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Diva – A story about a dress and a perfume (February 3, 2012 New Fragrance Listing)

Photo - Wikipedia - Christian Lacroix 20 Years of Haute Couture on the Catwalk -Arles, July 2008 by Florian Vincent  

Black tie functions were a big deal in Toronto in the 80’s, especially in support of the arts. We attended several of these fabulous fantasy-themed balls, and each one, of course, required the purchase of a new gown for moi. The most spectacular of these designer acquisitions I’ve kept hanging in the back of my closet all these years, mainly because the dress is just so damn beautiful.  An hourglass shape, pleated, pieced, and draped, shorter in the front to reveal CFM shoes, a deep V back, silky wings trailing from the shoulders behind, all in a  fuschia tone so intense, it vibrates.  

Every once in a while I take “the dress” out of the hanger-bag just to admire it, and touch the silky fabric. When I first wore this creation in 1983, I bought a brand-spanking-new, just-launched perfume to go with it, my choice likely inspired by the pleated-glass effect on the bottle, which serendipitously matched the pleated layered silk of the dress design. Its perfect name was Diva, by Emanuel Ungaro. The knowledge that my new perfume was from an Italian designer I admired, and that it also smelled beautiful, was a pure bonus.

Diva is downright luscious – still - thirty years later.  It’s a rose. It’s a chypre. It’s big, but in the best possible way. The opening is a blast of aldehydes mixed with bergamot, citrusy and sparkling like champagne, full of life and warm energy, ready to party. Already Diva smells rosy and fresh, like just-opened blooms with green leaves, and as the scent dries down into the heart the roses spring open and give you a big smacker of a kiss, spicy with carnation, creamy from tuberose, ylang-ylang and jasmine, sweet from honey. WOW! The heart of Diva is just…..luscious.

Up from the base come the rich green notes of oakmoss and vetiver, dusty patchouli and orris, and when the animalics kick in – civet and musk – Diva becomes scented splendour. It’s big and beautiful and elegant and classic. The cistus labdanum adds a layer of cultured richness, taming the animal notes so that they purr rather than roar. One spritz is all that’s needed for you and others to enjoy Diva – the spicy soft scent lasts for hours on the skin - and although Diva is a big scent, it’s not overbearing or demanding, like the female guest from hell. Instead, Diva is radiant and charming - the smiling beauty guys line up to meet.

Diva was created for Ungaro in 1982 by Jacques Polge, the Director at Chanel, in partnership with Francois Demachy, who is now the Director at Dior, so its classic chypre structure and elegant character is no surprise. These famous noses are two great talents.  What’s surprising is that Diva still smells so great, in fact, even better than I remember, at least the bottle I just bought does.

Some things just get better with age, it seems – cheese, wine, whiskey, handbags, jewellery. And perfumes? I don’t know if perfumes smell better as they age, or if it’s the fact that the person smelling them has aged. More years of living makes me experience the world differently.

Maybe I think Diva smells better because of the fact that I wore “the dress” a few months ago. Why not, I thought – vintage designer dresses are “hot” on the Red Carpets, and the dress still fits me to perfection. Why not?

So I wore it, and I wore Diva… to a Halloween party.

Everyone asked what perfume I was wearing. No one asked about the dress.

Diva by Emanuel Ungaro is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.