Emilio Pucci Zadig ~ (vintage) fragrance review

Pucci Zadig scarf

The name of Emilio Pucci’s fragrance Zadig is very close to “zaftig,” and it fits. Zadig is blowsy and lush and sexy, but in a way that isn’t stylish anymore. Kind of like Anita Ekberg. And then there’s Voltaire’s story, “Zadig ou la Destinée,” in which a hermit tells the hero that he must submit to fate. So, by name alone, Zadig evokes passion, fate, history, and good old-fashioned pulchritude. That’s a lot to live up to. In my opinion, Zadig succeeds.

Zadig was released in 1973. I can’t find much that’s “official” about Zadig, but scouring the internet has turned up a list of notes including aldehydes, bergamot, orange, peach, coriander, clove, rose, honey, jasmine, orris, ylang ylang, vetiver, benzoin, patchouli, cinnamon, vanilla, tolu, Tibetan musk and amber. Zadig also spawned a few flankers, Miss Zadig (1977) and Miss Zadig Eau Fraiche, neither of which I’ve sampled.

Due to time, my bottle of Zadig extrait has lost some of its clarity and sparkle, but this list of notes matches what I smell: a warm, full floral with restrained fruit and a knot of vetiver-shot cardamom and cinnamon so intense that it would probably put off most casual perfume shoppers. Perfume lovers, though, will be intrigued, and some, like me, will be seduced. The spices are not baking spices, as in Donna Karan Black Cashmere or Laura Mercier Minuit Enchanté. Instead, they’re animalic, fusty, and intense enough to hint at marjoram.

As Zadig relaxes on skin over the next hour, the fragrance — still almost herbal with cardamom and vetiver — eases into warm, barely sweetened base notes with the animalic kick of musk and maybe civet. It’s an intriguing combination of soft-warm-inviting and challenging-earthy. In fact, maybe I should switch that comparison from Anita Ekberg to Anna Magnani.

Zadig is no minimalist perfume, and the women who favored the disciplined green chypres of the era might have been scared off by it. Or not. There’s a certain rigor about how Zadig holds together, too, like a wild but structured pattern in an old rug. Zadig isn’t about prettiness or purity, it’s about beauty.

If you seek out classic, moss-ridden chypres that many people would pinch their noses at, and if Christian Dior Miss Dior (the original, that is) smells enchantingly engaging to you rather than festering, don’t pass up the chance to try Zadig.

I sure wish I could have smelled this one fresh. Perhaps like many cinema bombshells in their later years, my bottle of Zadig has some slack skin on her jaw, and her musculature is not as defined. But Zadig’s allure persists.

Pucci Zadig perfume advert

Bonus Pucci shopping tip: If you stumble over a scarf at a yard sale that looks Pucci-esque but is signed by some dude named Emilio, snap it up. That’s how an authentic Pucci garment is marked and how a few smart thrifters have scored the real thing. (Keep an eye open, too, for the fabulous old Leonard of Paris designs that hint at Pucci but have a more angular 1960s flair.)

Emilio Pucci Zadig is discontinued.

Note: top image of Pucci Zadig scarf via Anna-Lisa Backlund at Pinterest.

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8 Comments

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  1. juicejones says:

    Nice article, Angela. I still love those big, layered chypres of yesteryear. Powerful, womanly, with a point of view. These scents were a calling card/ warning of the woman wearing them. I don’t recall anyone sneezing at or cowering from the fragrance or the wearer. I went bold today with Deneuve. For me and any poor fool in my wake to enjoy. .
    Miss Thang did not anticipate a birthday potluck in the next carol. Oakmoss just got her cloche handed to her by a crockpot of BBQ.
    Thank you for another trip down memory lane. I think I should do myself a favor and take up permanent residence there.

    • Angela says:

      I love how you mention “point of view” in connection with fragrance–so true!

      In a war between Deneuve and barbecue, the smart money is on Deneuve once the afternoon is out. I bet you smell terrific.

  2. C.H. says:

    Fantastic shopping tips all around, and thanks for the linking back to your Miss Dior review as well. I recently had a chance to smell the current formulation of Miss Dior (L’Original, as it is now styled–right?) and had been wondering how it stacked up to the vintage!

    • Angela says:

      It seems like vintage Miss Dior really varies depending on what year and which formulation you’re sampling. Sometimes it’s really animalic, sometimes it’s extra green, etc. I do love it, though!

      • C.H. says:

        Oh, I would like a more animalic version!

        • Angela says:

          They’re out there. Honestly, someone should write a Field Guide to Miss Dior someday.

  3. nozknoz says:

    I have a silk scarf signed Schiaparelli in the Pucci style, which is odd. I wonder if it’s fake or in the company’s late days it was desperately trying to imitate the new wave. The idea is sort of sad, but it’s a nice scarf, anyway.

    Thanks for this review – will keep an eye out for Zadig.

    • Angela says:

      It sounds like a great scarf, regardless! I love the scarf Robin chose as the image for this post. I’d wear the heck out of it if it ever came my way.

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