Reviews en Bref: Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser & Soft Lawn

As always, my Reviews en Bref are for scents that — for whatever reason — didn’t warrant a full, exhaustive, detailed review. I recently tried out some fragrances from Imaginary Authors, an American indie line begun in 2012 by perfumer, Josh Meyers. In another post, I looked at Cape Heartache and The Cobra & The Canary. This time, I will focus on Memoirs of a Trespasser, and Soft Lawn.

According to its website, the Imaginary Authors line was “born from the concept of scent as art and art as provocation.” Each fragrance is entitled with the name of a book, penned by an imaginary author who does not actually exist. All the fragrances are eau de parfum in concentration, and a vast majority were released in 2012.

MEMOIRS OF A TRESPASSER:

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

Memoirs of a Trespasser is meant to be an author’s memoir of his exotic travels, with a hallucinatory bent. The fragrance is an oriental vanilla, and its notes are:

Madagascar Vanilla, Guaiacwood, Myrrh, Benzoin Resin, Ambrette Seeds & Oak Barrels.

Memoirs of a Trespasser opens on my skin with vanilla, a weird fruitiness, musky sweetness, and oak. There is a momentary booziness, followed then a soft, creamy guaiac wood. The whole thing is laced with a scratchy, synthetic, aroma-chemical hum that is common to many of the Imaginary Authors fragrances, and which them so difficult for me. Here, it is dry, but sweet, with only a trace of the peppered element distinctive to ISO E Super. Yet, at the same time, the note is extremely dry, as if another aromachemical is responsible. Perhaps it is ISO E’s drier relative, Kephalis, but whatever it is, each and every time I smell Memoirs of a Trespasser up close, the inside of my nose feels raw, bloodied and scraped.

Within minutes, Memoirs of a Trespasser turns into a cloying, sickly Bourbon vanilla with a subtle tinge of soapy, cold myrrh, followed by smoky, woody notes and peppered, dry aromachemicals. I find the whole combination oddly nauseating, perhaps because the vanilla smells like a really cheap version of Madagascar extract with a hot, buttered rum undertone. I’m also not keen on the unexpected fruited nuance that smells like oranges, peaches, and Tang juice all in one. It doesn’t last long, perhaps 25-30 minutes, but it perplexes me the whole time. Out of all the notes, I like the oak element the best, but that is not saying much.

Towards the end of the second hour, Memoirs of a Trespasser shifts with the woody elements bypassing the vanilla and taking its place as the dominant accord. The primary bouquet is of lightly smoked guaiac wood, followed by myrrh and a touch of thin, dry vanilla, all infused with ISO E-like synthetics. The guaiac is difficult for me here, especially as it takes on an increasingly stale sourness as time goes by, which meshes oddly with the dry-sweetness of the other elements. A clean, white muskiness also starts to become noticeable, adding to the fragrance’s synthetic hum.

By the end of the 5th hour, Memoirs of a Trespasser is really various forms of sour, dry, smoky woodiness with a light sweetness and only a suggestion of vanilla extract. It remains that way for a while, until suddenly the vanilla returns at the start of the 8th hour. From that point until its end, almost 12 hours from the start, Memoirs of a Trespasser is a dry vanilla scent imbued by an abstract woodiness and a hint of powder.

I didn’t enjoy any of it, probably because I had the same extremely strong physical pain in my nose that I did to testing The Cobra & The Canary. I don’t know if it is an issue of the quantity of synthetics used in Imaginary Authors’ fragrances, or something else, but the degree of my reaction to the line far exceeds what I normally experience. This is not like the occasional headaches I get from ISO E Super when a vast quantity is used, but something akin to my more serious reaction to the super chemical Norlimbanol, and its relative, Kephalis.

Few people share my sensitivity to chemicals, and many are anosmic to things like ISO E Super. Yet, even without the synthetics, I wasn’t impressed by Memoirs of a Trespasser. It was simplistic, uninteresting, quite cloying at first, and discordant as a whole. It never felt refined or sophisticated. It was simply…. there.

SOFT LAWN:

IA Soft LawnSoft Lawn is described in the context of an imaginary author in 1916 who attended Princeton University and was a tennis champion. The notes are:

NOTES: Linden Blossom, Laurel & Ivy leaves, Vetiver, Oakmoss, Fresh Tennis Balls & Clay Court.

Soft Lawn opens on my skin with freshness and green notes that are crisp, bright, and aromatic. On occasion, they are almost a little herbal, as there is a minty nuance lurking underneath at the start. Then, a soft floral creeps in, along with a clean, fuzzy, synthetic element. Hints of vetiver, grassiness, and ISO E Super dance around the edges. The floral note initially smells only vaguely like linden blossom, but not as sweet, lemony, or honeyed as it usually is. As a whole, Soft Lawn truly smells like a freshly opened can of tennis balls with linden, vetiver, green elements, and synthetics.

Linden blossom. Source: www.selfsufficientish.com

Linden blossom. Source: http://www.selfsufficientish.com

As time passes, the fragrance shifts a little, though not by much and primarily in a textural way. The lemon undertone to the linden blossom becomes more prominent, along with the overall floral aspect. As a whole, though, the notes are very blurred, lacking delineation, clearness, and force. In contrast, the ISO E Super and its peppered touch are much more distinct, noticeable in a clear, separate way that stands out.

Source: wallsave.com

Source: wallsave.com

The oddest thing about Soft Lawn for me is how the fragrance’s texture is its primary smell. It’s hard to explain, but Soft Lawn soon turns into something wholly fuzzy in feel. It’s an amorphous, indistinct blur of floral greenness. The fuzziness of the tennis ball texture is its actual smell, though its infused with that fresh, green floracy. The whole thing is imbued with a synthetic freshness that is initially sweet, delicate, and light.

