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 François 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.