Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza ~ fragrance review

Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza

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.

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  1. Joe says:

    Oh, Kevin! I’ll have to seek this out in my Nordstrom for a skin test. Something about the Acqua di Parma aesthetic really appeals to me; I love their packaging, though this all-black version is probably less appealing than other versions.

    Essenza does sound nice, though not necessarily like a “must-have.” I will admit that Colonia Intensa is a staple and favorite of mine. Thanks for the review.

    • Daisy says:

      I was just thinking about the black bottle and I think (at least to me) why it is less appealing is that it looks more like a “bath product” than a perfume bottle… I like their other bottles, so it’s not the shape , it’s just the solid black thing.
      Other from that it sounds kind of zippy and refreshing—all that orange blossom and zesty citrus peels….I wonder if the LotV gives it an overall “cold” feel ….LotV is often very chilly and damp earth to me. (not that that’s a bad thing this week….hello 93 degrees! yowza)

      • Kevin says:

        Daisy: hey, weren’t you complaining not so long ago about the CHILLY summer…now the heat is getting to you. Never satisfied! HA!

        I love COLD, “dirty” lily of the valley, but the type I smell most often is the soapy, powder-puff residue type… I guess I’m the only one who likes the black bottle!

        • Daisy says:

          oh, ok, I see how it’s going to be….just throw that damp, chilly, whine whine whine stuff right back in my face! oh, maybe I should mention we’re sort of suffering drought conditions and it’s been heck keeping my yard all lush and green. (pressing the manual start on the sprinklers once a day is just wearing me out! ) ;-)

        • Daisy says:

          oops, got distracted by my own whining and forgot the perfume comment—-I like the damp dirty LotV too…..I was merely wondering if this was a cold LotV or one that turns kind of soapy. For example , Ubar = sharp, bright LotV, Delrae Debut= Cold, VC&A Muguet Blanc = cold & sweet/ slightly soapy.

          • Kevin says:

            D: I remember everything…just remember that and you’ll be FINE! And this lily of the valley does turn “cold”…then crumbles into dust. A nice thing!

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: I love Intensa too…the only Acqua di Parma I’ve owned…so far…think I will buy some Essenza.

      • Daisy says:

        and the only Aqua di Parma I have is Iris Nobile Edp —way far at the other end from manly Colonia …so maybe this one isn’t for me.
        (sobbing quietly over missed citrus peels..)

        • Kevin says:

          D: If you think regular Colonia is manly…then this one is not for you…it’s more masculine than Colonia to me…but still very wearable to tough broads and vixens and the type of little girl who puts gum in your hair at recess.

          • Daisy says:

            hmmm….well…I’m not a “tough broad”….it’s hard to pull off “vixen” in purple sweatpants and a ponytail…..and I was more the peacemaker- smartypants on the playground, and wouldn’t dream of putting gum in anyones hair (since I had VERY long hair and gum-retaliation would have been a nightmare indeed) … ummm, you got any other options??

          • Kevin says:

            Daisy: wait till next week’s review…I”ll have a scent you can wear in your purple sweatpants on all Peace missions.

  2. Tim says:

    Sounds intriguing. I like both Assoluta and Intensa from AdP. The original colonia does have, as you say, a soapy/laundry smell. I say fabric softener- that citrus, floral and musk gets loud. Essenza sounds nice so I’m definitely trying it.

    • Kevin says:

      Tim: I immediately liked Essenza…hope you like it too.

  3. k-scott says:

    Nice review Kevin. This one sounds very appealing, I’ll have to seek it out next time I’m at Nordie’s. Do you think it works best for summer or will it be good for fall?

    • Kevin says:

      k-scott: oh, I think it’ll be nice for fall and even winter

  4. VanMorrisonFan says:

    Kevin – I will have to try this. One thing I like about the “other” Acqua di Parma is that they make a nice “travel” version…a little one ounce bottle with a leather case or carrier…very nice for a shaving kit or gym bag.

    • Kevin says:

      VMFan: those small bottles are GREAT.

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