Tonkamande by Parfumerie Generale

Autumn strolling the streets of Paris and stopping off in a French patisserie!

According to the Parfumerie General website, their fragrances are unfettered by gender or fragrance family constraints, however, to me this is quite clearly a gourmand fragrance (in the context of fragrance, gourmand meaning perfume that contains edible notes such as honey or chocolate). That said, it is one of the least gourmandy gourmands that I have come across. (As an aside, I love saying the phrase ‘gourmandy gourmand’ its so silly!)

Whilst it’s true that it does smell of edible notes, they are refined and sophisticated and not at all cheap, synthetic, or cloying. The sweetness that runs through this fragrance from start to finish is delightfully held in check by a balanced and skilled craftsman.

The brand

Parfumerie Generale is the brain-child of Pierre Guillaume and the company also owns Phaedon. Pierre Guillaume was just 25 when he composed his first fragrance and now enjoys the artistic and financial freedom to create his signature scents. And some of those scents sound absolutely fascinating. I’m trying to track down Cuir Venenum (orange blossom, leather, honey) and Harmatan Noir (mint tea, pimento and cedar) to review. Actually, many of their fragrances sound intriguing, so expect them to feature again in coming reviews.

Parfumerie Generale positively oozes old school French charm. Their scents feel like they have been crafted by artisans and are just so utterly chic that you can’t help but talk a bit posher when you wear them.

Top notes

Tonkamande is built on the Tonka bean, funnily enough. So the uninitiated may be wondering: what do Tonka beans smell of? They’re sweet, chocolatey, warm, maybe with hints of vanilla. They’re also tremendously trendy at the moment, and have been for a while, being in evidence in loads of perfume from the most niche to high street brands. Good Tonka fragrances aren’t cloying though, they should be sweet without being sickly.

And that’s what you get with this fragrance. The opening notes smell like a good chocolate liqueur, but it isn’t at all overpowering, so maybe think of the liqueur glass after you’ve drunk the contents. Yes it’s sweet, but it’s held in check so it doesn’t make you smell like you’ve rolled in a Mars bar before leaving the house.

Heart notes

The complexity and balance of this fragrance lies in the heart notes which unfold to present a smorgasbord of gourmand notes. I get cream, caramel, vanilla, something approaching a nuttiness but not full on almond, hints of leather. The beauty of this fragrance is the fact that it tantalisingly holds back; it’s sweetness never gets out of check and leaves you wanting to smell it again and again.

Base notes

The base of this perfume is what holds all that sweetness in check. As it warms, I get hints of seasoning wood (think log pile next to an open fire), and tobacco as well as more leather and the comforting sweetness that runs throughout.

This isn’t a brash fragrance, it also doesn’t change a lot from start to finish, it’s very moderate and just quietly does it’s thing whilst you go about your day.

The other stuff

The longevity of this perfume is pretty good, but I find that in the afternoon it is just reduced to a single sweet note. It did last for most of the day though.

This is a perfume best suited to Autumn or Winter due to the comforting sweetness, reminiscent of cold days spent wrapped up indoors and lingering over brunch.

The bottle for this fragrance is as chic and beautiful as the perfume itself is balanced and crafted. It would be an attractive addition to any shelf.

Pierre Guillaume fragrances are generally fairly pricey, but worth it for what you are getting in terms of their craftsmanship and uniqueness. Tonkamande isn’t listed on the Parfumerie Generale website any more, but it is shown as available on LuckyScent and Bloom Perfumery.


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