Need It: Berdoues Assam of India

I have a new favorite fragrance and I want everyone to try it because it smells like bottled sunshine. (And has tiny multicolored elephants on the bottle. TINY. MULTICOLORED. ELEPHANTS.)

Berdoues is a smaller brand that’s exclusive* to Sephora (and some places in Europe, should you happen to live there). The brand is French, and Sephora currently only carries their “Grand Crus” collection — a set of eight fragrances built around location-specific ingredients. (Such as tea from the Indian state Assam, in this case.)

This product is annoyingly expensive ($85/3.4 oz) especially considering that NO ONE would describe this fragrance as “complex.” Not only is it perfectly linear, but it contains just three straightforward notes: lemon, tea, sandalwood. Though each note is distinct from the others, they work gloriously together, simultaneously balancing and enhancing each other.

The lemon is delightfully crisp — sunny, bright, clean — and has prompted more than one compliment. It is the Perfect Lemon Note, neither sweet nor sour, and bursts onto the scene with the olfactory equivalent of sunshine. It’s soon joined by the assertive-but-green-and-earthy tea — no ‘sweet brewed tea’ or ‘musty tea leaves’ here — and a hint of sandalwood. The sandalwood is quiet — like, really quiet, and you’d be forgiven for maybe not even noticing it was there — but does ground it in a sort of woodsiness. If this fragrance were a season, it would be spring.

The drawback: it doesn’t last long. It makes a noble attempt for a citrus fragrance, but it does fade faster than your musky-vanilla-patchouli-moss-tobacco blend would. Others are able to easily notice it for the first two hours, then I can still smell it for another two, but there’s not much left by hour five. I wish this came in a refillable purse spray, because I would DEFINITELY be spraying myself with it throughout the day as a cheerful pick-me-up.

You may be able to find and sample it at your local Sephora (which is how I was introduced to it; I’m not blind-buying a $85 bottle of perfume, no matter how cute the bottle), but those are long odds — when I went to buy it less than a month after sampling in-store, there was no trace of the display and not a single bottle of ANY Berdoues to be found. The Perfume World person hadn’t even heard of the brand and treated me like I was crazy. She also insisted it had never been in the store. THEN HOW DID I GET A SEPHORA-BRANDED SAMPLE VIAL OF IT, HUH? Anyway, Sephora also sells a $19 sampler of all eight fragrances, should you be so inclined. (Some of the others do sound pretty fab — citron/cedar/vetiver; mandarin/myrrh/oud.)

I love it. LOVE it. Go forth and sample, ye who live close to Sephora. (And if you happen to try the other seven and have thoughts about them, let me know!)

*It’s also online at C.O. Bigelow, and there are plenty of C.O. Bigelow coupons floating around the internet. 15% off $85 is a good amount of money!