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Vêpres Siciliennes

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Vêpres Siciliennes, is named after the Verdi opera, I Vespri Siciliani, a story about war against the French occupation in medieval Sicily which, in the Verdi style, is a five-act veritable musical feast. Now I know that Vêpres, Vespri, Vespers are evening prayers in Christian religions, and vespers is Latin for “evening” so even though this is a green fruity chypre, I’m ready for a soft contemplative scent before I open the bottle.

But this is about Sicily, and also a story about a war, so the opening salvo  is big sweet sun-warmed citrus, orange, lemon, and crushed leaves, jazzed up with pepper, rich and dense. It’s intoxicating, and is soon joined by a floral bouquet blended from spicy rose, jasmine, magnolia, tuberose, and powdery heliotrope as it moves into the heart. 

There are hints of raspberry and plum, wafts of moss and woods and amber notes which signal the dry-down but instead of deepening, the wood notes move to the side and fruit notes appear, a lovely sueded apricot accord of osmanthus overlaid with creamy coconut rising to the top. It’s a delicious surprise, a rich dreamy accord that evolves for hours, mixing to perfection with the earthy oakmoss and cedarwood, sweetening softly toward the end with a musky airiness.

Vêpres Siciliennes is not what I initially expected, and it continues to surprise me through the long dry-down by occasionally circling back to the warm citrus or edging into the mossy woods. It’s complex and rich and evolves constantly because there are A LOT of notes, but perfumer Jeanne-Marie Faugier has them work in perfect harmony, taking their solos, stepping back into the chorus, creating beautiful olfactory music.

There’s a great scene in the movie Amadeus: Mozart has worked himself into a frenzy to complete Il Seraglio, a new kind of opera, and has just performed it for the Emperor, who rises to congratulate Mozart, commenting that the work is  “too fine for my ears - there are too many notes”.  To which Mozart replies “There are just as many notes as there should be.”

And that’s exactly how I feel about Vêpres Siciliennes.


Notes: mandarin, grapefruit, peach, pepper, green leaves, cardamom, muguet, magnolia, jasmine, ylang ylang, rose, tuberose, heliotrope, osmanthus, raspberry, cloves, plum, coconut, musk, amber, oakmoss and cedarwood.

Type: EdP

Parfumeure: Jeanne-Marie Faugier

Price: $6.00