Marchesa Parfum d’Extase ~ fragrance review

Marchesa Parfum d'Extase advert, cropped

Perfume has mystique. It’s supposed to add a powerful but invisible allure, they say. Men should feel faint in your sillage. A whiff of your fragrance should call you to mind, eyes cast seductively aside and all.1 Given the hype, I understand why so many new launches are for whopper fragrances with “sexy” stamped all over their branding. (Whether you actually find any of it sexy is another matter.)

Fortunately, Marchesa Parfum d’Extase takes a more subtle approach, and for that alone it’s worth smelling. Despite its ambitious name, Parfum d’Extase is delicate, fresh, and old fashioned. If you’re looking for purple fruit, heavy musk, patchouli, and gardenia, move along. There’s nothing for you here.

Perfumer Annie Buzantian developed Parfum d’Extase. Its notes include iris flower, star anise, black current, violet leaves, lotus flower, night blooming jasmine, Bulgarian rose water, orange blossom, iris root, ambrox and muscenone.

Parfum d’Extase goes on with a steam-iron whoosh of aldehydes and musk. Underneath all that steely clean shimmers a sweet floral focused on rose, violet, and jasmine, with a barely spicy, warm edge. It’s an easy, versatile fragrance, and I could see both brides and cubicle dwellers choosing it.

Parfum d’Extase didn’t impress me at first. It smelled vaguely rosy, dusted with that bug spray-like musk sometimes used to mimic oakmoss. Ho hum. However, the more I wore it, the more appreciated its complexity. I liked how the sheer warmth of Parfum d’Extase’s ambrox played against its mineral-clean aldehydes and musk. I liked the duskiness of the violet leaf and iris against the sweet rose and jasmine. Parfum d’Extase feels delicate and clean without evoking powder or ornamental bath soaps. 

It took a good half of my sample spray in one go to make the most of Parfum d’Extase. You really have to slick yourself down with this stuff to smell all its nooks and crannies. Parfum d’Extase comes in a rollerball, but, honestly, I can’t imagine anyone who likes the fragrance enough to buy it settling for the scant amount a rollerball delivers.

And that leads to one of the fragrance’s greatest drawbacks: its lack of longevity. After its initial burst, Parfum d’Extase wears tight to the skin and poops out at about three hours.

If you like Parfum d’Extase’s linen-clean aspect, but the fragrance doesn’t last long enough for you, I’d recommend trying Narciso Rodriguez Essence. (Plus, the bottle is gorgeous.) If you like Parfum d’Extase’s elegant floral heart but wish it had more body, sample some Natori.

As for me, Parfum d’Extase in a body cream would be a nice after-bath, time-for-bed fragrance. If a bottle landed on my doorstep, I’d spray my sheets with it from time to time. I have plenty of other perfumes to ply their mystery during the day.

Marchesa Parfum d'Extase

Marchesa Parfum d’Extase Eau de Parfum is available in 30 ml ($60) and 50 ml ($85) and a .34 ml rollerball ($25). Right now it’s only sold at Sephora.

1. A story about the mystery surrounding perfume: Last weekend I went to hear the legendary Motown singer Bettye LaVette speak. In her youth she dated Aretha Franklin’s husband, Ted White, a pimp. Lavette said White was essentially her personal charm school. He taught her how to “move, speak, and wear perfume.” She said she still has the bottles of Arpège and My Sin he gave her.

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30 Comments

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  1. I didn’t care for this one too much – too clean, I thought – but admittedly I didn’t spend very much time with it at Sephora. Maybe I just needed to apply more heavily.

    One of my friends, who’s into fashion but not really fragrance, fell in love with this at first sniff and wore it as her wedding perfume.

    • Angela says:

      I can see it making a good bridal perfume. It has that clean prettiness that goes with wedding dresses, I think.

  2. turbovivi says:

    I saw this at Sephora few weeks ago and tried it during my lunch break. The end result was an endless migraine headache for the rest of the day. Something in it just did not sit right with me and instead of having the issue you had, I could not get the scent off of me after numerous scrubbing with hot water, soap, makeup remover…

    • Angela says:

      Oh no! Isn’t that the way it always seems to be, though? The ones you detest are the ones that have the half life of plutonium.

    • Betty_Kinkade says:

      Oh, that is the worst! I’m so sorry for your migraine. I swear I have the occasional nightmare about some of the scrubbers I’ve tried crawling their way back up the sink. If only skin had a delete button…

      • Angela says:

        What an excellent feature that would be!

  3. Bradamante says:

    what a lovely story about Bettye LaVette!

    • RusticDove says:

      I was going to say the same thing!

      • Angela says:

        I wish you could have seen it–she was great.

    • Angela says:

      It was a terrific interview. What a woman.

  4. RusticDove says:

    Well, when I give this one a sniff, even if it doesn’t end up suiting me, at least it sounds like a departure from the usual offerings these days! The bottle sure is gaudy.

    • Angela says:

      I don’t think much of the bottle, either. Kind of cheesy.

