Review en Bref: Jovoy Incident Diplomatique

Today, I wanted to take a quick look at Incident Diplomatique, the new masculine vetiver-patchouli fragrance from Jovoy Paris. As always, my Reviews en Bref are for fragrances that — for whatever reason — didn’t seem to warrant my usual in-depth, detailed analysis. In this case, the reasons will become soon become apparent why I’ve opted for that approach.

Jovoy Incident Diplomatique via Luckyscent.

Incident Diplomatique is an eau de parfum that was released around March or April of this year. I find its official description to be nonsensical hyperbole without any relevance to the actual scent profile with lines like “We brush by it, we risk it, without ever thinking about the consequences…” or “Just as we might give into a staggering impulse too strong to resist, it declares its urges, teasing tension to the breaking point…[.]” I’ll leave you to read it on your own if you’re interested.

The fragrance notes, according to Luckyscent, are:

Mandarin orange, haitian vetiver, java vetiver oil, nutmeg, patchouli, sandalwood.

Photo: my own.

Incident Diplomatique opens on my skin with a two-prong blast: smoky, dry, woody, and peppery vetiver combined with faintly earthy but super dry, brittle patchouli. Mandarin orange is sprinkled on top, smelling as though the oil had been squeezed from the rind then rendered even more bitter than usual. It’s followed by a light pinch of pungent and equally bitter dark spiciness. Running through the base underneath is a smoky, dry, and purely synthetic-smelling sandalwood.

I’m not keen on any of it. First, it’s an aggressive, butch, testosterone-laden bouquet that is reminiscent of 1980s designer men’s cologne, but not in a good way. This brings me to my second reason: it’s not smooth, rich, or deep. Instead, the materials come across as harsh, screechy, shrill, rough, and thin (but loud).

Even if none of the first two elements were an issue, and quite separate from both of them, is the third problem: Incident Diplomatique simply isn’t very interesting, in my opinion. It’s a largely linear scent without much complexity, nuance, or layers. For its first 60-90 minutes, it’s primarily a dry, smoky, and intensely peppery vetiver, followed closely by a painfully dry, strongly synthetic patchouli with some bitter orange and bitter spice tossed in. After that, the two central notes change place, and the increasingly woody patchouli takes the lead, this time accompanied by an immensely synthetic, aggressively dry, raspy sandalwood. The vetiver and spices sit on the sidelines. The drydown is essentially dry, smoky, woody aromachemicals with some spiciness layered within.


It’s simply not interesting, in my opinion. I have no problem with either linear scents or soliflores if they are smooth, rich, deep, and filled with tiny nuances, but that is not the case with Incident Diplomatique on my skin.

I tried the fragrance twice on skin, and I scrubbed it off both times. I had a bad physical reaction to the materials on both occasions: headaches whenever I smelled my arm up close for too long in addition to my throat seizing up, feeling painfully sore even when I wasn’t sniffing nonstop. The first time I tested Incident Diplomatique, I lasted roughly 5 and half hours before the parched, harsh, immensely grating faux “sandalwood” and patchouli became too difficult to bear. The second time, I lasted even less time, about 2 hours. Eventually, I tested the fragrance on a scent strip, smelling it intermittently. My primary goal was to see how the scent developed after the 5th hour, but there was nothing noteworthy or interesting in the later hours, merely the same smoky, screechy patchouli-wood combination that eventually turned into a simple woody aromachemical bouquet.

It’s disappointing. As a “Patch Head,” I was excited when I heard that Jovoy was doing another fragrance in the genre. I loved their ambered Psychedelique, even if it was a little too quiet and discreet on my skin for me to buy a bottle for myself. It’s a fantastic patchouli. If the balance of notes in Incident Diplomatique had skewed primarily to the vetiver side, I still anticipated positive things because Jovoy’s earlier Private Label was a great, strikingly bold, nuanced, and interesting vetiver infused with smoke and leather.

Both of those fragrances stood out in their respective genres; Incident Diplomatique does not. To me, it’s boring, unremarkable, and uninteresting. If you’re looking for a patchouli with vetiver and woody notes, there are many on the market which, in my opinion, are smoother, more nuanced, better done, and more appealing, like, to name just one, Lorenzo Villoresi’s Patchouli. If you’re looking for a woody, smoky vetiver without the leather of Jovoy’s Private Blend, then you can try Chanel‘s Sycomore (with sandalwood) or Sammarco‘s exceedingly dark, multi-faceted, high-quality Vitrum (with incense and rose). If you’re looking for a super masculine, bold, woody fragrance, then Nasomatto basically leads the niche market on butch fragrances with testosterone aromachemicals, but at least they usually have some layers, nuance, or … something… which makes them stand out on average. Incident Diplomatique is merely… there. A generic drone trudging through an overly routine life and commonplace landscape. The only thing remarkable about it for me is just how unremarkable it actually is.

