Large grey-blue waves hit the black, moss-covered rocks, spraying cooling salted water over the heated, sweaty bodies of the intertwined lovers. There was a note of the tropics in the air, as if a Filipino fruit-seller’s roadside stall had exploded nearby, the passionfruit symbolically matching the passion in the air. Heavy, opulent flowers laden with honey were there, too, so rich that they almost border on the over-ripe and match the goo of the fruit. The lovers kissed, their bodies cushioned on the plush velvet of mossy patchouli, and one bit the other’s shoulder with a moan.
The salt of the stormy seas is the very first impression that hits you when you put on Onda Eau de Parfum from Vero Profumo, followed not long thereafter by the image of sweet, heated skin. As the heavy, rich, intimate notes swirled on my skin, I decided almost immediately that I would — nay, must — one day buy this perfume. It is rare for me to think that mere minutes into testing a perfume and without waiting for its full development, but Onda’s complicated, extremely unusual, completely unique nature ravished me. It’s really hard not to think about sex and the human skin while you’re wearing it, but that seems to have been the goal of Vero Profumo. “I love everything that reminds of the smell of skin,” says its founder, Vero Kern, on the very first page of the company’s website. It shows, believe me, it shows….
Vero Profumo (sometimes written with odd punctuation as “.vero.profumo.“) is a Swiss niche perfume line that was established in 2007. Vero Kern‘s first three fragrances were Onda, Kiko, and Rubj, and they were released that same year. According to Fragrantica, all three pure parfums or extrait de parfum fragrances were intentionally made in the grand, classic French tradition of Mitsouko, Shalimar and Chanel No. 5 . As Ms. Kern explains on her website:
I go my own way hundred percent and do not follow any trends. I’m looking for originality, opulence and eroticism in scents. They have to surprise and to touch me. I’m not interested in ‘clean’ scents; I need characterful scents both in my creations but also as wearer.
How incredibly refreshing to have a perfumer bluntly state that she is not interested in creating “clean” scents! And to focus on erotic opulence? Bravo!
In 2010, three years after the launch of her parfum trio, Ms. Kern introduced the same fragrances in eau de parfum. However, the fragrances were not simply a milder form of the originals but, rather, slightly altered versions. Fragrantica provides Vero Kern’s explanation of the key differences:
The new perfumes are not the diluted version of the extracts. An eau de parfum needs a structure highlighting more the top notes as opposed to the base notes, but with the aim of keeping the original style of the extract intact”.
In order to render the scents lighter and easier to wear, the compositions have been simplified; yet that “je ne sais quoi” unmistakably characterizing the extracts is still clearly there. “I replaced the animalic notes with the unique scent of the passionfruit – says Vero Kern – I personally love it very much and think that it lends a sensual and erotic lightness to the composition”. Like an invisible thread, the intriguing scent of passionfruit links the three perfumes: it is at the core of everchanging, unexpected olfactory sensations with multifaceted evolutions.
[With Onda in specific,] Vero added passionfruit in the top, and slightly changed the base notes (cedar instead of sandalwood).
Luckyscent provides the following notes for the perfume which is categorized on Fragrantica as a “woody spicy”:
Bergamot, citron, mandarin, ginger, coriander, basil, passion fruit, iris, ylang-ylang, honey, vetiver Bourbon, patchouli, musk, cedar wood.
Onda Eau de Parfum opens on my skin with the salty tang of the sea. It’s cold like the Atlantic, but it also feels like a green salt marsh. At the same time, there is a surprising hint of the tropics in the air. The combination creates an incredibly unusual, mysterious, unique scent — and very sexy one at that, too.
Soon, woodsy notes arrive, but none of it feels like usual trees or vetiver, per se. It’s something that occurs to me again and again as I try to pinpoint the notes of the perfume. It’s as though Ms. Kern has twisted the way in which certain notes are usually manifested so that they seem completely different. All you’re really left with are impressions and feelings, moods and images; there are very few individually distinct, sharply delineated, really traditional notes of vetiver or trees. You smell woodsy notes, but something about them is different. Or, perhaps, the way they combine with the other notes has transformed them. This isn’t the vetiver in something like Terre d’Hermes, Guerlain‘s Vetiver or Chanel‘s Sycomore; it’s not the cedar wood in a Montale or Ormonde Jayne fragrance. Nothing is ever quite like what it’s supposed to be and, yet, it somehow conveys the feel of woodsy notes as well as any other perfume.
Perhaps it is the originality of the combination that makes the individual elements feel so transformed. For all the salt of the Atlantic ocean, you have the greenness of a very heated, green marsh; the gooey ripeness of passionfruit; the feel of oakmoss (even though there is absolutely none in the perfume); skin notes; an abstract feel of flowers that seem almost elusive in those opening minutes — and a quiet veil of sweetness over the whole lot.
Though the perfume feels like some sort of chypre with a citrus start, the citron, mandarin and bergamot never feel distinct. Though you have the velvety plushness of a very green, mossy patchouli, that too feels almost amorphous and abstract. The same applies to the slightly tangy citrus and fruit notes that waft elusively in the air. The perfume is so magnificently blended that it all swirls together in a harmonious whole. Onda never even throws off prisms of notes; it is just a sum total of experience, mood and feel that is really extremely hard to describe.
