Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chypre On The Beach- Pucci Vivara (1965)



Beach fragrances are not what they used to be. The idea today is of something light with notes of Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic and a side of coconut. But once upon a time, you could have put on a summer fragrance that had the power to transform you into a jet-setter on her way to the Italian Riviera.

Case in point, the original Vivara by Emilio Pucci (the new version is a harmless but forgettable juice in a gorgeous bottle, and has very little in common with the 1965 scent, commissioned by the Marchese himself). This is another lost perfume, discontinued ages ago, but can still be found here and there, mostly on eBay. I managed to find a department store-sealed package of the parfum.

The first thing that hits you on your head is the vintagey aldehydic remains of the top notes, and this little kick to the nose that announces the presence of a chypre. It smells dated and decidedly un-beachy, but not bad, especially if you have a thing for vintage scents. Still, it took me a while (and several tries) to learn to find the green notes and enjoy them.

Once the aldehydes go away, things get interesting. The development is all over the place. There are flowers, especially a peppery rose, in this classical heart of jasmine, ylang, rose, carnation and lily of the valley. Still, there's a touch of bushy, dusty Mediterranean greens that doesn't completely go away and keeps it from turning into a naughtier (vintage) Caleche. What I like best here is that Vivara never goes the soapy way. The drydown is much sweeter than I'd expected: while the oakmoss is there and tinged with patchouli, what I get in spades is benzoin, which makes it slightly addictive and more easily wearable, and perhaps a touch of dry, salty leather, that tames the sweetness and keeps it interesting.

I'm not sure if it's the bottle's age or the parfum concentration, but the sillage is very minimal. If you apply enough (read: practically marinate in it), you'll get hours of wear and will be able to enjoy every part of the development.. This is a lovely scent for serious chypre lovers. I'm happy to have it in my collection and wear it occasionally, but not sure I'd feel as compelled to own it had it been readily available and not a Pucci.

Still, it's more than just a perfume for a bikini. I think a pair of white jeans, a Pucci halter top and aviator shades would go nicely with the concept.

Images: perfume ads from Okadi, photo of Viareggio, one of my favorite places in the world, from Villa Rosa.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how a fragrance can remain associated to a place, a memory or to an advertisement. For a moment I thought of Margaux Hemingway announcing Faberge's Babe ten years later.

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