The first several times I tested Baume du Dodge, the 2008 Bertrand Duchaufour creation for Eau d'Italie, were from spray testers. I got a somewhat flat impression, as though some of the notes were missing in action. I still gave it several tries: after all, it's Duchaufour doing incense (that was before it started to feel like Mr. Duchaufour gets around a little too much), and everybody loves Dzongkha. But I wasn't bowled over so I forgot all about it until I browsed my sample archives (aka the unholy mess) and found a couple of carded dab-on vials. I figured it was worth a try.
And it was.
It's amazing how the lively and zesty top notes come to life when Baume du Doge is dabbed on skin. They smell like the lovechild of Chene and an orange, which is quite an appealing concept. This Eau d'Italie perfume changes and develops quite fast- maybe too quickly, actually, and before you know it there's a distinct honeyed quality, spice and sweetness. This is probably my favorite part of of the scent and where I fully get the Renaissance Venetian inspiration- the rich city, noble merchants and stores featuring exotic spices and luxury goods from around the world. There's color, aroma and the plush texture of expensive fabrics everywhere you turn. Baume du Doge's heart makes it all come alive with its saffron, cinnamon and clove encased in beautiful wooden boxes. There's a moment there where the saffron and incense have a quick Black Cashmere moment, but this is an Eau d'Italie, and Italy is lush and inviting and not as dark and austere as my favorite Donna Karan.
It's when Baume du Doge turns into an all frankincense and myrrh affair that I realize I might not love it quite as much as I thought. It's probably a skin chemistry thing more than anything, but a certain (im)balance makes the chewy myrrh take over a little more than I like. If we're doing an all myrrh all the time, I prefer the warm (and discontinued) Diptyque L'Eau Trois, because of its more unique dusty and shrubby quality. But that may be just me.
Baume du Doge by Eau d'Italie ($130, 100ml) is available from Lafco NYC and Luckyscent.
Image of a Venetian early Renaissance fresco corbisimages.com