Souffle de Soie and Rouge Trafalgar are two fragrances in Dior‘s exclusive, high-end, and quasi-niche Privée Collection (now sometimes referred to as the “Maison Christian Dior” Collection). Let’s take a look at both.
SOUFFLE DE SOIE:
Souffle de Soie (“Breath of Silk” or “Whisper of Silk”) is an eau de parfum that was created by François Demachy and released in 2018. Dior’s official description here, is, surprisingly, merely a word from the perfumer:
“Personally, I see this perfume as a profusion of vivid flowers on a silk scarf. Like a delicate breeze, a bouquet of jasmine, rose and tuberose delivers a sensual message, like a whisper on the skin, or a kiss at the nape of the neck.”
Since there are no notes listed that I can see, I had to turn to Fragrantica to see what they has to say:
Bergamot, Jasmine, Rose, Tuberose, Elemi, White Musk, Patchouli, Violet, Vanilla, and Cinnamon.
Souffle de Soie is, in the most reductivist terms, a very feminine, diaphanous, linear, impressionistic, completely innocuous and bland mixed floral with insubstantial roses, abstract white floralcy, patchouli woodiness, white musks and, in the first few hours, a creamy undertone. Furthermore, the first hour is the time with the greatest change. If you like the bouquet, then you may enjoy its singularity but, otherwise, you may easily find it (as I did) extremely monotonous and boring. Finally, it essentially smells like hundreds of mainstream compositions available in department stores or Sephora, only better quality, softer, highly muted, and not overtly synthetic.
Souffle de Soie opens on my skin with pale roses that are just budding, not ripe, fleshy, narcotic, lush blooms. At the 15 minute mark, a creamy undertone appears. At the 25 minute mark, a gossamer white floralcy joins the gossamer rose, but the accord is far too impressionistic and blurred to have any note definition whatsoever, rendering it impossible for me to identify tuberose or jasmine. It’s merely a thin mist of something suggesting some shapeless white flowers with a subtle greenness to them. Also at the 25 minute mark, smudges of vanilla and clean white musk whisper quietly in the base.
40 minutes in, a few changes occur. The white musk grows much stronger, adding to the sense of cleanness about the insubstantial flowers. Powdery violets and a dash of clean powder also appear at this time, even though they feel like mere wisps in Souffle de Soie’s bouquet. The fragrance reminds me at this point of Dior‘s Gris Montaigne, now changed to Gris Dior, except Souffle de Soie makes that fragrance feel like a powerhouse extrait in comparison.
Roughly 70 minutes in, the patchouli kicks in. It smells like the wholly amorphous, abstract, dry woody synthetic sort used widely in mainstream perfumery, especially to impart a “woody” quality to florals, but it’s not the sort of patchouli that Patch Heads like myself value or wear. I think Souffle de Soie was better without it. Ditto the growing cleanness of the floral bouquet, thanks to the white musk, rendering an initially pretty, solid (but innocuous) floral into a floral woody musk. And, once again, the overall scent feels like a thousand things I’ve tried before. The creativity level on this supposedly “niche,” not mainstream commercial, composition is about zero.
Practically nothing happens to Souffle de Soie’s bouquet from the 70-minute mark until a few hours before the fragrance dies away, just short of 12 hours from its start. It simply becomes more and more of a blur. What starts as an out-of-focus blurred mixed bouquet of clean, fresh florals mixed with patchouli woodiness, clean white musk, a dash of clean cream and a dash of clean powder gradually turns into a woody floral with clean musk then finishes off as an indeterminate something that isn’t floral, isn’t woody, and yet vaguely suggestive of both.
Souffle de Soie lasts just a bit over 12 hours on me with 3 or 4 smears from a vial, so what I’m describing is essentially a linear trajectory from the 60-minute mark until the 12th hour. As I frequently say, there is nothing wrong with linear if you like the notes in question and if the quality and price were commensurate to the scent. The latter will be up to you to determine since it is a highly subjective calculus.
