My favorite of the Very Private Collection is Phénomène, described by the company as a “spicy, sweet oriental”. The description is accurate, but to make it even more specific, I would add that this is a gourmand oriental with a lovely, woody base. The opening is intense and smells surprisingly masculine: A mélange of citrus fruit adds sparkle to the top as a deep lavender note emerges. This in turn is already infused with the heavy, woody notes of the base. A fabulous roasted coffee bean note snakes its way through, imparting a beautiful caramelized bitterness to the otherwise sweet composition. Despite not smelling too similar, the bittersweet character of this stage in the development reminds me of Angel Men Pure Coffee, feeling in a way, as though its essence was distilled and then formed the base for a beautiful new feminine fragrance. Bitter cherry joins the lovely bittersweet chorus, underscored by pure chocolate. This is a perfume that showcases beautiful contrasts. Yes, the major theme is the struggle between bitterness and sweetness, but just as intriguing is the tumultuous coupling of sternness and softness: The vetiver employed is rather sharp and marries beautifully with the smoky cedar but the picture is only completed with the creamy softness provided by the vanilla and sandalwood. The struggle relents only hours later in the deep drydown, when finally the sweetness prevails, hugging the skin with a gentle, powdery veil of amber, warm musk and soft vanilla.
I’ve found myself very impressed with both the quality and complexity of Phénomène. It has a beautiful development and the changes it undergoes manage to hold my interest for hours. The company keeps the price-point modest by using the same bottle and cap for each scent of a line, so that is another plus point. Unfortunately, even though Solissima was created with the purpose of expanding the Turkish company into the foreign market, I have no idea where aside from Turkey these are being sold. Considering I haven’t seen them anywhere else yet, I would hazard the guess that the distribution is currently limited to countries of the Middle East. However, as always when reviewing a hard-to-find fragrance of which I have enough quantity to pass around, I am holding a draw. Simply post a comment if you wish to be included. The winner will receive a spray decant of Phénomène from me. Winner to be announced in a week’s time.
Images: Solissima bottles via www.solissima.com.tr, Coffee Beans via www.morguefile.com