The ultra-niche line Vero Profumo, masterminded by Swiss perfumer Vero Kern, had been introduced through these pages and Andy Tauer's blog 3 years ago (how time flies!). Slowly but surely a cult was born, especially around the apocryphal Onda; the very definition of the term in fact, as accolytes were whispering among themselves in fervour about the high quality of the line, publishing their thoughts online with frenzied passion and exorcising the gods of perfumery to always have these beautiful extraits in production. This fanatical devotion was somewhat hindered by only one hindrance: the (inevitable) high price of beauty! Them being extraits, Vero Profumo fragrances had a steep entrance point for the initiated: 105 euros for 7.5ml and 165 euros for 15ml.
But the God of Small Things intervened and Vero is now introducing Eau de Parfum interpretations of her fabulous extraits with the same attention to detail and luxury as she had done with the parfums in (Onda, Kiki and Rubj) which I got off the lab for a preview. But wait, you ask, how do the new versions smell?
Vero in our correspondence had prepared me for the difference in ambience which the new Eaux de Parfum present:
"Don’t expect just a watered down Onda, Rubj or Kiki. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. The Eaux need a different structure by pointing out more the topnotes and less on the base always by still respecting the original style of the Extraits. I've simplified the whole composition. I also replaced the heavy animal notes by the unique scent of passionfruit, which I love very much and which gives the creations a certain erotic readiness. The Passion fruit is also the common thread that connect the three scents".If the mention of passion fruit makes you go all "huh" ~conditioned through years of exposure to juvenile fruity florals inundating the market and heaps of Bath & Body Works store-concepts croping up like mushrooms all over the Western world, threatening domination by the sheer power of fruity tentacles~ rest easy. I leave you with the best recommendation I could possibly give through the wise words of dr. Luca Turin:
"A thorough analysis of the molecules emitted by passionfruit done by the great firm of Haarmann and Reimer in 1998 revealed 180 different molecules never before seen, 47 of which are sulfur compounds, with smells ranging from rotten cabbage to blocked drains. The proximity of beauty to ugliness is never clearer than in tropical fruit. Perhaps because they have to compete with powerful smells of decay for the attention of birds, tropical fruit have decided to play dirty. Adding tiny amounts of rot on an otherwise conventional fruity smell is as invigorating as finding out that a theoretical physicist colleague was once a stripper".A general truth we perfume lovers have seemed to grasp through our own experience. Yet you see, even though passion fruit was thus named because of its (far fetched) resemblance to the wounds of the Holy Passion of Jesus in the eyes of hierapostoles, its passions run in another direction...a direction very simpatico to perfumery.
I had written about Djedi-inspired Onda that it "manages to convert vetiver into a leathery animal that will make you forget all the citrusy, green interpretations you have already experienced by other perfumers (Guerlain Vetiver, Carven Vetiver) and stop you in your tracks as you come back to the original meaning of it: deep earthy roots, animalic undertones, rich pungency". Now anyone who has had the rare luck to sniff Djedi knows just what a twisted musty-leathery (castoreum) dried up old ruffian it is and how difficult it would be to transport this into modern life. Vero had managed to transform its soul via a beeswax-honey feral base and spices (ginger, coriander, basil, maybe mace) and present us with something uniquely its own: Onda, an old soul in modern clothing, all ashes, salt and honeyed thighs. But whereas the extrait had some rough edges which added to its complexity and status of an object for the initiated (who cussed in delight all the same), the Eau de Parfum mollifies them and warms it up in an almost magical way: no mustiness or animalistic growls ensue, nor are the spices as pronounced, rather the intimacy and muskiness are sustained in a halo of lucid warmth. Some fans of the extrait will find the EDP rather different and it is, but I hope it thus gets another audience who had stumbled finding it "difficult".
Kiki named after Kiki de Montparnasse, the night-butterfly who inspired artists, remains the cuddliest and yummiest lavender in existence. "Although lavender is herbaceous and somewhat medicinal by nature (albeit the user of most commercial mass-market products would be hard pressed to realise that, as it is usually swamped by synthetic vanillin to make it cuddly), in Kiki it is clear and distinct for a long while but never becomes bitter nor unpleasant. The undercurrent of a bodily warmth hides in there and some muskiness that retains the sweet smell of sheets in which you have rolled over with your lover and later eaten on while on a Paris tantalizing naughty trip. It is redolent of sexy but classy lacy underwear in ivory that has been kept in those powdered-scented big cardboard boxes with tissue paper, to be used with the sole intent of getting out of it real soon. And if there is some caramel suryp in the room, it will see good use as well". My senses tell me the Eau de Parfum version of Kiki is the least different from the extrait original and those who already love one should opt for the other with eyes closed. Or maybe if you have one you don't need the other and so here's a little budget for trying out another product of the sleight of hand of ms.Kern's? I don't know, you will be deciding on that. If you want my opinion, leap for a bottle of Rubj Eau de Parfum no matter what you do. Your life (almost) depends on it!
I had rhapsodised on Rubj in the following fashion, even if at the time the indelible and jolting impression of Onda had somewhat sidetracked me from savouring it as fully as I should have had: "The tart and yet sweet peel of mandarin marries the floral essences of carnal jasmine and dusky precious tuberose into a bond that intextricably makes the orange blossom melt with pleasure: Bright halos over the head of a beautiful nymph, warm and cool breeze of a garden at dusk, like Shiekh Nefzaoui's "Perfumed Garden", the forbidden classic of arabic sexuality". In the eau de parfum version of Rubj the woody and musky ambience recedes somewhat while the floral essences take on an intensely fruity, very plummy, really mouthwatering quality that makes it devastantingly irresistible. Of all the scents in the line Rubj impressed me as being the brightest, the shiniest, the most shockingly beautiful in the Eau de Parfum version! Seriously, if you feel like there is a hole in your collection where the heart of a masterpiece fruity floral should beat, don't even think about it twice: Get thee to Vero Profumo in a month or two and grab a bottle of Rubj and thank me later. It's THAT good!
All the fragrances are exquisitely wearable without betraying their identity and as Vero says: "I must say it was very difficult to compose these fragrances but finally I like them. They’re definitely lighter and easier to wear hopefully for a wider public".
The new Vero Profumo Eaux de Parfum at 12% concentration will come as a natural spray and their longevity is very adequate (more than 6 hours on my skin). The launch is estimated for spring 2010 at a much more advantageous price point (thanks to the lesser concentration and the bottling at a small hand-picked artisan factory) and they will be definitely carried at Luckyscent. And rest easy: The Extraits will still be made and be reserved for initiated “Perfume Lovers” on her site.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Vero Kern interview, Onda review, Kiki review, Rubj review, Guerlain's Djedi review
In the interests of full disclosure I was sent 3 sample vials of the scents off the lab by Vero herself.
Pic of Dominique Sanda and Stephania Sandrelli via informadanza.com. Photo of Girls on a Vespa via doarcodavelha.blogspot.com