There really isn’t much more to Soft Lawn than that. The fragrance never changes in any substantial way on my skin, and I tested it twice. It’s linear, simplistic, and uncomplicated, though Soft Lawn is not completely terrible from afar in the beginning as some sort of extremely generic, green freshness, I suppose. Up close, however, it smells industrial to my nose, with the aromachemicals increasingly dominating the scent. Perhaps it is the power of suggestion, but Soft Lawn does smell almost entirely of tennis balls on me after the first hour. All in all, the perfume generally lasted about 11-12 hours on my skin, with moderate sillage throughout, but I didn’t apply a lot due to my problems with all the synthetics in the IA line.

My experiences with the Imaginary Authors line led me to ask a family member for a Zyrtec anti-allergy pill before my second test of Soft Lawn, in case I had potentially developed allergies for the very first time in my life. Nope, that was not the cause of my pain. I was fine until I smelled Soft Lawn up close, and then…. bam, it felt as though someone had taken a straight razor to the skin inside my nose.  Even without the synthetics though, I find it hard to summon up much enthusiasm for the fragrance. I’m not keen to smell like tennis balls, I don’t like Soft Lawn’s lack of nuance or definition, and it’s a damn boring scent from start to finish. I’m afraid I simply don’t get it.

ALL IN ALL:

My primary problem with the Imaginary Authors line is obviously the physical pain I experienced but, even apart from that, I struggled with the scents as a whole. None of them felt sophisticated, refined, or elegant to me. Each one seemed to merely exist, as if a combination of related (and sometimes random) notes were put together primarily with an eye to meeting a plot line about a tennis champion or an imaginary person who went on travels to exotic places. It’s hard to explain because it’s not about a scent being unfinished or amateurish, though some element of both seems to be the case with each of the fragrances.

Rather, it’s more about the feel of the perfumes as something lifeless on the skin. Some of them lack a defining identity or force beyond the novelty factor, whether it is “tennis balls” or the unusualness of the hodge-podge combinations. The Cobra & The Canary seemed to have the greatest actual or developed character out of those that I’ve tried, but it is not an approachable, easy fragrance in my opinion. I could see more of the original story and goal in The Cobra & The Canary, but the rest transported me nowhere, evoked nothing, and felt as if they were merely just… there.

I understand wanting to do something different and experimental, about wanting to create a novel fragrance that is outside the usual box. I think that’s laudable, but being different for the sake of being different doesn’t always work. Successful execution is also key, as they often tell chefs on shows like “Top Chef” when they are trying to be different but fall flat on their face with some utterly peculiar combination.

Still, the Imaginary Authors line has enough fans for all of this to be a highly subjective matter of personal opinion. At the end of the day, the fragrances simply don’t work for me.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Each of the fragrances is an eau de parfum that comes in a 60 ml bottle that costs $85. You can purchase them directly from Imaginary Authors. The company also offers a sample service, where each perfume costs $6 per vial with the full set of 8 priced at $35. Imaginary Authors’ full line is carried by several Portland retailers, along with Parfums1, which ships overseas, though at a high price. The line is also carried at Brooklyn’s Twisted Lily. You can find other US vendors, along with some Canadian ones, at Imaginary Authors’ Stockist site. There are no European retailers listed. Samples: In addition to the sites listed above, you Surrender to Chance sells several scents from line, including Soft Lawn, and Memoirs of a Trespasser, for $4.25 for a 1 ml vial.
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Vero Profumo Mito Eau de Parfum: Effortless Italian Style

Villa d'Este via Selectitaly.com

Villa d’Este via Selectitaly.com

A vision of dappled green that is flecked with yellow and slowly turns to gold in a shimmering veil of crispness and sweetness. The most beautiful gardens, as simple as they are ornate, as refined as they are timeless. They are the gift of centuries past, and their beauty has been passed down from Renaissance princes to commoners today. A palatial garden whose essence has been distilled into tiny drops of perfume:

The warm air is pervaded by a pleasant sensation of white flowers, jasmine and newly blooming magnolias, garlands of moist moss, aromatic leaves and proud cypresses. Slowly the fragrance rises.

Source: Wikicommons

Source: Wikicommons

Up, up, higher and higher still, to join, all of a sudden, the crystalline jets gushing in the fountains and resting on the mirrors of water in the garden. Millions of miniscule water particles intertwine to create a shining, perfumed veil that rests on the cold marble shoulders of countless statues: gods, nymphs, fauns, dragons and mermaids. Time has stood still in the garden: yesterday is today is tomorrow.

For a moment the perfume fills our desire, satisfies our need for lightness and our yearning for better times. The myth of a timeless eternity.

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

That is the description of Mito from its creator, Vero Kern, the founder of the Swiss niche perfume house of Vero Profumo (sometimes written with unusual punctuation as “.vero.profumo.“). Mito is an eau de parfum from the chypre category that was released in 2012, and which was inspired by the stunning Renaissance gardens of the Ville d’Este in Tivoli, Italy. In an explanation provided by First in Fragrance, Ms. Kern says:

I was struck by its architecture, the splendour of the park where classical statues and fountains spring up out of the blue. In a sense it takes me back to my childhood, to the garden full of people and little statues where I daydreamed as a child. […] the scent of the water in the basins, of the white flowers, the grass, the moistness. The air is pervaded with elegance, mythology and an almost androgynous beauty that is both masculine and feminine at the same time. This garden smells of the Mediterranean and of Italy, of ancient and modern history, of echoes of a past not necessarily better than the present or the future. It fills me with calm and energy at the same time. That is why I am dedicating a perfume to it.

