I had high hopes for Spice Blend, a fragrance in Dior‘s exclusive, high-end, and quasi-niche Privée Collection with a wonderful list of notes including rum, a plethora of spices, and woody notes. Alas, in the end I end up feeling just conflicted and underwhelmed.
Spice Blend is an eau de parfum that was created by François Demachy and released in 2019. You can read the entirety of Dior’s official description here, if you’re interested. I will merely point out one part of the description where Dior discusses the fragrance’s intensity; I actually snorted out loud upon reading it:
Its warm and powerful olfactory signature is both fresh and burning hot. Spice Blend is a strong sensation, a fragrance with an intensity that sets the senses ablaze.
Fragrantica has the fullest, most complete note list:
Top notes are Rum and Ginger; middle notes are Pink Pepper, Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg and Coriander; base notes are Bay Leaf and Woodsy Notes.
Spice Blend opens my skin with brisk, crisp citruses, spicy ginger, zingy black pepper, an indeterminate woodiness, translucent amber, and a dash of rum. The citrus notes seem to derive from the rum – unless there are hidden notes in Dior’s minimalistic note list – and later turn quite fruity in character.
The majority of Spice Blend’s “complexity” and note clarity occur in the first two hours. 5 minutes in, the rum and woody notes surge in strength. 10 minutes in, a sprinkling of nutmeg and cloves join the ginger and black pepper. I don’t know what St. John’s Bay Leaf smells like, but the dried bay leaf in my pantry has a vague “woody-green” aroma and that appears here, too, albeit in extremely subtle fashion. 20 minutes in, the cinnamon arrives. 30 minutes in, the sandalwood joins the scene and the amber note gains a smidgeon of density and intensity.
The overall effect is a dry-sweet, quietly ambery, woody spice bouquet splashed with a good slug of sweet, tangy, somewhat fruited and citrusy rum. The rum is far less pronounced (at this point) than the spices and wood on my skin.
Spice Blend’s opening stage reminds me of two other fragrances. First and foremost, it made me think of Michael Kors‘ The One For Men which has a number of notes in common like fresh citrus, a plethora of spices, loads of sandalwood, woody notes, and a subtle ambery base accords. However, The One lacks any rum – and that booziness becomes a much more prevalent and central note on my skin as Spice Blend develops – so it is a significant difference.
At this stage, Spice Blend also reminds me a little of Viktor & Rolf‘s Spicebomb. I say “a little” because, on my skin, there are a few olfactory differences between Dior’s Spice Blend and V&R’s Spicebomb. First, the spices are different: while they both share cinnamon and pepper, Spice Blend has ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in lieu of paprika and saffron. Second, Spice Blend has no tobacco, vetiver, or leather. Third, Dior has given Spice Blend a diaphanous character with sillage that, when taken as a whole, is extremely weak on my skin. That is not the case with Spicebomb on me. However, when you take Spice Blend as a whole during the first 60 minutes, it’s difficult not to think now and then of the V&R fragrance.
While I own Kors’ The One and I like Spicebomb somewhat, I don’t see why Dior’s theoretically advanced, “niche,” and exclusive line should echo mainstream, commercial scents, let alone in their simplest or most basic essence. Nor do I understand why the man behind the glory that was Mitzah (sadly discontinued except perhaps in Paris) would make such an unimaginative, derivative, and diaphanous composition. That charge applies to several of the Diors that I’ve tried recently, but I feel it the most when it comes to Spice Blend – perhaps because I had such hopes for it or perhaps because I expect more from Demachy and the Privée line than presenting a composition similar to those available in malls, Sephora, and department store but at higher prices.
Let’s get to performance, shall we? Spice Blend opens on my skin with roughly 6 inches of sillage with 3 or 4 generous smears, but the numbers drop rapidly from there. Roughly 55 minutes in, the scent trail is about 3 inches. I can detect it, somewhat, when I’m inside and sitting still. However, when I was outside walking Apollo, there was no detectable trail at all unless I moved my arm around my face.
Around 90 minutes in, Spice Blend hovers about 1.5 inches above my skin and there is no trail around me even when I’m inside. In fact, when I wave my arm around, I can’t really smell anything beyond amber, cinnamon, and a vague rum-like booziness. If I I bring my nose right to my arm, however, the spices and woods are evident. In fact, in the same bizarre fashion of Vanilla Diorama, the bouquet is strong *on* the skin up close – at this point at least. Even so, the fragrance body at this stage in Spice Blend’s evolution feels, to me and on my skin, as substantial and heavy as a Kleenex tissue.
