The scent certainly shows tremendous promise at its opening. Laurent wanted it to fill its wearers with courage before they make the declaration alluded to in the title, so she sprinkled the top section with a finely judged quantity of pepper (fear not: this stuff won't bring on a sneezing fit) and a square-jawed dose of spices and herbal notes. She then wanted bravery to lead into romance: the fragrance's heart is a rose the size of which is rarely seen in mainstream masculines. So far, so very, very good indeed. But the drydown fails to shine. With surprising heavy-handedness, it allows the aforementioned musk to dominate at the expense of the other elements, creating a final impression that is far less compelling than it should have been.
Those hoping for a flanker to Jean-Claude Ellena's original Déclaration will be disappointed: although the two scents share a similar structure (cold spice + floral + musk) they smell quite different from each other. But then, to be fair to Laurent, she wasn't trying to create a clone. In fact, I'd suggest the key to her fragrance lies not in the first word of its name, but in the last. There's a genuine sense of the nocturnal at play here, a close-knit, physical darkness not unlike the atmosphere of a busy nightclub: you've persuaded the object of your affections to join you on the dance floor... the smell of her perfume clings to your clothes... a thin layer of clean sweat glistens on your skin... you couldn't have asked for a better start to the evening. Don't get your hopes up, though: sadly, this isn't going to be a night to remember.
In brief... Acqua Di Parma have also come up with a neat story for their latest masculine. Colonia Intensa Oud is supposed to answer the question, "What would happen if our signature Colonia took a trip to the Middle East?" Well, on the basis of the resultant fragrance, I'd say the answer is that it would relinquish its Italian citizenship, start wearing a dishdash and swap its Alfa Romeo Spider for a Toyota Land Cruiser. Yes, there's plenty of what passes for oud here (ie an overdose of jagged, testosterone-heavy synthetics) but precious little of a cologne accord. Fans of the original M7 will probably enjoy its forcefulness; others may be dismayed by its lack of subtlety.
For a far more interesting link of oud-like odours with western scent codes, I'd recommend Eau De Cartier Essence De Bois, which brings us back to Mathilde Laurent. Instead of drowning the original Eau with faux-Arabian animalic dryness, she's retained the central citrus and violet leaf notes (as bracing and outdoorsy as ever) and balanced them with a suggestion of sun-heated woods that hover in the background like a desert mirage. Commendable work.
[Reviews of Déclaration D'Un Soir and Eau De Cartier Essence De Bois based on samples of eau de toilette provided by Cartier in 2012; review of Colonia Intensa Oud based on a sample provided by Acqua Di Parma in 2012.]
Keep checking back for an interview with Mathilde Laurent. And please don't forget that you've got until Monday night (UK time) to win a signed copy of Jean-Claude Ellena's new book.