Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Sleeper Series: "Oro" by Roberto Cavalli

Last week, one of my PPP’s (Perfume Pen Pals), a fellow blogger, sent me some samples. One of the sprayers leaked just a  bit, as happens sometimes. The names written on the sprayers had been rinsed off, so I had myself a little blind sniff-fest. 
One of the unknowns gave me that experience we crave -- let’s call it the ohmygodwhatisthis! reaction. Well, I thought, well, whatever it is, it’s gotta be rare and/or expensive and, since I’m saving my nickels dollars American Express card for Sniffapalooza, maybe I’d be better off not knowing. But curiosity got the best of me. I e-mailed my PPP and she told me it was “Oro,” by Roberto Cavalli, and that the perfumer was Maurice Roucel, and that everybody to whom she’d sent samples had had similar reactions to mine, and that it was a mystery that this scent hadn’t done better and oh by the way the discounters have it.
That last one did it.
I decided to open the “Sleeper Series” with Oro because a.) I lurve it and b.) it’s got vanilla, the ultimate comfort note and c.) it’s a “sleeper,” all right and d.) it’s inexpensive enough to spray all over yourself before bed, if you’re so inclined. 
I save the little vials and decants I get for wearing during the day or when I go out. For me, a fragrance has to have the following requirements to attain Sleeper status: I need to own at least 8 mls of it, because bedtime is my favorite time to overapply. I like it to be lush -- the orientals are my favorite sleepers, followed by kick-butt florals, then ambers and woods. Mr. Olfacta has to like it -- he can always be counted on to tell me what he really thinks of any scent. The sleepers make the bedroom smell wonderful. I drift off each night in a state of olfactory euphoria.
“Oro” came out in 2004. It’s so obscure now that I couldn’t find a single comprehensive review. It appears that the Roberto Cavalli fragrance line has been or is about to be sold to Coty, which may be why so many discounters have it this version. Alright already, what does it smell like?
Lush and gorgeous. 
The funny thing is that the notes I found listed include some I usually don’t care for, like magnolia. The “official” notes include magnolia, as well as coriander, orris and pepper. (Mr. Olfacta said it smelled “powdery,” but I don’t smell that.) It also contains patchouli and cedar, the latter of which usually blows up on me to hamster-cage levels, but not from this. 
“Oro,” which means gold in a few languages, is sometimes classified as a “spicy oriental” and sometimes as a “fruity oriental.” I think it’s more fruity than spicy. I could swear there’s mandarin, but it’s not listed. Cinnamon is, although it’s faint. Here’s what I smell: a series of liqueur-soaked and peppered exotic fruits and ambers and a big vanillic drydown, which lasts all night. But it’s so well-mixed that I’m at a loss as to identifying many of the “notes.” No matter, really.
I guess that fragrance marketing is similar to other forms of marketing. Classifiability is key. I cannot fit this fragrance into a little neatly-labeled category. (Actually, I could barely fit the bottle into my cabinet, as it’s about a foot tall and a couple of inches wide at the ends, like a stretched-out hourglass, with a little gold plastic snake coiled around the sprayer at the top.) Could it have been the bottle, perhaps, that did it? It’s a masterpiece of ironic tack; maybe it was a joke nobody got.
But odd bottles don’t bother me, since I can’t see them anyway. I keep perfume bottled in clear glass inside a closed cabinet. And I really wouldn’t care what kind of bottle this one comes in. It’s a keeper.
This is what I love most about my little hobby. Finding something like this, that I adore, at the recommendation of someone whose taste I trust. And then discovering that it’s discounted. Deeply. I mean, I expect a $300 bottle of Amouge to send me. It had better! I expect the grand masters of perfumery to concoct memorable scents, worth their high prices. But this, from one of those grand masters, Roucel, can be had for the price of a nice lunch with a glass or two of wine. 
Want to try some? Leave a comment. Do you sleep perfumed, and if so, in what?  I’ll do a random drawing for a generous sample, and announce the winner after the deadline, which will be Tuesday, October 12, at 9:00 a.m. US Eastern Daylight time.

