The 1992 Fendi fashion look and ad campaign was actually inspired by African colors and imagery (see below the gorgeous photos by Karl Lagerfeld), but Asja, the perfume Fendi released that year, had an Asian theme. The gorgeous bottle you see above came in a red packaging, reminiscent of Japanese lacquered boxes. The fragrance is an oriental, spiced and honeyed, that truly represents the transition from the loud eighties to the yummy school of thought that dominated part of the 90s (the part that wasn't busy pretending perfume is a bad and offensive thing that should only be tolerated if it pretends to smell like a cucumber).
Back in 1992 I wasn't all that fond of Asja. I used to be far less tolerant of fruity notes, and Asja has them in abundance. I remember thinking it smelled like a baked apple basted in a marinade made of equal parts of Opium and Poison. I only rediscovered it in recent years, long after Fendi discontinued Asja (in the early 2000s), and I've been kicking myself ever since.
Asja opens pulpy and fruity. Yes, I can still smell that stewed and baked apple and all its friends (plum and apricot). It's reminiscent of the way I bake my apples, with a large dollop of berry preserve stuffed into the empty core. But today I can appreciate the richness and the honeyed quality that comes with that, the clove, peppery carnation, and cinnamon stick that waft above. The imaginary baking process produces a very gentle smokiness that adds depth to the ambery base. Other fans of Asja place it alongside other grand dames such as Coco and Cinnabar (along with the more obvious Opium). I'll also add a family resemblance to Venezia by Laura Biagiotti (original version). In any case, it's one of those lush and plush perfumes that are not afraid to be fabulous and go well with a vintage silk scarf.
Notes: bergamot, peach, apricot, raspberry, lily of the valley, orris, cinnamon, carnation, rose, orchid honey, vanilla, benzoin, styrax, sandalwood, cedar, amber, musk.