Farmacia SS. Annunziata Perla and Lush 25:43 ~ fragrance reviews

Farmacia SS. Annunziata PerlaLush 25:43

Around the time I became a regular browser on the fragrance board at Makeup Alley, nearly a decade ago, there was plenty of discussion about gourmand fragrances. One board favorite, the sort of thing you only heard about on Makeup Alley or other fragrance chat sites in those days, was La Perla Eclix, a musky-sweet blend of citrus and vanilla. I swapped for a sample of Eclix and enjoyed it, and whenever I spotted its metallic alien-eye bottle in a store, I'd give it a spritz. Eclix was discontinued sometime around 2007, however, and I gradually forgot about it.

I happened to try two new citrus-gourmand fragrances within the past month; neither of them is an Eclix-alike, but if you've been craving something along those general lemon-vanilla lines, you might want to try Perla from Farmacia SS. Annunziata or 25:43 from Lush's Gorilla Perfumes. The former line is a bit of mystery to me. It seems to be associated with the church of Santissima Annunziata in Bologna, or rather with the pharmacy originally affiliated with the church, which now exists as a separate business and storefront. (I'm piecing this together on my own, so I hope I'm correct; and I'm reminded of Santa Maria Novella, of course.)

Perla includes notes of lemon, osmanthus, amber and vanilla. It begins like a lemon drop, slightly sour but dusted with sugar. It has a lime-like note as well, and it briefly seems as though it could head in a direction similar to Velvet & Sweet Pea Mojito Cologne. But a cottony-soft vanilla emerges, and then the heart of the fragrance makes itself known: osmanthus turns out to be the dominant idea here, and it's a very apricot-like interpretation of osmanthus, without any inflections of tea or suede. Overall, Perla is sheer and softly sweet: it's a fruit-and-cream fragrance without any heaviness and it would be easy to wear even in hot weather. It doesn't have much staying power, but it's a good choice for a fragrance that will cheer and comfort without overwhelming the wearer or anyone nearby.

The name of 25:43 puzzled me at first: surely it couldn't be a reference to a chapter and verse from the Bible, right? Not at all. According to Lush, Mark Constantine created this perfume for his son Simon's wedding day in a mere twenty-five minutes and forty-three seconds, and Simon later added a few more notes. This final version of 25:43 includes notes of lime accord, tonka, lemongrass, vanilla, ylang ylang and litsea cubeba. Like many scents in the Gorilla Perfumes line, it includes an unusually large dose of natural extracts (tonka and litsea cubeba absolutes, as well as oils of lemongrass and Persian lime) blended with synthetic ingredients.

25:43 is more unisex and a bit blunter than Perla: it starts with the lime-peel and lemongrass notes, both of which bring Thai food to my mind (always a good thing!), and then gradually shifts into a more gourmand mode. Something in the middle of 25:43's development gives me the impression of hot buttered popcorn (just slightly burnt); I have no idea what, or why. The tonka and vanilla are warm but not cupcake-y, and there's a musky feeling to the dry down. 25:43 is an unusual fragrance, hard to place and just a bit different every time I wear it (my typical experience with Lush perfumes). It's not as polished-and-pretty as many of my usual fragrances, and I don't see myself wearing it to the office; instead, I find that I enjoy it most on days when I'm outside, or even when I'm working at home and have all the windows open. Something about it suits the sunshine and fresh air of late spring.

Do you have any other citrus-gourmand fragrances to recommend? If so, feel free to mention them in the comments section.

Farmacia SS. Annunziata Perla is available as 100 ml Eau de Toilette ($100) through Luckyscent. Lush 25:43 is available in 10 or 30 ml ($15/$40); for purchasing information, see the listing for Lush under Perfume Houses.

Note: center image is a mosaic from the dining hall of the Collège Sainte-Barbe, Paris [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Rappleyea says:

    Nice reviews, Jessica – you make me want to try both of these! Being a Guerlie-girl, I’m pretty much a fan of gourmand and vanilla in scents, but try as I might, I can’t think of a citrus/gourmand fragrance that I wear. Philtre d’Amour is the only citrusy one, and that certainly isn’t a gourmand.

    • Zazie says:

      Rappleya, have you tried l’instant pour homme?
      That’s a citrus gourmand (with anise and herbs), a Guerlain, and a gorgeous one IMO! ;)

      • Jessica says:

        I’m intrigued by that suggestion!

        • Zazie says:

          I’s worth trying! And the bonus is that it can be found almost everywhere… If you manage, try the extreme version (which is just the edp conc. of the “regular” edt).

          • Rappleyea says:

            Thank you, Zazie! I’ll definitely try this, and I believe it is the first time I’ve ever had it recommended to me.

      • Rictor07 says:

        I own a bottle of this, and while i do not agree that any of the notes which present themselves to me are at all citrusy, i do agree that it is amazing, and worth smelling if you havent done so.

        • Zazie says:

          I’m glad I found a fan! ;)
          Funny how the same things are perceived differently by different people: the opening smells like lemon curd to me!
          (But the “extreme” is indeed less lemony than the edt.)

  2. chiara says:

    Hi Jessica, I believe this is Farmacia SS Annunziata’s website:

    and they’re based in Firenze, not Bologna.

