François Demachy still seems to be in something of a retro mood, at least while working on Dior's Collection Privée. Last year, his gorgeous Cuir Cannage was an olfactory teleporter to an era of dense, old-school leathers. And now Fève Délicieuse pulls us back to the opulence of the 1920s and the seductive souls of Habanita and Shalimar. Interestingly, it does so by employing that somewhat more recent sub-genre of oriental perfumes: the gourmand. But if the thought of another Angel is enough to make you renew your Weight Watchers membership, then relax. There's something far more sophisticated at play in Demachy's effort. Yes, he bases his composition heavily on vanilla - and all its lip-smacking associations - but the inclusion of tonka bean (the 'fève' of the name) adds a singular twist, lining the sugar with a welcome edge of sharp bitterness. Each time the powderiness of the vanilla threatens to overwhelm the whole, the hay-like facets of the tonka redress the balance. And whenever the praline notes feel like they're going to drag everything into a glutinous sundae dish, the woodiness pulls them back up again. Finally, cinnamon and what I read as a particularly balmy myrrh heighten the sense of decorum even further. This is no hurried gulp of a chocolate bar grabbed at the corner shop. It's a long-planned pilgrimage to your favourite patisserie, where the light from the crystal chandeliers blankets the tablecloths, the cutlery and the china with a glow of sensuous warmth. An experience to be savoured.
[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Christian Dior in 2015.]