Acqua di Parma has “re-styled” original Colonia* (introduced in 1916) to produce the brand new Colonia Essenza. I’ve recently seen Colonia Essenza in two big department stores: Holt Renfrew in Vancouver, B.C., and Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. Holt Renfrew sells the fragrance only in the men’s department; but so far, Nordstrom displays Colonia Essenza with women’s fragrances — even though there’s an Acqua di Parma section in the men’s perfume boutique. Colonia Essenza is, in stores and online, sometimes referred to as a men’s fragrance and other times as a women’s perfume, but I think Colonia Essenza is a classic cologne-for-all…even children can wear it.
Colonia Essenza includes notes of bergamot, tangerine, lemon, orange, grapefruit, petitgrain, neroli, clove, rosemary, lily of the valley, rose, jasmine, patchouli, vetiver, white musk and amber. Colonia Essenza starts off smelling like a crisp orange blossom Eau de Cologne. As orange blossom fades, warm, but still pert, citrus peel aromas appear and lead directly to Colonia Essenza’s floral heart notes.
In Colonia Essenza’s mid-development, petitgrain mingles with ‘orris-scented’ roses and lily of the valley. (The rose and lily of the valley duke it out and lily of the valley wins — barely). The lily of the valley note is not grandmotherly; it has some “bite.” (Jasmine? I don’t detect it and there’s not a hint of indoles in Colonia Essenza.)
The lead-in to Colonia Essenza’s base comes in the form of a bitter herbal note, not immediately recognizable as “rosemary.” This rough note arrives just in time to prevent Colonia Essenza’s mid-stage flowers from becoming too dainty and ladylike. (Note: when smelled on a paper strip, Colonia Essenza will fool you into thinking it is a smooth, creamy floral scent with a hint of powdery musk. On a card, the herbal/bitter note is not discernable, and if you don’t like herbal/bitter notes that’s good to know!)
Throughout its development, Colonia Essenza never completely loses its floral character, but it goes from a sunny and warm green-citrus-floral composition into shady-and-cool scent territory. As the cologne enters its final phase, I get the feeling clouds, and a cold front, have moved through Colonia Essenza’s “garden,” chilling the flowers and fruit...and blunting their aromas. I love Colonia Essenza’s diminuendo: the muted base notes of “shadowy” rose and lily of the valley, chalky wood, desiccated patchouli, dusty musk, and stark, cool amber.
Colonia Essenza is, overall, a conservative fragrance; but it’s more dashing, less prim, than its progenitor, Colonia. Though Colonia Essenza’s base notes are soft and a bit talc-y, they don’t possess original Colonia’s “soapy”/“fresh laundry” vibe. Colonia Essenza has good lasting power and "proper" sillage — it doesn't dominate a room.
Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza is $90 for 50 ml and $125 for 100 ml Eau de Cologne. For buying information see the listing for Acqua di Parma under Perfume Houses.
*still in production
Note: top image of lily of the valley [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.