I’m trying to be nice.
In terms of further scent evolution, there are several additional changes but they are largely in the prominence of certain notes and in the increasingly minimal delineation of notes rather than in any wholesale transformation of what is, by and largely, a simplistic bouquet. 70 minutes in and at the start of the 2nd hour, Spice Blend becomes a total blur. Everything is fused together. The actual olfactory bouquet remains the same: mixed spices (dominated by cinnamon) and dry woods splashed with a lesser amount of fruity, citrusy rum over an airy, sweet-dry amber base. The wood accord is primarily a dry, wholly synthetic, somewhat metallic, and gauzy sandalwood.
2.25 hours in, the amber grows stronger and the rum note turns into an abstract fruited booziness. The spices have weakened; I can’t pull out any ginger or other type in clear form except for the cinnamon; and the totality of the blurry accord been subsumed within the bouquet which is turning increasingly muted in nature.
3.25 hours in, I’m reminded more of Dior‘s Ambre Nuit that Spicebomb or Kors’ The One because Spice Blend is now predominantly an ambery, boozy affair set against a backdrop of dry woods. If I really dig my nose into my arm, the sandalwood-y accord has the faintest suggestion of something cedary in it, but I can’t be certain because my nose is too overwhelmed by the boozy amber. Something about the composition also makes me think of Hermès‘ Ambre Narguilé, minus the latter’s apples, smoke, or tobacco. I think it’s the fruited booze, cinnamon amber part. To be clear, that narrow facet is the only way in which Spice Blend resembles Ambre Narguilé. I’m not saying that the two fragrances are identical. They aren’t – just like Spice Blend isn’t identical to Spicebomb or to Ambre Nuit.
Something else happens at the 3.25 hour mark: thanks to the surge in the amber and woody elements, the body of the fragrance has deepened and is no longer as thin as Kleenex. However, the scent still hovers just above the skin and there is no scent trail unless I vigorously wave my arm around my face and nose.
5.5 hours in, Spice Blend’s long drydown begins. The woods turn creamy and soft, no doubt thanks to the santal but I suspect that there is also a dash of tonka in the amber accord because the bouquet has a subtle powderiness to it. The rum turns lighter, the cinnamon is largely an amorphous, gauzy veil, and roughly 75% of the bouquet consists of woody amber. The 5.5 hour mark is also when Spice Blend turns into a skin scent on me.
From this point onwards, Spice Blend doesn’t change except to become a more hazy woody amber in character and with less and less cinnamon with every passing hour.
In its final hours, all that’s left is a golden sweet and dry bouquet with a hint of woodiness within. In total, Spice Blend lasted roughly 9.5 hours on me which is pretty good longevity, even if the sillage is iffy. Again, I was using 3 to 4 generous, wide swathes of scent on my arm, the rough equivalent of 2 big sprays from a bottle or about 3 smaller ones.
Like a few other recent Demachy Diors, Spice Blend is a solid, pleasant fragrance. However, in my opinion, it is also highly derivative of what others have done long before, especially in the mainstream market. It’s disappointing, to be honest. And it also leaves me feeling highly conflicted because I did like some parts of the fragrance while also feeling underwhelmed and, to be completely frank, occasionally somewhat bored at the same time. I don’t expect Dior to break all molds or to create a scent revolution, but it would be nice if some of their new releases didn’t tread old territory and/or feel so bloody humdrum. I’d also appreciate far more complexity than a number of the “niche” Diors have shown thus far.
In my opinion, Spice Blend is over-priced for the scent in question. That, however, is a purely subjective, personal determination. Equally personal is skin chemistry, which is a weird and wonderous thing, so maybe you’ll have more luck with the scent’s sillage. I will only say that others have reported far worse numbers for sillage and longevity than I experienced.
Dior offers Spice Blend in two sizes: a 4.25 oz bottle for $260 and an 8.5 oz bottle for $350. To test and assess Spice Blend for yourself, there are several decanting services out there. Surrender to Chance sells samples of Spice Blend starting at $2.99 for a 1/2 ml vial, with sizes and prices going up from there. Fragrance Line has Spice Blend for $5.99 for a 1 ml vial, with prices and sizes going up from there. For large quantities, Perfumes and Decants (which ships only to the US and Canada) offers Spice Blend in sizes from 3 ml to 30 ml. The 3 ml glass atomiser costs $13.70.
Up next time: Dior’s Tobacolor, a fruited tobacco amber fragrance.