According to Luckyscent, Mito’s list of notes includes:

Citrus blend, magnolia grandiflora, white magnolia champaca, jasmine, galbanum, hyacinth, cypress blend, moss.

Villa d'Este. Source: loasa.ch

Villa d’Este. Source: loasa.ch

Mito opens on my skin with the darkest essence of green: foresty, bright, spicy, pungent, citrusy, zesty, refreshing, crisp, and crunchy, all at once. It’s a flood of galbanum, cypress, lemon, and even something a little more bitter and tart like lime — some of which feel concentrated to their very core. Mito is profoundly rich and opulent in its intensity, a tidal wave of the darkest types of green across the spectrum. Yet, it’s done in a manner that actually sparkles and which definitely calls to mind the source of the perfume’s inspiration, with diamond-like rivulets of water tossed into the air from ancient fountains and gleaming like crystals in the bright sunlight in front of a panoply of green. For all that galbanum can often (or usually) be pungently abrasive, arid, and sharp, the note here is uplifting, fresh, and infused with the sweet juiciness of sun-ripened lemons. The citrus is too intense to feel like the squirt of fresh juice; it feels more like the concentrated essence of a 1000 lemons, and perhaps three or four limes tossed in as well.  

Photo: Jimpix.co.uk

Photo: Jimpix.co.uk

Within minutes, the bouquet is joined by a beautiful burst of oakmoss that feels so plush, it’s akin to the thickest, downiest Bavarian goose-down duvet. The note is fresh and bright but, to my surprise, it has an unexpected undertone of something minty. The oakmoss is never dusty, fusty, mineralized or grey in feel like some of the mosses in the old vintage chypres. Instead, it’s utterly alive and vibrant, almost springy, and the brightest of emerald-green. Joining it is a note of much darker green-black from the cypress. It’s subtle at first, but carries a slightly piney nuance that makes one think of towering, ancient trees bordering the edges of that lovely garden.

Source: rpgwebgame.com

Source: rpgwebgame.com

The whole thing evokes a dappled landscape of green, highlighted by touches of sweetly warmed yellow. I can’t emphasize enough how enormously bright, refreshing, crisp, brisk, and yet, also rich, heady, deep, and smooth Mito is in these opening minutes. Yet, to be a little honest, the concentrated nature of that lemony freshness also sometimes calls to mind liquid Joy lemon dishwashing liquid in its intensity. The image is fleeting, however, especially around the five-minute mark when a hint of something floral starts to lurk in the base. It’s indistinct at this point and very subtle, a blur of rich, white sweetness that hints at things to come.

Forty minutes into Mito’s development, the fragrance has softened to a cloud of sweet, sun-warmed citrus atop a quiet base of fresh, almost minty moss with dark woods. There is a gauzy, sheer veil of gardenia that wafts all around, as delicate as a small breeze. Down below, tiny flickers of cypress emit subtle hints of piney evergreen. Unfortunately for my personal tastes, the whole thing hovers right on the skin. In fairness, Mito seems intended to be a discreet, elegant, wholly unobtrusive, restrained skin scent that evokes Spring in the most elegant of Italian styles — and it accomplishes that in spades.

Street Chic Milano. Photo: Marina Ciucholo via Fashion Door with ViewonMagazine.

Street Chic Milano. Photo: Marina Ciucholo via Fashion Door with ViewonMagazine.

Wearing Mito, I cannot help but think of something other than those exquisite Villa d’Este gardens. I think of the Italian style in general, and of those ineffably elegant men and women who stride around in beautifully tailored clothes that scream effortless chic in a way that marks them as the direct, modern, fashion descendants of haughty Roman aristocrats in their elegant togas.

Source: vespaclubsevilla.com

Source: vespaclubsevilla.com

If you’ve ever been to Rome or Milan, you’ll known what I’m talking about. The men in their dark suits with crisp white shirts who reflect a classical ease that George Clooney has so successfully adopted. The long-legged women in their simple, sleek, dark dresses with large sunglasses and Audrey Hepburn simplicity who bypass all fashion constrictions to navigate their Vespas with nonchalant ease. Or the ones who stride about in long, flowy, draped clothes with Missoni-like patterns. They all have that intangible, somewhat aloof, restrained, luxurious, high-end minimalism that is elegance taken to a concentrated degree, but always done in the most effortless of ways. To me, that is Mito. Springtime in fashionable Rome, reflected through the greenness of the princely Villa d’Este gardens.

Magnolia. Source: Kathy Clark via FineArtAmerica.com

Magnolia. Source: Kathy Clark via FineArtAmerica.com

As time passes, Mito becomes increasingly floral, warm, and golden. At the end of the first hour, the gardenia note becomes more prominent and, slowly, quiet flickers of jasmine start to stir. By the 90-minute mark, magnolia comes out to play and, soon, takes over completely. Mito is now a lovely bouquet of creamy, velvety, lush magnolia trailed by jasmine and a very muted gardenia note, all atop a base of oakmoss and cypress. There is a subtle undercurrent of smokiness in the wood, a whiff of evergreen, and a lingering trace of something citrusy. The floral sweetness feels like a glowing light in a nestled embrace of green.

