The third release in Dior’s Voyage series, Escale aux Marquises is a blend of Tiaré flower and spices that it supposed to take us on an exotic trip to faraway islands in the Indian ocean.
Escale aux Marquises was released in 2010, composed by Francois Demachy, it includes notes of blood orange, pink pepper, cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, coriander, elemi, lemon peel, tiare, freesia, benzoin and vanilla.
To make it quick: Escale aux Marquises smells like thousands of similar colognes do. It is not unpleasant, but not impressive either. It could be an interesting blend when looking at the notes, but the execution is rather pale and generic.
Why am I reviewing something that is neither great nor horrific?
I wanted to like this. But it is one more lesson for me – the bottle and the image are important, but only AFTER the fragrance has convinced me of its worthiness. Up to the moment of actually sitting down to write, I wanted this to be special and lovely and working for me. But when I actually face the truth or rather smell my hand for writing the review, I can’t but say the truth, it is not that special at all.
A second reason for this review of something so mediocre:
Escale aux Marquises is a perfect representative of todays market. A wan, pale, wimpy, nondescript and unmemorable liquid marketed to the nines in a beautiful bottle that comes from a great design house with an important past in perfumery.
I am sure many people are attracted to this, as I was (although I should really know better, see #1). Maybe those regular, non-perfume-obsessed people google for reviews of Escale aux Marquises. There are not many of those, because we perfume bloggers usually write about what we love: niche, unique, hard to find, obscure, interesting, challenging and as far away from the mainstream as we can get. Most mainstream reviews fall into the Scents of Horror category.
Escale aux Marquises is not a scent of horror, this is a run of the mill, as bland as they come mainstream release with little character beyond its pretty dress. I am here to tell that to the world. 🙂
Perfume can be so much better. Perfume can be a journey, an adventure, a challenge, a trip, a perfect escape or a way home. Perfume has power!
Escale aux Marquises does not use its power. At all. This makes me sad. I don’t want young people to grow up with the perception that this is haute parfumerie. It is from Dior after all, look at it, it is beautiful, it is expensive, it comes with its lovely stories attached, but how it smells – it is not enough. The juice as an afterthought, that is not enough.
People of Dior – that is not good enough. You can do better, you just won’t, because you think you lose money. You will lose money indeed in the long run, because I don’t think people will be happy with the nondescript and generic forever. And I will do my best to hasten that process as do all the other bloggers out there.
Perfume is powerful and so are our voices. Over time things will change. Get on board Dior, but please not with destination Marquises Islands.
Okay, stepping off the soap box now. What are your thoughts on the matter? Do you know the fragrance? The soap box is free for your speeches! I am looking forward to your opinions!
There’s not much to be added to this I’m afraid. You are right, I no longer even try mainstream releases (occasionally, some find their way to my arm, but occasionaly).
The other day I tried D&G The One Rose I think (it was a rose scent) on a strip (I’m not giving mainstream releases my arm unless they prover worthy on paper) and was pleasantly surprised by the rose bubble gum opening (smell much better than it sounds) 🙂 and was already contemplating if I wanted a bottle, when an hour later it turned into a horrible musky mess.
Why?! They could have left it completely linear and smelling like that opening and I would be getting a bottle. Now, I’ll just skip over their new releases…
Normally I just sigh and move on, but sometimes I get really incensed by this obvious lack of even trying to make a good perfume. Why must everything get done sloppy and cheaply with no regard to the art that is supposed to be behind it. Fast food perfume, that is what it is. I want real food, cooked and prepared with the best ingredients by the best cooks. 🙂
As Ines already said : I don’t really try mainstream perfume anymore.
In fact I do it when I wait for my flight, am bored, and there is nothing else to do then stroll the dutyfree shop. I sniff them and mostly forget them immedietely, because there is not much to remember. So I’m quite sure I tried au Marquises as well – but it left no trace in my nose (heart, brain, etc.) . I might sound pessimistic but the world is superficial and generic – so Dior and co. will produce the matching superficial and generic perfume. Thank God (or whomever else) , there is niche perfumery…
Generally speaking you are right of course, but there are some very good mainstream perfumes out there as there are awful and unimaginative niche offerings. It is a long and hard journey to try them all! 😉
Banal new releases are disappointing, especially when they have such good backing, like Dior. It does feel like there’s no excuse for it. But what really depresses me is what a company like Dior is doing to its back catelogue. My beloved Diorella is fading with every reformulation. The current version is such a shadow of its former self I’ve had to start stock-piling older versions. A mediocre new release feels like a wasted opportunity but denegrating a masterpiece feels like a crime.
