Arabico by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: bergamot, lemon, pepper, frankincense, lavandin, lavender, Egyptian geranium, patchouli, cedar, vetiver, musk
Out of all the Italian niche houses, Farmacia SS. Annunziata is one of the most confounding. One would like to think that its fragrances are at least respectable but most of them simply aren't. With Arabico, one's opinion of this house isn't going to change anytime soon.

Basically, it's a peppery cedar offering that's soapy, inoffensive and feeble. With extremely faint traces of citrus, lavender and vetiver, the composition's so thin that it's hardly detectable on the skin. Apart from a woody-green late-drydown, which is redolent of Lalique's Encre Noire, there aren't any other redeeming qualities.

Claiming to be a highly concentrated offering, it's nothing more than a pathetic joke.


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Talc Gourmand by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: honey, vanilla blossom, heliotrope, talcum powder, caramel, chocolate, tonka bean, vanilla, sandalwood
Talc Gourmand is exactly what the name implies – a powdery gourmand.

Regrettably, it's nothing more than a variation on the loukhoum theme (but with caramel and chocolate instead of the rose and almond). And although it's closer in spirit to Lorenzo Villoresi's Teint de Neige, Talc Gourmand lacks the finesse of many of its peers. Possessing a chalky powderiness, its texture is also remarkably similar to scented talcum powder.

Drawing to a close with an acrid, synthetic and dusty ambery drydown, it's a passable release but there are far better alternatives out there.


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Vetyver Incenso by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, pink pepper, juniper berry, ginger, frankincense, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, oakmoss, ambergris
One initially had high hopes for Vetyver Incenso but, going by this niche house's track record, one should have known better.

In a nutshell, it's a quiet vetiver and frankincense outing, with cedar accents. Also, the citrus opening is acutely ephemeral and the spices are firmly relegated to the background. With rubbery and salty nuances, it's tedious, uninspired and remarkably thin. But what redeems it slightly is the oakmoss drydown with a hint of something vanillic. It's only during this stage when things start to fall into place, even though it's now nothing more than a lingering skin scent.

Contrary to popular belief, Vetyver Incenso isn't exactly a clone of Hermès' Terre d'Hermès. But, in saying that, Vetyver Incenso also doesn't possess the same stellar staying power as this Hermès' classic.


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Meringa by Profumum

*****
Year: 2015

Notes: orange blossom, jasmine, tonka bean, vanilla

Comment: Meringa is an Osswald exclusive
Although Profumum could be accused of overdoing it, with regards to their vanilla fragrances, Meringa provides something new, while still coming across as a regurgitation of this house's vanilla-based predecessors.

What it offers is a more palpable floralcy, which this house's previous vanilla releases have only hinted at. Here, the jasmine plays a significant role and, thus, makes the composition venture more into feminine territory. As expected, it blends extremely well with both the tonka bean and vanilla, resulting in an elegantly rich, creamy and airy floral-vanilla premise with ambery embellishments.

However, on the downside, there are certain things about it that recall previous vanilla offerings from this house. One is the near obligatory orange blossom note that's now featured in more than half of the Profumum vanillas. In addition, Meringa initially possesses a distinct butteriness that's very reminiscent of Dolce Acqua. But, even disregarding these two points, Meringa ultimately smells too close to Santa Maria Novella's Vaniglia (especially during the caramelised drydown).

Like Guerlain, Profumum is highly regarded for masterfully working with vanillic accords. But Profumum's main problem is its constant need to produce simple reiterations of a vanilla scent that, over time, work against this niche house's reputation (especially with the amount of overlapping that occurs).

Sillage is moderate, with very good staying power.


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Orangea by Profumum

*****
Year: 2015

Notes: bergamot, petitgrain, mint, cedar leaf
Although it's not listed among the notes, Orangea is a pleasantly zesty and radiant orange blossom fragrance, which acts more as a feminine counterpart to the citric woodiness of Acqua Viva.

Both the petitgrain and bergamot intensify the citrus aspect of the orange blossom, with reserved floral, woody and green flourishes throughout the composition's lifespan. The mint is very low-key and the cedar, for the most part, takes a back seat. And although a discreet woodiness emerges towards the end, it's the orange blossom that remains the star of the show.

