Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pucci Vivara

Pucci Vivara is the other fragrance I was impressed by during my latest sniffathon at Sephora. I know there's a vintage Pucci Vivara in existence but I've never smelled it. I can only guess that it was a patchouli-based leather Chypre born in the 1960s, along the lines of Gres Cabochard, because the new version reminds me of the heavyweight Chypres of yesteryear: Cabochard, Halston, Y, Knowing, Cassini (although it's not as Fruity Chypre as that, and to be a bit too opinionated, not nearly as skanky). As the conservative era comes to a close, the nouveau Chypre is already a bit dated in the minds of many; however, the era can toast the ultimate nightcap with this new Vivara, a stunning take on the Chypre perfume. True to its genre, it is an audacious, divisive, perfumey, even shrill, aggressive scent, but at the same time, it's sophisticated, sexy, supremely confident and extroverted. It's not a crowd-pleaser but on the right woman and to the particular taste of the Chypre lover, Vivara is an exciting scent. The great Chypres such as Guerlain Mitsouko, Carven Ma Griffe, Miss Dior, Givenchy Ysatis, Paloma Picasso, Van Cleef & Arpels Gem and Ungaro Diva can all be proud of their successor, Pucci Vivara, which with its unadulterated in-your-face-leather handbag smell, made Miss Dior Cherie look like an imposter when it came to passing on the Chypre lineage into the new millemium.

However, Vivara is a new kid on the block with a light, almost candied green and fruity-floral makeover. As audacious as Vivara may be, it's too polite to, say, go the way of Ma Griffe with its claws to leave marks on a man (though you might have never seen this feisty side of the soapy, green, serious vintage debutante perfume). Vivara may be more of a tipsy tease than an actual man-killer fume (Vivara, like many Chypres, smells boozy to me) but it puts me in a tongue-in-cheek, black-and-white movie-retro "tawdry lady (the completely misogynistic good girl/bad-girl dichotomy of "lady in the bedroom, whore in bed", maybe thanks to the old myth about Venus being a goddess who rules the growth of crops in Spring, then sends people to their death in Fall with famine, that two-faced snake, the fake Light of the World!)"...where was I? Oh, yes...that type of playful, dramatic atmosphere. Getting back to Chypre, this type of bold, strong, at times harshly, wooded and green, staid and seemingly sexless (one might perceive as androgynous, or like men's cologne smell) seriousness isn't really, but more of a spoof on seriousness, and perhaps even a sociopolitical statement, an olfactory diary of what it was to be a woman in a time when our worth was literally measured by class and material wealth - dowries and our husbands' social standings.

Controversial as the not-always-liked Chypre accord may be, I enjoy the semi-skanky (read: green (clean) yet animalic (dirty)), suggestively naughty scent, but the chypratic stage doesn't last; Vivara leaves after just an hour or two at most, and bids farewell with not so much as a chaste, friendly kiss on the cheek (edited to add: the part of the dry down that lasts is a cool, aqueous note). Well, I suppose it wouldn't be a Chypre if it ended on a sweeter note. This is a scent that isn't there to comfort and soothe - too boring for the thrillseeker - but to leave you aching for more.

Notes on Now Smell This:
Pucci Vivara (2007)
Top notes: galbanum, Italian bergamot, amaretto accord
Middle notes: jasmine, orange flower, narcissus
Base notes: Florentine iris, vetiver, Indonesian patchouli

(Image: www.punminis.com)