In my bid to fantasize that I’m living in a hot tropical climate, I’ve been starting my day by wearing citrus colognes. When I splash on something redolent of juicy oranges, lemon blossoms or bitter grapefruit, for a moment I forget the overcast skies and the nagging rain. As I sniff my bergamot scented wrists, I might as well be at the seashore, walking on warm sand, kicking up opalescent seashells with my toe. Better still for my daydreaming if the citrus is wrapped around dark woods, smoky vanilla or luscious amber. Then, it feels particularly sultry and exciting! When I heard about Christian Dior Escale à Parati, which promised to take me to a town on the Costa Verde of Brazil and comfort me with tonka bean dusted oranges, I didn’t hesitate to order a sample.
Escale à Parati follows Dior’s other escapist summer perfumes released in the previous years–Escale à Portofino, Escale à Pondichery and Escale aux Marquises. The green almond and bergamot accented Escale à Portofino was one of my citrus staples for a while, but I haven’t been thrilled with subsequent releases. They were polished and well-crafted colognes, but not particularly memorable. When a fragrance presents a familiar classical theme, I usually anticipate an interesting twist somewhere.
At first, Escale à Parati has a few pleasant twists, which made it very appealing. The top notes of sweet orange, green lemon and bitter bergamot are laced with the piquant warmth of pepper. The cooling whisper of mint lends an effervescent sensation, while the orange leaves unfold into a tangy, green accord. The drydown of blond woods and amber is gentle and caressing, and the initial crispness remains even after the obvious citrusy notes fade.
The fragrance is as classical as a cologne gets; it’s fresh and clean, and it took me a while to realize Escale à Parati is perhaps too clean. Although Escale à Parati is in the same radiant and green league as Martin Margiela Untitled and Armani Privé Pierre de Lune, it doesn’t have their natural verdant notes. In contrast to Dior’s Granville, Cologne Royale and Milly-la-Forêt, it’s more abstract and more artificial. At the end of the day, I don’t get to Brazil; I’m dropped off someplace at the mall near the masculine fragrance counter. That’s one place I can easily reach on my own.
Christian Dior Escale à Parati Eau de Toilette includes notes of bitter orange, lemon, petitgrain, pink pepper, rosewood, mint, cinnamon, and tonka bean. Available from Dior boutiques.
Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Sample: my own acquisition