Friday, 1 October 2010

Review Showcase: Vero Profumo

A few years ago, Swiss aromatherapist-turned-perfumer Vero Kern released three extrait-strength fragrances that have since developed a loyal following. She has now formulated distinctly different, eau de parfum versions of her creations, thus providing an excellent opportunity for a showcase of her output so far.

The best place to start is probably with the friendly, easy-going extrait of Kiki, which must surely be a serious contender for the Finest Lavender Of All Time award. Reminiscent of Provencal sirop de lavande - with its lip-smacking balance of sweetness and freshness - it brings out all the most languid, romantic aspects of the plant's unmistakable scent. The familiar smokiness, the hints of pine and the visions of open skies are all placed on a rich gourmand base with the faintest touch of what my nose detects as patchouli. The eau de parfum is equally smooth and breathtaking, but it tips the balance more heavily in favour of the citrus top notes, at the expense of the caramelised conclusion. As a result, it's much sharper and more alert, but still suffused with the sparkling beauty of the Côte d'Azur.

The Rubj extrait takes us into far more dangerous territory. Picture a young, seductive Miss Havisham, surrounded by heavy drapes and vases of lethal blooms, and you've got a fairly accurate idea of how this juice operates. There's an almost tangible promise of salaciousness behind the jasmine-laden florals and plummy, fermenting fruit notes. A sense of contrast is provided by a judicious selection of woody, astringent ingredients, but the emphasis remains on the sort of decadence not evoked since Dior's Poison. The EDP comes as quite a surprise after the onslaught of its older sister. Although it is still structured around a floral heart, it's much greener and more diffusive, with a far weaker stress on the indolic notes, which have largely been replaced by the sweatiness of cumin. Opulence is sacrificed for the sake of approachability.

Onda's temperament demands firm handling, for this is one beast of a scent. The first words I wrote when I sprayed the extrait were, "powder, granite, steel," and that sense of powerful oddness remains throughout the fragrance's development. There's a fizz of ginger, a waft of incense, a scattering of spices, a blaze of leather, all of which resolve into a heavy vetivert. The effect is complex and compelling, and if you find the mossy denouement unsubtle, then you've probably missed the whole point of the experience. The eau de parfum may be a safer bet for more delicate souls. It dispenses almost completely with the mosses, giving the vetivert an opportunity to clear its throat and sing a melody that's cleaner and more buoyant. As a result, this version is less likely to offend, but I suspect that if you're the sort of person who's going to consider wearing it, you're not going to be satisfied with anything less than full throttle. Be brave: choose the extrait.

All six fragrances have a decidedly classical feel, although they're not in the least old-fashioned. With their high proportion of natural materials and their multi-layered aesthetic, they carry with them an endearing sense of a time when a perfume was an item purchased after careful deliberation. And although I think they'd all work equally well on both sexes, the sensual background they share perhaps invites the wearer to read them as a statement on three different aspects of female strength. In short, they're so thought-provoking and compelling that no serious follower of the niche market can afford not to try them, so if you haven't yet had the pleasure of a spray, you need to head over to

[Reviews based on samples of extrait and eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrances tested on skin.]


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