In my own perfume collection, certain houses receive more attention during certain seasons of the year. Diptyque happens to be a summer favorite of mine: I've worn L'Ombre dans L'Eau every summer since 2003, and I'm also very fond of Eau Rose and Eau de Lierre. Diptyque's latest release, Florabellio, puzzled me on paper, and I wasn't able to guess how much I'd like it or what season it would best fit. Florabellio was developed by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin and features notes of salty sea spray, sea fennel, apple blossom, osmanthus, coffee and toasted sesame.
My sample vial of Florabellio has turned out to be a very suitable fragrance for the earliest days of summer. Diptyque describes Florabellio as "foreign yet familiar...blurring the perspectives between land and sea, flower and fruit, softness and bitterness." Most of that description makes perfect sense to me (we'll get to the other part in a minute!). Florabellio opens strong and yes, almost bitter, with its coffee accord. I happen to love the smell and taste of coffee, and this coffee aroma has hints of vetiver and something malty, making it complex and almost "masculine."
The coffee gradually dissipates, allowing Florabellio's "salty sea spray" to dominate. This is the softer (but still androgynous) phase of the fragrance; it's fresh, but also just slightly vegetal, with a hint of seaweed (the "sea fennel"?) lurking beneath the salt and the cool air. I've worn Florabellio several times this week, almost draining my sample vial, but I'm still searching in vain for the "flower and fruit" in this quirky gourmand-marine scent. There might be a suggestion of osmanthus's peachy-suede effect in the dry down, which reminds me of warm, slightly musky skin under a veil of sand and salt.
Somewhat surprisingly for a fragrance with so much airiness, Florabellio clings well to skin; a few spritzes to my wrists and neck left a layer of scent that was still detectable at the end of a full workday. It could easily be worn by men as well as women (despite the flowery name).
I've known for a while that I'm fond of breezy salt-air fragrances like Lostmarc'h Iroaz, Les Parfums de Rosine Ecume des Roses and Tokyo Milk Sea and Sky. I never thought I'd like a marine scent with a coffee note — in truth, the idea of a marine-coffee fragrance never even occurred to me — but now that I'm smelling one, I love it. In addition, the juxtaposition of ocean air and almost-bitter coffee brings back a happy childhood memory for me. I certainly wouldn't mind owning a small bottle of Florabellio for this summer.
Diptyque Florabellio is available as 50 ml ($90) and 100 ml ($125) Eau de Toilette. For purchasing information, see the listing for Diptyque under Perfume Houses.