Super-Special Patchouli And Yesteryear’s Rose – Review: Guerlain Idylle Duet

I was awaiting Idylle Duet rather impatiently for a mainstream flanker launch. Probably because I had already heard many good things about it and because I rather like Idylle, which is a nice fragrance if you don’t expect it to knock your socks off.

I called it “one of many” in my review from last fall and I am still of that opinion. Now what about Duet? Is it another chop of the same block? A step in another direction?

I got the full marketing treatment when I sought out Idylle Duet at the department store. A Guerlain representative was there and was obviously desperate for someone half willing to listen to her fascinating story of the latest patchouli harvest! Nodding at regular intervals and otherwise – desperate all right! – trying to close my ears to her hair-raising drivel (bringing to mind old traumata), I tried to concentrate on the scent I applied to my arm.

Notes include rose, patchouli, freesia, jasmine, lilly of the valley, peony and white musk. It was created by Thierry Wasser.

I wouldn’t have thought Duet to be related to Idylle, had I smelled it unknowingly.

There is a dominant rose note complimented by the much touted “super-special rare patchouli previously never used in a fragrance” (How stupid do you think I am, good woman?). The rather sparkling and luminous floral accord I like in the original Idylle and that gives it its character is absent here and I am not sure if the new emphasis in Duet is enough to entice me. I got the impression of the whole thing being rather thin and a bit sour. I don’t want to trash it, but I am hard pressed finding less harsh words.

The other recent rose-patchouli fragrance comes to mind of course, but comparing Portrait of a Lady with Idylle Duet is rather like comparing Beethoven’s Ninth played by the New York Philharmonic with full choir and world-class soloists with “Freude, schöner Götterfunken!” sung by my son’s Kindergarten group (and they are not bad, mind you, just a bit hampered by overexitement and a few weak links ;))

Thankfully I now know that “Mister Wassler” [sic] personally saw to it that Idylle Duet was only made of “a few select roses harvested last year and therefore long gone” and if I didn’t buy this precious gem right now its presence at the store tomorrow could not be guaranteed any more (You don’t say! I strongly suspect this is true for everything!)
Despite the enthusiastic and learned observations of this heartwarmingly dedicated Guerlain SA, I did actually resist buying Duet and it was not hard to do. (To her utter disappointment and incredulity: “But it is limited Edition…”).

I must say I rather like the box Duet comes in, it is the same style as for the excellent Shalimar flanker of 2010 Ode a la Vanille. The bottle is the same in shape as for the original Idylle, but it is rose-gold rather than yellow-gold and the juice – yes, it is pink! It comes in 35ml Eau de Parfum.

There is also a extra limited Edition within the limited Edition (gotta love that!): a Swarowski-crystal embossed flacon presented in a silk-lined wooden box. So if you really love Duet, here is the way to spend some extra money on it. 😉

On a side note: Wouldn’t it be a grand idea for Guerlain to actually train their employees?

I am sure the lovely, if a little overly made-up Guerlain representative I met at the department store would have had the mental capacity to reproduce in an understandable fashion the correct information pertaining to a perfume, a perfumer or an entire perfume house. It cannot be an issue of this singular woman, because haven’t we all met one or more of this species?

I am sure, aside from the hardworking “Mr. Wassler”, there are people at Guerlain who know what they are doing, wouldn’t it be a good thing for a company to employ people who get the tools to do their job properly? Wouldn’t that improve the image of said company (and it is not only Guerlain, ha, I wish it were limited to Guerlain!) enormously?

But obviously I have not the first idea about how business is done, so I better forever hold my peace.

Patchouli - sadly this image only shows the regular variety...

And I’ll leave Idylle Duet to those who appreciate super-special patchouli.

Image source:,, some rights reserved,thank you!

