I know. This is not a new release. I'm quite late to the party on this one in two regards: first, it debuted over a year ago and had to be one of the best perfume releases in 2008, and secondly: it's a summer scent! And it's September! But I can't help it. I live in Florida, and I am new to the hobby. Thankfully, it's almost always summer here, so I can enjoy this citrus scent even though it's already fall in the rest of the country.
Escale a Portofino launched in limited release in 2008, so it's new to me. This year's release in the same triology (Escale a Pondichery) seems equally limited edition, since it wasn't in Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue or Nordstroms when I last went sniffing a few weeks ago. It's the first installment in a travel triology. The notes include Bergamot, petitgrain, almond, orange blossom, juniper berry, cypress, cedar, white musk, caraway and galbanum. It's a feminine take on the classic eau du cologne / citrus splash.
I first sniffed it in Saks, straight from the sparkling, textured bottle. From that sniff (not even sprayed), it seemed to be a shape shifter focusing on lemon, lime and grapefruit, with a floral undertone. I was overwhelmed with all the things to try on paper and skin and decided not to even test spray it. Just from smelling it in the bottle, I was convinced that it was decant-worthy. And truly- what can you really tell when sniffing a fragrance on paper or skin in a department store? That's really unfair to a good perfume-- you need time for it to develop on skin, with far less commotion. So, once I determine that it's decant-worthy, the name goes on my list and I don't need to test further in the store. However, I should add that I loved the bottle (photo from Fragrantica's website).
Through a lovely MUA'er, I managed to swap a decant of my full bottle of Eau d'Hermes for a decant of Escale a Portfino, which arrived earlier today, in time for my trip to North Carolina. I ripped open the package in the car ride home and eagerly dabbed from the bottle onto my wrist and... was a bit disappointed. This was not the high pitched lime/lemon/grapefruit that I sniffed in the store. This was far softer, slightly soapy, with a focus on orange blossom and something... soft. Later, I realized it was the almond, which creates a milky, creamy underbelly.
It reminds me of something that I can't quite put my finger on, but I'll report back. On the perfume itself, let me say that the lasting time is quite disappointing, but the quality of the juice itself is excellent. It's sophisticated, feminine, soft and citrusy, with a very pleasant dry down (which I can only still detect by putting my nose to my wrist). I'm a bit dissapointed in the sillage... but I wear the perfume for me, and not others, so I don't care if it doesn't fill the room. Unlike Hermes Pamplemousse Rose, which I wore in a state of ecstacy all weekend, Escale a Portofino is not tart and there's no grapefruit (I have no idea where I got the idea that there was grapefruit). It's much softer, with rounded edges. I worried that I'd only need one and not the other... now I worry that I will of course need both.
If I had to describe it to someone who had never smelled it, I'd say that it smells like 60% Lemon Pledge, 20% Dove Soap and 10% white musk, and 10% magic. To me, it smells like spring. But I think it could be worn anytime. It's not risky, but the melding of bitter almond and orange blossoms and lemon is lovely and well done.
Buy a big decant. You'll be reapplying often, but enjoying every moment.
Perfume Review: Escale a Portofino
Perfume House: Dior
Creator / Nose: Fracois Demachy
Classification: Citrus Aromatic
Perfume Notes: Lemon, Orange Blossom, Bitter Almond, White Musk, Cedar, Cypruss, Galbanum, Bergamot, Juniper Berries and Caraway
What you mostly smell: Orange Blossom, Petit Grain, Almond (slight presence of white musk in the dry down)
Lasting Power: Shockingly short. It has a great presence in the first hour, but is gone in two hours on my skin.
Similar to: Lemon pledge + classic Dove hard soap (though this makes it sound less lovely that it smells on skin)
Overall impression: A soft, feminine citrus cologne.