There is but a handful of fragrances on the market that have remained in continuous production for an entire century. This exclusive club of icons, classics and greats show that when a perfume is truly good it can defy trends and times, smelling as good today as it did back in the day. Amongst this small collection of icons sits Acqua di Parma’s Colonia – a fragrance that nearly everyone knows and more than most people adore. But what makes Colonia as relevant today as it was in 1916 when it first launched? Is it the quality of the ingredients or the effortless nature of its composition? Or maybe it’s the simple fact that there is always room for something as refined and beautiful as Colonia. I’d argue that Colonia’s longevity is a result of all of these elements combined.
One way Acqua di Parma have kept Colonia relevant is by reinterpreting it in a number of different ways. Colonia now serves as its own wardrobe of fragrance, with different concentrations and presentations of the scent for different occasions. One can even opt to see Colonia twisted with collision ingredients like amber, oud and leather. There is so much choice and Acqua di Parma has turned Colonia into its own brand of utterly refined, strikingly beautiful and entirely versatile fragrances.
The latest addition to the Colonia lineup is Colonia Pura and for this fragrance, Acqua di Parma is asking us to step into the light and experience new horizons. It takes the joyous and undeniably Italian spirit of Colonia but intends to create something more youthful and sparkling, purifying the signature of the brand’s flagship fragrance into something fresher and more energetic. This is Acqua di Parma’s Colonia for the modern era and it speaks completely in waves of gleaming freshness.
Top: Bergamot, Orange and Petitgrain
Heart: Narcissus, Jasmine and Coriander
Base: Patchouli, White Musk and Sandalwood
How Does it Smell?
Acqua di Parma’s Colonia is famous for its overdose of lemon oil in the top notes. It’s this bright, zippy note that gives the classic Colonia such a bracing, solar effect, making it a smart yet joyful fragrance from the get go. For Colonia Pura, the idea of heavenly citrus is still prominent, however, these notes are used to create a sense of cold water, rather than vibrant fruits scorched by the Mediterranean sun. In the opening, Colonia Pura opens with lots of lovely citrus notes, with the tingling sweetness of bergamot and the juiciness of orange hidden by a backdrop of clean water, which washes out the colour of the citrus, sending forth only its brightness.
Much like Colonia, Pura is all about the tension of fruits, flowers and herbs. The two fragrances share this signature but where Colonia was vivid, with a range of textures and odours (aromatics clashing against dewy fruits and carnal flowers), Pura takes a few steps back, diluting these tensions to make them cleaner, clearer and less jarring. It’s almost as if these elements are seen from behind a waterfall, allowing for an illusion of blurriness to be created. Icy white flowers provide depth in the heart, with the velvet texture of narcissus bringing a spring-like feel, whilst jasmine provides a mere hint of the animalic signature of Colonia. There’s a lot going on but it is all presented with a pleasing scent of clarity.
In the base, Colonia Pura is all about white musk and blond woods. The musk brings cleanliness and an endless horizon of air, ensuring that Colonia Pura feels weightless for the entirety of its development, whilst also giving it an impressive sense of lift and diffusion. Sandalwood smooths things completely, giving the fragrance a plushness that is completely in tune with Acqua di Parma’s luxurious aesthetic. It wears like a silvery piece of silk or a handsome plain white t-shirt. It’s blissful.
To my nose, Colonia Pura perfectly embodies the spirit of Acqua di Parma’s classic Colonia but it has washed out all of the weight, dirt and richness in favour of a thoroughly modern and impeccably clean base. This treatment of Colonia may seem somewhat sterilised but that’s actually far from the truth and through the addition of white musk, Colonia Pura provides a glistening and icy interpretation of this iconic scent, turning it into a cologne that is abstract and contemporary. This is the Colonia for the new generation, absolutely, but it remains faithful to all that makes Colonia one of the greatest fragrances on the market.