  5. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    I sniffed Marchesa in Sephora last week, and got a sample. Have not yet tried on my skin. It smelled nice, boring and clean, but nice. I did really like the warmth and saltiness from the ambrox. As a whole, Marchesa Parfum d’Extase is not something I would ever wear. Too clean and sheer for me.

    However, as boring as it is, it is still nicer than most of the other recent mass-market releases. I know plenty of people who would love it. Plus, I would much rather smell this on my friends, than something like Chloe EDP (2008), which just smells like cheap laundry detergent.

    • Angela says:

      I know what you mean–it feels clean, delicate, nice, and well made to me, too, but not very exciting. I, too, will take a big pass on the 2008 Chloé…

  6. Betty_Kinkade says:

    Thank you for the review, Angela! This sentence stood out to me, beginning perfume-lover that I am: “Whether you actually find any of it sexy is another matter.” It’s a funny thing to realize, when you come to the edge of the perfume rabbit hole, how words can lose their meaning in perfume advertising. Especially words like “sexy” that can mean such different things to different people (sexy perfume to me is all spice, smoke, and skank!). I’ll keep this in mind to recommend to friends and family who like safer scents that don’t offend (or intrigue!) others. But for me, I’ll be envying Bettye LaVette’s Arpege and My Sin instead. :)

    • Angela says:

      I’m in your camp, perfume-wise. Let’s fly our My Sin flag high!

  7. Lucy says:

    I was surprised by this one. It’s not my style, I have no need for a full bottle, yet I find myself drawn to it. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it has the difficult-to-describe “it” factor that I always look for, but something about this just seems to work.

    I do give a ton of credit to Marchesa for this. It’s the first designer scent that really stays true to the direction of the clothing line. It is perfect for any occasion when a Marchesa dress is also appropriate, like an employer’s black tie holiday party. Sadly, my husband’s company doesn’t do that anymore. (Not that I can afford a Marchesa dress anyway.)

    • Angela says:

      And that’s a subject for a whole other post–good fragrances for holiday Christmas parties. I can completely imagine Marchesa for a work shindig, but I’d probably reach for the Nuit de Noel for its name alone.

      • Lucy says:

        I’m not familiar with Nuit de Noel. I searched for it but -*ahem*- there’s no review for it on NST. It does sound like it should be good for Christmas.

        I won’t be buying the Marchesa, it was just easy to imagine in that situation. Then again, what do I know? On the rare occasion that I get to dress up and go to a fancy party I wear Fracas…in extrait.

        • Angela says:

          Well, Fracas extrait is the ne plus ultra of glamour! Very hard to beat.

          Nuit de Noel is by Caron. I can’t believe we don’t have a review of it, except that it may have changed recently. I’ll try to get a sample of some of the new EdT and do a review in time for the holidays!

          • Lucy says:

            Go big or go home, right?

            I’m looking forward to a review of NdN. I’m familiar with Bellodgia parfum because that has been my mom’s dressy scent for decades, but I need to learn about the rest of the Caron line. I don’t even know who sells them. I’ve never seen a tester. Off to google…

          • Angela says:

            I think Caron has lost some of its former luster, unfortunately. The line has some gorgeous, almost mythic fragrances, but they’re not smelling as true these days.

  8. poodle says:

    I just got a sample of this this week. I agree, it’s nice and bravo for it not being another fruity floral. It’s too clean for me to want a bottle of but like you, if I were given one I’d find a way to use it. It would be a good bedtime scent because it does wear close to the skin on me.

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like we had exactly the same reaction!

  9. nozknoz says:

    I’ll admit I was attracted by the blingy bottle and took a sniff in Sephora. I was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a fruitchouli or too sweet. It was certainly more interested than I expected. Of course, my expectations were subterranean! ;-)

    • Angela says:

      The bottle is a lot more flashy than its contents! I do like the fragrance–I just don’t love it.

  10. hajusuuri says:

    It must be Marchesa sample week because I got a sample last week from Sephora. I like the fragrance and the bottle is cute, tactile and easy to hold; however, this is not a must have so no FB for me.

    • Angela says:

      You’re wise in sorting fragrances between the “nice” and the “must have.” I have plenty of “nices” I wish I would have held off on to buy a “must have.”

  11. rancourt1970 says:

    I was really drawn to this parfum (parfum d’Extase) & I must say it is because of the bottle. (face is red) Everytime I change I end up going back to Eternity. I get so many compliments when I wear it. But I want to be able to have another go to and I dont like any of the ones I have. I dont like musk otherwise everything goes. :) I dont think the Parfum d’Extase is a must. Thanks!

    • Angela says:

      I’m glad you admit your love of the bottle! I get lots of flack for some of my perfume loves, and I love it when someone steps up and says they like something some other people are so-so about.

      If you’re looking for new perfumes to try, you’ve come to the right blog. You’ll get tons of ideas here. You could even apply to be in a Monday Mail post where people will give you lots of suggestions based on what you like and don’t like.

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