If there was a word cloud about how I am described by other people; impatient would be one of the larger words. That quality has sent me chasing after so many perfume blind buys with a low percentage hit rate you would think I might have found a way to make that word shrink some as I’ve aged. That is, of course, an incorrect statement. It rears its head most often, recently, when there is a European release that is months off, or never, in the US. When the service I use to buy for me lets me know a trip is in the offing I start looking. For the trip in March I noticed that there were four new additions to the Prada Olfactories collection being sold in the UK exclusively. Despite my internal voice howling at me to “get it now!” I managed to pass. Then I made a phone call to the Prada flagship boutique in New York and got the typical lack of knowledge about their own exclusive luxury perfume line. My little voice was saying, “told you so!” The June trip approached and I was asked again; this time I decided to allow my impatience to win and asked for a bottle of Prada Olfactories Soleil au Zenith.
This group of four Olfactories are given the subheading of Mirages. In-house perfumer Daniela Andrier has described this overall collection as “potent concoctions of the unexpected”. The Mirages are meant to be explorations of the themes of the Orient within fragrance. Each perfume is given a name and a style parenthetically. The names are Dark Light (Amber), Midnight Train (Patchouli), Miracle of the Rose (Oud Rose), and Soleil au Zenith (Spices). Of those four it was always going to be the one labeled “spices” which would entice me to take the plunge.
Through the original nine releases the Olfactories seem to have broadened Mme Andrier’s experimental nature. It is a collection where I would be surprised to find that there is a person who is in love with all nine but for the ones which connect it is a real love affair. It is that way for Double Dare and Pink Flamingos for me. It is exactly Mme Andrier’s hand at using spice notes which makes Double Dare the reason I dared to get Soleil au Zenith based on a list of spice ingredients.
Soleil au Zenith opens on a cloud of peach aldehydes which are coated with allspice. If there was any doubt the opening moments washed them away. One of the concepts Mme Andries seems to be exploring within the Olfactories is the duality of expansiveness and density. In Soleil au Zenith, the heart accord coalesces around a very full ylang-ylang which is first combined with nutmeg. That combination is a neat transition from airy to grounded. To further tether it cinnamon and cumin add to the nutmeg providing some heat to the effect. The base is a luscious sandalwood and vanilla really amplifying the sweet creamy nature of the wood.
Soleil au Zenith has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Soleil au Zenith is so good it seems like a reward for a character flaw. It has become a fast favorite of any of the discontinued Exclusives and the Olfactories. The only upside is it will definitely hold me over until the Mirages make it Stateside. Although that little voice is talking to me again.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
My first stop in NYC when I was in for Sniffapalooza weekend was a trip to the Prada boutique on Broadway. Prada introduced a new 10-fragrance collection to replace the now discontinued Exclusive Collection. The new collection will have the same semi-secret distribution pattern as it will only be available in select Prada boutiques and only if you know to ask for it. When I arrived at the Prada boutique I was surprised to see displays for all 10 of the new Olfactories showing the silk bags they come in, the inspiration piece, and the bottles. I was told they would only be up for another few days and then they would be moved to the same out of the way downstairs counter where the Exclusive Collection resided previously. Meaning if you don’t know they exist good luck in stumbling across them.
I own all of the perfumes in the Exclusive Collection and they are some of my favorites by perfumer Daniela Andrier. Mme Andrier has defined a Prada style which she has further executed at all levels within the Prada fragrance section. For the Olfactories Mme Andrier wanted to create “potent concotions of the unexpected”. What I found in sniffing the entire collection on strips and putting a few on my skin was that description was not uniformly applied throughout the collection. There were four which stood out on this initial visit. Cargo de Nuit was a mix of aldehydes, cedar, and musks that gave off an interesting aquatic vibe. There was a little bit too much ambroxan for my taste to make me want to buy it, but it is “potent”. Pink Flamingos seems like a Japanese aesthetic as viewed by John Waters. Mme Andrier takes a heart of orris, cherry, and rose and makes it seem garish but not cheap. Nue au Soleil surprised me as Mme Andrier produces a simple construct of orange blossom, patchouli, and musk. Except this was the strip which changed the most over the twenty-four hours I kept trying it. This is a gilded orange blossom which feels decadent. Both Pink Flamingos and Nue au Soleil will definitely find their way into my grasp over time. The one which I bought on the day was Double Dare.
The silk pouches for each of the Olfactories
In the store Double Dare was simply described as “leather and suede”. Which is true but where many of the Olfactories are exactly what the small phrase promises Double Dare had more to offer than just leather. It is the journey to that leather in the base which made it my favorite. If you go to the Prada Olfactories website for Double Dare you will find this description, “Creatures roam in a warm haze of spices and leather”. It is those spices along with a couple of other choices which made Double Dare my choice on the day.
Double Dare opens on the promised “spicy haze” made up of cardamom and saffron. These are two of my favorite spice notes in perfumery and Mme Andrier balances them perfectly as they do feel like a diaphanous spicy veil. A lovely transparent jasmine joins this after a few minutes. All of this is introduction for the suede accord to come. This is not hazy, diaphanous, or transparent. This is leather. This is the creature underneath the haze. It is very refined leather as it has all the rough edges removed but it carries power. Enough to impose itself over the spices and jasmine. Vetiver and patchouli provide some contrast to the refined nature of the suede accord. At the very end a warm amber and vanilla come out to bring back the refinement.
Double Dare has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
At least on first impression I do not think the overall Olfactories are as good as the Exclusives Collection was. There are some which I think are every bit as good. I bought Double Dare because I believe it forms a trilogy with No. 3 Cuir Ambre and No. 11 Cuir Styrax of Mme Andrier’s exploration of leather. Double Dare could easily have been named No. 15 Cuir Epices. If you find yourself near a Prada boutique it is worth the effort to try the collection. It may all eventually grow on me over time. In the meantime Double Dare will do a fine job representing the other nine for the time being.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.