One of perfume’s most mysterious and magical powers is its ability to transport us—an effect so real that it is almost as if a whiff were able to whisk us away physically to another time and place. And when a fragrance captures the spirit of a location both as it exists in reality and as it might be imagined in dream? Well, that’s something truly special—and something that the new Maison Christian Dior Eden-Roc Eau de Parfum (accompanied by a candle, liquid soap, and body cream, should you wish to complete the suite) achieves beautifully.
For 151 years, the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap D’Antibes has been a magnet for the moneyed and the magnificent. One of the world’s most secluded and glamorous hotels, it was a playground for Picasso, a honeymoon haven for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and an inspiration for F. Scott Fitzgerald, who immortalized it in Tender Is the Night.
Originally built in 1862 by the founder of France’s Le Figaro newspaper as a writer’s retreat, the property’s unique location and tranquil atmosphere have made it the quintessence of French Riviera discretion and decadence. Perched like a bird’s nest atop white cliffs, with a pool carved out of rock that seems to float above the gleaming turquoise sea, its picturesque setting also made it an iconic backdrop for the sun-soaked sybarites of the jet-set age, as documented by Slim Aarons.
Still, those fortunate enough to have stayed at the Eden-Roc know that the retreat is as defined as much by its details—both thoughtful and quirky—as it is by its show-stopping splendor: the life-preserver cocktail stirrers; the vintage floral draperies; the tucked-away 1930s pet cemetery; the charming murals in the champagne bar. The sprawling property emanates supreme luxury that doesn’t feel fussy; it feels undiscovered, even when swarming with celebrities during the film festival at Cannes.
This is perhaps why Dior perfumer-creator Francois Demachy took the back door, so to speak, when creating the new scent in honor of the hotel's 151st birthday. He imagined himself arriving at the Eden-Roc not by the imposing Napoleon III façade of the main building, nor the broad tree-lined avenue that leads down to the champagne bar and cabanas, but by boat, drifting up towards the hotel from the sea. The first notes you smell are salty air, the mineral tang of water crashing on rocks. Moments later you detect jasmine and coconut, the scent of sunscreen on warm skin; and finally, once you’ve mentally disembarked, you’re welcomed by the green, herbaceous embrace of the hotel’s lush gardens, with whispers of rock rose, mastic, and Aleppo pine. The overall effect is that of sunlight dancing on water and fresh Mediterranean air. The composition captures the elegance and otherworldly timelessness of the hotel itself, but also that moment we all hope to have on a holiday, when everything else falls away. It’s enough to simply bask, to watch the yachts bobbing on the horizon, the cliff-divers leaping into the waves. And what’s that? Yes, perhaps it is time for a glass of champagne.
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