My skin always amplifies honeyed notes, and Mito is no exception. The honeyed undertone to magnolia, along with its lemony nuances, becomes increasingly prominent. The jasmine lurks at the edges, but Mito is largely a magnolia fragrance on my skin for most of its long shelf-life. From the end of the second hour, until its final moments, Mito is a gauzy, soft, restrained whisper of infinitely creamy, lush, lemony, honeyed magnolia with green notes. Initially, the latter can be teased apart into the moss and cypress’ piney-evergreen accords, but they blur into an abstract greenness by the start of the fourth hour. The citrus note lingers at the periphery for a while, as does the gardenia, but they fade away about 4.25 hours into Mito’s development. Something else takes their place, and it’s a soft, delicate vanilla tonality that lurks beneath the creamy, sweet magnolia. By the start of the fifth hour, Mito is a discreet, sheer shimmer of magnolia atop a base of green, vaguely mossy plushness with flickers of sweetness and muted vanilla. In its final moments, the fragrance is an abstract, creamy, sweet floral warmth. All in all, Mito lasted just short of 8.75 hours on me, with extremely soft, muted sillage throughout.   

Mito is a beloved fragrance, and I can see why. It’s not to my personal tastes or style, but I think it’s rich, well-crafted, and infinitely elegant. A lot of people call it a deeper, richer, plusher cousin of Chanel‘s Cristalle, and I think that’s quite accurate. On Fragrantica, there is nothing but glowing reviews for Mito, and the blogosphere is equally positive. Everyone finds Mito to be the most wearable, easy, approachable Vero Profumo scent, and a number of people talk about its peachy heart amidst the mossy base. Take, for example, Bois de Jasmin whose four-star review reads, in part, as follows:

Mito feels like a soft breeze, an uplifting and bright perfume. It layers its tart citrus notes over the crunchy green of galbanum, and in the Eau de Parfum, the exhilarating sensation is particularly pronounced. But give it an hour on your skin, and it becomes velvety and warm. The green now fades into the white of jasmine petals and the yellow of ripe peach. Mito reminds me of Chanel Cristalle crossed with the ripe opulence of Rochas Femme, but the total is more than the sum of its parts.

… I find Mito to be the most wearable from the collection. It’s not overly demanding or flamboyant. If Rubj is the sultry Jean Harlow, Mito is the coolly elegant Grace Kelly. It has great tenacity, but its sillage is moderate, a plus or minus depending on how you like to wear your perfume. […][¶] It’s a luminous perfume from top to bottom.

Even though my experience with Mito was largely about the magnolia and had nothing to do with peaches, I think Bois de Jasmin has summed up the core feel of the fragrance. So, too, does The Non-Blonde whose perceptions of the fragrance seem a little closer to my own:

The fragrance opens with a herbal-citrus note, a bit of a green grass and a feeling of a morning breeze passing through wind chimes. The flowers in this garden feel faraway and a bit abstract. I admit that I didn’t get the magnolia until the weather cooled down considerably so that the blooming phase on the skin takes longer. Mito isn’t about the big Magnolia of the south (or even the one in my neighbor’s backyard), so the flower doesn’t distract from the green impression, just softens it and gives it a more abstract feel, all the way to the crisp and quiet wood and moss dry-down.

Vero Kern created a feel-good and beautiful perfume without compromising or coddling the wearer. I think of Mito as wearing an exquisite and very put-together outfit, accessorized to the nines, yet it has enough movement and flow that you don’t feel restricted, pulled or pinched,  neither are the clothes wearing you. It’s that kind of an effortless elegance.

George Clooney. Photographer: Sam Jones for TIME magazine.

George Clooney at his Lake Como house. Photographer: Sam Jones for TIME magazine.

Yes, to borrow from both bloggers, Mito is effortless elegance done in the manner of a soft breeze. I think it’s very pretty, even if it’s not me, and a scent that would be perfect on both men and women alike. I can see George Clooney wearing Mito just as easily as I can see one of his well-dressed, leggy, interchangeable brunette girlfriends. Mito is approachable, versatile, and suited for those who prefer a more discreet, unobtrusive, gauzy, but rich fragrance that is always elegant. It’s not as haughty or cold as some green chypres can be, thanks to the warmth of its floral heart, and it’s not a flamboyant diva scent, but it’s the embodiment of springtime in Italy and a perfect homage to the Villa d’Este.  

 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Mito is an eau de parfum that comes in a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle that retails for $215, £138 or €145 (often more from different European vendors). In the U.S.: Mito is available at Luckyscent for $200 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. (The Vero Profumo website does not seem to have an e-shop from which you can buy the perfume directly.) Outside of the U.S.: the Vero Profumo Facebook page offers a whole list of European retailers from Kiev, Russia, to Oslo, Norway, and Italy. It also adds: “Since 2010 distributed worldwide by Campomarzio70 in Rome Italy, in selective boutiques and perfumeries such as ROJA DOVE, Harrods Urban Retreat London, JOVOY Paris, Parfums Rares and many more. Campomarzio70, marketing@campomarzio70.it will inform you where you find the nearest retailer in your country.” In the UK, you can find all Vero Profumo perfumes at Harrod’s Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, but there is no online website through which you can purchase perfumes. (It is not the same site as the Harrod’s website.) You can also find Mito (and the full Vero Profumo line along with samples) at London’s Bloom Perfumery which sells the fragrance for £138, along with samples. In Paris, you can find Mito at Jovoy Paris, where it retails for €145. In the Netherlands, you can find it at Leanne Tio Haute Parfumerie where it costs €150, but seems to be currently sold out. In Italy, you can find it at Alla Violetta boutique for €145, along with samples. Germany’s First In Fragrance sells Mito for €145, but they are currently sold out. The site also carries the complete Vero Profumo line, offers sample sets, and ship throughout the world. Samples: I obtained Mito from Surrender to Chance which sells the fragrance starting at $5.99 for a 1/2 ml vial.

