Fragonard launched the Confidentiel line this year with four fragrances, all created by perfumers at Givaudan: Mensonge, Cette Nuit La, Apres Tout, and Soudain. The fragrances are priced higher than usual for Fragonard and the packaging has a more modern aesthetic; this would appear to be an effort to capture some of the upscale niche fragrance market. Today I am trying Soudain, which has notes of Italian green mandarin, lemon, Guatamalan cardamom, jasmine, orange blossom, Paraguayan gaiac wood and musk.
Soudain opens on very dry, very green citrus, heavily dusted with cardamom. The top notes are rather high-pitched, in the same vein as Hermés Jardin Sur Le Nil, and smell more like lime and grapefruit than mandarin and lemon to my nose. The wood is noticeable before the floral notes, which stay very sheer in any case. The dry down is light musky woods laced with orange blossom. Enough cardamom remains to provide a nice kick, and happily, it stays very dry and dusty and zingy — I adore cardamom, but in perfume it often goes flat and stale after 30 minutes.
It is a fresh, transparent, summery fragrance, decidedly unisex, and while it is neither terribly long lasting nor startlingly unique, it is nicely composed and is going on my shopping list for next spring.
Soudain, like the others in this quartet, is an Eau de Toilette, and the lasting power is about average; it will take several sprays to make a decent impression. For buying information, see the listing for Fragonard under Perfume Houses. I think the price is $80 for 100 ml, but I failed to write it down and I have a terrible memory. If anyone has the recent catalog from Barneys and has a moment to check the price, please comment!
Update: as of early 2008, the Confidentiel line appears to have been discontinued, although Mensonge has joined the regular Fragonard line.