Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Although Fracas and Bandit are the fragrances most firmly linked with Robert Piguet’s name, the perfumes credited to this house include a range of other memorably named creations: Calypso, Hirondelle, Mimo, Cattleya, Futur. Visa was created in 1947, its seductive and voluptuous form contrasting markedly with the restrained elegance of other fragrances launched during the same year – Christian Dior Miss Dior, Caron Farnesiana, Balenciaga Le Dix. …
In its original incarnation, Visa embraces its wearer passionately–its opulent floral heart and the almost indecently rich animalic accord smoulder on the skin. Only after two hours does the fragrance reveal its perfectly pitched and unexpectedly cool chypre accord. Although Visa is sometimes attributed to Germaine Cellier, the Osmothèque archives list Jean Carles as its creator. Indeed, the vintage Visa recalled more the dark allure of Carles’s Tabu than Cellier’s ingenious Fracas.
Given the promise of the original, I found the modern re-orchestration of Visa to be disappointing. It strikes me as leaning far too much in the predictable direction of Angel aided by the latter’s magic formula of candied fruit top notes + patchouli + cotton candy (ethyl maltol). Whatever embellishes the Angelic core—leather, dusky roses and oriental resins—only serves to highlight the conflicted balance between the pull of the modern trends and the spirit of the original.
The reissue of Visa includes notes of white vineyard peach, pear, violet leaves, Italian bergamot, yellow mandarin essences, ylang ylang absolute, rose, immortelle, orange flower absolutes. Indonesian Patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, moss, vanilla beans, benzoin and a gourmand leathery accord form the drydown. Visa is available from Le Bon Marche in Paris and at Harvey Nichols in London.
For a different opinion, please see Marina’s review on Perfume-Smellin’ Things. She also discusses Cravache, which admittedly I find infinitely more compelling than Visa. To be reviewed soon.
Photo of Robert Piguet’s couture gown from Robert Piguet.