Grove: Fendi Life Essence
Life Essence opens with a bright lemonade feeling. It isn't lemony, exactly, not like lemon oil (and not like Eau Sauvage, either). But it is exhilarating: cold, fresh, snappy. It always makes me think of a pitcher of homemade lemonade, every time I put it on. You can almost see the beads of condensation trickling down the sides of the bottle. (This is why modern aroma-chemistry has made fragrances so much more interesting in the last century: you couldn't create an effect like this with naturally existing extracts. The brightness, the clarity of the top notes are a testament to the work of chemists as much as perfumers.)
The lemonade is quickly supplemented by a smudge of blunted spices (coriander and cardamom), some random greenery, and the first intimations of the woody heart of the scent. The wood is dry and a bit brittle, mostly cedar (though not that pencil-shavings/hamster-cage cedar of Shiseido's Feminité du Bois) and cypress.
There isn't a lot of progress in the scent, no great complexity, and definitely not a top-middle-base set of stages. One thing merely turns into another: the citrus-green notes are gradually replaced by the woody notes, which are eventually warmed, a little, by sandalwood, labdanum and supposedly oakmoss, though not much of it, certainly not enough to push this scent into the chypre category.
Inside a wood-grain box, the bottle is a model of simplicity: an elongated glass block with an inset for the label, the whole thing capped, naturally, with knurled wood. The packaging is telling you two things about the fragrance inside: it's dominated by wood, and it's rigorously simple, almost minimalist. That minimalism is what makes the scent so pleasant. After the vivid chill of the top notes, what's left is almost subliminal. It's background; it's wallpaper. It's there, but it lets you wear it instead of it wearing you.