Tommi Sooni Tarantella

When I read on Now Smell This about Australian niche house Tommi Sooni´s fragrance debut – a chypre called Tarantella, targeted at women age 25+ and inspired by a walled garden in Avignon full of native plants from Sicily – I was thrilled. It sounded like a far cry from most of the new batch of releases here in the U.S., and I´m a sucker for a classic-style perfume. So I emailed and asked for a sample of the fragrance, named after the Sicilian dance. The only remaining question being: was it any good?

The notes for Tarantella are neroli, galbanum, aldehydes, Sicilian mandarin, muguet, orris, rose, frangipani, Egyptian jasmine, clove, laurel, honey, leather, amber, oakmoss, sandalwood.

Looking at that list gives you an idea of the classic form of the fragrance, and while it is sensual, it’s a spill of ruffles more in the direction of Balenciaga Le Dix than something more dark (Jolie Madame) or imposing (Diorella). The galbanum and muguet give Tarantella a cool, green opening, and I find the aldehydes to be extremely moderated, so if you don´t love them, you don´t have much to fear here.

Reviewing the company´s marketing materials, I was worried the green notes and the “Sicilian flora” were going to translate into a sharp, herbaceous opening popular in some green chypres, the sort you get with bergamot, clary sage and/or a lot of citrus (and here´s lookin´ at you, Aromatics Elixir and Ma Griffe). Even from the opening, the rose, frangipani and jasmine set the tone with a playful, sensual sweetness. I admire Aromatics Elixir and Ma Griffe rather than enjoy them, so I was happy. The spice notes appear after a few minutes, the aldehydes fade and the green notes become more muted but still present, and at that point, 15 or 20 minutes in, the fragrance reaches a balance between its elements of green, floral, and chypre. The leather is soft and cured rather than bitter, and its arrival is quiet. It´s a smooth fragrance, and over the course of the next several hours it fades as a whole, rather than leaving me with just the base notes.

There´s nothing “light” about Tarantella, but it has a youthful charm. It adheres to a classic type while possessing a modern, unfussy feel. I think it´s lovely, a fragrance that would fit in with, say, the Teo Cabanel line. If you like your chypre on the soft, pretty side (more Molinard, less Sisley), this would be a fine one to try.

Tarantella is an EDP ($165 Australian) available from Peony Melbourne. I got a sample by emailing Tommi Sooni here.

Dancing the tarantella: virtualitalia.com; Tommi Sooni Tarantella, tommisooni.com

And furthermore …. Allure does it again! The current issue with Mariah Carey on the cover (and Mariah, call your lawyers, because that photo is terrible) has an excerpt from the eagerly anticipated Perfumes: The Guide by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, with a taste of the reviews (quick — what’s the relationship between Tommy Girl and Mariage Freres?), and an article with Sophia Grojsman telling us how to apply fragrance, and a short on berry-note perfumes that manages to cover Teo Cabanel’s stellar Julia. There must be somebody over there who’s really interested in fragrance.

  • Musette says:

    Well, I just got my sample of Tarantella today (thanks, SB and Peony Melbourne:-)…nearly ran off the road trying to apply it whilst driving..d’oh!

    It’s a nice fragrance…but at least on this first dab I got a whole lotta powder. My sinuses have cleared up and I don’t think I’m anosmic to anything…but I will have to try it again. The only thing I smell is a LOT of powder…and it’s now 4 hours later.

    Will obviously give it a couple more tries – hoping for the leather and spice…oddly enough, the drydown on me smells a lot like Lipstick Rose!

    • March says:

      Oh, that’s terrible! I hate powder. Hate hate hate. Even with all my comfort scent love I can’t say I can tolerate much powder. Bleh. And I can see what you’re saying about Lipstick Rose, if you’re getting a lot of powder with those florals it would have that kind of smell.

      • Musette says:

        Well, we’re now into hour SEVEN…and I’m finally getting a faint whiff of the leather …it’s a shame it doesn’t come up earlier than this but once it does it grounds all the other stuff nicely.

        I’m wondering if I’m just a Powder Puff? If so, all I can say is b-( I’m thinking I’m going to move into some heavier leathers…’cause I really like how it smells, 30 years late!

  • evilpeony says:

    Hi all sniffaholics,

    I’m glad we are finally getting some validation from the mainstream press. We’re not a secret cult, you know. (although…. who’s complaining?)

    tarantella sounds alluring. it’s emerging niche lines like these that convince me that perfumery is not really dead.

