Giorgio Armani Onde


Every time I get word of an addition to Signore Armani´s upscale, limited distribution stable of fragrances, my nose perks up. I completely adore Bois d´encens, Ambre Soie and Cuir Améthyste from his Privé collection, so when I discovered the newest Onde scents, my curiosity got the better of me. That and I always find it boldly narcissistic when designers debut multiple scents in one fell swoop. Tom Ford takes the cake in that department; I doubt there is anyone more vainglorious who would chance the introduction of a dozen scents all at once. Luckily for him, his Private Blends (some of them) are pretty impressive.

Ford seems to be traveling the same road as Armani when it comes to his fragrance franchises: there is something for everyone. You can grab a bottle of Black Orchid or White Patchouli at your nearest Sephora, or you can go for the whole hog at Neiman´s or Bergdorf Goodman, and splurge on a $450.00 Private Blend. Purple Patchouli and Tobacco Vanille are my favorites.

Armani´s Code, Acqua di Già², Diamonds, He, She, and their accompanying flankers are department store stalwarts, unless you´re shopping at Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue. There you will find his Privé line and now the trio of Onde scents. They fall into what I´m assuming is a mid-price range at $95.00 for 50 ml. Diamonds, Già², etc., range from about $50.00 for 50 ml, and Privé, $185.00 for 50 ml. I´m rather enamored of this concept right now; it´s akin to going car shopping and having to choose between the compact, fuel efficient tuna can, the dependable family sedan, or the behemoth SUV. There are many factors that contribute to making such a decision; in a perfect world, I´d have one of each.

 Dedicated sniffer that I am, I decided to tackle all three Ondes at once:

 Mystà¨re (the smoky purple bottle): According to the Giorgio Armani Beauty website, Mystà¨re is inspired by “Mysterious harem women.” Its notes consist of musk, amber, Moroccan rosebuds, incense, vanilla absolute and mesmerizing spice accords. What all this boils down to is ambery spices with a touch of vanilla and a good bit of incense. I got no significant rose or musk from the tester or the sample atomizer. I hate to fall back on “it reminds me of…” but in this case, it does seem that the best of Ambre Soie and Bois d´encens were blended into this scent, so if you like those two Privés, go for Mystà¨re and you won´t be disappointed.

 Vertige (the orange bottle): “Inspired by a journey to India.” Here, we´ve got frangipani flowers, jasmine, black liquorice and intense sensual patchouli. This is without a doubt, the strongest floral of the three. Despite being a devout floral-phobe, I did not find the frangipani and jasmine too intense. I should mention that all three are eaux des parfums, so that is somewhat surprising. However, I did wait rather patiently for the black liquorice to emerge, and much to my disappointment, it never did. The patchouli also stood firmly in the background. Vertige would do well if you´re in the market for a new spring scent, especially if you´re a fan of lighter scents or tame interpretations of flowers like jasmine and frangipani, which have a tendency to be intensely overpowering.

 Extase (the green bottle): “Inspired by a journey to the Far East.” Notes of mimosa, Egyptian jasmine, narcissus absolute, pink pepper, Sicilian bergamot, cedar, musk and sesame absolute comprise this scent. Again, there is a similarity to something I cannot quite put my finger on – the mimosa has me nostalgic, but for what, I am incapable of articulating right now. Extase is a bit powdery, but in a pleasant way, and that soon gives way to clean cedar and a slightly nutty component, which is probably the sesame absolute. This is the most nuanced of the three and my favorite, by far. I am a bit surprised, given my latest penchant for dark, moody incense and woody scents that are sharp and biting. Maybe now that the calendar has flipped over to March and the clocks are moving ahead this weekend, I am embracing the light and the promise of spring.

 The Onde scents are at Saks Fifth Avenue and Their Beauty Event is on right now; a $75 beauty or fragrance purchase gets you a floral fabric shoulder bag and some samples. You can also order them online at

 Image courtesy of

  • Sara K says:

    Thanks for reviewing these. I’ve been wanting to sniff them, but my ‘local’ (45 min away) Nordstrom doesn’t carry them, and I haven’t gotten to the next closest yet. Since these sound pretty interesting, particularly the Mystere & the Extase, I’ll have to make it more of a priority!

  • Tara says:

    I sniffed these in Montreal over Christmas and ended up purchasing the Mystere – I love incensey wood and plan to wear this one as a summer version of my winter favorites. Didn’t care for the other two – generic florals and powdery scents are not my thing, although the bottles would be pretty on a dresser top.

    They are pretty mild-mannered and not too exciting for us perfumistas, but they will probably do well with the mass-market crowd.

  • Somerville Metro Man says:

    I also found the longevity to be below average on all three.
    I only found Mystere to be of any interest and I agree with the comment that I’d rather spend the extra and pick up a bottle of Bois D’encens if I liked Mystere that much.
    These are good scents fairly priced that will find their audience, I think.
    They just won’t be playing in my theatre. 🙂

  • Louise says:

    I’ve only tried Mystere of this bunch, and while it went on very pleasant, it dried to a rather unpleasant musk after a short while. I must give the others a spin :d/

    Happy Friday, all!

