Roberto Cavalli for Her ~ fragrance review

Roberto Cavalli for Her advert

Gosh, I hate to do this to you. Roberto Cavalli discontinued all its old fragrances, and released Robert Cavalli for Her as part of its new partnership with Coty. Somebody needed to review it. Somebody needed to give you the heads up on the alluring contents of that gorgeously shaped amphore of a bottle. Sadly, I don’t like Robert Cavalli for Her much at all.

So, we’ll make this a short review then go on to a game. Perfumer Louise Turner developed Roberto Cavalli for Her. PR materials call the fragrance an “exuberant” and “sensual” floral amber with notes of pink pepper, orange blossom absolute, and toasted tonka bean. The Macy’s website adds Mirabelle plum. The fragrance opens with a fizzy, pretty combination of what smells to me like peach mixed with honeysuckle. So far, so good. Not original, maybe, but juicy, fresh, and warm. This is the first impression that sells a thousand bottles.

After fifteen minutes comes the deal breaker: a wave of the nauseating, bug-spray woody musk that dominates way too many new releases often positioned as neo-chypres. It’s the one smell in perfume that gives me a headache. The woody musk is hard to describe, but if you’ve smelled it, you’ll know what I mean. It smells synthetic and stifling, like a mohair sweater sprayed with Raid and swathed in hot Saran wrap.

Roberto Cavalli for Her has terrific lasting power, and a spray in the morning from a sample vial persists until dinner. Dabbing rather than spraying seems to mute the musk and bring out the peaches, and I like it better that way, but all in all I hope never to smell it again. If you like Roberto Cavalli for Her, please comment!

Now for the game. Let’s pretend you are responsible for creating Roberto Cavalli’s new fragrance. Lucky for you, the PR materials have already been made up. You know the fragrance needs to conjure the image of a sylph-like brunette barely clad in tiger-print chiffon who makes a play for an swarthy, unshaven skinny guy. A tiger follows her around. Also, thanks to an interview at, you have a few more clues: Cavalli envisions Jennifer Lopez singing and dancing wearing his perfume, and adds that it’s for “a woman full of energy.” Finally, Cavalli’s mother used to wear “the most horrible, cheap perfume,” and his is “soft, delicate…not too much.”

Got it? What would you create?

Me, I’d take an unconventional approach and suggest a perfumed oil in a tinier version of the current Eau de Parfum bottle. The medallion lid would have a dabber attached to it. I’d position it as “precious” to be dotted “intimately” over the body. Plus, in an oil form, it wouldn’t be as diffusive as whatever it was Cavalli’s mother wore. Scent-wise, I don’t see Cavalli as very edgy, and his patrons probably value “sexy” over “inventive.” So I’d go with a fruity oriental with amber, vanilla, patchouli, and mandarin orange framing a heart of the crisp, intoxicating, and very rare (in fact, nonexistent) orchid, the cattelya maewestii (see how I cleverly wove in the name of my cat? Supports the tiger theme, too).

How about you?

Roberto Cavalli for Her flacon

Roberto Cavalli for Her is available in 30, 50 ($65) and 100 ($85) ml Eau de Parfum and in shower gel and body lotion. It's widely available at department stores.

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  1. Paisley Flowers says:

    I am not going to be very helpful but just say that sounds like a much better version of Roberto Cavalli for Her! Love the dabber idea. Their ad is scary!

    • Angela says:

      I like the dabber idea, too, as long as the perfume dries quickly. I didn’t think about it until now, but it could leave a splotch on clothes!

      • nozknoz says:

        Which would really be no problem at all for the target market of animal print wearers! :-)

        • Angela says:

          Hey, good point! Goes with leopard and cheetah especially well.

  2. Dilana says:

    I associate Cavelli’s brightly colored, loose fitting fashions with what hippies would have worn if they had several million dollars. (And who knows, his clients may be women who went from wild weekends during the Summer of Love to making millions in the summer beach home real estate market).
    Can I start by getting that creature out of that tiger rug into an actual Robert Cavalli dress? Could I replace that anatomically impossible Barbie Doll with an actual human being?
    As for a fragrance, I’d start with a patchoulli base and then add some jasmine-tuberose

    • Angela says:

      Yes you can!

      The model is gorgeous, of course, but I agree with you–I bet she’d look stunning in bright colors instead of the earthy tiger stripes. And I’m terrified that dress is going to shift for a wardrobe malfunction extraordinaire.

      Patchouli plus jasmine and tuberose sounds perfect for Haute Hippie!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        I think it looks like the top of the dress is just painted on–not real fabric. (I’m sure there’s real fabric involved, but there must be some image manipulation going on. It looks strange.) You can’t have a malfunction if your tata’s are already in plain view!

        • Angela says:

          You’re right–how can it be a malfunction if that’s how it’s supposed to function?

        • Dilana says:

          Actually, I thought the woman herself was just a painting, she look’s so unreal.

          • Angela says:

            She does look kind of two-dimensional, like a painting. Maybe it’s the coloring of the ad and dress?

