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Launched : 1989, discontinued
Group : Oriental floral
Le Bain is another of my autumn favourites currently in rotation and has been for years. The fragrance is part of German fashion house Joop's first generation of fragrances, the first being Joop! Femme in 1987 followed by iconic Joop! Homme two years later together with their second ladies' scent Le Bain.
The carton box of Le Bain is white with light blue hues and I always wondered if it's meant to represent the whiteness of a bathtub. Even so, this isn't a bath oil, though the name does allude to that. For me, the cold, clinical colours do not at all resemble the rich, ambery juice inside. The white cap is also a bit of a letdown; I would have preferred a golden coloured cap for a more glamorous look.
Top notes : aldehydes, orange blossom, bergamot, lemon
Le Bain opens up with a strong and heady aroma of cherry pipe tobacco that's a dark, juicy and mouth-wateringly delicious combination of sweet and dark, fruity and resinous elements with a smoky edge. This might be the work of fruity aldehydes although I cannot say which ones not having a raw material to compare it to other than the similar fruity smoky burst I'm getting in Mauboussin EDP also with notes of aldehydes in the top.
Instants later, the accord changes and is joined by a strong bitter almond note that takes centerstage for a moment without crushing the other notes. Letting the other contestants shine, the powdery and nutty almond undertone gently blends in and gives a lovely depth and sillage to the fruity tobacco hay-like top for a nice and steady half an hour or a bit more.
Heart notes: sandalwood, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, cedarwood, rose
The aromatic opening notes soon become even more almondy and also lightly floral. It is definitely the clean and sweet jasmine that stands out for me and it is a dead ringer for the jasmine in Bulgari 's Jasmin Noir with the same creamy almond undertone. Unlike Jasmin Noir however, where this accord constitutes the bulk of the heart, here it's only a part of the picture.
Le Bain is also turning smoky, bitter and incense like, somewhat tannic, sharp and reminiscent of black tea and yet increasingly cuddly and comforting. If I likened the heart to something more tangible, it would be like a cup of hot black tea infused with a cherry aroma and a mouth watering almond cake on the side. A few hours later, the same accord has largely stayed the same but it has given off a decent sillage and is now a softer image of itself and sits close to the skin and I only perceive it when I move.
Base notes : tonka bean, amber, patchouli, musk, vanilla
The basenotes kick in with powdery soft and muted sandalwood and vanilla from 6 - 7 hours onwards both having already being expressed in the heart to a lesser degree. The vanilla here is a rich, genuine essence-type vanilla particularly resembling my vanilla essence from Madagascar with dark, smoky and caramel like nuances.
Still going 12 hours on, a hint of cherry appears from time to time, less edgy and spicy but still rich and dark. This hint really gives an edge to Le Bain and saves it from being a regular, woody ambery and vanillic oriental. I was astonished to find my clothes the next morning smelling of the ambery, labdanum rich drydown of Mauboussin EDP which it wasn't of course. It was Le Bain but that's how similar they become at the end.
Indeed, I realised the reason I like Le Bain so much is because it reminds me of one of my cherished signature scents Mauboussin EDP. Joop's creation feels like a light version of leathery fruity Mauboussin where the leather is replaced by a smoky, tobacco-like note, the dry, plummy darkness by powdery and almondy black cherries topped off with vanilla. Le Bain is stronger on the vanilla but is softer and lighter on the whole.
To sum up, Le Bain is a fruity oriental Joop! - style along the lines of typically end of eighties and early nineties oriental scents: velvety, full of strength, rich and balmy aromas that are sometimes a bit oily but always sweet in a good way. Le Bain and is a joy to wear in autumn as it's complex without being heavy, rich and dark without being overwhelming and has that light and sweet edge that are always signs of an unusual, quirky fragrance. Decidedly one that has personality and doesn't want to be liked by everyone.
Le Bain works perfectly if you like fruity or smoky amber scents along the lines of Mauboussin and Histoire d'Eau but with less darkness, or if you're a fan of Nilang and Sonia Rykiel but want them to be darker and with more bite. A lot less floral then its notes would indicate,the fragrance is a warm, luminous, balmy oriental with a light-at-heart, sweet and playful edge. Recommended if you like unusual, quirky, sweet and oriental scents in real Joop! tradition.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Sadly discontinued, prices have started to climb up recently. The 40ml bottle I bought a couple of years ago is still available on eBay and Amazon but at almost double the price £35.99.
The best value source seems to be perfumesclub.co.uk at £28.41 / 75ml Eau de Parfum if you want to stock up on this little beauty.
©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk
This inviting fragrance celebrates the bath for women seeking self-indulgence and relaxation with its mysterious, exotic and flowery scents.