Disclosure: My sample was provided by Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

Details, pricing, links: $130 or €85 for 50 ml EDP, $180 or €130 for 100 ml EDP, Jovoy, Luckyscent, First in Fragrance (has Jovoy fragrances but not this one yet), Fragrantica.

18 thoughts on “Review en Bref: Jovoy Incident Diplomatique

  1. I’ve become an utter slave to the powers of Private Label, yet have had very little interest in searching out anything else from the line. I keep fingers crossed that they will come out with something that can excite me as much as PL. I think that one has more to do with Zarokian’s skill than the house’s.

    • Private Label definitely is one of the standouts in the line. Although it’s not my personal style of thing (I’m not a die-hard vetiver lover as you know), it’s extremely well done, bold, interesting, and with lots and lots of character. If you ever get into a patchouli phase, Scentseater, I recommend that you try their Psychedelique as well. It has a fantastic boozy cognac note in the opening, and a wonderful amber/golden warmth as well.

        • Hmm, that’s tough to answer because they’re really different takes on patchouli. Psychedelique is a soliflore, accentuated by amber, booze, and other elements, but with the patchouli always on center stage. Patchouliful is as much a floral oriental as a patchouli scent. It splits its profile and focus between the two things/styles.

          They’re both good fragrances, they both have a lot to offer, but they are such different styles that it’s impossible to suggest one over the other. It will really depend on what you’re in the mood to explore first. Why not get samples of both and try them on consecutive days?

  2. I like your “personal war” against aromachemicals. I own La Liturgie des Heures from Jovoy. I didn’t try this one but I understood that, in general, I am not fond of Jovoy’s perfumes. I think they are pretty boring, linear..

    • “Personal war” made me laugh. 😀 To be precise, though, I object to boring and generic fragrances just as much as I do to strong aromachemicals. Incident Diplomatique has some naturals in it, like the vetiver and mandarin, but the lack of character and generic nature were perhaps even more of an issue for me than the woody synthetics.

      On an unrelated note, welcome to the blog, Roger.

  3. Ok I have a cheap patchouli oil I got a long time ago in China town, a vetiver oil I had in India for nothing and a small bottle of aromachemical that have been sold to me as an aphrodisiac… So I can make my own Incident Diplomatique :D. More seriously, I tried this one and have been very disappointed because I like Private Label and Les jeux sont faits. I found nothing interesting in this one. Just harsh vetiver to my nose. And it doesn’t last long, which is weird for Jovoy…

      • well 2 sprays from the sample little bottle on my forearm at 7 before going to work, and before noon it was hard to detect (maybe still there for a little while but very very soft). So I would say 5 hours, maybe a little more but not much.

        • I may be mistaken but it sounds to me as though it was a sillage issue, not so much a projection one? The sillage became soft and hard to detect without effort, but the scent was still there. In my experience with the majority of Jovoy scents, they typically don’t have sillage that is either powerful or long-lasting. Psychedelique was quite discreet after only a handful of hours. I’ve always found that to be a signature characteristic of the brand’s fragrances and their sillage, but perhaps they’ve been more prominent on your skin for longer?

  4. Considering the scale of certain Incidents Diplomatiques occurring right now in the world, this little thing didn’t really stand a chance! As for the ad copy – I said only the other day to Lucas that I am losing all patience with the nonsense being spouted by all and sundry. I’m a bit crabby today!

    • We all have those days, dearest. Considering the scale of this last week’s political events or tensions, frankly, I’m finding it a little difficult to take any sort of perfumery seriously, no matter what the brand or scent profile. Perfume really seems like the least of things to think about when nuclear missile strikes are being threatened. :\ 🙁

  5. I haven’t yet tried Private Label, but I enjoy Psychédélique very much. It seems that I don’t need to go through these Incidents Diplomatiques thanks to your honest review, though. I have the impression that quite a few niche masculine fragrances now rely heavily on certain brash woody ambery aromachemicals, which tends to be monotonous and repetitive. 🙁

  6. I have this one on my watch list, and if I take out the negative adjectives from your lines, the characteristics still intrigue me 🙂
    And I have another question: How do you scrub a scent off? Whenever I don’t like something I sample and want to get rid of it off my skin, I have a hard time to remove it.

    • For fragrances with strong synthetics, it can be quite a chore to get them off. In those cases, I typically use some combination of either: Tide HE concentrated laundry detergent, hydrogen peroxide, acetone or, in bad cases, all of them combined together and used repeatedly with very hot water. If that doesn’t work, I’ll apply olive oil to the area, then take a hot shower. Sometimes, even that doesn’t work, so I have to repeat the process — at which point, I’m quite bitter. Lol 😉

  7. Have you tried “Les jeux sont faits”?
    If yes, what do you think about it?
    Also, how would you compare it to “Incident Diplomatique”… qualitywise, performancewise, sillagewise…etc?
    (Yes, many “wise”… sorry! ^^)

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