If there’s one thing I can thank Escentual for (and there are many), it’s the fact that they have turned me into somewhat of an Acqua di Parma fanboy. I’ve always had respect for the brand and have found their fragrant offerings to be pleasant, but it wasn’t until Emma asked me to write a run down of the Colonia family of scents that I became hooked. Throw in my absolute adoration for Rosa Nobile and my healthy obsession with the new Colonia Club, and you can call me a card carrying member of the Acqua di Parma fan club.
The classic Colonia is Acqua di Parma’s flagship scent, and it’s easy to see why. This cologne is bold, bright and breezy, mixing excellent presence and lasting power with a refreshing blend of citruses, flowers and musks, to create an eau de cologne that is both elegant and robust. The scent has been reinterpreted many times and of late, Acqua di Parma have appeared to have developed a penchant for remixing the classic with the new in their Ingredients Collection, in which they throw in unlikely notes, such as; ambergris, oud and leather, to create contemporary twists on the effortless simplicity of Colonia. Let’s take a sniff…
Top: Orange Oil, Bergamot and Petitgrain
Heart: Nagarmotha, Cedar Wood, Rose Wood, Patchouli and Ambergris
Base: Sandalwood and Vanilla
How Does it Smell?
Colonia Ambra, which is an ode to the noble ingredient of ambergris – that elusive jewel of the sea that is as rare and expensive as it is complex, is easily the oddest interpretation of Colonia to date. Heck, I’ll even go as far as saying that it’s the strangest thing Acqua di Parma have graced us with, and it certainly feels like a break from the classic tradition of the house. This is a woody marine-fragrance with unusual smoky tones that make it hard to define. It’s a complex, rich and beguiling scent that won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but variety is the spice of life (as they say) and when it comes to fragrance, being divisive is never a bad thing. This is the one to try out of the collection, if you try any, but we warned, it’s a tad like Marmite – you’ll either love it, or you’ll hate it.
Top: Calabrian Bergamot and Italian Orange
Heart: Haitian Amyris Oil, Russian Coriander Essence and Agarwood Oil
Base: Moroccan Atlas Cedar Wood Oil, Indonesian Patchouli Oil, Leather Accord, Sandalwood Accord and Musk
How Does it Smell?
I know, I know, one cannot swing a cat for all of the oud that clutters the department store shelves, and whilst it may be a tad too present in the market nowadays, there is a reason why oud is everywhere: it smells good. When used correctly oud can be a phenomenally rich and interesting ingredient, full of nuance and chocked to the brim with funky, barn-yard tones, leathery hints and medicinal sensibilities. Colonia Oud isn’t quite as full-bodied as many oud compositions, but we can’t forget that it is based on an eau de cologne, so that really isn’t the point. To my nose, Colonio Oud presents a light grey take on this style, showcasing oud in shadow, rather than underneath the glaring sun. It smells spicy and spiky, with monochromatic strips of leather and a soft, powdery base of patchouli, assorted woods and musk. Colonia Oud is as classy as one expects from Acqua di Parma, and as smelly as one expects from an oud.
Top: Orange, Sicilian Lemon and Raspberry
Heart: Honeysuckle, Petitgrain and Rose
Base: Leather, Virginian Cedar Wood and Birch Wood
How Does it Smell?
Much like Acqua di Parma, the use of leather in perfumery was also a bit of a learning curve for me. I used to think it odd that anyone would want to smell like a luxury handbag or an expensive car but now, well now I cant get enough of the stuff and can often be found rocking a huge leather scent and serving up some serious Rolls Royce interior realness. Colonia Leather feels about as far removed from an eau de cologne as it possibly can do (aside from the refreshing zing of lemon up top),because its a fully-satisfying leather scent, complete with fruity leather (the raspberry touch is particularly lovely) and smoky birch tar. The whole thing is incredibly light for this style of fragrance and it benefits from the watery undertones of petitgrain and orange, allowing the boldness of the leather to come through as more subtle. As with most things Italian, Colonia Leather is utterly refined.
Join the Discussion!
How do you like your Colonia? With a shot of ambergris, leather or oud?