It is, quite simply, a phantasmagoria. The dictionary defines the term as:
1. a shifting series of phantasms, illusions, or deceptive appearances, as in a dream or created by the imagination.
2. a changing scene made up of many elements.
3. an optical illusion … in which figures increase or diminish in size, pass into each other, dissolve, etc.
Minutes in, the image of heated skin starts to join the swirl of images. It’s not animalic and, yet, it is. The scent is not like rancid sweat, but perhaps, like fresh, clean, slightly sweet, salty, heated skin with the sheerest, merest touch of a leathery undertone. It’s not raunchy or grossly intimate; there is no sense of unwashed panties or sweaty crotches; and there is no lurid musk. With the tinge of honeyed sweetness, it is, quite honestly, like the smell of sex. Not the sweat-infused, raunchy smell in the air afterwards but, rather, like the scent of your lover’s skin during the early, tender intimacies, when you bite his shoulder and smell the scent of his neck. The combination of the salty, honeyed woods and the sea, with tart, juicy, gooey, ripe citrus, and subtle animalic notes that almost verge on the leather …. well, it’s mesmerizing, tantalizing and simply stunning.
For much of the Onda’s early development, the perfume never wildly deviates from its core essence. At times, the citrus, fruit, and musk notes fluctuate in prominence; at other times, the perfume itself seems to undulate in projection and strength. After the first hour, it seems to get softer, turning much less woody and salty citrusy. But then, surprisingly, it seemed to get stronger, more concentrated and more intense when the honey notes started to take over. And that begins to occur ninety minutes in, when Onda turns more animalic and more floral. There is the feel of richly honeyed flowers with mossy patchouli, vetiver, those animalic musky skin notes, and the merest touch of light powder underneath it all.
Three hours in, Onda is all honeycomb, beeswax and rich honey atop lush, velvety flowers with animalic accords and the hint of earthy vetiver. As the honey grows stronger, there is the sense of something leathery swirling around. It’s almost a little like honeyed rawhide leather at times — sharp, dark brown, and deep. Something about the combination feels almost biting; I could feel the honey high up in my nose, almost burning the bridge of my nose. It’s subtle, but it’s there and lasts for a few hours. I applied just a little over an 1/8th of a vial since this is, after all, eau de parfum, but it’s as if Onda’s notes have doubled in strength and intensity. The honey has become akin to the most concentrated form, dripping dark and molten over the heady, indolent, languid flowers with that leathery bite underneath. It feels lush, opulent, oriental, highly charged, almost sexual, and incredibly rich.
Onda remains that way for hours and hours. It’s heavy honey with slightly skanky undertones and darkly rich leather. The notes sit atop the lightest suggestion of vetiver and vanillic powder. And, to my astonishment, despite the hours, the notes barely seem to fade an inch in potency until the very end! All in all, Onda lasted about 12.5 hours on my perfume-consuming skin. In its final hours, it was simple honeyed musk.
Onda is a very powerful, strong, incredibly rich, opaque and heavy perfume but it doesn’t feel thick, if that makes sense. I would never call this lightweight in feel, but it is much airier and lighter than the notes would have you imagine. Yet, it is incredibly potent. Onda EDP would make some of the strongest Tom Ford Private Blend perfumes seem positively mild in comparison. Especially when you consider that I put on only a little over 1/8th of a vial — not much at all! The projection is potent too, initially radiating out perhaps a foot in the first 30 minutes, before becoming softer and staying in a tiny cloud around you. But, it’s pretty damn intense within that cloud. I was walking The Hairy German when I came across a neighbor and stopped for a chat. Though we stood only a few feet apart, she couldn’t smell the perfume. But when I asked for her opinion, and brought my arm a few inches from her nose, her head jerked back at the strength of the notes.
She didn’t like Onda — and I don’t imagine most people will. While her tastes veer towards the “light and citrus,” I think Onda may be far outside a lot of people’s tastes. The people who will swoon at Onda will only be those who can handle the animalic, leathery undertones. Those who adore sheer, airy, fresh florals, who despise naughty notes, and/or who shudder at the thought of potent, extra-rich perfumes should stay very, very far away. This will be far too unusual, difficult, rich, fetid, or sexual for their tastes. It may even seem a little crass to them, like a public display of affection that becomes a little bit heated.
Luckyscent and Now Smell This have two very different takes on the perfume which I think show both sides to the scent. Now Smell This wrote:
It’s rare to smell a fragrance that seems completely new, like nothing else on the market. It’s even more rare to find something that smells not only new, but at the same time ancient, as if unearthed from an Egyptian sarcophagus. Astonishingly, Vero Profumo Onda manages this last trick. There’s nothing of the focus group about it. If someone told me Onda was Mata Hari’s secret weapon, I’d believe it. If she told me Onda was Comme des Garçons’ latest fragrance, “Bilge Water Supreme,” I’d believe that, too. It’s a marvel. […][¶]
Onda in Eau de Parfum is, if anything, more difficult than Onda extrait. It has less powder than the extrait and less animalic depth, but it is more herbal-bright and more “rotted” smelling. […] I prefer Onda in extrait. I find it richer and deeper, and, in some delicious way, scarier. Both forms of Onda last all day on skin. If you are fascinated by Onda, you’ll rejoice in its persistence. Otherwise, you’ll find it a scrubber extraordinaire. Either way, I don’t think you’ll leave Onda unmoved.
