Every few months I take a field trip to the mall to do a little research. My method is to find a chair or bench right by where the perfume counter is at in a department store. My local malls offer me multiple opportunities to observe every major chain. What I am looking for is to see what happens when consumers walking through the fragrance department do with the sprayed strip the line representative hands to them. The great majority of them end up in a garbage can as they walk away from the store. Every so often I see the women, or men, tuck the strip away. That always piques my interest. It means that at least on a first impression level the fragrance has made the consumer want to give it a sniff later. Very often these are perfumes that those who like independent and niche perfumes would shun as derivative. When I see a perfume making an impression I want to give it a try and see if I can understand what makes it interesting to the more casual perfume wearer. On my last foray into consumerism the perfume that was not getting thrown into the garbage can was Oscar de la Renta Extraordinary.
Extraordinary was composed by perfumers Bruno Jovanovic and Pascal Gaurin. What is in the bottle is a very straightforward floral oriental. There is truly nothing new to anyone who has lots of fragrances in their collection. It is a simple floral progression into a sweet woody base. Where I think this might be getting a second look by those walking through the fragrance department is the perfumers added a couple of interesting grace notes while also going very sweet in the base for a traditional spring/summer perfume.
Extraordinary opens primarily with neroli but there are a couple of interesting underpinnings which keep it from being just neroli. The perfumers use cherry blossom and passionfruit flower to provide subtle fruity facets without really turning it into a fruity floral. I think this is a very smart way of differentiating yourself in the consumer marketplace. Especially in the top notes; as neroli will be easily recognized but those faint fruity qualities? Those are just making the neroli interesting. The heart is a very straight forward peony and rose floral. This is definitely nothing that isn’t in a thousand floral perfumes. The base is where the perfumers decide to also take a slightly different tack. There is a mix of long lasting ambrox and woody synthetics. What is interesting is there is a very healthy dose of vanillin which makes the foundation of Extraordinary almost edge into gourmand territory.
Extraordinary has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.
The most surprising thing about Extraordinary is a lack of staying power. With all of the synthetics in the base I expected to have it with me well into the evening if not into the next morning. I don’t have a good explanation for this but I think that might keep Extraordinary from being a runaway hit. Because in the department store world longevity is equated with quality. If it does become a hit I think that the perfumers had a small amount of courage to push some less commercial inspirations into Extraordinary may be the reason it stands out in the glass forest on the department store counter.
Disclosure: This review was based on a carded sample I received at the department store.