Perfume Review: Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Amoureuse, one of the first scents released by the niche house founded by DelRae Roth, is intended to evoke the scent of the blooms of the Victorian box tree, hallmark of the city of San Francisco. It was composed by Michel Roudnitska and DelRae Roth.

Amoureuse” means “she who loves” in French, and is frequently recommended as a wedding or romantic scent. It’s a white floral that seems to engender powerful feelings – people either dislike it strongly, or they just loooove it. I don’t know why, exactly, it took me so long to get hold of a sample of Amoureuse, and once I obtained one, why it took me so long to actually test it. Most perfume blog reviews tended to the positive. Frequently, European reviewers mentioned blooming linden trees; San Franciscans said the fragrance was just what it was meant to copy, the blossoming Victorian box tree (Pittosporum undulatum). I’ve never smelled either.

I suppose I might have been put off a bit by Tania Sanchez’ review in Perfumes: The Guide, in which she comments that it struck her originally as “deliciously heady, dizzying, dense green – a sensation like falling asleep under a tree in summer, overcome by damp heat,”  (a description I just love, by the way), but that eventually she gave her bottle away because, as she says, “this combination of powerful greens plus syrupy white florals and cardamom is just too much to wear at any time, anywhere.” If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that I have no great love for big sillage; if anything, that’s a drawback for me.

Nevertheless, spring came and the time seemed right to test Amoureuse. I wore it one day a few weeks ago. Once the opening had subsided a bit, and the white florals swimming in honey and spice began to come up, I realized: I’ve smelled this before. I’ve smelled this practically every spring of my life.

What Amoureuse smells like to me is the flowers of the black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia). It’s a humble tree – around these parts it tends to grow wild, on roadsides and in vacant lots, and many people regard it as a “trash tree.” My husband and father-in-law have a fondness for it, because black locust posts make excellent fences – the wood is very hard on its own and stands up well to being placed in the ground. However, all parts of the tree (flowers, leaves, seed pods, and bark) are poisonous to humans.  I do wonder if Victorian box and black locust are somehow related, but I don’t have the horticultural knowledge to even postulate.

The first time I really noticed the smell of black locust blossoms, I was visiting my grandmother’s farmhouse. My grandmother was showing me her garden phlox and peonies. I pointed: “What’s that tree? It smells so wonderful.” She shook her head, laughing. “Oh, honey, that’s nothin’ but an ol’ black locust tree. They grow ever’where.”

Just last week I went to pick up my daughter from track practice at the high school. I had the windows down and was concentrating on the song on the radio, when the car was suddenly full of the scent of spicy lilies. I hit the brakes and pulled over. Where were they? A sweet floral smell that strong, surely I’d be able to see the blooms… ah. A large stand of black locust trees was growing wild on each side of the road. No wonder the fragrance was almost overwhelming.

Notes for Amoureuse: Tangerine, cardamom, melon, pepper, honey, tuberose, jasmine, ginger lily, sandalwood, moss, musk.

Amoureuse does open with an intense, mouthwatering note of tangerine, supplemented with the juiciness of crushed leaves. Then the cardamom and floral notes appear – lots of jasmine and lily, with honey and tuberose pouring on the sweetness, and the fragrance is reminiscent of the headiness of black locust. It stays this way for about three hours on me, before gradually subsiding into a warm, elegant sandalwood-moss drydown that reminds me of a friendlier Ivoire de Balmain. The experience is beautiful start to finish, and lasts a good long time on me. One drop will get me a four-hour ride. Three drops gets me seven hours and radiates somewhat beyond the edge of my three-foot-diameter sillage limit.   

I don’t find Amoureuse particularly loud or overwhelming. That may be because I’m dabbing it from a sample vial – but honestly, decanting and dabbing is not an unreasonable solution if it’s too big when sprayed. It’s a beautiful scent, well worth owning. I’m seeking a decant, myself. I’d consider a bottle, but I doubt I’d use it up, given that it’s so concentrated, and a very little bit lasts well.  

Other reviews worth considering: The Left Coast Nose, Robin at Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, Aromascope, Legerdenez, Olfactarama (brief), Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am (brief).

Image of Amoureuse bottle from Fragrantica. Images of Pittosporum undulata and Robinia pseudoacacia from Wikipedia.   Image of multiple trees is Black locust trees at Bret and Phifer’s from Vicky TGAW at Flickr.

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18 thoughts on “Perfume Review: Parfums DelRae Amoureuse”

  1. Hmm… I’m going to have to dig my sample out and try this again. I don’t remember why I didn’t love it the first time that I tried it, but I’m going to guess that’s it’s because I tried it during the dead of winter.

    I’ve found that Debut works better for me when dabbed as well – when sprayed, it seems almost overpowering to me. And I do like at least a moderate amount of sillage, but not something so monstrous that I can’t drive with the windows rolled up.

      1. Now I’m thinking that maybe I didn’t sample this one at all, but was confusing this with one of the other DelRaes in the sample pack I got from them because I can’t imagine not really liking this no matter what time of year I first sniffed it.

