Monday, September 16, 2013

Marchesa Parfum d'Extase: fragrance review

Some perfumes are what in perfumista-land we call "compliment getters"; they elicit spontaneous feedback from strangers in the decidedly positive end of the spectrum. Usually this either has to do a bit with current trends (familiarity creates recognition and fuzzy warmth) or -ironically enough- with breaking away from trends (something totally novel and unexpected has a way of ripping through our preconceptions and making as notice it). And sometimes it just has to do with the overall character of a smell: it can be gracefully smooth, easy, a sort of effortless elegance which anyone can graft onto them.  The kind of thing you put on and forget about it, until someone comments on it. Parfum d'Extase by Marchesa is one case among that latter category, because even though it's neither novel nor overpopular, it breeds that sort of cozy reception which accounts for having people say "hey, you smell really nice, what's that?". So, lemme tell you what that is.

I tried the new "all over mist" version of Parfum d'Extase, available at Sephora, which denotes a lighter concentration to be used all over. This kind of formula allows for a more spread application and I do just that, reveling in being allowed to indulge in this kind of wild abandon, knowing I'm not gassing anyone with potent fumes. (You wouldn't see me doing that with YSL Opium or Carnal Flower, would you!). That means a generous spray on hair and on the hairline at the back of my neck, one spray on chest and belly each, behind the knees and a touch on my wrists. In total about 6 spritzes of silky goodness.

The fragrance is a white flower concoction (an abstract mix that is hard to pinpoint) with a lovely touch of cool and clean rained-upon fresh leaves vibe, which we have come to collectively call "iris" in modern fragrances, when in fact this is a half truth (the secret is the irone molecules which are added in the formula, present in orris root and giving that specific tinge).
For an iris fragrance it's not at all starchy ("irises" can turn into a "raw potatoes scent" on skin contact sometimes); on the contrary it's lightly aqueous floral at first with a very pretty and extended woody drydown that dries some more as time passes. Perfumer Annie Byzantian is an expert with those silky compositions with a musky and lightly powdery scent trail. The most characteristic note to peep is freesia; you have to have a positive reaction to the simultaneously fresh and peppery zing of freesia to like Parfum d'Extase.

I suspect the drydown part however is the one that has people spontaneously notice and comment; although a non-heavyweight fragrance, Marchesa Parfum d'Extase has a lingering and beckoning trail (similar to the category of "woody floral musk" fragrances) which is felt more by those you come into contact with than yourself. It's also non age specific: it would smell just as lovely and easy on teens as it would on grandmas.

I'm not especially drawn to the original perfume bottle by Marchesa (it's a bit much for my taste and I find the "paste" touches a tad tacky, sorry), but most people have a favorable reaction to it. After all, it's what inside that counts. I bet this would be a crowd-pleaser in your neighborhood as well.

Notes for Marchesa Parfum d'Extase: Iris Flower, Freesia, Black Current, Young Violet Leaves, Lotus Flower, Night Blooming Jasmine, Bulgarian Rose Water, Orange Blossom, Iris Root, Ambrox, Captive Musks.


  1. Sounds wonderful-putting this on my- to sample -list. Exspecially when you said "cool and clean rained-upon fresh leaves vibe" Thanks for the review, it was very insightful.

  2. Patricia,

    it's one of those easy, go everywhere frags that we put on and forget about it until someone comments on it favorably, you know? :-)
    You're welcome. Thanks for commenting!


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