Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Vero Profumo Onda, Kiki, Rubj in Eau de Parfum: fragrance reviews

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


  1. Fiordiligi14:52

    Hello! I'm back after 8 days of no Internet, and what a treat of a review to await me. You know you had me at Djedi.....

    I have never actually tried any of Vero Kern's scents but you make them sound absolutely wonderful, so I can see them going on my list very soon.

    Thank you, my dear E!

  2. How appropriate that my birthday is in May :) Last year I sadly watched my little sample of Rubj disappear much too quickly, knowing that I couldn't in good conscience buy the extrait. Oh frabjous day to know it will soon be available in a spray without guilt EDP. Thank you, Vero!

  3. Anonymous21:16

    Haven't been here in a while, sorry about that, you know how it is, had a most tough spell (will probably mail you about it), but here you are making me drool with your descriptions. So that good huh, I should get these samples, say when will they be available?


  4. Dear E,

    once again I come to read a fantastic review of a line which has raised its head more than once on my path to perfumistadom. Thank you!

    Kudos to ms.Kern for making these available to us in a form in which we can enjoy them and hopefully I will be able to afford more than one of them. Again thank you for the news and the wonderful write-up!

  5. Must. Have.
    Not that it hadn't been a plan for a while, it's just a reminder.

  6. That Kiki sounds like something I would like Helg.

  7. Oh, I can't wait for them to come out - I suppose samples will again be available for purchase like with the extraits. :)

  8. D,

    so GOOD to see you back again! I know you must have had a difficult time with all this, all resolved now, yes?
    I think you would like one (or more) of them for sure! They're excellently crafted.

  9. Dorrit,

    welcome! Indeed I would strongly suggest you try these out so a lovely birthday gift could be yours in May. And since you already have trued Rubj (isn't it deliriously happy?) the EDP should be just perfect for you!
    Thanks Vero indeed, this is a very smart move.

  10. A,

    nice to see you and do mail me when you want to. Thanks for the kind words too.
    I know that the launch is for spring, so samples will be available at that time most definitely. You can check out Vero's site (link included in the article).

  11. S,

    you're welcome, glad you enjoyed.
    I think lines like these need our support. It always makes me very happy to find some small indie and discover they're top of the top instead of bubbling on the latest release by Emporio Armani... :/
    In a way we vote with our money! ;-)

  12. L,

    indeed you must! They're not to be missed. Will try to make this easier for you.

    PS. What a roller-coaster the sampling has been. More in a mail ;-)

  13. M,

    definitely! It's nicely rounded and very easy to wear. Kiki was the extrait I found myself wearing a lot! (Onda as much as I cherished it required some prior planning) Your daughter might also like it, the base is subtly "patisserie" in the best Guerlain tradition!

  14. Ines,

    any day now... :-) Yes, there will be samples for sure. And I suppose you could contact Vero on the site, you being in Europe and all...

  15. Anonymous14:00

    Dearest E,

    My introduction to Vero Kern was via your blog and your utterly seductive review of Onda. By that time I had tried and fallen hopelessly in love with Djedi (vintage parfum) so when you wrote about Onda and its likeness to Djedi my hopes soared at the thought of finding a slightly more affordable stand-in for Djedi. Alas, Onda is very much its own animal and gorgeous as that animal is, it is somehow far more angular and less cuddly. More like the sudden burst of speed of a cheetah than the languid and majestic slink of a tiger that Djedi is on my skin. I attribute this to the spices that scream on my skin for the whole day when I wear Onda. Nevertheless, your guidance has never led me astray so I will be searching out samples of Rubj and Kiki soon.

    On a separate but related note, I have been playing with Tauer's Vetiver Dance recently. Yesterday, about eight hours after application, I was still smelling the fragrance on my skin. Distracted by work but always attuned to smell, I had a moment of utter confusion and had to ask myself what I was wearing: Vetiver Dance? Onda? Djedi? I think my skin latches on to the vetiver in those fragrances, just chews it to a pulp, and spits it out all day long. Must try the three together, contrast and compare.


  16. kathleen15:33

    I love all 3 of these scents. I am looking forward to indulging in the EDP. I wonder, if one spritzed Onda edp, and then dabbed Onda extract...best of both worlds...or chaos?

  17. Natalia,

    thanks for your trust! By all means, do try the other two. I think they're high quality and certain to produce respect at the very least. LOVE your comparison between felines for Onda and Djeji btw!!
    Re: vetiver and its murky depths. I guess there IS something called skin acidity/alkalinity which tends to grab some notes more: probably vetiver in your case (although it is a very tenacious note anyway).
    I very much like Vetiver Dance :-)
    Do you?

  18. Kathleen,

    what a great idea, thanks for the inspiration! I didn't think of trying them that way, although I do indulge thus with Guerlains (and find the technique brings on many facets to the fore).
    Let me do that tonight and report back!!

  19. Bless Vero, and her search for perfection !

    I have little doubt that these will be wonderful...

    [I tend to be an Onda girl, myself]

  20. Ida,

    bless her indeed! :-))

    I prefer Onda in the extrait myself too, but you HAVE to try Rubj in EDP. Glorious!

  21. Jemimagold22:26

    My very favorite phrase in your review was "fruity tentacles"! It is such a spare yet apt phrase. I personally hate sweet fruity perfumes.

  22. Jemima,

    glad you liked it :-) I feel like they grab me as well from time to time!! (and isn't the market full of sweet fruity perfumes) Luckily in Rubj they're never too sweet.

  23. Anonymous13:48

    Dear E,

    Indeed I like AT's Vetiver Dance although not in the way that causes me to buy a full bottle and call it "mine". This is true of all of his fragrances, even the ones I swear I hate (I even trot out a sample of the greasy hippy that is Le Maroc and appreciate that overwhelming rose when my prejudice against florals gets the better of me). Vetiver Dance made me realize for the first time that the common note in my most beloved fragrances is indeed vetiver, although not in such screeching concentrations. Vetiver Dance requires some guts to wear but it is a beautifully dignified frag if one is brave enough to cuddle it a bit.


  24. Natalia,

    thanks, that makes it clearer now. I can't make Le Maroc my own either for some reason, although VD is very pliable, LOL. If you haven't you should definitely try Vetiver Tonka, one of the most delicious and easy to wear vetivers around. Guerlain's Vetiver pour Elle ain't half bad either ;-)


  25. Ashley23:47

    I am just trying the Rubj in Eau de Parfum. I think I really like it, but interestingly, it reminds me so much of the cologne my high school boyfriend used to wear, Dior Fahrenheit. I'll have to wear it a while to see how it fares.

    My most soul-stirring, favorite perfume is new formulation Rochas Femme; but as deeply as I love it, it just isn't the thing for every occasion. I would love to find something that moves me in a floral or another genre. I am really attracted to cumin in perfume, but the kind that smells like sex and bodies, not the kind that you use in the kitchen. Still on the lookout!

  26. Ashley,

    ha, that;'s very interesting comparison! I need to do it side by side. Thanks for bringing it onboard.

    As to cumin in a bodies & sex type, have you tried Aziyade (PdE), Fleurs d'Oranger and Arabie (SL) and Jubilation 25 (Amouage)?
    You might find more ideas on this article on http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.gr/2013/03/lived-in-elegance-sexiness-surprising.html
    and at http://perfumeshrine.blogspot.com/2009/07/pheromone-ladden-body-washes-and-myth.html
    (Personally, like you it reminds me of bodies and sex, not sweat per se).
    Check out also Epice Marine by Hermes.


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