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.