Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Visa by Robert Piguet: High-Spirited


October 27, 2009:

The official list of notes for Visa from the Robert Piguet website includes:
Top notes of bergamot, violet leaves, mandarin, peach, and pear;
Heart notes of rose, immortelle, ylang-ylang, and orange flower;
Base notes of patchouli, vetiver, moss, vanilla bean, sandalwood, leather, and benzoin.


Robert Piguet Visa eau de parfum can be purchased from Nordstrom.com, where a 50-ml. bottle currently is priced at $110.



Image of sangria is from Foodnetwork.com; image of Robert Piguet Visa is from Basenotes.net.



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Just call me Carmen Miranda this week: I’ve been wearing the hell out of Robert Piguet Visa—a fragrance so top heavy with fruit, wearing it feels gloriously festive. Sangria, deliciously fruity and intoxicating sangria, is the first thought that came to mind when I smelled Visa, and instantly I was transported back to the mid-1970s and reminiscences of my parents’ parties during those years. They had been to Spain in 1974, and afterwards, at almost any shindig they threw in our big rambling farmhouse, there was always a huge punch bowl of Sangria set upon the groaning board, along with olives, cheese, and a roasted leg of lamb with mint jelly. There were other drinks, too—beers and wines and cocktails of every kind—but I remember the sangria being very popular, and my mother would allow my sisters and me to have a very small glass of it with our meal, which made us feel all grown-up and swanky. 

Neither wine nor grape is among the fragrance notes of Visa—and please understand that I’m not saying that Visa necessarily smells like sangria. In fact, the most discernible and persistent of the fruit notes in Visa is pear: a gorgeously realistic and syrupy pear. It’s the way that pear combines with the other fruited top notes—the bitter juiciness of bergamot, the bright juiciness of mandarin, the liqueur-like fermentation of peach—that lends the fragrance a full-bodied ripeness that reminds me of vino…and a sparkling sweetness that reminds me of vino transformed into an ebullient and ambrosial punch. 

Adding to the nectarous density of the fragrance are its middle notes of rose, immortelle, ylang-ylang and orange flower—and if all of this sounds too piercingly sweet to you, well, it might be. In fact, if you absolutely despise fruity-floral fragrances, it no doubt will be. As for me, I find that Visa in its first hour of wear is delightfully, effusively fruity—there is a sense of humor, a degree of campiness about it that makes me feel happy and full of joie de vivre. But the tipsy nature of these flowers and fruits doesn’t last forever; eventually it’s tugged back down to earth by Visa’s complex base of patchouli, vetiver, moss, vanilla bean, sandalwood, leather and benzoin. And for a good many hours, this drydown is like olfactory after-glow: there is a calm and creamy sweetness to the scent at this stage, and a drifty bit of leather and wood that, like a bit of cork afloat in the wine (because the hostess had trouble opening the last bottle), is a noticeable but low key facet of the composition. 

I’m always impressed when the name of a perfume matches up to the perceptions it evokes when I wear it. Visa seems a perfect name for this scent because the notion of travel—of seeing other countries, meeting new people and partaking of new experiences—usually involves the breaking of bread and sharing of drink. That Visa reminds me of generous amounts of fruits and spirits served up in punch bowl is just fine by me. Hospitality, good times, the rewards of the harvest … I rather like wearing these things on my sleeve.