Maurice Roucel, winner of the Prix Fran├žois Coty in 2002, is the perfumer behind Musk Ravageur for Frederic Malle, Iris Silver Mist for Serge Lutens and Tocade, for Rochas, and many others.
“Notes” for Oro (from Fragrantica) include magnolia, coriander, orris, pepper, apple and bergamot; middle notes are apricot, patchouli, cinnamon, freesia and cedar; base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla and guaiac wood.
Image from Google Images, original source diva-passionata.blogspot.com.
Full disclosure time: I bought my bottle from an online discount site.


Perfumaniac said...

I love Marcel Roucel — and wear Musc Ravageur when I go out and want to have a good time.

For bedtime? Comfort scents, like Serge Lutens' Chergui and Muscs Koublai Khan and (sounds strange but it's true) vintage Aramis.

Perfumaniac said...

Whoops. MAURICE Roucel.

Tamara*J said...

Ahhhh PPP's! I love to make and receive those lovely packages.PPP's are the best kind of people, generous and thoughtful, many of the treats I've gotten have made my day and made me feel special.
Great review!
I own Oro already and heartily agree, isn't it a wonderful hidden gem!? How come no -one knows about this? I discovered it through BitterGrace when I won a decant and fell for it.
I find it has a very similar feel of Amaranthine on me and in fact Oro has satisfied the need for a FB of it, although I still love A.

I like to wear vtg.Miss Dior parfum to bed which is almost my HG, perfect anytime or Cuir de Lancome- can't go wrong with that drydown,vtg. Parfum Sacre edt,dusty spiced rose is very comforting. Sometimes even Keiko Mecheri's Eau de Poudree so I can awake in a hazy cloud of white roses dusted with sugar and orris. I have to be careful though . The stuff I wear to bed sometimes becomes scents I can't handle at any other time because it's a sleepytime perfume in my olfactory brain.

Ines said...

I love these types of discoveries! :) I would definitely like to try it, although I probably won't wear it to bed - I usually only have something on my arms that I was trying out before bed.

flittersniffer said...

I don't know this scent but you have piqued my curiosity...

A "Four Star Sleeper" in my book is Jasper Conran Woman, though I wouldn't wear it to bed, as it is too energizing.

Bizzarely, ever since your post on Agent Provocateur, that is the one I have worn most nights to bed. I am still trying to figure out if the top notes have turned, and it is skankier than it should be, and it looks as though I will have used up this 5ml mini in these nocturnal wearings before I can quite make up my mind.

StyleSpy said...

Musc Rav is a sometime sleeper for me, but my most frequent sleeper is Ambra del Nepal. Cuddly, cozy, comforting, guaranteed to send me sweet dreams. I'd love to sniff the Oro.

waftbyCarol said...

hey Girl !
I don't need to be entered in the draw , but maybe bring a hit of it to NYC with you ?
What shall I bring for you ?

Dionne said...

I don't "sleep perfume" per se, but sometimes I'll spray myself with something before bed, and my sheets will smell like it the next night, which is always a fragrant surprise. Right now I'm enjoying a sample of Ava Luxe's Ambra Tibet that Ida Meister very generously sent me, and the scent has transferred to my sheets AND my bathrobe. I find it a very comforting smell.

Thanks for the heads-up about the Oro. One of these months I plan to spend my sampling budget on scents I've heard about that are a good deal at the discounters: Silences, Ines de la Fressange, DK Gold, Tocade et al.

kjanicki said...

I like a floral to sleep in. Lately Penhaligon's Orange Blossom or By Kilian Love and Tears or Ormonde Jayne Tiare. Sometimes a floral musky scent like Annick Goutal's Musc Nomade. One in a while, when I'm in the mood for tropical dreams, Creed's Virgin Island Water.