Luckyscent‘s take on it is a little less terrifying:
[I]f a fragrance ever needed taming, it is Vero’s wild, dusky, brooding Onda, as close to an alchemical potion as a modern perfume is ever likely to get. In the eau de parfum, the ginger, vetiver, honey and patchouli still simmer with earthy sensuality, but the composition gains an airiness, a sense of space that make the notes an easier fit for daytime wear. The overtly animalic notes have been replaced by the equally animalic, but brighter passion fruit. Don’t be fooled: the leather-clad femme fatale hasn’t come over from the dark side of the forest. But she’s just cracked a smile.
It’s funny how the perfumistas I know in groups seem to rave about Onda in Pure Parfum/Extrait form, while the reviews on Fragrantica for the Eau de Parfum would be enough to put you off trying it forever. They are, generally, quite negative:
- Announcing the autumn of fertility, this is (IMHO) a smell to wear as you rot on the vine.
- The eau de parfum Onda continue woody-spicy notes of honey, the sweet-spicy, earthy, while the iris, ylang-ylang and sensual feature a cleaner, yet more erotic results perfume.
- The smells that comes to mind are cool wet earth, leather, tobacco, warm wood, smoke. It’s pungent, animalic, meaty, rich. All of that is the opening of Onda,it’s unbelievable, you’ll either love it or hate it, for me it is misterious and unique.
- I’ve found a more suitable name for this fragance:
- Saying that Onda EDP is a challenging composition would be like considering Marcel Proust and easy read. Onda is far beyond being just challenging, is weird, destabilizing and unusual but at the same time “cultured”. It is built around a solid structure that shows many characteristic of classic perfumery and adds a bizarre, sort of futuristic, accord of passion fruit and vetiver that together with floral pattenrs and ginger gives birth to a strange blend that sits somewhere between a disinfectant, a mass destruction weapon and pure luxury. Overall Onda smells salty/sweet with fresh nuances, flowery with acidic/unripe fruits and definitely sulfurous (urine?). While all of this may sound disencouraging, I still believe that Onda deserves our respect as one of the most intriguing, complex and original compositions around. Onda, more than like a proper fragrance, sounds like a declaration of intent that says “I’m here, and I’m here to stay!”.
My experience was very different from that of a lot of those reviewers, and I had to laugh at the comment about the “mass destruction weapon.” That said, I can absolutely see how someone with a taste for more traditional, less unusual perfumes may reach that conclusion. The “skanky,” almost leathery notes are definitely a problem for a lot of people. But so, too, is the honey note. Though I never smelled anything sulfurous, the honey did burn my nose at times and I suspect it may turn very rancid on some people’s skin.
Freddie of Smelly Thoughts who has perhaps the most cutting-edge, avant-garde taste in perfumes of anyone I know wrote a bit about that particular issue:
The honey becomes undoubtably urinous, and considering I can douse myself in Miel De Bois with ease, yet can detect the sulphorous notes in this, should let you know how potent it comes off. However, it is blended with the spice, citrus, and over-ripe fruit notes so well, it becomes merely another appealing, complicated piece to this Onda puzzle.
Yet, despite the funky honey note, he adored the perfume as a whole:
Onda EDP opens absolutely wonderful, with a pronounced vetiver note upfront – I love the vetiver already, it is that dank, dirty salty vetiver which is the only type I seem to really enjoy. There’s a real spice overlaying this, a harsh twang of sharp ginger, and some pungent citrus and bergamot. […]
There’s some bizarre fruit accords in this, and an unusual one listed is passion fruit… I love passion fruit but it’s not really what I’m smelling. To me it’s more the feel of an over-ripe banana, in the similar way that Christopher Brosius used this over-ripe quality in In The Summer Kitchen. An almost dustbin like vegetal effect that is bizarrely compelling. […]
First impressions? I love this. At first, and for the first ten minutes, I thought “Hmmm…. interesting I guess”, but then attempting to work this thing out, it gets complicated. I feel like I’ve solved it now, 20 minutes later, and I love the outcome. Already I can see this becoming a full bottle purchase, it’s completely unique – a blend of animalic honey, candied ginger and citrus, salty vetiver (which becomes nothing more than a wonderful base rather than a lead) and softened fruit. Outstanding.
Though his experience was different from mine, I share his final, overall conclusion. For me, with my tastes and given how it manifested itself on my skin, Onda EDP was outstanding. I loved every minute of it. However, I definitely would not recommend it for the general masses or for the faint of heart. In fact, unless you passionately adore heavy, opulent, skanky orientals or leather-chypres, I wouldn’t even bother testing it. But if you’re someone who loves perfumes like Maison Francis Kurkdjian‘s Absolue Pour Le Soir, Rochas‘ Femme, or Amouage‘s Jubiliation 25, then you should absolutely give Onda a try. For that very select group of people, Onda may well be love at first sniff.
Cookie Queen, you like the Eau de Parfum? If so, YAY! 🙂 I don’t think there will be many positive reactions to the perfume. Everyone seems to prefer the Extrait versions, if they like them at all. You and I can huddle together in the corner in our salty, honeyed, skanky glory. LOL.
On my way. 😉
Have a good Sunday Kafka. Great review. I’ve got samples of all Vero Profumo EdT and Parfums. Kiki is probably the closest to me but still it’s not a lavender that I truly love. Then I like Mito. Rubj and Onda were hard for me to wear.