All in all, it's a quality orange blossom rendition that's not too sweet or cloying. Staying close to the skin, one much prefers Orangea to Acqua Viva. However, its simplicity and underwhelming tenacity makes its exorbitant price tag too hard to swallow.

One star deducted for poor persistence on the skin.


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Audace by Profumum

*****
Year: 2015

Notes: bitter orange, liquorice, tonka bean, vetiver, cedar
And so, with Audace, continues Profumum's downward spiral...

Personally, one is unable to distinguish much liquorice. However, after disregarding the bitter orange, Audace is very much a pepper-free version of Montale's Red Vetyver (as opposed to Hermès' Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka, which possesses a rich cereal grain accent). As for the price differential between the two, Audace isn't even an improvement on the (cheaper) Montale offering, smelling thinner and remaining close to the skin.

Since the release of Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka, many similar-smelling vetiver fragrances have been launched (albeit less sweet and devoid of the cereal grain aspect) – ranging from Red Vetyver (with more pepper), to Von Eusersdorff's Classic Vetiver (with extra citrus) and Olfactive Studio's Flash Back (with the addition of rhubarb and apple). Out of all of them, Audace has to be the least impressive.

Miserably failing to live up to its name, staying power is adequate but nothing stellar.


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Tagete by Profumum

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: marigold, jasmine, tuberose, vetiver, moss
Although supposedly an olfactory interpretation of marigold, in reality, Tagete is more about tuberose.

Possessing a suggestive freshness, it's still creamy but not overtly so. With underlying waxy green facets, the woody base manages to peak through much later, providing a prudent earthiness during the drydown. One can also discern a slight mineral nuance, from time to time, but its influence is rather minimal.

Once again, it's a well-crafted Profumum effort that's more expensive than it deserves to be. Coming across as mostly linear, sillage is discreet with moderate lasting power.


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Florentina by Sylvaine Delacourte

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: bergamot, lavender, orange blossom, violet, carnation, Tuscan iris, heliotrope, bitter almond, benzoin, Haitian vetiver, white musk
"To create Florentina, I was guided by the colour blue, a symbol of softness and tenderness."

     ~ Sylvaine Delacourte

Intended to replicate the aroma of Sylvaine's childhood talcum powder, Florentina commences with an abrasive and waxy opening.

One can just about make out some lavender, violet and iris, but the other notes are largely overpowered by the bitter almond. With the heliotrope providing a vanillic powderiness, the blue-tinged chemical onslaught is simply too much for one to tolerate (although the later emergence of some vetiver and benzoin does help to temper the burnt plastic aroma).

Possessing good longevity, this one is only recommended for those who can appreciate bitter almond married with overtly synthetic white musks.


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Helicriss by Sylvaine Delacourte

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, rosemary, sage, cedar leaf, Keralan cinnamon, frankincense, immortelle, patchouli, benzoin, Venezuelan tonka bean, moss, white musk
"A memory of my holidays in Corsica, it makes me think of the very distinctive fragrance of the scrub lands, a warm and welcoming scent."

     ~ Sylvaine Delacourte

Based on immortelle (or helichrysum italicum), Helicriss is generally underwhelming.

For a start, one discerns more spices than immortelle, with the overall olfactory result being redolent of a sweet and spicy condiment for spare ribs. Radiating very close to the skin, an earthy muskiness eventually emerges, but remains eclipsed by that same sweet and spicy barbecue sauce aroma.

Inaccurately associated with the colour grey, doughy nuances become more evident before revealing a caramel musk denouement. With average longevity, it's certainly not to one's tastes but, going by the rest of the line, it could have been a lot worse.


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Lilylang by Sylvaine Delacourte

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: bergamot, lime, mandarin, Madagascan pink pepper, ylang-ylang, jasmine, tuberose, white musk
Reportedly an olfactory reminder of Sylvaine's holidays on Réunion Island, Lilylang is just another generic white floral musk scent with a piercing metallic aura.

The citruses barely register, there's no discernible spiciness and the white florals are too one-dimensional to be noteworthy. As the composition further develops, the metallic sheen gradually fades but it's not enough to save what is already a fledgling composition.

Smelling closer to the colour pink, as opposed to yellow, sillage is minimal and its staying power (of under two hours) is abysmal for an Eau de Parfum. If tenacity was better, it might have been awarded an extra star.


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