        I’ve never smelled Black Locust tree before, but it does smell very much of linden blossom to me. I’ll have to do a side-by-side, but it reminds me of Mac’s Naked Honey.

        I think that I might like Naked Honey more, but, since I can’t get more, this might be a welcome substitute when I run out. I can definitely see that it would be better dabbed than sprayed because it has pretty impressive sillage on me even without spraying – although I did accidentally tip a bit too much on myself, so that’s a factor as well.

      2. Cynthia, I’m finding myself to be not that much of a linden fan – the only fragrance with that note that doesn’t go all “laundry detergent” on me is AG Eau du Ciel, and even that reminds me of the lovely sunshiney smell of sheets dried on the clothesline. Naked Honey was hideous on me, and so was La Chasse aux Papillons. Somehow “linden” goes all chalky and flat and soapy. Bleah.

        But I really, really like Amoureuse – no flat chalky nastiness in it, and the honey is just glorious.

        Somewhere, I think, there is a sample vial of Naked Honey floating around my samples box. If you want it, let me know and I’ll pass it on…

  2. I already commented everywhere (here included) about my love for l’amoureuse and URC, except for their green clementine opening! I was so surprised to learn some people actually love the first unripe fruity blast!

    So I managed to say the same things all over again! :p
    Well, like you I dab l’A and don’t find it overpowering. To be honest, I don’t even detect the white flowers, just a complex blend of something floral and sweet, slightly narcotic like linden flowers, floating above honey and woods… Yum!

    1. Z, s’okay if you say it again! I don’t mind the tart fruity thing.

      But it’s very mixed-white-floral to me, except that the honey gets in there and stirs it all up…

  3. Mals, did you notice that you mistyped “powerful” as “powderful” twice? I think that’s such a cute, telling typo! Some fragrances are indeed “powderful,” though maybe not Amoureuse.

    I’ve been wanting to try this. Few things are “too much” for me … I usually wish things were more powerful, not less!

    1. Hi, E! Um… I’m guessing the “powderful” typo (fixed, by the way, thanks) is due to my stupid cheesy wordprocessing software coming up with words on its own. I have recently typed “powderY” and my guess is the word-suggester thing took over. I really should proofread these things more carefully, but I was in a rush to post.

      And no, Amoureuse is not powderful in the least. I think it’s loverly (typo intended, a la My Fair Lady).

      1. I thought it might be the product of typing “powder” or “powdery” a lot — sometimes I go to type “perfect” and my fingers automatically type “perfume.” I’m sure there are other cases like that too. 🙂

      2. Ah yes. Frequently it’s operator error in my case. This one, though, is due to my laptop. I’ll often find that the cheap no-name software has overridden my word choices (“sillage” blows its little brain sideways), so I try to compose directly into WordPress if I can instead of on the laptop.

        Laptop keeps moving my cursor, too, blasted thing. But I really, really should edit more carefully!

  4. Well, I love everything about this scent – except its smell on me – which is not meant to be a flip comment, for I am very disappointed about its failure to work on my skin. It is too spicy/sweet/sticky/indolic all at once and precipitates a headache within seconds of even a small dabbing application.

    That was very interesting about the black locust trees – your beautifully descriptive post just makes me regret Amoureuse’s incompatibility even more!

    : – (

    1. Oh dear. Too everything, huh?

      I utterly failed to appreciate Bois de Paradis, as much as I wanted to. It’s lovely on other people. Lovely on a paper strip. On me? Heeeedious. So I do feel very lucky that Amoureuse works well.

  5. Black locust (which I love) is in the pea family and is related to various other lovely-smelling plants, including wisteria, sweet clover, and sweet pea. Victorian box is in another plant family entirely. I didn’t pick up on black locust in Amoureuse, and now I’m thinking I’d like to go check it out again.

  6. I *think* (super not sure) that there’s an Eastern and a Western locust (but in this age of miracles and wonders, not even the trees stay put where they should.) I’ve smelled the locust tress around here, and there is a similar musty sweetness to the Victorian Box tree– “Amoureuse” captures that dusty chamomile thing that it has so well.

    Every time I wear this scent I marvel that I can tolerate the tuberose/honey headiness of it all, but I do love it, I so, so do. Do you buy that it’s a chypre, Mals?

  7. Hi Mals!
    I’ve been meaning to write to you, and then found this post (although rather late) to be a good spot to send you feedback about it’s “cousin” scent, Amaranthine.
    First of all, thank you so much for your generosity! The first time I tried it on, post shower-pre bed, Amoureuse immediately came to mind. A couple of weeks later, I tested the 2 side-by-side. For months I have been enamoured with Amoureuse and intended to buy a bottle. Now that desire has been superseded by the one to own Amaranthine. While Amoureuse is beautifully sexy, Amaranthine’s refinement makes it seem like a slut. And yes, Amaranthine does smell quite refined next to Amoureuse – to my nose anyway. Funny how comparison with the right counterpart can give a whole new perspective….
    All the best to you!
    a:)

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