Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Ambra (2015)

Acqua di Parma's Colonia Ambra © Victor Wong
Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Ambra © Victor Wong

The first time my friend Carolina and I sniffed Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Intensa Oud (2012) we were so impressed that I called it “boyfriend-in-a-bottle”. The second time we were in the same store, Caro suggested, “Let’s smell boyfriend-in-a-bottle again!” The salesperson was so delighted to hear us talk about it – she didn’t have to do anything, we were already sold. However, to our disappointment, it smelled completely different and not as good as we remembered. The only reason we could think of was that the first time we smelled it, the counter was not staffed, and people threw used test strips everywhere, and the strip that we picked up sitting next to the bottle wasn’t really sprayed with Intensa Oud, or it could be, but had already been contaminated with other perfumes. (“The Incredible Shrinking Woman” movie, anyone?) The salesperson saw our faces and knew something was wrong, but wouldn’t let us go so easily; she insisted that she spray some on me. It really was just too strong for me, and I walked out of the store feeling uneasy. A year later, Acqua di Parma released Colonia Leather, which was quite good, but I didn’t need another leather perfume.

Another year had passed, and Colonia Ambra (2015) was released. I had some expectation for their third release because I loved amber scents. I smelled it at the store but didn’t get any amber notes. I asked for a sample and the sales person reluctantly gave me one (probably thinking when will I ever buy a bottle from her). Later I found out that Ambra actually was not an amber scent, but an ambrigris scent (whale vomit – synthetic, of course). One day I sprayed some of that sample on the back of my hand and headed to the supermarket for some grocery. I picked up a bottle of yoghurt drink and started reading the label, and thought, wow this bottle smelled so good… I picked up a can of Spam, wow Spam had never smelled so good. Then I realized I was smelling Ambra on the back of my hand. The boyfriend genie reappeared again, on the back of my hand! (with supermarket music playing in the background.)

Ambra is the “Goldilocks” perfume, finally a brown bottle Colonia that I really like, despite it’s a still an initially loud, synthetic (~in a good way) perfume, but not as pungent as Mr. Luke Atmey Intensa Oud. It really is an aquatic scent, but mostly covered up by some heavy dose of wood notes and a bit of bitter herbal notes and saltiness. Among all the things going on, it has some sweetness that I particularly love smelling on my partner.

Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile EDP (2006)

Acqua Di Parma's Iris Nobile, © Victor Wong
Acqua Di Parma’s Iris Nobile, © Victor Wong

I was greedy. I didn’t take the advice from a fragrance reviewer and bought the Eau de Parfum version of Iris Nobile instead of the Eau de Toilette version. I thought, with a bit more money, why not get the EDP that would last on me longer?

At the department store, I took a sniff of the bottle cap sprayed with some EDT, then the one with some EDP. I thought they smelled identical. When I reached home and started using my bottle of EDP, the bubbly effervescent, refreshing effect that I got from the EDT wasn’t there anymore. Instead of Orangina, I got orange juice. Instead of Aero, I got Kisses. Instead of Lady Gaga, I got Lady Haha. (In Spanish that’s Lady Jaja.)

Actually, from a discussion on Facebook about a year ago, I had learned that there were some, or even significant differences between the EDP/EDT and the Parfum of the same fragrance – different priorities and different concentration of perfumery notes for each version. In Roja Dove’s “The Essence of Perfume”, he writes that, “Many great fragrances were only made as Perfume, and an assistant perfumer would create the Eau de Toilette, sometimes many years later.”

Now I realize that there’s quite a bit difference between an EDT and an EDP.

Well, I still enjoy Iris Nobile EDP very much. Instead of hopscotching I don’t mind sitting down and have some tea. (Here I go again.) What I’ve got is an iris perfume that is not powdery. This is almost a first for me. It opens with a hint of star anise (again, unexpected), then transitions into what I call a pale, dusty light floral area filled with toned down tuberose, jasmine and ylang-ylang, (the exact opposite would be Annick Goutal’s Songes, same ingredients but measured with a ladle instead of teaspoon), backflips three times, tears aways her white gym clothes to reveal her true self – a very light chypre.