  3. Joanne says:

    I’m sorry–I can’t even breathe let alone think–I’m still gagging over “a mohair sweater sprayed with Raid and swathed in hot Saran wrap.” If that isn’t stomach-turning, I don’t know what would be.

    • Angela says:

      I think I must be ultra sensitive to that smell. Clearly people do like it–too many new perfumes contain that nasty woody musky component for it to be as horrible to everyone else as it is to me!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        I have somehow (luckily!) avoided this note so far–can you think of some other scents that similarly horrified?

        • Marjorie Rose says:

          Oops. Just saw your answer below!

          • Angela says:

            That’s o.k.!

        • Angela says:

          I sprayed a little Miss Dior Cherie and dabbed my bizarre disposable packet sample of Fan di Fendi on just to double check that weird woody fuzzy note, and I’m so sorry I did!

    • ladymurasaki says:

      I can just imagine smelling the mohair sweater sprayed with Raid and that’s enough to make me want to avoid it. I’ve recently passed by someone wearing a horrible perfume that reminded me of the orphea moth repellent. Perhaps it was just that; moth repellent!

      • Angela says:

        I’m not sure which is worse–having moth holes or smelling like moth repellant.

  4. platinum14 says:

    I’m traveling to Colombia this summer and will talk to orchid growers. Maybe I can get one of them to name a new variety: the “cattelya maewestii “.
    I love that name!

    • Angela says:

      That would be awesome! I think the cattelya maewestii would best suit a particularly curvaceous orchid, a soft one, and one that thrives in front of the heater vent or in a sun spot on the rug.

      • platinum14 says:

        LOL anything from Colombia definitely prefers a warm, sunny spots!

        • Angela says:

          Perfect (or should I say “purrfect”?).

  5. LaMaroc says:

    Your review makes me want to drive, even in the snow, back to TJ Maxx (or was it Marshall’s?) and snag that big, tall bottle of Roberto Cavalli Oro edp. Gorgeous floral amber, big as an 80s aqua-netted coiff. I would also like to snag a bottle of Serpentine before it disappears. That was a nice tiare I could handle (most are migraine inducing). *sigh*
    That ad is so disturbingly airbrushed across her breasts it makes me stop and try to adjust my vision every time I see it in a magazine.

    • Angela says:

      I never smelled the old Cavallis! It sounds like they were blockbusters.

  6. Merlin says:

    Angela, could you name a few mainstream frags that have that vile woody musk note. I’m not sure whether or not I have suffered/sniffed it before.

    • Angela says:

      I first smelled it in Lanvin Rumeur. The new Fendi (Fan di Fendi?) has it, too, in spades. You can smell it a bit in Miss Dior Cherie. It seems to show up most in department store releases rather than drugstore or niche brands.

      • Subhuman says:

        I suspect it’s that damnable New Patchouli that’s in almost everything these days, particularly women’s perfumes aiming for “sexy” and billed as “modern chypres”. It’s patchouli with the blood drained from it, and dialed up to 11. Big, thick, and tenacious, but without any of the rumbling, peppery, straight-from-the-earth richness and zest of real patchouli. I’m not as nauseated by it as you, Angela, but I do find it a bit stifling (and, at this point, hackneyed).

        • Angela says:

          I’m reading it as more woody than patchouli, a sort of faux moss. I don’t like it!

          • Subhuman says:

            Hmm. I think I know the faux moss you’re talking about, and it does come off a little bug-spray-ish. That said, I can think of three fragrances that use FauxMoss rather well: Gucci Rush, Bottega Veneta, and Hypnotic Poison. I detect in all three a “mossy” accord that smells kinda-sorta close to the real deal and not blatantly synthetic. Cavalli and the other offenders should take note!

          • Angela says:

            What I need to do is figure out what it is, exactly, that I dislike so much. There’s probably some correct chemical name for it. Instead, I’m bumbling around with “bugspray” and “woody-musky” as my description, but it’s not quite enough on point.

  7. FragrantWitch says:

    Hmm, seems to me a Cavalli perfume should have some civet/skank given the animal prints he is so fond of. The skank would also call to mind for the haute hippie their younger, glory days when it was all unwashed free love, man. Of course, for their now refined noses you would need an aldehyde accord to lift the skank and represent the champagne they now quaff (dahling) on their yachts. Rounding out the composition would be some exotic bloom, botoxus regularis, to sweeten things and save them from smelling like their mothers.

    • Angela says:

      I think you have a career doing this!

      • FragrantWitch says:

        LOL thanks! Prix au Faux here I come…

        • Angela says:

          You’re off to a good start….

  8. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Great review as usual, Angela. I, for one, found Roberto Cavalli for Her to be a boring, faceless, blah. A really lame excuse of a “perfume”. It reminded me of a cheap version of several well known perfumes mixed together then diluted, but none of the scents work well together.

    Oh, and I found Fan di Fendi to smell cheep, gross, and down right trashy. Though, maybe I think it is trashy due to the trashy bottle.

    • Angela says:

      Fendi used to have some terrific fragrances–the original Fendi, Asja, and Theorama, for instance. I miss them.