  • violetnoir says:

    Ho-hum…Why do I find myself yawning over these? The bottles are so cute, and Extase sounds interesting. Maybe it’s the harem imagery or the fact that the market is starting to get flooded with new releases and it’s only the beginning of March.

    But still…Something is nagging at me about these, and I can’t quite put my finger on it.

    In any event, I will test them when I see them, but I am not rushing out to do that.


    • Nava says:

      They are not a “must sniff” to be sure, but a firm “when you get around to it.” 🙂

  • March says:

    I thought the bottles were really pretty, and I agree with you about Mystere being sort of a cross between the two Prives, although significantly lighter – more summer weight than winter. (BdeE is pretty dense on me.) I did find them more interesting and heavier than those other clear-bottle newish ones, the Rose and the Vetiver. I liked the Extase, although I can’t really say why! These were done on a quick sniff. I didn’t care for Vertige, which was a generic (if tasteful) floral. Naturally it’s the biggest seller according to the SA, you could see the bottle had been sprayed a lot more.

    • Melissa says:

      Yay! Now I have another excuse to avoid the floral!:d

    • Nava says:

      My thoughts exactly about Mystere. BdE and AS are really heavy on me as well.

      What is it about Extase that has us stumped? It has a 70s “career girl” scent vibe to it, and I just cannot put my finger on it. I am definitely leaning towards getting a bottle.

  • Melissa says:

    I’ve not had the chance to give these a try, nor was I inclined to go out of my way. But these do sound worth a spritz or two. I can easily see myself liking Mystere because it would suit my incense cravings. Like others, I am more intrigued by Extase, and I do like your description. Nuanced, a bit powdery and slightly nutty? It somehow sounds perfect for this time of year, when snow is on the ground but the temperature is approaching 60!

    I don’t even mind scents that are generic, when they are in the mid-price (family sedan?) range, as long as they are well-executed. I own a number of bottles that fit that category, and they are great, spray-with-abandon fragrances.

    I may even throw caution to the March wind and spritz Vertige at some point. I WILL learn to wear florals (repeated three times). I even own a few now. 🙂

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Melissa. Sometimes, I have no idea where my metaphors come from (perfume/cars??), but it is kind of intriguing, this concept of low-, mid-, and high-priced fragrances from the same designer.

      Extase is a mercurial scent, which is why I found it so interesting. I’ve been wracking my brain to think of any other scent that lists sesame absolute in its notes. Can’t think of one right now.

      • Melissa says:

        I thought that the metaphor was perfect. And today is a rather high-end European coupe sort of a day. Hmmmm, a Malle perhaps?

  • Elle says:

    Thanks for these reviews! Somehow I’d remained unaware of their release. Just ordered samples – the Mystere sounds promising.

    • Nava says:

      I think these might have been slated for release late last year. Robin at NST wrote that they were supposed to come out in October. I was way out of the loop, too and stumbled upon them a few weeks ago at

  • karin says:

    I tried Mystere and Extase a few weeks ago when passing through Saks. I actually think they swing more toward the masculine side of the fence than the feminine. I didn’t care for either of them. I suppose I’ll need to try Vertige before throwing all three on my “do not need” list. Are they being marketed as unisex?

    • Nava says:

      I don’t believe these are marketed as unisex, although the Prives are supposedly unisex. Vertige is definitely the most interesting of the 3 and worthy of another sniff when you get an opportunity.

  • Lee says:

    I’ve not sniffed these so can’t really comment, though I do tire of harem imagery!

    I admire your journeys to perfume counters. I never seem to get there these days.

    • Masha says:

      Sadly, for the past year or so, there’s not a lot to get there for….

    • Melissa says:

      Apparently the marketing folks haven’t rid themselves of the idea that we all really wish to be wives or dancing girls in an exotic polygamous arrangement!

    • Nava says:

      Thanks, Lee. It’s a jungle out there…:d

      The harem imagery is quite tiresome, actually all the far fetched imagery in fragrance marketing these days is making me hit the snooze button.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Nice to see you again, and hear your thoughts…on ANY subject, really…
    Like Masha, I find the green the more successful of the three, for me-
    But they are fairly generic -feeling.
    Nothing wrong, mind you; they’re well-executed- but nothing exciting, either.

  • Masha says:

    I’m glad you reviewed these, Nava. They’ve been out for about a year in Europe, and I agree, the green is the best. I tried all 3 on skin and they all faded rather rapidly, though, as is typical these days. I love licorice as a note, and you’re right, it’s really not there. But a nice sweet floral anyway, just a bit bland. Unfortunately, they are priced at about $150 per bottle here in Germany, way too much I think. I’d rather spend a few dollars more and get a bottle of Bois d’Encens, still the best of the Armani line by far!

    • Nava says:

      Yikes! Definitely go for Bd’E if that’s the case; Don’t waste that $150 on an Onde.