I don’t require Fève Délicieuse by Dior to do anything more than it does, which is to step between me and this cold, cold world like a bodyguard. In the late nineties, I worked for an American Ambassador in a hotly disputed piece of land straddling two parts of post-war Bosnia, and I quickly got used to his Close Protection Unit – made up of four surly and burly ex-British army officers (who grunted rather than spoke) – entering the room before he did, scanning for danger, barking at each other in code, and generally out Jason Stratham-ing Jason Stratham. You get the picture. When I visited the same Ambassador in DC a few years later, he told me that when he returned to America, it took him at least half a year to stop pausing before a door to let his CPU team case the joint. “Oh for fuck’s sake, Bill, it’s only the laundry room,” his wife would have to remind him.
Fève Délicieuse is built like a proverbial brick shithouse. Its opening is a clenched fist of wet, bitter herbs (lavender, mint) twisting things into a black licorice shape, not a million miles away from the burnt coffee-herb opening of old Eau Noire (also Dior). But this is just a teaser, presaging the scent’s main act of sour cherry jam stirred into an almond custard so thicc and muscular that your spoon is guaranteed to stand up in it. The tonka bean here smells like vanilla if vanilla was less like ice cream and more like a dusky, tobacco-stained corduroy carpet. It’s the ‘bit of rough’ to your parent’s definition of ‘a nice boy’.
Like the CPU guys, I admire its sheer endurance and unrelenting, brute strength. This is a scent that wraps itself securely around your skin and beds down for the long haul, emanating wafts of burnt almond at frequent intervals to ward off harm. But – and here’s the kicker – Fève Délicieuse is a scent with zero art and even less conversation. Its whole point is its power. It’s Charles Atlas dragging a 145,000-pound train up a track.
But I figure it’s time for me to stop feeling guilty about owning perfumes whose sole function in my collection is to give me strength when I’m feeling vulnerable. Because while Fève Délicieuse sure isn’t art, or perhaps even that good, its thick-fingered, tattooed hand at the small of my back is what pushes me gently forward when I hesitate. And boy, does it give me comfort to know it’s there.
Source of Sample: I purchased and swapped away a decant before buying one of those small 40ml bottles directly from Dior Italy in late 2019.