I could never see you in Onda or the Rubj, Lucas. Never, ever, ever. LOL. It’s the exact, polar opposite of your tastes. 🙂 You, Undina and Hajusuuri — all 3 of you. LOL.
See, you know us so well, LOL. I didn’t even have to comment, yu already knew it all.
You’ve got me pegged to a T, Kafka. Despite having read quite a few favorable reviews of the Vero Profumo line, the only one that was of any interest to me was Mito so much so that I did not even give Onda, Rubj nor Kiki a chance for me to dislike them – they were just simply non-starters. I have a 1.5 mL vial of Mito from STC and will transfer it to an atomizer when I am ready to try it.
I gave Rochas Femme a chance but finally gave it away in a swap. Now I am curious about Amouage Jubilation 25 – I have the sampler set that includes 2mLs of this. I bought a decant of Jubilation XXV unsniffed (I know, flog me with a wet noodle) and luckily, I like it. Finally, I will have to try the MFK Absolue Pour le Soir the next time I’m at Bergdorfs (this coming week, to give LOTV :::shudder::: a chance to redeem itself).
Hajusuuri, in all honesty, I don’t really see you in the Absolue Pour Le Soir. But I hear good things about the Cologne version which is significantly lighter, less opaque and less animalic. So, you may want to give that one a sniff at the same time when you’re at Bergdorf’s.
As for Jubiliation XXV, how big is the decant? That’s quite something to buy totally blindly! LOL. You daring thing, you! I liked the XXV/Men’s quite a bit, but was a little more taken by the 25/Women’s, so it will be interesting to see what you think when you test the latter. We can compare notes then, since my reviews for both are up. If you like (vintage) Mitsouko, you may well like the 25/Women’s version. Generally, the female Amouage scents seem to be a little sweeter than the male counterparts, and I’ve noticed a lot of the men prefer the women’s line.
I hope you survive your encounter with the Guerlain Muguet. Please have 911 on speed-dial in case you collapse and need an ambulance….. 😉
I was trying to find the right words to describe how I feel about Onda (in both concentrations)… It’s a very small brand…. But, on the other hand, many-many people like Onda… Ok, I’ll risk it! (Whoever reads that: unless you’re Lucas, hajusuuri or somebody with whom my tastes match 90%+ – please disregard the following and test these perfumes). Here it goes… I really dislike this perfume on my skin. My brain knows that many people think it’s gorgeous but my nose refuses to believe that somebody might choose to wear this smell. Onda extrait gets a little better on me after a hot shower.
Sorry, Kafka 🙂 I’m glad it works for you though.
It’s not a problem, Undina. I knew this perfume would not be your cup of tea as you’re not one for animalics at all! Plus, our skin chemistry plays a key role in how things smell but, just as importantly, our personal perceptions/history/experiences through which our brain filters and translates those smells. 🙂
Frankly, I was surprised by just how many people responded positively to the review since I’d read such harsh things about Onda and since those people who *did* seem to like it, only liked the Extrait. I’m lucky that it worked beautifully on my skin but I certainly wouldn’t recommend the perfume to everyone. 🙂
My wallet is afraid for me to try this one. I tried Rubj and once the initial shock wore off of how sweaty it was on me I fell hard for it and plan on purchasing a bottle although I’d like to try the extrait to compare first. I have a feeling I’d like Onda too. I can justify the price too if just a spray or two lasts all day. I love the notes in this and love a salty quality in perfumes too.
I think you’d really like this, Poodle, depending on how that honey manifested itself on your skin. As for Rubj, that is the one that I was most excited to try and the sole reason I ordered the set (it’s the only way to get Rubj from Surrender to Chance). But, to my huge disappointment, they were out when they shipped my order, so I’m awaiting the arrival of their next bottle before I can try the “ravished ballerina.” The cumin/sweat opening that I keep reading about and that you just mentioned alarms me, but the rest sounds like it will be SO much my cup of tea. As for the Extrait vs. EDP versions, Freddie seemed to prefer the nuances of the EDP (though he loved both perfumes) but almost everyone seems to prefer the Extrait. I think it’s definitely worth testing out both versions to compare, though a bottle of the Extrait is SOOOO expensive! Even the samples of it are expensive. 😦 Very frustrating.
Hm… It’s very interesting… I can’t wait to hear what you think about both – EdP and extrait. I’ll wait for your review and then we’ll compare reactions. I’m very curious 🙂
I don’t have any samples of the Extrait versions, alas, Undina. My Surrender to Chance order was becoming frighteningly expensive as it was, so I stuck just to the EDPs since the Extraits were so damn expensive for the most miniscule amounts. One day, I hope, I’ll get to try them, though I worry about how much more I would fall in love with Onda or Rubj.
I really love Rubj EDP. It is definitely not for everyone, thank goodness. That would take the immense satisfaction out of wearing it away. 😉
poodle, if you like Rubj EdP, don’t even tempt yourslf with the extrait: there is almost no chance you won’t like it better – and your wallet wil cry! 🙂
It’s that good, huh? My wallet is always crying lately. Both versions are pricey so either way it’s going to be difficult to take the plunge but once I’m in one of those moods, I will click ” buy” and I won’t regret it.