Thanks for sharing your soap box! 🙂
Absolutely right, the maintaining of their legacy should be a sacred duty to perfume houses. I understand that perfume is a changeable piece of art, it is prone to fluctuate depending on many parameters, but it can be done, we have the best example in Chanel. They are able to keep no5 consistent.
Thanks for stepping on the soap box, Tara! We all should, maybe one time we will be heard and heeded rather than the focus group in a Utah mall. 😉
The power house of the three Escales is Portofino. The two others are so uninteresting that it hurts.
I don’t think that niche perfumes are always better than mainstream ones. I’ve tested a number of socalled (they would be seen from my geographical point of view, at least) and have been really disappointed in some of them in terms of uninteresting-ness (if that’s a word, probably not) and poor dry downs, but I will grant you that this is most certainly more often true of socalled mainstream scents. I’ve made it a mission of sorts to find the really good mainstream scents (that I like, obviously) for the simple reason that socalled niche perfumes are largely unavailable in my neck of the woods, and I will only buy so many (or few) niche expensive stuff unsniffed.
I much prefer speaking of quality instead of whether the perfume comes with an odd-ball niche name or from Dior a.o.
OK, a bit cranky today, perhaps, it’s raining and cold where I’m at, and my latest unsniffed buy is taking it’s sweet time to arrive – and We are not amused 😉 And I definitely am a bit tired of the sometimes (not here obviously! 🙂 uncritical adoration of socalled niche scents. Let’s talk quality and stop labelling so much in terms of niche or not niche. And I hear you, Ines, on boring, boring, boring musky dry downs! There should be a law!
Thank you for your point of view, Marie!
As you say, I also think that there are great and very bad perfumes from either mainstream and niche houses. Luckily the quality and creativity is way often exceptional in niche lines, so one should be able to find some great perfumes there. And -albeit far and between – there are some great mainstream perfumes too. One has to look harder though. 😉
I hope the weather gets better soon where you are and your latest unsniffed perfume arrives soon AND smells great!
Marie, I too am attracted to mainstream scents, although my collection tells a different tale!
I keep trying, because I know that there must be more out there! I mean, the Prada’s are really good! And there are several others that are really good too–I mentioned Cinema and Bulgari Black yesterday–but there *must* be others. I’m not totally sure why I keep treading this path, because there’s one Cinema to fifty Miss Dior Cherie’s (apologies to MDC lovers!), yet I remain hopeful. 🙂
Will check out Cinema ASAP!
I have a confession right here: I like MDC – hangs head in shame 😉 It’s my “it’s a cruel world and I need something that will be nice to me”-scent – however, it’s a double-edged sword: if over-dosed it will turn into sticky sweet monster that will kill you.
Bulgari Black is wonderful, I agree. There’s also Chanel no. 5 Eau Premiere, if one likes a bit of old school aldehydes in a modern rendition. There’s Rochas Femme (altough, I had to get that online, so maybe not technically a mainstream scent). And I do like Chanel no. 19 for non-flirty office wear. And there’s Hypnotic Poison which I love but always am a bit hesitant to wear because I fear that my surroundings will find it too odd – this has never happend – in fact. a friend insists that I smell goooood when I wear it. It’s just me.
Getting down from my mainstream soap box I will probably venture into the niche scene on my next full size purchase. I crave Penhaligon’s Amaranthine (I have a sample) and it could become my birthday present to me – or my consolation gift if I decide on a bit of nasty dental work that I need to get done. I also crave Amouage Attar Jubilation 25 but that’s some really expensive juice that will take more than dental work to justify.
Also, Marie, are we both in Oregon? We should try and shop together one day if this is true! 🙂
deeHowe, unfortunately, unfortunately, I’m really far away from Oregon, I live in Denmark where we have plenty of mainstream perfumes, but no mountains and no rivers on the scale of what you have in your beautiful state judging from TV programs and photos. I’d love to go mainstreaming with you 🙂
“Perfume can be so much better. Perfume can be a journey, an adventure, a challenge, a trip, a perfect escape or a way home.”
First let me say the quote above is writing genius. Brilliant!
