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.