Saturday, May 21, 2011

Missoni Aria: fragrance review

Composed in 1987, Aria by Missoni is predictably as big as a house. In the 1980s, you see, fragrances announced themselves from around the block like a fat man with a protruding belly and you could smell them down the office corridor too long after the cleaning ladies had picked up after the staff (Missoni themselves had the now discontinued ~and replaced by a completely different animal by the same name~ Missoni by Missoni from 1982). For a fruity floral, the olfactory category equivalent of the shy type at the party who wants to blend in, yet appear a bit flirty like all the other girls, Aria is an unlikely candidate, a masquerade of a bold floral which dons a silly pineapple hair clip in case anyone takes her too seriously.

By no means dissonant, Aria is an euphoric big burst of a bubblegum actually, so suffused with flavourful florals and flowery fruits that it's easy to lose track and imagine things that are not there. The image of a giant, juicy fuschia bubblegum derives from the pink jasmine used, plus ylang ylang, which is buttressed by banana-pineaplle and peachy-lactonic notes. One edge is sweet, the other edge is rather tangy and the combined effect is melodious and expansive; the best of both worlds, really.

Aria never really caught many ears or noses at its time, probably because the brand wasn't particularly in your face and kept an elegant but vivacious Italian tricot profile, i.e. it never caught on the American market. Or it might have to do with the ugly bottle, a plain glass phial toped by a sincerely plastic purple cap that could adorn Debbie Gibson's Electric Youth or something. It just didn't feel like luxury, from the looks of it. Today, Aria by Missoni is discontinued, like much else from that time-frame: now that fruity florals are a dime a dozen it sounds like it's a shameful loss of especially good, happy jingles.
You can find old stock at stockists/online discounters or auction sites. There's even some at Amazon right now.

Notes for Missoni Aria:
Top notes: lemon, bergamot, pineapple, banana, raspberry, peach
Heart notes: carnation, tuberose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, rose
Base notes: sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, vanilla and cedar.


  1. I didn't know Missoni fragrances existed prior to this thread which caught my attention since I just treated myself to this beautiful dress that I got 40% off at Bergdorg Goodman:

  2. Malena19:43

    I hadn't heard of "Aria" before I read your review - thank you very much for introducing me to a perfume that sounds like a lovely take on the otherwise a bit strained fruity-floral genre.

    The bottle looks indeed kind of cheap - why companies like to choose such unattractive bottles remains a mystery to me...Or maybe we only find it to be unattractive because it looks extremely 80s, a decade we don't necessarily connect to exquisite style? ;-)

    Anyways, I'll see if I find it anywhere on ebay or the like (amazon oversea shipping prices are kinda steep).

  3. sharyl21:13

    I only know of Missoni because of Luca Turin's book and because of his recommendation I ordered a sample of Missoni (not Aria) and I think it was the weirdest conglomoration of stuff that I ever smelled. It was practically sickening to me. But I am always open to further exploration even after a bad experience.

  4. Don't know this particular scent, but I find commentary on 80s scents interesting -- one reason being because I remember being in high school when "Poison" and then "Eternity" entered the scene to replace "Giorgio" as THE scent to fill every last corner of every department store and shopping mall and magazine -- you literally couldn't espape from them. Makes you wonder, though, if it was just the sheer volumes people would pour on themselves that made the scents inescapable, or if modest application would have helped. With Poison, I find that even tiny amounts would still have been lethal, whereas Eternity and Giorgio I find pleasant in decent doses. Still, though -- it's hard objectively judging scents so intertwined with one's own past, whether one wore them or not; they were simply there.
    Another fine, insightful post, Helg.
    Best, Michael

  5. Emma,

    that's a fabulous dress! So easy to pull off any time. I'd love it in white as well.

    Do try the Missoni range. It's strange!!

  6. C,

    I think you've got a point in saying it's the association with the 80s. Then again, several bottles were kinda plain then. (Remember the cap for Obsession etc?) There was an element of plastic fantastic back then. Now that everyone is asking stratospheric prices for (semi) niche, bottles have to look either austere or overpimped ;-)

    You will like it if you don't equate bubblegum jasmine florals with superficial bimbos.

  7. Sharyl,

    this is the fate of many innocent souls who took the book out shopping, I'm told. It's great fun and well-written, but not exactly a practical compass for actual purchases.
    I admit I'm stumped by many of the enthused reviews (Tommy Girl, Beyond Paradise, one Escada mentioned in the essays) but to each their own.
    Missoni frag, the newest by that name, is mighty weird indeed. "Too busy", is a better term.

  8. Michael,

    thanks for the commentary, interesting insights!! I think dose always plays a part. Notice how many people say they like something "because it's light" (as in non heavy). I think they mean that it's something not dense, not inescapable, "letting room to breathe", sorta. Application would play a role in that, wouldn't it?

    I never took to Giorgio (thankfully it was major in the US and rare in Europe, which made tolerance to it much easier over here), but I do have bottles of both of the others mentioned in my stash.
    I find that as you say a tiny dose is palatable: Poison is much too much of a character to go undetected or simply liked: it has the panache with which gunsters and malls parade their selves in hip joints in old movies. Hard to miss. That's its power though. It's shameless.
    Eternity I had reviewed with the addendum being a line from a film which I find rather fitting: creepy cleanliness is the gist. But it's got that spiciness, mmm...


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