Review En Bref: Vero Profumo Kiki Eau de Parfum

As always, my Reviews en Bref are for a fragrance that, for whatever reason, didn’t warrant one of my long, exhaustive, detailed assessments. In this case, it’s Vero Profumo‘s Kiki Eau de Parfum.

Cannes

Kiki takes me back to my childhood. It returns me to the sun-drenched hills and promenades of Cannes, to the Croisette where we’d sit at Le Festival to have a sandwich, and to the hills where our villa’s long driveway was lined with enormous lavender bushes and mimosa trees. Sun, blue skies, the glitter of turquoise waters, the relaxing heat of a city made fragrant by the flowers that surrounded you everywhere — those are all parts of my childhood summers in Cannes, a city that is just a 15-minute car ride from Grasse whose famous floral fields have made it the perfume-making center of the world.

Unfortunately, not all aspects of that trip down memory lane are pleasant. My time in Cannes created a strong backlash against lavender that, at times, seemed to besiege me from every nook, cranny, drawer, cupboard, kitchen, restaurant, boutique, promenade, street, house, garden, market, and every other possible, conceivable location imaginable. It was well-nigh unbearable to someone with a sensitive nose, and it left a definite mark. Since that time, I cannot stand lavender unless it’s done really well and is not abrasive. That’s not the case for Kiki, a fragrance whose opening I briefly struggled with before it turned into a plain, pretty, banal blur.

Vero Profumo Kiki EDP

Source: Luckyscent.

Vero Profumo (sometimes written with odd punctuation as “.vero.profumo.“) is a Swiss niche perfume line that was established in 2007 with three pure parfums called Onda, Kiki, and Rubj. Kiki in Eau de Parfum form came along three years later, in 2010, and the new concentration had a new formula and notes to go along with it. This time, there was passion fruit — which is probably why Fragrantica puts Kiki in the “aromatic fruity” category. Luckyscent provides the full list of notes:

Lavender essential oil, bergamot, citron, passion fruit, lavender absolute, geranium, caramel, patchouli, musk.

Source: 123rf.com

Dried lavender in a marché in Provence. Source: 123rf.com

Kiki Eau de Parfum opens on my skin with a sonic boom of sharp, pungent, herbal, almost medicinal, dried lavender. In less than a minute, however, it is infused by a strange, intense sweetness that just barely hints at being caramel. The bitter, harsh dried lavender of the sachets that plagued my childhood summers — the exact type of lavender I despise the most — is on full show here. It continues unabated for a few minutes until suddenly, drastically and quite dramatically, it starts to soften. It’s now slightly gentler, warmer, sweeter, rounder, and subtly flecked by a tart, tangy fruitness and by the merest floral whisper from the geranium. 

The fruit notes are interesting. Fresh citruses are mixed into the tart, tangy, sweet, and slightly musky character of the passion fruit. Quickly, they start to infuse the lavender, creating a potent bouquet of bracing, sharp, pungently dry, forceful, but sweetly fragrant lavender with tart, sensuously musky passion fruit and general sweetness. The caramel, patchouli, and subtle, slightly spicy, floral tones of the geranium work in the background, having an indirect effect but never being forcefully noticeable in their own right. It underscores how well-blended Vero Profumo fragrances always are, but it also marks the beginning of something that becomes problematic later on: blurriness. We’ll get to that later. 

Lavender at a Provence marché. Source: Picstopin.com

Sachets of dried lavender at a Provence marché. Source: Picstopin.com

Ten minutes into Kiki’s development, the only distinctive, individual notes are passion fruit and lavender ensconced in an amorphous, airy sweetness. It never feels as though there is full-on caramel in Kiki; there is nothing at all like the rich, heavy, unctuous gooeyiness of the caramel you find in desserts. Actually, it rather feels as though the caramel is infused with vanilla, whipped into a frothy, bubbly, foam-like airiness. It’s extremely pretty, but very subtle. So subtle that it fails to ever fully tame the forceful pungency of that lavender. Even with the sweet notes that infuse it, the lavender is still too much like those Grasse dried sachets of my nightmares with their sharp, abrasive, aggressive, herbal blasts that assault everything they touch. (Maybe I need therapy for my feelings of hostility towards the poor plant?)

Kiki continues its bilateral focus for a while longer. At the twenty-minute mark, the perfume is bracing lavender, soft lavender, sweetened lavender, and fruity lavender, lightly infused with sweet musk and sweetness. If my words sound repetitive and redundant, it’s because they’re meant to be. Kiki is primarily and predominantly one singular theme with only minor, subtle variations. In the background, hints of citruses twinkle like dainty, tiny lights one sees in distant hills. Soft patchouli darts around like a firefly. A very pretty, plush, warn, snuggly softness stirs at the base, feeling as cozy as a cashmere throw. The whole thing is subsumed into a very powerful, potent, forceful combination that is, simultaneously, very airy and very lightweight in feel. Objectively, it’s very pretty; intellectually, I can’t find any of it to be very complex or interesting.

Less than an hour into Kiki’s development, it all starts to turn a little hazy. The perfume’s texture feels creamy, soft, and smooth, but the notes are increasingly blurry. There are a lot of very well-blended perfumes where the elements don’t feel quite so nebulous, intangible, abstract and amorphous. At least, not quite so soon. Kiki has turned into an almost hazy blur of soft, sweet, musky floralness that just barely hints at lavender. Once in a blue moon, the vanillic caramel pops up like a ghost to feel a little more concrete, but it is incredibly fleeting. There is a sweet musk, presumably from the passion fruit, but it has no concrete basis. Even the hint of lavender feels like a flittering, darting thing that you’re trying to grab onto, but it keeps slipping away. It’s an exercise in frustration to pin anything down beyond the general, abstract, creamy, floral sweetness. Even Casper the Friendly Ghost has more structure to his shape and form.