As for the issue at hand, I couldn’t agree more, and yet… And yet, does the public care? Now that I am deeply embroiled in the world of perfume, it’s hard to see the world the way I did even a year ago. Is perfume coming to the public consciousness recently, or am I just noticing the perfume discussions now?
Certainly the American public is comfortable in mediocrity (I include myself here in some ways). Reference Jersey Shore, the “acting career” of Megan Fox, the constant presence of McDonald’s, and the fact that we wear jeans everywhere – just for starters.
Do houses have a duty to preserve the art? No, frankly. I wish they did, but the major houses are run by people looking for profit. Mediocrity is easy, less expensive to make, and sells. Why battle? And if the average consumer doesn’t notice that her “beloved” scent gets weaker each year, why struggle to keep it the same? I’m speaking from the business point-of-view, of course, which is a valid perspective. Their decisions make sense for them. As an artistic person, I wish it were different but the best I can do is buy the art, skip the fluff, and engage in discussions that advance The Cause.
I’d love to see perfume ascend to the artistic level I think it deserves, but as long as Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey are associated with it, my hopes are not high… But I will keep spreading the word anyway! I’m a good-smelling optimist at heart. 😉
Jen, you are sadly right – the public does not care.
It is probably a Don Quijote-esque task to insist on the moral duty of perfume houses to preserve their legacy, but I’d rather fight against windmills than quietly accept the descent into mediocrity and worse our whole culture is headed for.
I like your idea of good-smelling optimism, that is the best way to go. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I like it more than the other two, but that is not saying much.
I like Portofino best. 🙂
B., I really admire the very constructive way you went about this review of a fragrance you don’t like. The couple times I have written negative reviews I got too caught up in my emotions and the reviews truly were negative, with no constructive criticism that might have helped my readers.
A lot of what Jen said I find to be true. In the U.S., I think there is only a small segment of the population that is looking for art (in any context of the word). The vast majority of people here favor quantity over quality–and they are used to being catered to by companies which provide them with “the best deal” on any number of goods, everything from electronics to clothes to food. So in one sense, I think these companies are giving the people what they want and I’m not sure that will change anytime soon. But thank goodness for the Internet, which helps artisanal brands flourish and come to the attention of those of us who are interested in taking the time to seek out quality and art in our perfumes and other goods. Reviews like yours might not make a difference in what the companies do, but they are truly helpful to our segment of the population, enabling us to better find those things which are artful and beautifully done, as well as those which are not.
I am in no position to criticize Americans, nor do I profess to know your country that well, because it is a different thing to see a society from outside than living in it, but what you say about quantity over quality and art being no priority, that is my impression too. And because everything American without fail, swaps over to Europe eventually, I can safely say it is only the minority over here too that seeks out art and strives for quality in everything.
I feel torn between just letting go and resign myself to the increasing and encroaching stupidity and apathy around me and rallying against it, like I did today in a small way.
Thank you for your kind words! 🙂
Let’s not give in to apathy and more is better 🙂
I agree – I really appreciate reviews such as this one – they have made a world of difference for me.
Thanks fro such a thought provoking review. I enjoyed it very much.
I liked Escala a Portofino (I had a FB) but not enough to keep. Nice, but nothing special. I gave it away to a male friend, who loved it! I have not smelled it on him, but he says he often gets compliments, and is down to the last of the bottle. It gave me such pleasure to think that someone has enjoyed it. But since then I have not been tempted by the other Escalas.
I agree with jen, above, that the major houses like Dior are more interested in profit than art, especially because they often look to their perfume and cosmetic sales to support their couture clothing. But I try not to be nostalgic and sentimental. There are many, many wonderful perfumes out there, and I am not fussed about where they come from, or what bottles they are in. (I am sad tho’, because the Escale bottles are beautiful, as you say.)
The market for beautiful, innovative fragrances might be small, but it is there. And talented, fearless perfumers can find their customers via the internet. Cheer up Olfactoria! All is good.
Sorry, it’s ‘Escale’, isn’t it? Dumb me.
Lol, you are right Anne Marie, all is not lost. The internet is a wonderful place where creators and customers find each other. We should celebrate that! 🙂
Pingback: Only You – Review: Dior Escale à Portofino | Olfactoria's Travels
Pingback: A Little Something For The Eye – A Sneak Peek Into My Perfume Closet Part VII – The Albatross Edition | Olfactoria's Travels