  • Judith says:

    I tried to reply above, to thank you guys for your birthday wishes (with a song), but I think I got put in the smut bin; anyway, my reply disappeared.:(( But thank you anyway !!!:x

    • March says:

      You and Louise in the Smut Bin!!! We are really having a problem with this. I hope you got something sweet smelling for your birthday!

  • chayaruchama says:

    This sounds good to me-
    BTW, Allure also mentioned Sniffa, too.

    My oh my.

    Louise-
    Check your voice machine, honey.
    Mama left a message-song.
    Love to you !

  • rosarita says:

    I just received my copy of the April Allure today and am thoroughly enjoying all the perfume coverage. And I don’t think that’s a terrible photo of Mariah (can Michael Thompson even take a bad photo??) but she’s been retouched & airbrushed into a caricature of herself. Almost cartoony.

    • March says:

      That must be what put me off. I think Mariah is gorgeous — and gorgeous in a way that does NOT look like so many of the bony cardboard actress/celebs they’re always featuring. But you’re right, she looks airbrushed to the point she barely looks real. Yeah, like an avatar. That’s one of the other things I love about her, she’s so alive-looking.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, I can’t stop reading Tania’s article in Allure, especially the section on some of her and Luca’s department store five-star picks. There are seven of them, including my beloved Calyx and Tommy Girl (yes, I love it, and was thrilled by the fact that it was based, in part, on the scent of the Mariage Freres tea boutique in Paris!). I have pre-ordered their book, and can’t wait for it to be released.

    Someone at Allure must be listening to us and reading great perfume blogs like this one. I do hope they continue the trend.

    Hugs!

    • March says:

      I have to go back and re-sniff Tommy Girl now. Really, I had no idea. And since that’s the basis of Bvlgari The Verte I’ll do a compare… I love that Calyx. Totally underrated scent.

      And I was thrilled and pleased to see that five of their 10 classics listed were Guerlain! Yay! Go, Guerlain! :d/

      • March says:

        Hey, that was supposed to be the happy dance emoticon!

        • violetnoir says:

          Yeah, Guerlain! My absolute fave perfume house of all. Five out of ten ain’t bad, huh? I probaby would have made it seven out of ten by adding Apres L’Ondee and Nahema, but I admit that I am a bit of a Guerlain fanatic, heh, heh!

          Did you see Missoni on the list, March? I have been testing it since Saturday, and I have to say that it’s pretty darn good, but better sprayed than dabbed.

          And, hey–I could totally tell that was the Happy Dance! 😉

          Hugs!

          • March says:

            Lord. I didn’t like that Missoni. Not. One. Bit.

            But it’s been so long since I smelled it I feel like I should have a retry. If I can give Tommy Girl and Estee a resniff…

            Guerlain rules. Now we have total affirmation.

  • Marsi says:

    I had NO idea that Tania and Luca Turin had gotten MARRIED. Boy, if you’d had a feather, you could’ve knocked me over with it. Wow.

    I can’t wait till their book hits the market.

    • March says:

      Oh looky, there’s my feather! Yep, photo of the newlyweds in the Allure issue, too, I think they got married in NYC last fall?

      • Louise says:

        Ah, no feathers needed there…I hope they will be most happy!:)

        • March says:

          Amen. Mazel tov? I think I spelled that right. /:)

          • Tigs / Erin says:

            Okay, I’m really out of the loop with some of the blogs – I had no idea about this. (I have to admit, I just assumed Luca was still married to his previous wife?!? He was married to Desa Philippi, wasn’t he?) I’m sure he and Tania will be very happy, of course, and congratulations to them.

  • Patty says:

    I e-mailed to try and get a bottle of this, and they didn’t they they could mail perfume (*rolls eyes*) but were looking at some way of shipping. Not sure that bodes well for it becoming available in the U.S., but perhaps Aedes or LS will pick it up? It does sound interesting to be sure!

    • Louise says:

      I also emailed Mr. Broadhurst, and we chatted about “agents” here-Bergdorf, Aedes, LuckyScent. He’s working on it. Such a nice fellow, too.

    • March says:

      No, for serious? They won’t mail you one? Dude … where’s my feather? Here, knock me over. 😮

      I think you’d like it, it’s pretty and not over the top.

