Monday, April 22, 2013

An Uplifting Classic: Acqua di Parma Colonia

Though I've previously lamented about feeling overwhelmed by a plethora of perfume samples (here), I should clarify that I tend to only feel that way when the fragrances in question are along the lines of Justin Bieber's Someday. Call it snobbery if you will, but the fragrances I find most exhilarating are those that are hard to find. I'm sure it goes without saying that there are many incredibly made perfumes with brilliant noses behind them on the shelves of drugstores and at your average department store, but those that are "newest to me," exciting and most unusual to my fragrance palette can be termed "niche." That being said, I lunge at any opportunity to purchase fragrance samples of hard to find perfumes (or hard to find for me as I don't have access to high end counters where I live), or order when websites such as Nordstrom offer incredible samples at checkout.

During one such recent online checkout, I noted that Acqua di Parma's Colonia was among the selection of samples and immediately added the small vial to my cart. Like many others, I was scintillated by the romantic allure of this "one size fits all" cologne, originally created an bottled in Parma, Italy in 1916. Since its conception Colonia has had famous fans of both genders from Ava Gardiner to Cary Grant and even Audrey Hepburn.

As I further explore the world of fragrance it seems my husband, affectionately know as Mr. Cheeky, is eagerly riding along with me. He enjoys when I manage to find exciting, niche samples for him to test and enjoy and gets excited when I propose that we both try a "unisex" fragrance (he's awesome). Colonia presented such an opportunity, as the uplifting cologne is pleasantly androgynous without trying to make too much of a statement.

Given my husband's participation in the testing process, it's only fitting that this fragrance immediately brings to mind the romance of a red Alfa Romeo Giulietta cruising along the Amalfi Coast in the 1950s. The fragrance is bold and classic, evoking the smell of the Italian wind hitting the freshly shaved cheeks of a man and causing wisps of a woman's hair and scarf to flutter in the wind as the convertible cruises along twists and turns. Much like the impression made by a classic Alfa Romeo, Colonia makes a grand entrance with a pungent splash of Sicilian citrus (I smell almost exclusively lemon). Following dry-down, Colonia mellows into a rich herbal mixture of rosemary, lavender and sandalwood evocative of a motorcar's leather seats made warm and fragrant in the sunlight. Mr. Cheeky and I both detected clove after about five to ten minutes that must have something to do with the more floral herbal notes coupled with Colonia's very subtle amber undertones.

Though I enjoy the fragrance in principle, on me it smells just a bit too "bearded lady just left the barber shop." I absolutely adore androgynous fragrances, but unfortunately the aftershave aspect of Acqua di Parma's Colonia is just too strong for my personal taste. On Mr. Cheeky, on the other hand, I absolutely adore this fragrance. It is a cologne so Colonia dissipates in thirty minutes to an hour, something Mr. Cheeky likes (particularly at this time of year) as a way to freshen up after showering or more aptly shaving. 

Colonia by Acqua di Parma is a throwback to another time that remains as classic and alluring as a beautiful 1955 Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The chic understated bottle is modern and minimalist, and the fragrance within contains just the right combination of notes to evoke a sense of Italian glamor. Though Colonia doesn't work for me, Mr. Cheeky loves the refreshing vintage fragrance and plans to splash our sample on during the summer months.

Have you tried Acqua di Parma's Colonia? What are your thoughts about this 1916 throwback to a different era of fragrance?