That’s all there is to Kiki on my skin. For the next few hours, its mellow, creamy, floral sweetness darts about like a will o’ the wisp, becoming closer and closer to the skin. It’s a pretty smell, but it’s nothing more than that. The word “boring” actually comes to mind. Exactly 3.75 minutes into the perfume’s development, Kiki is nothing more than sweet, musky vanilla on my skin. It lingers on, soft as a gauzy whisper, for another few hours, then dies completely just over the 6.75 hour mark.

Some of you may think that I can’t objectively and fairly judge a perfume that is centered around a note I dislike so much. You may have a point. However, if reviewers only focused on things they knew they would like, then every magazine, newspaper or website would have to hire thousands of sub-specialists. That’s simply not reality. Perfume reviewing is, by its very nature, even more subjective than most fields, but that doesn’t mean my issues with a particular note automatically doom a fragrance. I loathe ISO E Super, but I’ve given good reviews for a number of fragrances with the dreaded note. I am not a passionate iris fan, but that hasn’t stopped me from loving a few perfumes built around it, either. And, regular readers will know that I have very much appreciated a couple of fragrances which showcased lavender. I gave enormous praise to Histoires de Parfums‘ 1725 Casanova, a lavender aromatic fougère which just barely straddles the gourmand category with its vanilla. It’s lovely enough that I’ve actually considered wearing it. I also greatly admired and liked Santa Maria Novella‘s Ambra which has lavender with neroli and birch tar. And I’ve adored a number of fragrances that have clary sage, a lavender-like plant, or which have featured lavender in conjunction with other notes. So, I don’t hate all perfumes with lavender, but they have to be really good ones to get over my lack of enthusiasm for the note.

At the end of the day, Kiki simply isn’t all that special in my opinion. What manifested itself on my skin was pretty, yes, but it’s neither interesting nor complex. I think the whole thing actually verges on the plain and banal. And that is a far greater problem to me than a brief twenty-minute struggle with the lavender at the beginning. So, Kiki is a complete pass. I’ll stick to Vero Profumo’s honey-vetiver chypre, Onda, whose complexities, nuances, range, and beauty made my jaw drop. It’s a brilliant fragrance that has my heartiest admiration, intellectually and emotionally. Kiki does not.

 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: The Kiki fragrance being reviewed here is only the Eau de Parfum version and retails for $200 or €125 (often more from different European vendors) for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. In the U.S.: Kiki is available at Luckyscent for $200 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. (The Vero Profumo website does not seem to sell the perfumes.) Outside of the U.S.: the Vero Profumo Facebook page offers a whole list of European retailers from Kiev, Russia, to Oslo, Norway, and Italy. It also adds: “Since 2010 distributed worldwide by Campomarzio70 in Rome Italy, in selective boutiques and perfumeries such as ROJA DOVE, Harrods Urban Retreat London, JOVOY Paris, Parfums Rares and many more.  Campomarzio70, marketing@campomarzio70.it will inform you where you find the nearest retailer in your country.” I checked the website for Campomarzio70 and it doesn’t seem to sell the perfumes online, since I could find no “online cart” (so to speak), no pricing options or no way to purchase the perfumes, but you can try to check for yourself. In the UK, you can find all Vero Profumo perfumes at Harrod’s Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, but there is no online website through which you can purchase perfumes. (It is not the same site as the Harrod’s website.) You can also find Kiki (and the full Vero Profumo line along with samples) at London’s Bloom Perfumery which sells the Eau de Parfum for £138.00. In Paris, at Jovoy Paris, Kiki retails for €145. In the Netherlands, you can find it at Leanne Tio Haute Parfumerie where it costs €150. In Italy, you can find it at Alla Violetta boutique for €125. Germany’s First In Fragrance sells Kiki EDP for €150, but they also carry the complete Vero Profumo line, offers sample sets, and ship throughout the world. Samples: I obtained Kiki from Surrender to Chance as part of Vero Profumo Three-Perfume Sample Set (Onda, Rubj, and Kiki); the set is only for the EDP concentration and prices begin $13.99 for a 1/2 ml vial of each. Surrender to Chance also sells Kiki EDP individually starting at $5.99 for a 1/2 ml vial, and up.

Perfume Review: Vero Profumo Rubj Eau de Parfum

A “ravished ballerina” is perhaps the best known description for Rubj (pronounced as “Ruby”) Eau de Parfum from Vero Profumo, a cult favorite that is hugely adored amongst perfumistas. That evocative summation from Now Smell This was only the first of many admiring reviews which have since followed. So, I fully expect to be tarred and feathered when I say that I absolutely hated Rubj. It is quite a shock to me because orange blossom fragrances are amongst my favorites, I don’t have huge issues with cumin, and I simply adored Onda by the same, very talented, extremely original perfumer. Alas, on my skin, Rubj was primarily and mainly the scent of sweaty feet, combined with rancid body odor. 

Vero Profumo (sometimes written with odd punctuation as “.vero.profumo.“) is a Swiss niche perfume line that was established in 2007 with three pure parfums called Onda, Kiki, and Rubj. Vero Kern, the founder and nose behind Vero Profumo, explains on her website that eroticism and originality were the goals behind each one. In 2010, the fragrances were released in eau de parfum concentration. They were not simply a milder form of the originals but, rather, slightly altered versions. Fragrantica provides Ms. Kern’s explanation of the key differences:

The new perfumes are not the diluted version of the extracts. […] 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”.