For me, I was bored enough to be in a stupor the entire time. (Sadly, I found Souffle de Soie to be one of the better olfactory compositions, relatively speaking and relative especially as compared to one that I’ll talk about another day.)
Moving on, Souffle de Soie has the textural feel of silk, albeit the kind that is so thin as to be translucent and in danger of ripping if you do anything active. When Demachy described the scent as a “whisper,” he was neither being hyperbolic nor was he talking solely about the olfactory aspect, in my opinion.
Souffle de Soie opens on my skin with silage that is about 6-7 inches and things rapidly decline from there after 60 minutes. At the end of the first hour, the sillage is maybe 3 inches, at most. The fragrance becomes a skin scent on me 3.5 hours in, though it’s not impossible to detect up close until the 6.25 hour mark at which point I have to put my nose right onto my arm to make out its contours.
Souffle de Soie’s fragrance reminds me of a few things. First, I keep envisioning highly, highly diluted pastel watercolours smeared in broad abstract swathes on white paper. A painting so impressionistic as to be practically abstract.
Which brings me to my second thought: Jean-Claude Ellena. I think fans of Ellena’s gauzy, impressionistic, occasionally so insubstantial as to be air, fragrances will very much appreciate Souffle de Soie. Though I have never liked the Ellena school of aesthetics or olfactory style, there is no denying that many people absolutely adore what he does and I can respect their tastes. Those people will, undoubtedly, be interested to hear that several people on Fragrantica compare Souffle de Soie to Ellena’s Eau de Merveilles for Hermès.
I think both fans of the Ellena aesthetic and/or of the old Gris Montaigne might very much enjoy Souffle de Soie, so long as you also appreciate a olfactory “whisper” with barely any sillage after 60 minutes. Whether you think Dior’s prices are worth the scent or performance in question might be another matter entirely. Dior normally offers its Privée fragrances in three different sizes and prices but oddly, at the time of this review, Souffle de Soie is listed only in one size: an 8.5 oz bottle for $350.
One last word: on a purely olfactory basis, I think Souffle de Soie has more merit than the fragrance we’re going to cover next, Rouge Trafalgar. I mean, I can at least see why, in theory, people might describe it as “Parisian chic,” even if I don’t feel the same. I can also see why people might view the composition as “refined.” I am, however, bemused by any raves for Rouge Trafalgar.
Rouge Trafalgar is an eau de parfum that was created by François Demachy and released in 2020. You can read Dior’s official description here, if you’re interested.
Dior describes Rouge Trafalgar as a fruity floral. I bring this up because Fragrantica strangely calls Rouge Trafalgar a “chypre fruity” when there is absolutely no oakmoss (or even vetiver) in it. In fact, I don’t know how accurate their note list is in general because they add elements that are not mentioned in Dior’s description while not listing one or two others. Granted, Dior makes it difficult to know all the notes by avoiding a literal note list and scattering elements everywhere throughout their description.
Dior’s official note list for Rouge Trafalgar appears to be, based on what they’ve written:
Raspberry, Strawberry, Mandarin Orange, Black Currant absolute, Violet Leaf absolute, Woody notes, Patchouli, and Musk.
Top notes are Raspberry, Strawberry, Cherry and Mandarin Orange; middle notes are Black Currant and Grapefruit; base notes are Musk and Patchouli.
In terms of what I experienced, I have a different assessment of Rouge Trafalgar’s scent classification or fragrance family. I would describe it as a fruitchouli fragrance with musk, not a fruity floral or a chypre fruity.
I’m going to take a leaf out of Luca Turin’s review style to describe the gist of Rouge Trafalgar: an inoffensive, youthful, girlie, and totally derivative commercial-style fruit cocktail with fruitchouli and musk. It evaporates off the skin and becomes undetectable in sillage after three hours, though it does last several hours longer. It is, essentially, a better quality, smoother version of something you can find at The Body Shop or Bath & Body Works for significantly less.
