Blog post by Gwen

Duel – green and woody and smooth

Photo - Wikimedia Commons - Steaming yerbe maté in a gourd - 2005

I was rummaging around a box of samples, decants and minis looking for stocking stuffers one Christmas Eve, when a mini of Duel fell out of the box and onto the floor. As I picked it up to put it back in the box, I paused to look at it. Little minis are so adorable – small little replicas of full-sized perfume bottles – I imagine they are the result of leaving two big bottles alone together for too long. But I didn’t recognize this one at all. Duel? Really? As I looked at it in my hand I wondered where it came from (my whimsical explanation of perfume bottle mating aside). It looked like it hadn’t been opened. In fact, I’d never smelled Duel. Then it came back to me. It was a gift with purchase at the Annick Goutal store in St. Sulpice at Christmas one year.

I muttered, “Tis the season” as I opened the mini and put the juice to my wrist. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was gonna have to get the Big Daddy bottle of Duel. Yep, as part of Goutal’s ‘Les Masculins’ line, Duel is for men, which is probably why the mini ended up rattling around the bottom of the sample box in the first place.

Duel, launched in 2003, was inspired by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen's love of the green mate accord, so they decided to build a fragrance around it.

Yerba mate is a South American herb related to holly and is used to make a caffeine-rich infused drink similar to tea. It is traditionally served in a hollowed-out gourd and sipped through a flanged straw. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am not a big fan of drinking tea but wearing it in fragrance form – now that’s my cup of tea!

Duel opens with a gentle citrus note of petitgrain joined by herbaceous, slightly camphorous mate. Mate is a new ingredient for me. It smells like dried leaves – aromatic green, with hay tones and tobacco facets that are all on display here. It’s a compelling scent that I can’t get enough of. The mate gets earthier as it blooms, but a smudge of absinth sweetens and lightens it. At the heart, iris root is velvety and cool and appears alongside woody, slightly floral Gaiac wood. All of it resting on a base of soft, supple sensuous leather and animalic musk.

Given the weight of some of its ingredients, Duel’s drydown is surprisingly light and refined, making it one smooth operator. It’s a perfect warm-weather scent, but it has enough huskiness and heft to be worn in cooler weather too.

Check out Duel in our Shop.