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Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline

Omnia got its first flanker in 2005, with Omnia Crystalline. Like other flanker scents — Calvin Klein Euphoria Blossom, Prada Tendre, among others — it was designed for the Asian market, where lighter, fresher fragrances are the thing. And it did very well, apparently “reaching number one in Japan and South Korea”.

Omnia Crystalline is also by Alberto Morillas, and is a fresh musky woody fragrance with notes of bamboo, nashi pear, lotus flower, and balsa wood. On first smell, it would seem to have little in common with its parent scent: it is notably more aquatic, paler (in keeping with its name) and blander.

Bvlgari Omnia Amethyste

Omnia Amethyste is the third and most recent fragrance in the Omnia line from Bvlgari, following the original Omnia (2003) and Omnia Crystalline (2005). All three fragrances were created by perfumer Alberto Morillas, and all share the love-it-or-hate-it interlocking circle bottle design. The notes for Amethyste include green sap, pink grapefruit, iris, rose, heliotrope and solar woods.

Omnia Amethyste opens on peppery-earthy citrus, with, as promised, a fair amount of greenery. It moves on to a lightly powdery blend of floral notes with vanillic undertones. The rose is subtle, the iris is recognizable mostly in the peppery-earthy part of the opening. Morillas has said that nature print technology was used to capture the smell of iris blossoms for Omnia Amethyste, and that may account for the fact that the florals in the heart notes smell like such a blur.

Bvlgari Omnia

Bvlgari Omnia was created by nose Alberto Morillas and released in 2003. The fragrance was said to have been inspired by the spices discovered by Marco Polo on his famous voyages, and was also described by Bvlgari as “a tribute to the tradition of the great oriental perfumes, re-interpreted for the world of today”. The notes include black pepper, mandarin, masala tea, saffron, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond, chocolate, lotus blossom, and sandalwood.

Omnia has a light, peppery-citrus top note over sheer woods and spices. The chocolate and almond are subdued, but do give this a gourmand feel for a short time. It dries down to a very pretty, very soft sandalwood with dusty spices. The saffron and cardamom are the most apparent, but every so often one can smell a bit of ginger or clove.

Chanel No. 22

Ernest Beaux created Chanel No. 22 in 1922, the same year Caron Nuit de Noël and another Chanel, No. 55, were released. The top notes are aldehydes, white roses, jasmine, tuberose, lily of the valley, lilac, and orange flower. The heart is orchid and ylang ylang, and the base is vanilla, incense, and vetiver.

As is true of the other numbered Chanels, the first hit of No. 22 is aldehydes. After twenty minutes, when the shrieking coloratura of the aldehydes fades, a gorgeous duet of white flowers and gentle incense emerges. After an hour and a half or so, just the incense, grounded slightly by vetiver, burns along quietly. One can’t really smell the vanilla in the dry down at all, and the jasmine, ylang ylang, and tuberose are blended so that none of them stands out from the others. The whole show lasts about four hours.

Chanel No.5

Ernest Beaux created Chanel No. 5 in 1921 as part of a suite of nine fragrances he presented to Coco Chanel. Depending on which story you believe, No. 5 was an accident when too much of a particular aldehyde was added to a scent or was a deliberate attempt to replicate Coco’s modern and blatant use of synthetic materials — think of her ropes of faux pearls.

As is true of many perfumes, No. 5 contains more than one type of aldehyde. Aldehydes provide sparkle and can boost the dispersion of some notes. When you get a strong hit of aldehydes right away from a fragrance, chances are that you’re smelling an “aliphatic” aldehyde. Although some people think of a dose of aliphatic aldehydes as “perfume-y” and old fashioned, when Beaux made it the signature of No. 5 (and No. 22), it was revolutionary.

Alberto Morillas was the winner of the Prix François Coty in 2003. Flower by Kenzo won a Fifi award in 2002.

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