To add a few more specifics, Rouge Trafalgar opens on my skin with red berries, initially a lot of girly, sweet, translucent strawberries, then soon after raspberries as well. Unlike many fruitchouli scents, Rouge Trafalgar is not gooey; the scent is far too thin for that but there is also a zippy tartness to the fruit cocktail that I appreciate. I’m reminded of one of those powdered, lemonade-style fruit drinks to which one adds water, except this one is slightly fizzy as if one added Perrier instead. I do not experience cherries or grapefruit.
Later, in about 2.5 hours in, fruitchouli arrives, accompanied by clean musk and a wisp of some indeterminate greenness. I’m assuming the latter is from either the violet leaf or the blackcurrant/cassis absolute but everything is, once again, too blurry and impressionistic for the notes to be clearly delineated or concrete.
With regard to the patchouli, let me stress that “fruitchouli” is an entirely different affair than the regular or traditional patchouli that Patch Heads like myself adore. This is some generic, fruity crap with subtle woody undertones. I hate it here as I always have, not purely for olfactory reasons but also because I think it renders an expensive fragrance quite common.
Rouge Trafalgar’s sillage appears to be, like many other new or recent Dior Privée’s, aimed at appealing to the East Asian market’s preference for intimate scents that don’t intrude into other people’s space. Rouge Trafalgar opens with about 4-5 inches of sillage on my skin with several smears from a vial and with a body density more akin to that of an eau de toilette or strong cologne, if you ask me. While Rouge Trafalgar gains a bit more substance in body once the fruitchouli kicks in, the sillage drops about 1.75 hours in to just above the skin. Rouge Trafalgar becomes a skin scent on me about 3 hours, though it’s not difficult to detect if I bring my nose right to my arm. In total, Rouge Trafalgar lasted just under 8 hours on my skin.
On Fragrantica, a few people compare the scent to Dior’s Miss Dior Cherie. I’ve tried that fragrance but I have no recollection of what it smelled like. I simply have a visual of “pink” and the thought of “ugh.” (I suspect that will be all I recall of Rouge Trafalgar as well.) A few other Fragrantica posters find Rouge Trafalgar to resemble Jo Malone‘s Blackberry and Bay scent. I haven’t tried that, so I can’t comment. I will only say that I don’t think much of the performance of Jo Malone fragrances nor of their advice (which I’ve been personally told twice) that, if you want something to last or be detectable, you should buy three fragrances to layer together.
I found Rouge Trafalgar to be as interesting, distinctive, and ground-breaking as…well, as nothing. I’ve had to force myself to write about it; its banality, its wholly commercial character reminiscent of something in Bath & Body Works, and my incredible boredom with it has sapped all enthusiasm to write.
On the other hand, and in an attempt to be fair, women who love girly and/or feminine summer fruity smells will probably love Rouge Trafalgar. It’s certainly better quality than what you’d find at a mall body shop. And, to be clear, Dior’s page has a lot of positive comments for it, scent wise, although there are also dissenting views as well. The latter are due almost entirely to Rouge Trafalgar’s performance on the skin. I’ll let you look up the comments for yourself if you’re interested.
Dior offers Rouge Trafalgar in three sizes, starting at 4.25 oz for $260 and going up to a gigantic 15 oz bottle for $450. I’m going to be snide and say that Dior is offering such a behemoth amount because they probably realize that you’d have to take a bath in the stuff in order to achieve a scent cloud detectable to anyone around you after the first 90 minutes.
Coming up next time: Dior’s Spice Blend.
You can order samples of the various Dior Privée fragrances from several decant sellers out there. Surrender to Chance has several in the line, each for $2.99 for a 1/2 ml vial with sizes and prices going up from there. They are currently out of Rouge Trafalgar but they still have Souffle de Soie. Fragrance Line has Rouge Trafalgar for $5.99 for a 1 ml vial, with prices and sizes going up from there. For larger sizes, Perfumes and Decants (which ships only to the US and Canada) sells a 3 ml glass atomiser of either Souffle de Soie or Rouge Trafalgar for $13.70.