This sounds so, so good. I’m seriously thinking about joining a split of this (and the others by Vero Profumo), but I have been spending too much lately, so I may put it off for a while! Still, it’s glad to see the brand lives up to the hype (at least based on this one scent). Thanks for reviewing it, you make it sound so tantalizing!
Thank you, Kevin. I think you’d like this one! But I would definitely see if there is a way you could sample both versions before going in for the split. There seems to be so much preference for the Extrait version of this one, generally speaking, though I get the sense that Freddie preferred the EDP. I wish the samples weren’t so bloody expensive.
I finally tried it! …If only I had found the perfume as tantalizing as your review! I had saved this for last from the line – saving the best for last, as it were. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. This was far and away my least favorite of the line (although I ended up being surprisingly unimpressed in general by the line – Rubj was my favorite, but I wasn’t positively gaga over it). The opening of Onda, in particular, was really abrasive and borderline repulsive to me – I was reminded very strongly of industrial restroom cleaner and urinal cakes. It settled down a bit, but still had a similar smell for the rest of its life on me. Perhaps my expectations were too outrageously high (admittedly, I expected to adore the line) or perhaps I had wonky skin chemistry with Onda in particular, but this one was a total no-go for me. C’est la vie!
The Scented Hound had a similarly difficult reaction to Onda at first when he sprayed it from a bottle, but the actual notes he got were different than what you got. (He just posted a review of Onda EDP yesterday, so perhaps you can look it up, or follow the tag-back link on my Onda review.) Judging by what you’re describing, it seems as though the honey went urinal on you and the vetiver or oakmoss piled on to really intensify the harshness. 😦 Oh well, we all seem to have one Vero Profumo scent that goes terribly wrong on our skins. Mine is Rubj, yours is Onda.
It was so strange because I thought honey was usually okay on me – I’ve heard it causes a ton of trouble for others. It’s sort of a relief to not have fallen in love with the line (though I haven’t tried the extraits…), but I was sort of hoping for a wow factor because it’s been a while since I’ve really fallen hard and it’s fun to experience that now and again.
I still have yet to sample any of Vero Kern’s perfumes, and am not sure if they would be to my liking. But even so, I have read so many interesting things about all of them that I must give them all a try. Wonderful write up!
Thank you, Mr. Hound. I think you should definitely give them a shot, if only because they seem to be so damn unusual, so inventive, and so incredibly rich. The depth, complexity and eroticism that Ms. Kern wants to imbue in all her fragrances seems very original to me. I’m a bit hesitant about Kiki which has my dreaded lavender note, but this one is a scent that you may want to consider since it does feel like a sort of twisted chypre of sorts and I know you like that genre. 🙂
Salty? Color me curious. That drydown may not be “me” but that opening sure sounds like it could be. I’m going to sample it.
Let me know what you think of it, Vicki. I know how much you love salty sea notes in perfumes. I don’t see the rest of it as being your cup of tea, however….
I’m scared and intrigued at the same time. I love a good honey scent, and I may have to check it out just on that alone. Skanky honey may make me crazy. 🙂
Kellilee, do you like skanky notes? Not as in raunchy, sweaty or intimate skank, but as in more… erm…. well, sexy, sexual skank? And how do you feel about some leathery undertones? This isn’t leather, per se, but that honey note has some serious depth that turns a little leathery. If you like the smell of heated, salty-sweet skin, I think you should definitely give this one a try. It’s truly breath-taking for people with that sort of perfume taste/profile. It draws you in and tantalizes you until you can’t stop sniffing your arm and keep thinking about how you NEED this scent!
Oh, I’ve been thinking about this one and sort of trying to avoid looking it directly in the eye (and hiding from my sample, it’s too good), but, it’s not working… You know, I was just sitting here telling myself that Jubilation 25 is way too expensive to justify, and now I’m back to thinking about Onda too, which I like even better. Maybe I should comfort myself with the fact that Onda is a little cheaper?
I occasionally feel that I might need some sort of special therapy given my irrational love of skanky perfumes. Why can’t I just like violets?
Gorgeous review, and even if I hadn’t known about this perfume already, I probably would have succumbed to a full bottle somewhere around the words salt marsh, phantasmagoria, and sex.
I thought of you a lot during my testing, Cacomixtle. This perfume has your name alllllllllllll over it. Of course, I can see you liking Jubilation 25 as well, but the originality of Onda, the sheer off-kilter inventiveness of the notes, the edginess…. it seems much more you. Just by a nose, or two. Did you get a sample of both the EDP and the Extrait/Pure Parfum to test the differences? So many people seem to prefer the Extrait versions of Vero Profumo’s fragrances but for Onda in particular. Olfactoria has an excellent summation in one of her comments here of how they are different to her, and I think she explains the differences beautifully. You may want to look at that when deciding what you should do next, in terms of sampling the Extrait or perhaps sticking to the EDP.
Yes, you know my scent preferences well, Kafka! I only have the EDP, primarily because of price of the bottles, and the EDP sounded plenty strong… after I read your review, I read most of the other reviews I could find (previously I’d just seen Birgit’s and Fragrantica), and think there’s a chance I’ll actually prefer the stranger nature of the EDP… but they sound different enough that I might want (need?) both, which could be horrifically expensive. No no no, must choose only one.
Birgit’s comment definitely has me thinking though…. I’m in big trouble with this one.
