I admit that I was rooting for Dans Tes Bras to be a winner even before I’d smelled it, because it’s considered the edgiest entry in a brand that focuses on giving us the most super rich, but straight-forward versions of single notes or styles. I kind of like the idea of the quirky one in the bunch being a soul match for me. I had smelled it briefly on a trip to Brussels and in a flurry of twenty other fragrances all competing for nose space, its pale, violet-tinged reticence intrigued me. But when I ordered a sample to investigate further, I discovered certain problems with it.
First of all, the weirdness of the fragrance – which comes from the interplay of the loudly synthetic elements (cashmeran, a woody-ambery sandalwood amplifier like ebanol or javanol) and natural-smelling green and floral elements (violets, heliotrope, I think mint or something aqueous) – does not go nearly far enough to catch my attention. It’s weird, but not weird enough.
I’ve been playing around a lot lately with M/Mink, and although I’m not sure I like it enough to buy it, I find that the line between industrial and natural in that scent constantly shifts around, so all my attention is bound up in trying to unwrap the elements from each other. Dans Tes Bras, in comparison, has a little oddness to it, yes, but doesn’t carry it forward in any compelling way. Once you’ve identified the elements at work to produce that salty, green, musky tinge it carries, the fragrance has nothing left to show you. It doesn’t help that it becomes ever more synthetic in feel as the day wears on, developing a soapy, shrill accent that runs perilously close to Windex or windscreen wiper fluid.
Now, I don’t mind references to industrial or bathroom products if they’re paired to really natural, earthy notes in a conscious effort to ground them – the bleach and toner ink played against dry patchouli and honey in M/Mink, for example. In Dans Tes Bras, though, the functional product notes are too unadorned, and I don’t find it pleasant to catch whiffs of Windex as I’m moving around the house. As a busy mum whose fragrance often encounter cruel treatment at the hands of washing up liquid, hand-soap, and latex gloves, I’d rather not cultivate that aura deliberately.
The clincher in the deal, though, was Dans Tes Bras’ eventual resemblance to Dries Van Noten, in particular that nutty, sawdusty sandalwood in combination with the “poured concrete” fuzziness of cashmeran. Dans Tes Bras is saltier and more floral, and Dries Van Noten more vanillic, milky, but ultimately they share that same cashmere-blanket level of blandness that I just cannot appreciate. My apathy comes partly from the fact that it all melds into one pale mass, with nothing differentiating one note from another, other than an abstract impression of something salty, like licking minerals off a sunny rock. In the end, it smells pleasant but banal, like the scent of eye drops or miscellar water squirted onto a cotton wool ball.
To sum up for you lazy bastards who didn’t make through all of that (TL:DR), Dans Tes Bras is not weird enough to be interesting, and not beautiful enough to lust after for beauty’s sake.