Rubj EDPLuckyscent provides the following notes for Rubj Eau de Parfum which is categorized on Fragrantica as a “floral oriental”:

Bergamot, mandarin, neroli, passion fruit, cumin, orange flower absolute, tuberose, basil, cedar, oak moss, musk.

I tried Rubj twice — three times if you’re including the fact that I gave it one more attempt this morning as I sat down to write this review. The first time, I applied the equivalent of two small sprays, only via dab method. The second time, I increased the quantity to about 3.5 good sprays. With the greater quantity, I could detect far more nuances, but the first  time, my experience was almost entirely sweaty feet, followed later by rancid, sour, stale, musky body odor with just occasional hints of orange blossom lurking in the background. From start to finish, that was about it. So, this review will recount my experiences the second time around.

Oranges via Yun free photosRubj opened on my skin with a breathtakingly ethereal bouquet of orange: orange blossoms; delicate, but tart and tangy, baby mandarins; juicy orange meat; slightly dry neroli; and a soupçon of tuberose. It sits atop a base of light cedar, infused with basil and salty, fresh, brightly green oakmoss. It was absolutely beautiful. And it lasted all of about 15 seconds….

Passion fruit. Source: fo-od.co.uk.

Passion fruit. Source: fo-od.co.uk.

Almost immediately thereafter, cumin and passion fruit explode upon the scene. My God, is it brutal! Filled with animalic notes and a very skanky musk, the cumin collides with the wet, earthy, gooey, over-ripe, indolic passion fruit to create one very unmistakable scent: sweaty feet. I cannot get over it and, as the smell grows stronger and stronger, an instinctive shudder wracks my body. Soon, something else gets added to the mix: body odor. It is sour, stale, and absolutely rancid in its muskiness. In gyms all across the world, men have bags filled with items reeking of this scent. Granted, the gym bags don’t usually also have a whiff of salty orange blossoms lurking underneath, but it’s close enough.

Source: 941foot.com

Source: 941foot.com

For the next two hours, the essential core of Rubj doesn’t change significantly on my skin. At times, the basil is a bit more noticeable; at others, the saltiness of the oakmoss is more predominant. Yet, at all times, the dominant elements are that brutal cumin combined with the skankiness of the passion fruit. By the start of the third hour, however, tuberose rises to the surface, and Rubj turns into a combination of tuberose and animalic, cumin-infused body odor with a hint of tart, juicy oranges behind it. The overall effect is simultaneous sour, fetid, and over-ripe. There were more than a few moments where my skin was radiating out the scent of unwashed, dirty, caked panties. I don’t even dare post a photo symbolizing what Rubj calls to mind! I’m not a prude but, frankly, I cannot imagine a circumstance where I would want to go out in public smelling like this.

Vero Kern says on the very first page of Vero Profumo’s website: “I love everything that reminds of the smell of skin.” And her replication of that scent was glorious in Onda EDP which I adored passionately, in part, because of how it evokes the smell of skin. There, it felt fresh and sweet, and, as I wrote in my review, conjured up the slightly heated aroma of skin when you’re intertwined with your lover in the early moments of intimacy. With Rubj, however, the scent as it manifested itself on my skin was closer to that of unwashed genitalia. The smell of skin, way, way, way after love-making is over, if you will.

Source: Sodahead.com

Source: Sodahead.com

At the start of the sixth hour, and until the final traces of the fragrance are gone from skin, Rubj returns back to animalic, dirty, raunchy musk with a light touch of florals. There is tuberose but, primarily now, orange blossoms. Neither has the faintest chance against the smell of body odor and sweaty feet. All in all, Rubj EDP lasted 8.5 hours on my perfume-consuming skin at the greater dosage and 7 hours with the lesser one. The sillage was never enormous or powerful at any time — a fact for which I am most grateful. Rubj always was soft in terms of projection, and became close to the skin approximately 3.5 hours into its development at the higher dosage and 2 hours at the lower one. As a whole, it is a surprisingly airy, light perfume in texture and feel.

As I noted at the start of the review, Rubj EDP is a hugely adored cult favorite. The review from Angela at Now Smell This that began the “ravished ballerina” associations calls it “innocent and carnal,” as well as “very, very sexy.” Two gushing reviews at Luckyscent go further:

  • Goodness, someone’s been a naughty girl. This is the most frankly sexual scent I have ever smelled. It has a heavy narcotic quality that is sleepy and langorous. Heavy, intense orange blossom over a musk that is like nothing I’ve every smelled before (in a perfume). This is glamorous, old school, femme fatale. I realize I’m babbling, but it has scrambled my brains. Do try, do try, do try this beauty.
  • I love the extrait to death but find it a bit overwhelming at times. I love its mouthwatering tartness, indolic jasmine and civet base; but that can get a bit too much. The EDP on the other hand is, I find, to be quite different. Opens with a surprising grapefruit-like citrus as opposed to the tartness of berries that conjure up images of scarlet rubies. The EDP is more of a suave, maroon linen cloth. It is much airier and greener, giving it an entirely different beauty that is much more approachable than the extrait. It is still somewhat suggestive due to the discrete use of cumin. Deceptively gorgeous.

If only I had experienced a discreet use of cumin! How I wish I could have experienced the lovely “spring bouquet” mentioned by one person on Fragrantica, or the orange blossom extravaganza adored by others. Instead, my experience is much closer to that of a number of Fragrantica commentators who had a less than enchanting experience. One commentator describes Rubj as: “Tuberose and cumin. Didn’t sit well with me – an overblown tuberose with a B.O undertone.” Another calls it “medicinal” tuberose, and a third writes about “a smelly armpit kinda smell. it’s kinda like cumin-body odor over a slightly floral scent.” But I relate to, and feel most strongly for, “catbiscuit” who wrote:

I fully expect to be punished for my review here but as long my penalty doesn’t involve being doused in Rubj EDP I think I will be okay.