The reviews on fragrantica and luckyscent had me laughing out loud! I really love reading people’s experiences of extreme fragrances, often so intense and passionate. I rarely hear people speak of their SOs or exes with the same fervor they have for the perfumes they love and hate.
Oh, Onda. Sigh.
Fantastic perfume, genius perfumer, wonderful review.
Onda (extrait) is my suit of armor, there is nothing like it. Nothing at all!
I can only imagine how luscious the Extrait version must be! I get the sense that almost everyone prefers the pure parfum versions to the EDP but particularly so in the case of Onda. All that talk about ancient earth from a sarcophagus, fetid “bilge water” (ouch) or weapons of mass destruction….. it’s as if they are talking about a wholly different perfume than what I smelled or what was on my skin. I was ravished from the first few minutes — and that is pretty rare. I know you didn’t like the EDP as much, Birgit, but I never got a full sense of why except for the fact that the Extrait had already stolen your heart. Was the EDP more raw and less subtle/refined for you?
The extrait’s emphasis on the base notes is what gives me the feeling of protection and comfort that the EdP just cannot match. The latter is much bigger in terms of sillage, it is louder and weirder and for me, it doesn’t buffer its more challenging aspects (murky swamps etc.) with enough “protective darkness” for them to make sense to me. All this sounds quite strange written down like this, but maybe you get my idea anyway. 🙂
In any case it shows that this perfume grabs us at a very deep level, far beyond mere olfactory analysis. This is not one for an intellectual exercise.
I love that it captured you too!
I think you explained it beautifully!! 🙂 And I completely agree that this is not a perfume to really analyse so much as just feel. It conjures up so many moods, images, sensations….. far, far more than most perfumes. It definitely grabs you on some sort of primeval and subconscious level. You’re really right that Ms. Kern is a genius perfumer. I definitely want to try the Extrait, but even the things you pinpointed make me think that the EDP is more *me.* The bigger sillage, more amplified power, the lack of buffer, less refinement and softness — much more my personal style. 😉 LOL!
I can’t wait to try the rest, and want my (delayed) vial of Rubj to get here NOW. If I fall in love with that one, too, I’m in serious trouble. I’m worried about Kiki, though. Very worried. Lavender and I do not get along….
Omg. This sounds fabulous. Vero Kern’s fragrances are at the very top of my sniff list (I, like the Hound, have not yet tried any). So much out there!
But your wonderful review has booted Onda up to the very top of my list. And isn’t she fabulous? Every photo that I have seen of Vero Kern has her wearing something I want to have in my closet. Fluffy cuffs please!
I really hope you get to try it soon, BaconBiscuit. It’s really stuck in my head. I rarely am so overcome mere minutes into sniffing something. I think I was lucky to have very little of the “bilge water” that a few others described. So I’ll be really interested to see how you feel about it once you try it.
And, yes, Ms. Kern’s fluffy cuffs are fabulous!
I know! Me want me some fluffy cuffs!
And will totally let you know my thoughts when I do try it.
I have no idea if I would like the perfume or not but I love this review and feel that if I do ever get my hands on some, I need to give it time and space and really think about it.
Onda sounds amazing.
I hope you manage to try Onda, GinzaInTheRain. Do you ever order from Luckyscent or participate in perfume sample swaps? If I had a larger amount, I would try to send you some but, alas, I have just a tiny bit. I would love to know what you think of it, though. This is the furthest thing from the sort of “hysterically hygienic” laboratory-concocted fragrances that you wrote so scathingly about the other day. Whether or not you ended up loving it, I think you would be truly impressed by the skill and originality at play.
I like to think so. I don’t have a credit card, for obvious reasons (and do they ship to Japan?), but might have to get the other half to start letting me get things from Lucky Scent…..
What I like about the Kafka is the sense, possibly because you were a lawyer, of absolute fair treatment. You look at them from every angle and note and atmospheric possibility before making total judgement. This means that when you truly love something it is even more suggestive to read, becomes very desirable..
First, thank you for words that mean far more to me than you could possibly realise. I’m a bit complexé about the sheer length of my posts but I’ve always been verbose and detail-oriented. Law school did not help, at all, since it just triggered this OCD obsession with covering every side. I know my stuff isn’t to most people’s taste due to its length, but thank you for understanding *why* it’s that way and for valuing it. I shall treasure your kindness. *hug*
Second, unless you’re buying a full bottle of perfume, I would wholly eschew Luckyscent. Your credit card thing is easily solved by Surrender to Chance’s reliance on PayPal. That should work for you, I think, no? Given the current currency conversion rates from Yen to dollar, you could do a lot of wonderful damage without much serious cost to you in Yen. Surrender to Chance’s shipping rates have gone up for international packages, but so has everyone’s. And theirs is still pretty good. $12.95 for all orders below $150 (and yes, they ship to Japan, I just checked), whereas Luckyscent charges $25 for samples valued at over $70, or $40 for most international shipping.