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24 Responses to Super-Special Patchouli And Yesteryear’s Rose – Review: Guerlain Idylle Duet

  1. Gisela says:

    You make me think of the Hermès SA who told me while I was sniffing Voyage that I was wrong in smelling cardamom in it because “it is not listed in the notes and Hermès does list all the notes”, of the Serge Lutens SA who told me that their frags contain only natural materials and therefore can be all layered, of the Cartier SA who told me that Cartier never does minis, of the Lancome SA who never had heard about Cuir but wanted to sell me some fruity-floral (“but it’s new!”) – you know what I mean!
    These experiences make SA training seem like a secret super weapon almost no company has access to…

  2. Ines says:

    He, he, I missed the first reference to Mr. Wassler.
    I love that one. 😀

  3. vanessa says:

    LOL re “Mr Wassler”! They didn’t also call him Terry, by any chance? I loved this tale of “super-special patchouli” and hope you don’t live to regret passing on the those “few select roses” that made the cut. We have a similar spiel in our ads for Ribena blackcurrant drink and Birds Eye peas, but at least their specially selected fruit and veg can be snapped up for a couple of quid – a Schnäppchen, indeed! :- )

  4. Tara says:

    SA’s are always a bit scary when they’re pushing a new release but at least get the facts right! I think that if you love perfume it’s so disppointing because it might be nice to be able to have a good chat with someone who knows their stuff (minus the hard sell of course).

    Rose and patchouli are obviously extremely popular so looks like Guerlain missed a trick here. It’s all very well having super-special (!) patchouli but no use if it comes our rhin and sour. Maybe that’s the reason it’s never been used before 🙂 Agree it’s a very nice box though.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I could be off and the scent is great, it is only my opinion after all. 🙂
      But maybe you are right and the super-special patchouli is entirely to blame. We will never know…;)

      • Tara says:

        You’re not off B, I just tried it this lunch-time and it is a rather sad and – dare I say it?- cheap smelling rose/patchouli. The good news however, is that it made me re-visit and appreciate the orginal Idylle which really is quite pretty and Spring-like though, as you say, one of many.

  5. Victoria says:

    Wow, it sounds rather like an expert that pushed me to layer two LPRN.
    I love the box too. Now, we need a fitting fragrance to come in it.

  6. Marina says:

    But it has extra special uber rare patchouli that only grows once in a blue moon… I don’t know how you could resist…

  7. angie Cox says:

    Well I actually love Duet and thought this is what “Portrait of a Lady” could have been. It’s an odd world and noses are even odder ! If this super patchouli is in it it doesn’t exactly throw itself at you. The S.A who served me knew nothing but was so keen to get me to buy it she loaded up a bag of face products and samples. My daughter has been waiting for me to turn into a beauty all week. If there is one product I am very suspicious about it’s face creams . At least they were free !

    • Olfactoria says:

      We all have different tastes and preferences, that is a good thing and that is why there are so many scents out there. I am glad you found something you love in Duet! And a goodie bag full of samples is never a bad thing either. 😉

  8. deeHowe says:

    I still have not smelled the original! Total heathen here… 😉

  9. Tarleisio says:

    Mr. Wassler? Any relation we might have to the steam coming out of our ears actually listening to this stuff??;)

    Ah, the sales tricks these people try, when they might as well hold their breath and turn blue! One SA at a shop that sells E -scentric Molecules, about as niche as it gets here in BFE, had never heard of perfume blogs, or niche in general. So I had to get obnoxious and rattle off names. Poor woman – she was positively green when I left!

    I haven’t been impressed by Idylle, my sorrow to say. For something launched by Guerlain, it smells too much like marketing brief and not nearly enough like…perfume launched by Guerlain. Quel dommage! 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are absolutely right of course. Although I think Idylle is a lot better than Insolence, L’Instant et al. That they are a far cry from the old classics coming from this house is certainly and sadly true.

  10. Pingback: A Stroll Around the Department Store – Mini Reviews | Olfactoria's Travels

  11. parfumitebg says:

    Idylle by Guerlain is my favorite. I use it more than 3 years.Wonderful and long lasting fragrance suitable for daily use.

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