Perfume review: Fendi Theorema

Fendi Theorema fragrance

It is yet another unreasonably cold day here, and so I am reaching for one of my favorite winter comfort scents. Theorema was launched by Fendi in 1998, and the narrow-shouldered bottle was inspired by the shape of the classic Fendi handbag. It was developed by perfumer Christine Nagel, and the notes are tangelo, jasmine, thai shamouti (orange), osmanthus, spices, cinnamon, pink pepper, sandalwood, guaiac wood, amber, macassar, sweet cream, and musk.

The top notes are cheerful, with a very bright and juicy orange underscored with strong, dusty spices. The cinnamon is pronounced, and there are other spices as well — possibly nutmeg, possibly cardamom? It settles into a soft, lightly spicy scent with woody base notes. The sweet cream gives it a milky, almost vanillic feel, and there is tiniest whiff of something like dusty cocoa, however it is by no means overly sweet and it is only slightly foody. The floral notes are very muted, and the woody amber base is more pale than not.

Theorema is a cozy scent, perfect for winter although it can probably be worn in any season outside of high summer. It is classified as an oriental, but it is much lighter and more transparent than that might imply. Over the years, Fendi has released this in several lighter versions, including an Esprit d’Ete and a Theorema Leggero, but I have never tried them and I don’t find the regular Eau de Parfum particularly heavy.

I believe Theorema is discontinued, although I read somewhere (sorry, can no longer find the link!) that it is still produced for the Italian market. At any rate it is readily available through the online discounters in the US, and I purchased my bottle fairly recently in a discount store in a mall.

Have a favorite winter comfort scent? Please comment.

Update, 2/07: I recently had the chance to try Theorema in the Parfum form, and it is a lovely scent. The base is deeper and richer, and slightly darker, with both the jasmine and the amber more in evidence. I might just prefer the brightness of the Eau de Parfum, but it is very much worth a try, assuming you can find it.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I adore Theorema! Every time I wear it, I fall in love with it again. It is inviting and spicy without heaviness (I have regular edp). The orange is warm and creamy, without tartness. I like that the amber anchors the scent but is barely detectable. In my opinion, this scent is over-looked and under-rated.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree! This is definitely an over-looked perfume. When I got a sample of it awhile back, I had to keep smelling my wrist because there was something so compelling about it…it was a seamless blend of notes that I have found in only a few other fragrances.

  3. Anonymous says:

    So glad both of you are fans too! I need to buy a backup bottle before it disappears.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I haven't tested this one yet. I saw it once at Marshalls but I'm trying hard to not buy things unsniffed.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I love this one too. I bought Theorema Leggero unsniffed thinking it would be nice for summer, but it is watery and has none of the spiciness of Theorema. The bottle is just as gorgeous, frosted with muted gold.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Darn, I wish Theorema would turn up at my Marshalls! But I try very hard not to buy unsniffed too — unless it is REALLY cheap, and then I usually can't resist.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much, I'm glad to know the Leggero is not worth a purchase. It is the only version that I've seen at my TJ Maxx.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, that still leaves a few other fragrances for you to wear, right? (ha ha)

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi R, just thought I post here on another Nagel scent we have discussed, Histoire D'Eau Topaze. I finally got my bottle – Imagination perfumery did not include my full address after a series of snarky (on both sides) emails back and forth at the time of my ordering – could that be coincidence? – which resulted in a very late delivery. The duty was indeed horrendous, the box had been damaged and bottle had leaked. All in all, not a very satisfactory shipping experience. The scent itself, though is lovely, and I think it may appeal to you more than we might have thought from Turin's description. I would say it is actually more accessible than Theorema, in that it is surprisingly sheer, skin scent compared to the Fendi, unless it has lost it's potency since 2002 or has low sillage on me (thought the lasting power seems to be good). The top notes are a very green tangerine with a a kind of fuzzy spice aura much like the Theorema, but the fruitness fades more quickly and the spice notes turn distinctly smokey. As I say, though, it is fairly sheer, and the smoke never overwhelms a very buttery leather dry down. It's fairly linear after the initial moments. I like it a lot though it has less presence than I expected – a fair sight less than Theorema actually, and it's probably more a spring/summer scent – but it's comforting in the same way. It seems a very grown up perfume to me, and very French coast somehow.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tigs, thanks so much for the detailed description. That sounds like a very tempting scent, and I'm going to add it to my “to buy” list…which unfortunately is so long at the moment that it just sits in limbo. I haven't bought a darn thing since November just because I can't decide what to buy next.

    And sorry you had to go through such an ordeal to get your hands on it!

  11. Anonymous says:

    When I first sniffed L de Lolita Lempicka I thought of Theorema immediately. It's like a candied cousin of Theorema. Both share the orange/spice/cinnamon theme (and IMHO an unfitting packaging ;-) ). L is heavier on the vanilla, of course.

  12. Anonymous says:

    You know, I didn't catch that at all! I don't much like immortelle, so L didn't get all that much attention from me, although I did try it briefly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    That's ok – L should be much too sweet and foody for you, I guess.

  14. sun365 says:

    What a hard dilemma! To buy as many bottles of it on E-bay as my budget permits or find an alternative? (so far I haven’t found any).

    It is absolutely magical! Made me a convert to spicy orientals.

    • Robin says:

      I really don’t know of an alternative…start hoarding!

  15. sun365 says:

    Just got Theorema Esprit d’Ete. It is more citrusy in the opening and less spicy, but has the same “feel” and that nice creamy dry-down. They sell now testers very cheap, couldn’t resist :)

  16. Buzzy says:

    I recently tried this as a friend has some- sadly too orangey cup-cake for me.Ii used to wear Fendi by Fendi- LOVED it , am SO sad it is discontinued. Anyone know where I can get my hands on some?

  17. Tamara says:

    This morning was crisp and cool with fog rolling in waves.
    I got dressed to walk my daughter Livvi to her bustop and spritzed this on from a decant from a dear friend who is well known as the Enabler Goddess Divine. ;) It was smooth, sweet and perfect for kissing my babygirl goodbye and then rushing home to drink coffee in solitude and warm spices.

    I am now trolling evilbay for my own bottle. I have got to have this.<3

    • Robin says:

      Oh, good luck — I hope you find one!! BTW, I got my bottle from one of those cheesy mall kiosks — always worth keeping an eye out.

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