Plus, StC has coupon codes for 5-8% off, depending on how much you order. I’ve got one post which is almost all entirely links to different sample sets at Surrender to Chance, divided by brand, perfume notes, “best of” lists from Luca Turin, and more. It’s the post from about 3 weeks ago on StC’s anniversary sale. If you use some of those links, it will be easier to navigate the seemingly 15,000 pages of perfume. LOL. Whenever you’re ready to order, just drop me an email or note, and I’ll give you the applicable monthly discount codes for you to use. (The new codes should be sent out via email in a week.) They may still offer their 10% for any first time user, so that may work out even better for you. I know you wanted to try the Slumberhouse Pear + Olive, and I always felt badly I didn’t have a good-sized portion to send you, so this would be a way for you to get that, along with Onda and whatever else has tempted you. For me, it’s not about you trying Onda or Slumberhouse but, rather, for you to have unfettered access to whatever you love without geographic restriction or limitations. Worse comes to worse, I’ll try to see if I can put some things aside for you, though the current international shipping rates make me cringe a little. LOL. xoxox
You are far too kind, and don’t worry about my missing out on things. This Surrender To Chance thing though I will look into. Isn’t it the old Perfume Posse?
Surrender to Chance broke apart from The Perfumed Court but it is compromised, in part, of Patty White & some of people behind Perfume Posse. It’s a fantastic site that has never once disappointed me or anyone I know who has ordered from it. Not only are they very professional but their prices are the best of any sampling service. And the fact that they take PayPal in addition to credit cards makes it helpful for people overseas. I know a LOT of international people who order from them without problem. 🙂 If you order from them, and if you like citrus scents, you may want to consider including the much loved Mito from Vero Profumo as well. It’s another one on my list to try as I hear fantastic things about it. 🙂
P.S. — I actually *do* fret about you not getting to try out things. Call me silly, but I do. xoxox
As for the length and detail issue, I think that is one of the chief attractions of Kafkaesque. I tend to rave on about my own impressions of scents and their character (as I see it), rather than the progression of the perfume sometimes, and in your posts we can actually imagine the scent in its complexity.
What I love about the best perfume blogs is their idiosyncratic sense of each having its own integrity and feel. The more crapoid ones just read like bad PR copy from any old magazine, but the quality ones like yours are necessary!
You’re the kindest, sweetest man, Ginza. I can only send you the most massive, massive hug imaginable. And to thank you from the bottom of my heart. *HUG*
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I have to try the EDP. I have tried the extrait and it seems much different from your experience with the EDP. To me the extrait is a cross between Chanel Cuir de Russie and Guerlain Jicky. It has a pronounced leather reminiscent of Cuir de Russie and a fecal note reminiscent of Jicky.
I think Onda is one of those fragrances that will vary wildly on people based on how their skin chemistry deals with the base notes, especially the passion fruit that is in the EDP versions. She replaced one of the key bits of the Extrait versions (civet, I think it was?) with passion fruit instead. My skin tends to amplify any notes that have a honey-like nuance, so, on me, Onda EDP was very honeyed. But I haven’t tried the Extrait which is generally supposed to be smoother, richer and deeper. It is also supposed to be more leathery — which explains the fecal note you got. There is a leathery nuance in the EDP, too, but there are so many other notes and the addition of honey, along with passion fruit for the animalism, that I suspect it may work very differently on you. You’ll have to try it and let me know, Cohibadad. I’ll be very interested to see the differences.
oooh. Interesting, interesting, interesting. The EDP is nice! I can smell the extrait in the base, but it is so much friendlier and lacking the fecal note. The leather is there but it is more muted and peaks through rather than dominating. The top and heart notes are delightful :). I will have to alternate them, layer them and play with them one day.
I’ve been in an iris mood lately. Looking for the perfect iris. I love the iris of the vintage Dior Homme and Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir. And that is my excuse for not completing my Puredistance M thoughts, but I need to try it again and think about it. It’s a rather complex creation. Soon.
I’m reviewing and writing about an iris scent as we speak. The price, however, will send most people reeling….
As for Onda, how great that you have the EDP as well to compare. I’m glad that the leather works better on your skin (though your comments about the Extrait make me hesitate in considering a sample of that version, lol). As for Puredistance M, it sounds like it wasn’t love at first sniff for you — and that is totally fine! 🙂 Don’t feel you have to bully yourself into loving it! Some things just don’t work on some skins. Yes, occasionally, fragrances require a little more work or effort, especially if they’re complex, but sometimes, true love never happens at all! 🙂
I don’t want to put you off Onda extrait, but the EDP seems more to my liking. I had the two samples already but didn’t try them until I read your #200 and thought it was as good a time as any 🙂
Puredistance M is complex and I have seen it before where I was just overwhelmed by a fragrance until I gave it more than one chance. Simple, easy approachable scents are more likely to get old fast aren’t they? Challenging scents have more chance of lasting? It might not be love, or it might be. My wife loved it immediately! It transformed over time quite a bit. The opening was completely different than the middle and the drydown. And there was nothing I didn’t like about it. And it lasted a LONG time. 12 hours? maybe more. So I had intended to make today another Puredistance M day until I tried the Onda extrait and then I needed to try the EDP to compare and then I got a couple of new Iris samples in the mail today and with my Iris love I couldn’t just leave them alone. But as I wander into florals, I start to want something on the other end of the spectrum, something more beefy like M, so maybe tomorrow!
You find such interesting perfumes to review Kafka. Mohur Esprit? I really want to check it out. Hedonist? Sample ordered from Minya website. What a deal, huh?