    • Jessica says:

      Chiara, you are absolutely right. I’m not sure how I couldn’t find that information… of course, there are several churches with that name, and apparently more than one pharmacy, but my searches led me in the wrong direction!

      • chiara says:

        We even have one in my own village! SS. Annunziata, Immacolata and Assunta are probably the most common church dedications in Italy.
        I tried 25:43 today in the mall (the kind SA sprayed my arm 4 times!) and I found it lovely, but I like Superworldunknown better.

  3. Rictor07 says:

    I just got a sample of Antico Carvso by Profvmvm Roma(yes i feel the need to type the u’s as v’s, just like they do), which lists its notes as Almond, Orange flowers, Sandalwood, and Amber.

    Its a little too sweet for me, but it might be alright on a woman.

    • Jessica says:

      That sounds lovely to me! Must try it sometime. Thanks!

  4. Zazie says:

    I’m loving your description of Perla. With osmanthus!
    Going to track this down: I always tend to overlook this line, I don’t know why. (The “concept” is quite similar to the SMN…)

    • Jessica says:

      Zazie, it really is a pretty one! If I had an actual bottle, and not just a tiny sample vial, I’d spray it liberally. It’s light enough that you could wear it generously!

  5. 25:43 is weird/interesting. When I first sprayed it on, I thought I would hate it, but I enjoyed it more as it dried down.

    Another lemon gourmand, at a bargain price, is the C. O. Bigelow Lemon EDT (which can be found at Bath & Body Works stores). I like that one quite a bit, and it doesn’t verge into candied froot territory as you might expect – it’s more meringue-y. I have the shower lotion for that (now discontinued? I think).

    25:43 and the Blgelow Lemon share some similarities to my nose, but I think if I had to choose one I’d go for 25:43 – more interesting.

    Shalimar Light also has kind of a lemon gourmand stage in the early going.

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve tried a few other Bigelow Lemon products (hand cream, lip balm, etc.) and liked the scent — I should test the actual fragrance as well! And, as for Lush, I often don’t like the fragrance for the first few minutes but then end up enjoying or even loving the scent once it “settles”!

  6. Merlin says:

    How does this lush compare to smell of freedom. Just wondering cos ALL I get from that one is a rather brutal longrass note. None of the other notes get to even peep out. Now I’m scared of lemongrass!

    • Jessica says:

      You know, I haven’t tried Scent of Freedom in a long time, and I remember plenty of sandalwood… maybe someone else has a more recent impression…?

  7. ms.samar.farisi says:

    I hate unisex

  8. Subhuman says:

    Funny, I get a “buttered popcorn” feel from another Lush scent: Lust, the big ol’ jasmine bomb. A house accord, perhaps?

    Re: citrus gourmands, I used to own Hanae Mori HM, which starts with a mouthwateringly realistic lemon and segues to blackcurrant, lavender, chocolate, vanilla, and woods. Sounds stranger than it smells.

    • Jessica says:

      Subhuman, I wonder what it is! Maybe something about the tonka? Funny.

  9. FragrantWitch says:

    Lovely reviews, Jessica.
    I’ve tried the 25:43 and surprised myself by liking it a lot. It was one of those that you spray, forget about and then later wonder what smells so good!

    • Jessica says:

      FragrantWitch, that has been my experience with Lush/Gorilla fragrances more than once! Cocktail is another one. Funny!

  10. Ida says:

    Nocturnes de Caron is a lemon-vanilla like gourmand – almost bracing lemon or bracing sweetness, but I do like it when it settles. This fragrance has strong memories for me. My mom bought it for me when I was a teen – I think she spotted the early signs of perfumania. Have a lovely Easter, for those who are celebrating!

    • Jessica says:

      I think I have a sample of Nocturnes somewhere in my drawer. Must look for it. Happy Easter to you, too!

  11. ladymurasaki says:

    Thanks for the reviews, Jessica. Perla sounds interesting, purely for the osmanthus. I can’t think of any other citrus-gourmand fragrance that I really enjoy, except I Profumi di Firenze Limone. It’s a sharp lemon scent, but it softens on dry down to… a bit like Limoncello?

  12. helenviolette says:

    Fun reviews Jessica! I will seek out the Lush for a sniff (since it is easy find). My favorite lemon gourmand is the lovely Lux by the late great Mona di Orio. I remember seeing a bottle for a song, and hadn’t sniffed it so, or any other of the line, so I passed it up. I deeply regret not buying it.

    • Jessica says:

      I have to admit that I’m not as knowledgeable about Mona di Orio’s line as I should be… I’ll have to remedy that with my next sample order.

  13. talintyred says:

    For a lovely citrus vanilla perfume in summery or humid weather, Ava Luxe’s Citrine is definitely worth trying, I plan to buy a bottle this year. Serena’s prices fit my budget beautifully as I am currently saving money for one of my girlfriend’s to buy me 3 bottles when she visits the Serge Lutens and Guerlain Champs Elysees stores in Paris in May. Feel like I have just joined the club of perfumistas who get very excited when anyone they know goes to Paris and buys perfume for them! it is a pretty big deal flying from Australia too! Mona di Oiro’s Lux – is a very rich and beautiful citrus vanilla/amber going out somewhere special type of perfume.

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