual notes of 34 Boulevard Saint Germain.”
It’s as though composer Olivier Pescheux took all the unused notes from 34 BSG found laying around the lab and created L’Eau du Trente-Quatre. The differences are obvious right from the start. L’Eau du Trente-Quatre has an element common to many perfumes but one I haven't experienced in any Diptyque fragrance: a strong, overt citrus opening. Of course, being Dyptique, it isn’t your run of the mill, obligatory lemon. It’s a wonderful accord of lemon and grapefruit that’s burnished with just a hint of bitter orange. Most fragrances that open with lemon tend to smell like, for better or worse, a lemon. However, L’Eau du Trente-Quatre's opening is the perfume idealization of citrus. It’s the difference between a black and white photograph of a lemon and an atmospheric, still life painting of citrus fruit.
From there L’Eau du Trente-Quatre and 34BSG fragrances diverge further from each other by developing in their own distinctive and interesting ways. 34 BSG has an ever changing kaleidoscopic effect. Notes blossom and change in a seemingly random way. It’s a wonderfully unpredictable experience. But 34 BSG is also a warm, cashmere sweater of a fragrance, thus the need for a “L’Eau” version.
L’Eau du Trente-Quatre has a very open structure and develops in a way similar to the intent of Lavin’s Arpege, which unfolds in the steps of a musical arpeggio. Similarly, L’Eau du Trente-Quatre's major notes and accords each have their time in the spotlight starting with the citrus top, descending to a nice rose-like floral accord of geranium and tuberose, warming with cinnamon leaf and a slightly sweet patchouli, then transitioning into the base which is an especially nice, natural, aromatic cedar. Through the entire development the grapefruit note sings a single descant pitch above the descending arpeggio of notes creating a series of dissonances and cadences until we land on the tonic triad of grapefruit, sweet, light patchouli and aromatic cedar.
L’Eau du Trente-Quatre may not be the artistic equal to 34BSG but it is a stronger, longer lasting L'eau when compared with most design house flankers that have been watered as "fraiche" for summer wear.