There have been a few moments, especially at the beginning of this year, where I fear I might be on perfume overload. I receive so many samples and when deciding what I am going to wear, and subsequently review, that first impression out of the envelope is critical. I always liken my evening snap evaluation of what has come in the mail to speed dating. Each perfume has the time it takes for me to smell a strip and a patch of skin to make their case for a chance to get to know me better. While I was attending Esxence and Sniffapalooza there have been a few perfumes which would get a second chance because they were presented again during the event. I admit as they were placed under my nose again I still had the first impression in my mind only to find something which was more interesting on the second sniff. The latest perfume to make a more favorable impression the second time around is the new Armani Prive Pivoine Suzhou.
Armani Prive is the exclusive fragrance line of Giorgio Armani started in 2004. It has all the Armani hallmarks of exquisite tailoring for these fragrances. As a collection the perfumes might be a little too obviously engineered and it is what makes it a collection which when it hits for me as with Bois D’Encens or Cuir Amethyste it really makes an impact. Other times it just feels like a competently constructed perfume but almost unemotionally so. When I received my sample of Pivoine Suzhou, by perfumers Cecile Matton and Julie Masse, in the depth of winter I was probably not in the mood for a sprightly spring fruity floral. I do remember that it was one of the earliest spring florals I received this year and in this case being first might not have been an advantage. After my initial spray it went into the “not for review” pile. Flash forward to May at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling and the swag bag from Bergdorf’s, a nice tester of Pivoine Suzhou was included. On my bus trip home something happened and mine began to leak. By the time I unpacked I got hit with an intense wave of the perfume. Which I really liked. It took me awhile to track down the culprit in a bag full of almost 75 samples but I was surprised to find out what it was. What I found was Pivoine Suzhou was a perfume which I needed to spray on with abandon to find the parts of it I enjoy.
Pivoine Suzhou opens with a fruit duet of tangerine and raspberry contrasted with baie rose. I have really come to appreciate the use of baie rose as an instrument of texture in the fruity opening of this style of fragrances. In Pivoine Suzhou it really makes the fairly common opening feel less pedestrian. It leads into the floral mix of peony and Rose de Mai. This is where wearing more really made a difference. On a strip this comes off watercolor weak and it was overridden by the fruit. On my skin with multiple sprays it not only stands up to the fruit but it takes a fairly standard combination of fruity floral components and injects new life into them. This is not a watercolor it is a pop art day-glo fruity floral fragrance which radiates in intense waves. The base is the usual mix of Ambrox, patchouli, and white musks.
Pivoine Suzhou has 10-12 hour longevity and the way I tested it, with 8 sprays, above average sillage.
As I considered the way I would review this I was wondering whether a perfume which requires me to spray a lot on myself to make a memorable impression is a well-constructed perfume. Shouldn’t I have been able to realize this from a quick preliminary test? I’m not sure I have a final answer but in the case of Pivoine Suzhou more was definitely better.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Giorgio Armani and a sample received at Sniffapalooza Spring Fling.