Elisa Gabbert said...

Yes please!!! I love Roucel and I love cheap, underappreciated gems.

I always sleep in perfume but not always the same thing. Sweet or musky scents are a go-to, but I also tend to spritz on cheap things so I don't feel like I'm wasting my best stuff (I only get to enjoy it, consciously, for a short while, after all).

Nina said...

Wow, this review really got me going because, yes, I love to wear perfume to sleep, and two of my favorites are Tocade and Musc Ravegeur (after it dries down).

Anonymous said...

Oh, I do sleep perfumed - particularly when comfort is eluding me. Favorites for cooler weather: Shalimar Light, Mariella Burani, Tocade (just a weeee bit), Rumba*, Parfum Sacre. *Rumba has to be put on WELL before bedtime, to get out of the Carnival in Rio florals and into the candle wax and hot dust thing I like so much, or it keeps me awake. Warmer weather faves include YSL Paris Printemps and Petite Cherie.

Like Elisa, I tend to pick my cheaper scents, so that if I miss something by being asleep, it doesn't feel so wasteful to me.

I'd love to smell Oro.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to sleep perfumed, but whenever I've tried it, my lungs give me warning that my childhood asthma might return. . . and yet I can spray with abandon during the day and feel fine. Who knows why.

But I'd love to try Oro!
-- Gretchen

Rappleyea said...

What a fun surprise! And I've found that I *usually* like what you like, so I'm very excited to be entered into the draw.

I sleep scented only because perfume lasts a good 24 hours on me and through showers. So I'm usually just getting into the dry down by bedtime.

Great review - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Gretchen - my youngest kid, we've just discovered, is allergic to several things, including dust mites, so I've been doing a bit of research on his allergies. I read recently that histamine levels actually rise at night, which may be prompting your asthma to act up at bedtime.

Possibility, anyway.

Musette said...

I love to sleep perfumed and save my Big Bombasts for then. El O knows, when I shower with the Fracas body wash, that he's in for a Big White Floral night.

Other ones are vintage Cotys, like the Emeraude parfum I found in a resale shop for $3 - the vintage edt on the other wrist provided an interesting counterpart - as you might imagine the edt has not weathered the test of time quite as well...

vintage l'Origan parfum. yum. Spicy/clove-7 floral. Beautiful.
vintage l'Aimant. I Do Not Recommend for bedtime. a little to peppy - great for a 'suit' meeting at 10am, though.
Roberto Morillas's version of Ines de la Fressange. A little too much during the day, sometimes, but absolutely perfect for bedtime.

xoxoo A

Kathy said...

I've heard about Oro for years, and it sounds wonderful. I can't imagine why I never bought that one to go along with all of the other unsniffed purchases that I've made over the years. I have some real dogs (for me) in that collection, but there are some sleeper hits too.

I never wear fragrance to bed because it is too distracting. I can't even wear scented body lotion. The only thing that I can sometimes stand to smell at night is Cote Bastide Lin massage oil.

I'd love to be included in the drawing please. Thanks!

Flora said...

I would love to try this, especially since it's a Roucel!

I frequently sleep with perfume on, usually something lush like Fumerie Turque, Lelong pour Femme or Parfum Sacre so that in the morning it will still be there - I like the ones whose base notes take a long time to develop, so that what you went to bed with is not the really same perfume you wake up to.

brian said...

Hey Olfacta, I was shocked to see your reaction to this. I wonder why. But so thrilled you like it. I love Oro. Before it went on sale at the discounters I bought a (still pretty cheap) smaller bottle, unsure I'd like it. I loved it and instantly wished I'd spent a little more on a bigger bottle. I'm not through that small bottle but I bought a bigger recently. I'm worried they'll reformulate. Do you find it similar at all to Organza Indecence? They're very similar to me, but I prefer Oro, especially now that OI has been reformulated. Oro is such a cozy fragrance. Thanks for reviewing it.