    • Musette says:

      Huh? I send shampoo and fragrance to a friend in Holland all the time. Flammable liquids (perfume) require a bit more paperwork and due-diligence as regards wrapping but stuff (even perfume) gets shipped all over the world!

      That’s a very odd response from them…but maybe I’m missing something about how things get out of Australia…
      😕

  • Musette says:

    I had a lovely email exchange with Steven Broadhurst re this fragrance and am eagerly awaiting my sample (a poster on NST seems to really like it and we have similar tastes in ‘fumes). I haven’t got a clue what the notes will say to me, as I can’t dissect them as you can but I will be able to tell you if I like it or not:d/

    Elle, I nearly spit out my coffee at the vision of your piano teacher dancing the tarantella…..depending on the teacher, that could be:o

    • March says:

      I read a description of the dance online and can’t decide how I feel about it!

      And can I say how helpful it is to find someone who likes a lot of the same stuff you like? Then if they go all crazy about something you can kick it up your must-try list.

      • kathleen says:

        March, they do this dance at Italian American weddings. We have done it for as long as I can remember. We get completely overdressed. We overeat and overdrink. Inevitably, some 200 plus people, some who haven’t seen each other since the last extravaganze or funeral, and some we have seen just yesterday, get together on the dance floor and do the Tarantella. In those few minutes the years apart slip away and we are all together again, family.

        • March says:

          Okay, NOW you have given me a description of a dance I can get on board with!!! Any dance that involves a lot of preparatory eating and drinking is a winner.

      • Musette says:

        I am still seeking that ‘twin’ – the problem is I can’t decide what I like, most of the time, beyond my old standbys 🙁

        Today I am wearing Lipstick Rose. First time, I loved it. Then I hated it….now I love it again but feel I am woefully underdressed for it (like with FdeCassie I feel like I should be wearing cashmere, heels and some very ‘definite’ hairdo, like a French Twist…these perfumes have that Fracas-like demand for appropriate clothing, IMO)

        Can’t wait for summer, where all it has to do is smell nice and not turn in the heat:d/

        btw – am in total agreement with your interest in “non-drama niche”. Perhaps I’m still too noob but I’m finding myself exhausted by all the Statements. Of course, I’m really underwhelmed by most of the non-niche scents…what’s a gal to do?

        I miss the old (the Really Old) Cotys. Dang.

        • Musette says:

          I know this is sort of off-topic (not Tarantella) but I think I’ve figured out what makes me so wishy/washy about Lipstick Rose….after about 3 hrs of it I am thoroughly BORED with the scent!…..alas, it’s here to stay.:-< All I'm getting is the powder, with something vaguely rose-y/waxy underneath. Not unpleasant. In fact, it reminds my of my Tia Cornelia's dressing table with the silk skirts (back in the late 50s)...maybe I'm just not used to powder and wax forming the bulk of a fragrance? Crap. Wish I knew more about this stuff so I could figure it out, like you all do! xoThe Grasshoppa=:)

          • March says:

            Well … here, let me put my BS hat on. Heh heh. I think the Malle is this abstract, makeup-y, perfume-y rose. Rose and the smell of cosmetics. So on the one hand, it sounds like you are getting precisely what you were supposed to. OTOH, maybe not your thing. I don’t like rose scents anyway (although Une Rose is pretty amazing) so I feel your pain, and yeah, it does tend to hang around. If you’re dying of boredom you could always put something else on top of it while you pass the time. Something woody? Some incense? How about Bal?

          • Musette says:

            Oooh! Now there’s a thought!!! I’m-o try that! I have a feeling it will do just the trick (or bring up my lunch).

            I’m thinking….bored socialite..mink stole and pumps….powdered and lacquered to within an inch of her life…. beefcake delivery boy…..service elevator (this is back in the 50s when the regular elevators had operators..and it’s the service operator’s lunch break:-?

            This could be an interesting combo …will let you know! I might end up with dogs following me down the street, though…

            (btw – your description of the LR is EXACTLY what I get and it’s fine…but it ends up just sort of lingering on that One Idea…for a loooong time…like being hugged by my Aunt Edna for 8 hours!

          • March says:

            Giggling at Hugged by Aunt Edna for eight hours. Did you end up throwing something at it? Actually some nasty civet-heavy musk might be interesting.

          • Musette says:

            Threw Bal at it – it stuck…. it’s pretty close to what I described in the elevator scene…I think that is definitely a combo one would want to plan for;) Excellent call! I can’t wait till I figure out how to do this on my own, without passing out!

