One Thousand Scents

Monday, July 04, 2011

Celebration: Oh la la by Loris Azzaro

Loris Azzaro's Oh la la, smelled from a distance of almost twenty years, feels like a bit of a throwback. It was launched in 1993, a big, voluptuous floral oriental that feels more like something from the eighties (it shares DNA with some of the big florals like Salvador Dali and Montana Parfum de Peau), or perhaps even a few decades earlier.

A list of notes, for those who like olfactory detective work:

Top: fig leaf, musk vodka, mandarin orange, raspberry, peach, karo-karounde and bergamot.
Middle: orange blossom, cinnamon, osmanthus, jasmine, yellow rose, ylang-ylang and narcissus.
Base: sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, patchouli, vanilla and vetiver.

That, unexpectedly, tells you most of what you need to know. Sharp bergamotty-fruity opening, big fat bouquet of a spicy-floral middle, expansive oriental base. Lasts for hours. Lusciously beautiful. The only way it could have failed is if big extravagant floral orientals were on the way out, and I guess they were; by this time, scents were beginning to thin out a little, or a lot. (1992's big niche success story was the explosively pale L'Eau D'Issey; in 1993, it was the whispery citrus Eau Parfumée by Bulgari; the biggest scent by far of 1994 was CK One, a floodlit unisex.)

Still, Oh la la was in production for a fair while — they didn't give up so easily on a scent in those days — so it can still be had at some of the usual online discounters if you're willing to do a bit of sleuthing. And I really think you should if you like big floral orientals with a lot of presence; not only do you get a really terrific scent that is better than most anything you'll find in a department store these days, you also get that bottle!

The box gives you a hint: streamers and confetti in gold on a bright-red background. A celebration! And if you're celebrating in style, you do it with champagne. Gres' Cabaret shower gel alluded to it, and Yves Saint Laurent came right out and said it with the sparkly Champagne (later renamed Yvresse — arguably an even better name — for legal reasons), but Azzaro did them one better by putting the scent in a baroque champagne glass. You don't have to invert the whole thing to use it: you can just pluck the bottle and its golden cap out of the stand, and in fact you could just buy the bottle without the frou-frou. But why would you? (As a refill, I guess. But the stand can't add that much to the price, surely?)

If you do an image search online, you will discover that a significant number of people do not get the point of the bottle, and depict it sitting "upright", the curvy frosted stem poking helplessly into the air like a misguided antenna. But then, inverted bottles have always confused some people, probably the sort who don't know which way up to hold a book.

Last week I mentioned that the only problem with the Claude Montana Just Me bottle was that the zipper pull was at the top of an opened zipper, which makes no sense, but that there would have been a way to rescue it, and Oh la la shows us the way: turn the bottle upside down. Just look at the bottle for the upcoming Pulse by Beyonce:

Now imagine that that's the Just Me bottle tucked into a similar metal sleeve (only symmetrical), with the zipper pull at the bottom where it belongs. Piece of cake.

In English, "ooh la la" means "sexy", but in French, the phrase is "oh la la", which is an expression of surprise, whether good or bad. It can mean, "Why, what do we have here?", or it can mean, "Oh my god, what just happened?", and you can intensify it by extending it: "oh la la la la" usually means "Oh, NO!" As a fragrance name, "Oh la la" is doubly clever, because it not only suggests the desired reaction to the scent, it alludes to the initials of the house's name: "Oh, Loris Azzaro, Loris Azzaro!"

The tagline in the ad at the top reads "Sillage d'une femme imprévisible," which means "Sillage (perfumed wake) of an unpredictable woman." To be honest, there isn't anything unpredictable about Oh la la; it doesn't stand out dramatically in a field of big floral orientals (despite such notes as the African flower karo-karounde). But it is an undeniably gorgeous scent, and there are never enough of those in the world.



    By Blogger Brian, at 2:08 PM  

  • Her version is more toilet seat than champagne glass, but yeah, I can see the similarity.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 2:18 PM  

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