  9. Ysbrand says:

    Maybe a hot juice of ylang-ylang, tiger lily (of course), candied orange and rosewood with some dirty indoles for the zoo effect…

    • Angela says:

      Oh boy, you have got the magic touch. I love how the ylang is “hot” and how you incorporated color, too, to match the brand!

  10. nozknoz says:

    Patchouli was originally a moth repellant – and animal prints are so last century – why not just go with the dead moth theme, starting with fluttery moth print dresses, moth antenna dangly earrings and Swarowski-studded compound moth eye jewels? Papillon de Nuit Mort would be a softly iridescent perfumed powder with notes of patchouli, cedar and camphoraceous tuberose. :-)

    • Angela says:

      You know what, I think you’re on to something! Moths are beautiful. Maybe there can be a Hannibal Lector tie-in. Camphor, patchouli, lavender, clove–not bad!

  11. kaos.geo says:

    I think i know what you are talking about… I posted about that once… It is a trendy note that smells like bugspray and many women love it. I smelled it first on the jil sander perfumes, specially the feminines… The pastel series… That’s my two cents
    You gotta concede… It is a relatively new smell and distinctive… I smell it a lot at airports… But now in the malls too… It is gettin mainstream by now (I first smelled it in 1997)
    I know this sounds crazy but I bet my money that this is the smell you are talking about.

    • kaos.geo says:

      SORRY I Meant 2007, no 1997

      • Angela says:

        Time sure flies! I knew what you meant.

    • Angela says:

      Maybe that’s it! I wish I had a proper name for it and knew what it was.

  12. Flora says:

    Ack – that huge synthetic woody amber note is what made me scrub Kate Walsh Boyfriend – I just can’t tolerate it!

    • Angela says:

      Note to self: do not try Boyfriend.

  13. thenoseknows says:

    Personally… I’d leave the Bottle and the Adverts as is, but create something more… ROBERTO with the scent… My Idea…

    It would Open on a more sensually Floral note, Pink Freesia and Osmanthus with a Backbeat of Green and Pungent Lily-Of-The-Valley and i’d incorporate the Peach and Mirabelle Plum in it as well (every time i think of Plum in the opening of a Fragrance i IMMEDIATELY Think of J’Adore and that’s not a bad thing in the least!) and perhaps diffuse a little bit of Benzoin in the opening to give it a warm sensuality…

    Through the Middle notes we’d traverse some Turkish Rose and Star Jasmine with a CARNAL, SEXY Undercurrent of Tuberose and Neroli… Temper that with some Cocoa, Coconut and Tolu Balsam and Amp it with a Shot of Frangipani and Persian Lime for a Slight Citrusy Bite to cut through all that sweetness…

    As for the Drydown/Base… Sandalwood and Vetiver ALL THE WAY rounded off with Vanilla Orchid, Olibanum, Neroli, Galbanum, Rose Geranium and… WAIT FOR IT…. AMBER! Can you imagine!?!?! Green notes with the Warmth of AMBER?? I think it would be sensual and Feminine but also Powerful and Slinky! Throw in that Musk note at the end but make it less Bug Spray Like and Voila… Roberto Cavalli In a Bottle!

  14. Angela says:

    It’s the perfect Cavalli scent–sexy, a little tropical, edible in parts, womanly, party girlish. It would be a hit! If any Cavalli executives are reading this, I bet they offer you a job….

    • thenoseknows says:

      Angela… You Make Me Smile With My Heart! ;-) :-* <3

      • Angela says:

        One of my favorite songs! I’m going to listen to the Barbra version right now, in fact….

  15. It’s so disappointing I couldn’t resist to tell Roberto about it :-P

    • Angela says:

      I hope he appreciates your honesty! It was done with marvelous tact.

      It sounds like you were able to get more orange flower out of it than I did. For all the talk of orange flower absolute, it smelled more honeysuckle-peach to me. A trick of my nose, maybe?

  16. Clarina says:

    I think I’ll be the first to disgree with you regarding this perfume because I tried it yesterday and it smells amazing on my skin, at first it starts with the african orange flower then for some reason I smell Gardenia then it dries down into sweet vanilla I didn’t smell any trace of the bug spray at all! It’s sexy, classy and romantic perfume perfect for summer nights I think it’s alluring.

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you’re loving it! You found it just in time for summer, too.

  17. Katarrah says:

    I’m wearing it right now and it smells wonderful ! I absolutely love it and plan to go back to Macys tomorrow and buy the largest size bottle I can.

    • Angela says:

      It’s a beautiful bottle, too! It will look so pretty on your dresser.

  18. tutulemma says:

    I found this site when I googled “do women like Roberto cavalli perfume?” Apparently, most do not. I was curious, because I love it and I am finding it increasingly difficult to find. Department stores no longer carry it, so I have to order it from Amazon, of all places. I have to say that my first impression of it, when a salesperson spritzed it on me a couple of years ago, was not good. But then it somehow grew on me and became my favorite. Ah well, I’ll get it while I can and then look for a new fragrance.

    • Angela says:

      Fragrances are discontinued so fast, so often, these days. I’m sorry that you’re favorite is getting hard to find! Still, it’s fun to be able to look for a new perfume.

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