            I don’t think I have any civet-heavy musk frag samples (I think my SAs would faint at the very thought – this whole thing is such a departure for me) – will hold the rest of the LR until I get some, see what that’s like! Any suggestions?

            Btw – speaking of Bal, I found it in a discounter for $12.99, if you can believe it. EdT, which doesn’t hold a candle to the EdP or full parfum (which I haven’t smelled in forever) but still….$12.99?

  • Judith says:

    Love the name. The fragrance sounds nice, but not quite my style. Must run out and get that Allure!

    • March says:

      I like Allure anyway — they’re less sex-oriented than some of the others, and they actually have interesting articles, whether or not you believe the info (this month is a lot of stuff about aging, health and skincare, and I am in favor of anything that gets the girls to wear sunscreen.) But really, they continue to surprise me with the offbeat fragrance stuff.

    • Patty says:

      Hey, I read it’s your birthday today, have a wonderful one!!! xox

      • March says:

        No way!! Happy Birthday! <:-p Here's some flowers! @};- And a .... monkey! :(|)

        • Musette says:

          Whose birthday is it? Thread is kind of confusing!

          But! <:-p and a birthday(*) to you!

          • March says:

            It’s Judith’s birthday. We love Judith. She’s funny and she smells good. And she has excellent taste in blogs. 😉

          • Musette says:

            well, Happy Birthday Judith, you funny,great-smellin’, excellent tasteholdin’ Posseite!<:-p Here are some @};[email protected]};- to brighten your birthday.

          • Judith says:

            Thanks so much to everyone! I had a great birthday!! I especially appreciated the monkey (Happy birthday to youuuu/You belong in a zoo/You look like a monkeeeeey/And you smell like one toooo (and you know, I do!) 😡

  • Marina says:

    I was very intrigued up until the mention of the Cabanel line, which, lovely as it is, is, to me, sort of…not exciting.

    • March says:

      M, it’s the “not exciting” part that intrigues me. I’m getting a little bored with all the drama in some of the niche lines, you know? Everything doesn’t have to emote at me. Doing a pretty perfume with an old-school structure is rare enough to be its own little niche. I thought the Teo Cabanels were lovely, but can see them being very much not your thing. :)>-

  • Elle says:

    I’m impressed! This actually sounds very promising. The name, however, takes me back to childhood piano lessons and a somewhat overenthusiastic teacher dancing the tarantella for me to inspire me to play the piece better…or something.

    • March says:

      Tarantella makes me think of tarantula, so I find it a little creepy. Anything that makes me think of my childhood piano lessons (in the Jordan Kitts store in the mall) would depress me. It would smell of boredom, confusion and furniture polish…

      • Musette says:

        March –

        This, from my childhood lore and Wikipedia

        The tarantella is named after city of Taranto in southern Italy, and is popularly associated with the large local wolf spider or “tarantula” spider (Lycosa tarantula) whose bite was allegedly deadly and could be cured only by frenetic dancing (see tarantism). One variation of the legend said the dancer must dance the most joyous dance of her life or she would die, another says the dancer will go in to the most joyous dance of her life before she dies. In actual fact the spider’s venom is not dangerous enough to cause any severe effects. The spiders, far from being aggressive, avoid human contact.

        We have medium-sized Wolf spiders around here – my deal is, if they stay out of the bath and bedrooms we’re okay – they’re great for eating other bugs, such as silverfish that destroy valuable art monographs.

        • March says:

          We used to live in NM, where there were plenty of tarantulas (and other, more manifestly evil things, like scorpions and giant centipedes). That’s where I learned the whole deadly tarantula thing was a myth. Shudder. I hate spiders. I really, really don’t miss all the black widows (I think NM and AZ are the black widow capital of the world) and the centipedes. Gag. Creeping myself out just thinking about them.

  • Louise says:

    Oooh, Tarantella sounds delish. It seems to fill all the right, um, niches, a bit soft/sweet, chypre-ish, youthful like us :”>

    That $165 Aussie works out to just over $150 Yankee bucks. Not so bad, given how distorted out sense of perfume cost is.

    I hope you and family had a lovely easter :)>-

    • March says:

      We did have a nice Easter — I hosted a total of 10 without actually doing any cooking, which worked out rather well. 😉

      I can’t decide whether I think Tarantella would last on you but we can find out.