Patricia on Acqua di Parma Colonia and other citrus favorites, from Parfums de Nicolai and Annick Goutal to The Different Company and Guerlain.
Colonia by Acqua di Parma is a fragrance with a past. Created in 1916 as the first fragrance of a small perfume factory in Parma, Italy, it was first used to scent the handkerchiefs that men carried with them at the time. Later it was the darling of worldwide celebrities seeking Italian chic in the early and mid twentieth century. Acqua di Parma then fell on hard times but was revived, along with Colonia, in the 1990s.
I must confess a partiality for aromatic citrus fragrances. Like one who works out real-life problems at night through recurring dreams (being caught unprepared for an examination is a personal favorite), I repeatedly buy citrus colognes very similar in nature, the most recent of which is Colonia, purchased on a hot sunny September afternoon in the South of France.
Colonia opens with a blast of realistic lemon, like the best-quality, tart, lip-puckering lemon drop imaginable. Almost immediately, the lavender and rosemary are faintly discernable, grounding the citrus with a touch of earthiness. As the cologne wears, the lemon softens and the herbs start to dominate, along with a soft and pleasing rose.
The dry down is woods, amber, and a faint hint of oakmoss, lending substance and making this citrus wearable outside of the dog days of summer. Longevity is average for a perfume, but good for a cologne. I put it to a wrist-to-wrist test against Annick Goutal’s Mandragore, and I could discern faint traces of Colonia on my skin long after the Mandragore had vanished.
Perhaps each citrus fragrance in my collection brings something a little different to the table. Bergamote (formerly Divine Bergamote), created by Jean-Claude Ellena for The Different Company, is a lovely transparent bergamot and ginger citrus perfume. It reminds me most of Chanel’s Cristalle Eau Verte, which with white flowers and minus the ginger, shares the same light, refreshing quality. They are both easily worn in the hottest weather and stand up well to humidity.
L’Eau Chic and Eau d’Été, both by Parfums de Nicolaï, are colognes scented with geranium and mint and cinnamon and sweet musk respectively. Eau de Guerlain throws caraway, carnation, and oakmoss into the citrus mix. In another favorite, Bvlgari Eau Parfumée au The Vert, also by Ellena, the lemony green tea is spiked with coriander and cardamom.
Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130 is a fruity citrus, with yuzu, grapefruit, and black current, making it as refreshing as an iced summer punch. The Queen of the grapefruit citruses must surely be Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain, a sweet/tart grapefruit concoction that is so realistic wearing it is like pushing a serrated grapefruit spoon into a juicy Ruby Red and inhaling the spray.
I’m always open to more cologne recommendations, if you have any favorites.