I have worked really hard to like this perfume with multiple skin tests and a paper test in case my skin was distorting the fundamentals of the creation. I even turned on the air-conditioner in case the ambient heat was the problem. 

To no avail, Rubj EDP still smells for all the world like the skin is oozing the waste product of last night’s champion indian curry banquet out through its pores in rivulets of warm sweat. Passionfruit-basil-tuberose I can pick them up but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. 

It isn’t until the musk enters in the drydown (on a skin test) that Rubj truly defies belief though. It has that peppery, fruity, musky male odour found emanating from a healthy scrotum after a sweaty day’s work. As a heterosexual woman this is enjoyable in small doses and infiniately superior to the curried sweat accord but still mind-boggling to say the least.

Good God, is that accurate! Well, she and I can be pilloried together — so long as the punishment is never more Rubj.

 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: The Rubj fragrance being reviewed here is only the Eau de Parfum version and it is available at Luckyscent for $220 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. (The Vero Profumo website does not seem to sell the perfumes.) Outside of the US, the Vero Profumo Facebook page offers a whole list of European retailers from Kiev, Russia, to Oslo, Norway, and Italy. It also adds: “Since 2010 distributed worldwide by Campomarzio70 in Rome Italy, in selective boutiques and perfumeries such as ROJA DOVE, Harrods Urban Retreat London, JOVOY Paris, Parfums Rares and many more.  Campomarzio70, marketing@campomarzio70.it will inform you where you find the nearest retailer in your country.” I checked the website for Campomarzio70 and it doesn’t seem to sell the perfumes online, since I could find no “online cart” (so to speak), no pricing options or no way to purchase the perfumes, but you can try to check for yourself. In the UK, you can find all Vero Profumo perfumes at Harrod’s Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, but there is no online website through which you can purchase perfumes. (It is not the same site as the Harrod’s website.) At Jovoy Paris, Rubj retails for €165. In the Netherlands, you can find it at Leanne Tio Haute Parfumerie where it costs €170. Germany’s First In Fragrance carries not only the complete Vero Profumo line but also offers sample sets. They sell Rubj Eau de Parfum for €150. They ship throughout the world. As for samples, I obtained mine from Surrender to Chance as part of Vero Profumo Three-Perfume Sample Set (Onda, Rubj, and Kiki); the set is only for the EDP concentration and prices begin $13.99 for a 1/2 ml vial of each. Surrender to Chance doesn’t sell Rubj EDP individually but it does sell the Pure Parfum for $9.99 for a 1/4 ml vial, $19.98 for a 1/2 ml vial, and up.

Perfume Review: Vero Profumo Onda Eau de Parfum

Source: 3dwallpapers.co.in.

Source: 3dwallpapers.co.in.

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.

Source: foto.libero.it

Source: foto.libero.it

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:

Vera Kern of Vero Profumo.

Vera Kern of Vero Profumo.

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”.

Onda Eau de Parfum.

Onda Eau de Parfum.

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.

Salt marshes via Flickriver.com.

Salt marshes via Flickriver.com.

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.

Passion fruit. Source: fo-od.co.uk.

Passion fruit. Source: fo-od.co.uk.

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.

Source: Twitter.

Source: Twitter.

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:

noun

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.

Source: etshoneysupliers.

Source: etshoneysupliers.

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:
    SALT-MARSH
  • 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!”.
"Lisa Raye. Dripping honey on her body." Portrait by Brad Miller / Retna Ltd. 2002. via Flickr

“Lisa Raye. Dripping honey on her body.” Portrait by Brad Miller / Retna Ltd. 2002. via Flickr (Link to Flickr page embedded within.)

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 SoirRochasFemme, 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.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: The Onda being reviewed here is only the Eau de Parfum version and it is available at Luckyscent for $200 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. (The Vero Profumo website does not seem to sell the perfumes.) Outside of the US, the Vero Profumo Facebook page offers a whole list of European retailers from Kiev, Russia, to Oslo, Norway, and Italy. It also adds: “Since 2010 distributed worldwide by Campomarzio70 in Rome Italy, in selective boutiques and perfumeries such as ROJA DOVE, Harrods Urban Retreat London, JOVOY Paris, Parfums Rares and many more.  Campomarzio70, marketing@campomarzio70.it will inform you where you find the nearest retailer in your country.” I checked the website for Campomarzio70 and it doesn’t seem to sell the perfumes online, since I could find no “online cart” (so to speak), no pricing options or no way to purchase the perfumes, but you can try to check for yourself. In the UK, you can find all Vero Profumo perfumes at Harrod’s Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie, but there is no online website through which you can purchase perfumes. (It is not the same site as the Harrod’s website.) At Jovoy Paris, Onda retails for €145. In the Netherlands, you can find it at Leanne Tio Haute Parfumerie. Germany’s First In Fragrance carries not only the complete Vero Profumo line but also offers sample sets. They ship throughout the world. As for samples, I obtained mine from Surrender to Chance as part of Vero Profumo Three-Perfume Sample Set (Onda, Rubj, and Kiki); the set is only for the EDP concentration and prices begin $13.99 for a 1/2 ml vial of each. Surrender to Chance offers single vials of Onda Eau de Parfum by itself, however, for $5.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. It also sells Onda Pure Parfum for $9.99 for a 1/4 ml vial, $19.98 for a 1/2 ml vial, and up.