Until last week I’d probably spent less time and attention on Acqua di Parma´s Blu Mediterraneo line than on picking the chipped polish off my nails. I tried Fico di Amalfi on my fig jag and found it nice enough, but anything that sounds like “fecal” when you say it isn´t on the top of my list, no matter how dumb my thinking is. Yet there I was recently in our newly opened, kinda mediocre Bluemercury (seriously, do the mediocrity fairies live here in the area? Are they employed by the CIA in
Anyway, shutting down my usual sidewinding mental amble through the weedy hills of my mind and getting to the point, next to their pitiful L´Artisan collection was the Blu Mediterraneo, which I know some of you think is kind of heinous-looking but to me appears intended to be a spa-brand product extension of the AdP line – clean and calm and simply packaged. Actually, I think the bright colors and blue bottles are cheery. In the teeth of the heat that day (high 90s, matching humidity, air quality index = unhealthy), I couldn´t face the L´Artisan, so I gave this line a go instead.
Fico di Amalfi – bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, orange, tangerine, cedar leaves, jasmine, Rose/pink pepper, fig nectar, cedarwood, fig wood, guaiac wood. A dry, herbal/woody fig, more about the wind through the grove than the fruit, and totally absent that sweet coconut smell you sometimes get with fig sometimes. Although I don´t like it as much as, say, Philosykos, my appreciation for its subtleties has grown the longer I sniff its figgy kin. The woodiness is smokier and more nuanced than I’d given it credit for.
Arancia Di Capri – probably the least interesting to me, although it´s fine. A pleasant citrus (orange, mandarin, lemon, grapefruit) with a hint of petitgrain and a little musk. Worth trying if you like orange blossom-type fragrances.
Mirto Di Panarea – myrtle, bergamot, Calabrian lemon, sweet
Mandorlo Di Sicilia – bergamot, star anise, jasmine, white peach, green almond, coffee, cedarwood, white musk, vanilla. The gourmand of the bunch, obviously, although lighter than you´d think reading that list. This strikes me as a love-it-or-hate-it, depending on your tolerance for its sweetness. It´s supposed to be almond-scented, but instead was weirdly reminiscent of either sassafras or birch beer. It´s fun to try, but I can´t say I´d want to wear it more than once. It dries down into a pretty musky/gourmand floral that my girls quite liked.
Cipresso Di Toscana – grapefruit, petitgrain, clary sage, basil, rosemary, ferns, lily of the valley, jasmine, coriander, cardamom, woods, pine needles, cypress, oakmoss. My other strong favorite of the bunch. A delicious, straightforward masculine herbal/woody scent that manages to avoid cliche and that I´d borrow in a heartbeat. You know what I love about this? It´s the perfect non-romantic gift scent for some nice man in my life (nephew, brother, friend, dad) – something I´d smell very happily that isn´t laden with a weird ad agenda (I’m rich!! sexxxy!), it looks nice but not too nice (no guy-perfume vibe), not too pedestrian either, yet would be fairly easy to replace if he wanted some more. That´s a harder combination than you´d think.
Trying these all together, I found myself charmed — and reminded that when exploring fragrances, sometimes a lot can be learned from sniffing one line together and nothing else. No, none of them is going to win the Comme des Garcons award for perfume innovation (on second thought: that Mandorlo is pretty strange), at worst they’re merely pleasant, and I´d cheerfully wear the fig, myrtle and cypress scents. Their lasting power isn´t anything to write home about, but somehow that seems right. I think each also comes in a body cream and shower gel, with a couple other ancillary products for particular scents, and now I´m thinking a gel would be pretty fabulous. If you´ve fallen into a summer rut and are looking for something to wear in brutal heat that ends up feeling refreshing, but isn’t a straight-up cologne, these are definitely worth a try. Maybe it’s living in such a status-conscious area, but I am appreciative of a line of fragrance that doesn’t immediately conjure any particular marketing message, highbrow, trendy or otherwise (Chanel! David Yurman! Gwen Stefani!) These say: hey — smell nice,simple, relax, enjoy, and they do so beautifully. At $65 for 2 ozs. of sunshine, I can think of worse ways to spend my money.