Something important to remember before trying Tonkamande from Parfumerie Generale is to take a step back from the name (tonka bean+almond) and concentrate on the scent itself and the way it feels on skin. Tonkamande is sort of a gourmand, but only up to a certain point. It has a certain lightness, a whiff of smooth cool air that flows through the open window into the bakery and lets in the first whiff of spring.
In Tonkamande perfumer Pierre Guillaume created a skin scent that takes the best of all worlds: the Parisian patisserie, a sexy oriental, and a satisfying cozy comfort fragrance. It's not quite a croissants aux amandes-- the almond note is about almond milk, not marzipan, and it's far less sugary or buttery than you might expect. Instead, you get the creaminess of sandalwood, a warm fresh bread that satisfies one's heart, and a floral vanilla that ties everything together. There's a longing in Tonkamande-- for spring, for beauty, for grace and solace; you pull it around you and feel better instantly.
Tonkamande is subtle and more perfumy than my other favorite gourmand(ish) Parfumerie Generale fragrances, which makes me appreciate the artistry behind it even more- Pierre Guillaume doesn't repeat himself- he uses various facets of vanilla, different ideas of sensuality and skin; this results in a fragrance that's the complete opposite of Felanilla but just as emotionally moving.
Notes: Almond milk, aldehydes, tonka bean, wheat, sandalwood, vanilla, amber.
Parfumerie Generale- Tonkamande ($100, 50ml) is available from Osswald in NYC (only bigger bottles, though) and Luckyscent.
Image: Iris Egbers for The Sunday Times, May 2011