eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Worthy Successor: Oscar de la Renta Esprit d'Oscar


Once every few years, I'll smell a magazine scent strip and know right away that I needn't sample, just proceed directly to full-bottle purchase. The last time I did that was a couple of years ago with Estee Lauder Sensuous (which remains a favorite of mine to this day). This time, it was Oscar de la Renta Esprit d'Oscar.

I happen to love the original 1977 Oscar-- as a home fragrance. I never wanted to wear it on my skin, but I have a beloved candle of it that I use not only to completely obliterate any offending odors, but it relaxes me with its intense powdery floral qualities. Esprit d'Oscar (created by Frank Voelkl) manages to have not only become something I joyfully want to wear on my person day and night, but somehow maintains a delicate balance between honoring the original fragrance and forging its own path. People who love Oscar will  surely appreciate Esprit d'Oscar, and will also win a lot of new fans who were not completely taken with Oscar.

It starts out with a citrus-aldehyde sharpness with jasmine and tuberose following closely on its heels. Then, ah, sweet, sweet heliotrope. Heliotrope can be too much for some, heck, it can even be too much for me! When it is done well, it's enchanting in its powderiness and ethereal nature, and I have not smelled it done this well in some time. The dry-down offers up the expected: vetiver, tonka and musk. That little sweetness at the outset, then at the heart, is again played up in the dry-down, it is utterly sumptuous and lasts practically forever. This is no syrupy, sticky, cloying mess, this is a well-orchestrated journey with tuberose driving the train, and I believe it has served to elevate the original concept of the fragrance to new heights and farther distances.

My only gripe (and it is a minor one as far as I'm concerned) is the packaging. It leaves me rather cold, and I don't think it does much justice to the scent it contains. The bottle is too ornate at the cap (sort of a cup-like plastic petal monstrosity), although I guess I can appreciate the odd shape of the base. The packaging for the original Oscar is, frankly, even worse.

Esprit d'Oscar is bound to excite a large number of scent lovers with varying tastes; it is sophisticated and soft enough for work, sensual enough for date night, light-hearted enough for casual wear, is season-less, and (here's the best part) complex enough to capture the heart of even the most jaded perfumista. This may very well be the most successful flanker in a long time in terms of the quality of the fragrance, and I hope many, many others will agree with me. Esprit d'Oscar is a legend in the making.

[bottle was bought by me for my personal use, $78 for 50ml EDP, available at many retailers, including online at oscardelarenta.com]

7 comments:

  1. Yes, i agree , Carrie. Esprit d'Oscar is lovely. I also do love the original Oscar de la Renta. Always have done.

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  2. That's quite the skill you have there! I can never depend on magazine strips. Even when I test on myself I have to try at least a handful of times to be absolutely sure. And I'm actually loving the look of the bottle.

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  3. This has been put on my radar this weekend after reading someone comparing it to Coty L'Origan, the vintage formulations, something that I love. L'Origan is very Edwardian to my nose, jasmine and civet heavy. I'd love to have a modern version of it. A friend tells me this is the scent for me, "very Victoria".
    And the bottle: I haven't seen it in person. It looks good in the pics because I'm assuming the top is glass. I find all plastic tops on perfume bottles tacky.

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  4. Liz: It's pretty hard to get an accurate picture of a perfume from a scent strip- even on skin, you're right. I think of it as a "snapshot" of a fragrance. 95% of the companies that put enough money into advertising to have scent strips in magazines don't make fragrances that suit me, and that's a fact. It was immediately clear to me, however, that Esprit d'Oscar would be one of the few exceptions.

    Victoria: The bottle top is plastic. If it were glass, I think I'd like it more. When you look at it from the top, you see how busted it looks. I have a vintage sample of Coty L'Origan, and I can see some similarities. L'Origan is a bit more magical... I don't have a more eloquent way of putting it, maybe it's the civet. But, based on what I know of you, I would bet a dozen fawtballs that you're going to love Esprit d'Oscar.

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  5. I am so glad to read another positive review. Sophisticated and soft- exactly!

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  6. Marina, I will go search for your review now. I feel hopeful that Esprit d'Oscar is something everyone seems to be agreeing on for a change!

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  7. A dozen fawtballs? Don't let Frink know about this...

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