Ha! Fortuitous timing! I have a bottle of the Onda EDP — that’s how much I like it, so I will try the Extrait at some point, but I also think I may put it off a while. LOL. I still have Kiki to review, but I don’t love lavender or gourmand fragrances, and I just ordered a sample of Mito EDP, so I may start with that one instead. 🙂
As for Puredistance and your wife, I like her tons already! She has fabulous taste and a good nose — tell her I said so! 😉 (“M” is another perfume I actually own, though only in the small 17.5 size as the price for a full bottle is a little high for someone with astronomical, monthly vet bills right now.)
Do me a favour, Cohibadad, and look up both Alahine (one of my favorite perfumes EVER) and Neela Vermeire’s Trayee. I suspect that your wife will love the Alahine, though there is a definite Alahine Syndrome that requires some explanation later on. As for Hedonist, it’s a super deal and the price of the bottle is about $10 or so cheaper from her than if ordered from Luckyscent. And, Jesus, what a bottle it is! Those crystals are simply spectacular! I definitely would like to buy it for myself, but Cuir Mauresque and a big decant of Profumum’s Ambra Aurea are ahead of the line. If you like honey notes, though, Hedonist may definitely appeal to you!
Kafka, you’re a treasure. I love recommendations. Alahine and Trayee, check and check. In fact, I must try all of the Neela Vermeire’s in anticipation of Esprit.
And that Hedonist bottle is special isn’t it? I’m kind of a sucker for a well-designed presentation. Combine that with a great scent and you have synergism.
Puredistance M is keeping me on my toes. I thought about your review of Alahine and how you had olfactory overload. My first test of PM was with one full spritz and I huffed at it like a teenager over a baggy filled with fresh spray paint. And that was a mistake. It as leather overload. It wasn’t bad but it smothered out every other facet of the fragrance. And I immediately saw what you and others were saying about the Bel Ami resemblance. I haven’t ever smelled the vintage but it definitely had a Bel Ami leather note in there. That one spritz lasted a really long time and projected far away. How far? More than an hour after applying it my wife walked in with Mexican food and she could smell it several feet away over the food in her hands. Now, this time trying to learn from my mistake, I did a partial spray and kept my nose several inches away and . . . wow, there is even more going on there than I thought. Now, the Bel Ami resemblace is missing and the other notes are popping out and the leather is taking a few steps back. So now I have an even bigger challenge on my hands than I thought. This thing is pure elegance. It nearly made me shed a tear because it is so lovely, and I haven’t done that since Égoïste. And it is thick, like a wall of different scents. I should have known that, because it is so concentrated. I will need a third try at this before I can make any sense of it.
Cohibadad, I’m SO glad! And the fact that it almost made me shed a tear in memory of a great love like Egoiste….!! (Gosh, I miss vintage Egoiste. So, so much!) It sounds like M blew out your nose at first and, you know, there are some fragrances where a smaller dosage *does* reflect a greater degree of depth and nuance. Take me with Tom Ford Private Blends: I always apply less than I would for any other brand because it becomes less extreme and, more importantly for my job as a blogger, it enables me to see through the haze of the top notes to the nuances underneath.
At the risk of being a complete hazard to your wallet, may I point out that there is a promotional special right now on a 17.5 ml travel spray of “M”? It’s essentially the same price as the Luckyscent price, only you get freebie extra samples. I know from a promotional giveaway that Puredistance did with me and the blog that the retail value of 2 of those samples is over $65 were you to buy them in that 2ml size from Surrender to Chance and pay shipping. But here, you’d get samples of all 4 of their fragrances. Here’s the link: http://www.puredistance.com/promotions/
One reason why I’m recommending the deal is that it sounds as though you’re already falling for M, but just need time to figure out all its layers. Another reason is Puredistance Opardu. I don’t know what your wife’s tastes are like and if she likes florals at all, but Opardu was simply spectacular. I almost got whiplash from the beauty of its opening! If it had remained that way on me and had sillage, then I would have absolutely tried to get a bottle. As it is, one of my readers got tempted by the review, ordered a sample, and then ended up succumbing for a small bottle! So, if your wife likes florals in any way, the Promo deal will give her the chance to try Opardu. I’ve also reviewed Antonia, but I don’t like soapy notes. And one of these days, I will get to their signature fragrance, the very white “I”. Anyway, if you do end up being tempted by the deal, email them and tell them that Kafka sent you. They’ll be completely chuffed. And, again, depending on your wife’s tastes, the Neela Vermeire mini-sample deal may be a good value for both of you. She may love the Mohur (current EDP version) for herself (as may you), or the more fruity, happy Bombay Bling. The sandalwood foundation that is the common foundation to ALL the fragrances is spectacular because it is the real, genuine, hardcore Mysore sandalwood that you rarely smell these days!
Alas, we have tried Opardu and my wife’s only response was “soap”. It reminded her too much of a soap her mother uses, then one after another my daughters said, “soap”, “soap”, “soap”. And once she gets a bad association in her head it is about impossible to dislodge. My wife loves powdery scents and she loves to wear Shalimar and Angel and Mitzah of course. Who could not love Mitzah?
Oh dear. Well, as someone who despises soapy perfumes, I completely understand where she’s coming from! Soap=verboten! 😛 😉 How funny that all your daughters smelled soap as well. Florals can be tricky that way, which is probably one reason why I’m a hardcore Orientalist. *grin*
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