Operatic Proportions: Fendi – Fendi (Donna) Review

On picture: Fendi – Fendi – Eau de Toilette – 100ml – circa 1995

Humans have a tendency to categorize things for the purposes of order and understanding, becoming an important element in various learning processes, and perfumery wouldn’t escape this, of course. Over the decades, many classification systems have been proposed with the most successful ones relying on the notes and accords included in each composition as the variable used for categorization. In that sense, perfumes with a high content of flowers are classified as florals, scents with prominent herbal notes are deemed as aromatics, and so on.

These systems make it very easy to classify most fragrances, with only a handful of exceptions that, being two disparate things at the same time, can truly be categorized within tremendously different families without fear of misclassification, providing a great topic for discussion as well (Caleche, I am looking at you).

Fendi’s eponymous first perfume was released in 1985. At the time, as anyone who had the chance to experience that decade would confirm, everything was big, loud, without a pinch of restriction. Fendi is clearly an offspring of its time. What differentiates this scent from the rest of its contemporaries is that it almost straddles between two distinct olfactory families. It is a giant chypre in the 80s style, with a huge oriental accord within the same formula (actually, two oriental accords to be precise).

The reason why Fendi is classified as a chypre is that the remarkable dose of oakmoss (Evernia prunastri) included defeats both the amber and the offbeat Mellis accords in the composition that form an alliance of operatic proportions. On one hand, the balsamic notes characteristic of potions such as Shalimar, and on the other hand the spicy carnation-like components typical of scents like Youth Dew. Not an easy feat for a lichen.

Fendi, often called Fendi Donna, starts with a whiff of bergamot, aldehydes, and spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. It slowly unfolds into its floral heart comprised of roses, jasmine, carnation, lily of the valley and iris. The rose is definitely perceptible, similar to the rose in Ungaro’s Diva. There is a spicy carnation next to a green lily of the valley bubbling under which together hint at the Mellis accord. Jasmine, perhaps fortified with tuberose, while not instantly defined, adds a luscious heft to the heart.

At times the amber base struggles against its ally, the Mellis accord, in what appears to be a dispute over the authority of the oriental band, yet the benzoin- vanillic amber is more tenacious, winning the quarrel and ultimately presenting itself as the rightful contender against the dominant chypre accord. There is also a brew of animalic ingredients, honey, leather and woods, all caught in the middle of the clash, with voices strong enough to be heard on both sides of the battlefield.

The spices keep their power for an extended period of time, the woods are appreciable from the first spray until it dies out, and the aldehydes and floral bouquet that were certainly thrown in because, why not, help to round an otherwise heavy-handed composition. In fact, Fendi could also be accused of being an aldehydic, a floral, an animalic, or a woody chypre.

With the intention of visually explaining this fragrance, that operatic epithet I used before is perhaps the best starting point. Someone assisting the opera, maybe La Scala in Milan, wearing the most luxurious fur coat possible (Fendi, obviously), red lips, a Poiret-worthy gown and jewels that would make any European noble envious. Her voice is firm and deep, her eyes piercing and her heart joyous despite her frequent expression of ennui.

She has an opulent character but she is also the best companion for pasta and a glass of wine over the countryside with no fur, jewels, nor gowns in sight. An otherworldly woman, she has the ability to turn even the most uninteresting of moments into a gloriously fulfilling experience. I should also point out that thanks to contemporary standards, this could also be the perfume of the man who accompanies said lady to the opera (or pasta night, both events would be equally rewarding). Fendi smells manly when applied to male skin -a common characteristic of 80s chypres.

This fragrance is rough around the edges, but surely a gallant composition worth of praise. This chypre is big and was almost destined to be an oriental, avoiding such fate thanks to a courageous dose of oakmoss with its bitter, damped, foresty greatness presented boldly. Fendi by Fendi was discontinued long ago and bottles can be found for a premium price. If you have the chance to stumble upon it, take the opportunity to try it. You will understand why this fragrance could potentially be classified within two different olfactory families and all your Evernia prunastri needs will be satisfied in one sniff. Maybe you will also attend La Scala, in your imagination, for a minute or two. That sole event is worth every penny.

Name: Fendi (*Note: also known as Fendi Donna)
House: Fendi
Concentration: Eau de toilette
Nose: No information available
Release Year: 1985
Category: Oriental chypre

Reviewed Batch: circa 1995
From personal colletion.

3 thoughts on “Operatic Proportions: Fendi – Fendi (Donna) Review

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