I have a rather fond affection for astrology which, on the increasingly less frequent occasions that I mention this to people, usually elicits one of two reactions: either an amused chuckle or a disdainful hiss. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a “Yeah, me too!” reaction on this topic, which has always surprised me, considering that almost any major newspaper in the United States has a daily horoscope in it and most women’s magazines have a monthly astrology column. I’m actually not a reader of either of those—I prefer an in-depth study of the topic—but still, if there are horoscopes taking up valuable space in our major publications (space that otherwise would be filled with advertising), then I can’t believe that I’m the only person in the world interested in it.
Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, founder of analytical psychology, and believer in astrology wrote: “We are born at a given moment, in a given place, and like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born.” His statement summarizes in a lovely and concise way my own interest in and beliefs about astrology—and it also provides a fitting description of my recent sampling of three exquisite perfume extraits from the line of Vero Profumo, created by the Zurich-based Swiss perfumer Vero Kern. Wearing Vero's perfumes, I feel as if I am assuming the distinctive personalities of three different women, all of whom in some way are a part of me—each one a facet of me—as if exploring my astrological sun, moon and rising signs through these fragrances.
Let me back up a bit by saying that I had not expected to love all three scents (Kiki, Onda, and Rubj). Despite the fact that I’d read reviews of Onda describing it in reverential terms, I had a feeling that a vetiver scent would be a tricky affair at best, as I am not a huge fan of the note—I usually find it too masculine on me. When the perfumes arrived, that feeling was confirmed…at first...for all of 24 hours. Because after that, not only was I in love with all three scents, but I was head-over-heels in love with Onda. It is the scent I think of now as the match to my Moon in Aquarius aspect of my horoscope—that part of my personality that is ruled by unorthodox Uranus and which adds a vivid imaginative aspect to my otherwise down-to-earth Virgo persona.
But let’s start with Kiki first, the scent Vero Kern describes as her homage to the beautiful city of Paris, where she studied perfumery. Notes include French lavender, caramel, musk, and “exotic fruits” (not otherwise identified on Vero’s website). Interestingly, Paris is one of the cities traditionally associated with the sign of Virgo, my sun sign, and I find Kiki quite charming and a perfect match to my sensibilities. Kiki is the combined smell of cool, crisp lavender’d sheets in a chic hotel and the sweet sighs of caramel bliss beneath those sheets. The scent is not so much about sex as it is about intimacy: the pleasure, contentment, and laughter of being with someone you love in a comfortable place. I don’t smell a sexual muskiness in this scent, so much as I smell something lightly powdery and warm beneath the cool sheets, with the fruits adding just a bit of playful bite, a bit of levity to the scent. Kiki has a wonderful sense of French élan—it is flirty, but in a sophisticated, elegant way.
Astrologist Joanna Woolfolk describes Virgo as having “self-possession, a sense of passion that is controlled by discipline.” Kiki truly expresses that odd mix of sensuality tempered by self-restraint, and what is often described as “discriminating taste.”
Onda, on the other hand, is not so discriminating. Onda is the kind of scent that asks in a similar fashion to the famous Beatles song, “Why don’t we do it in the road? No one will be watching us…why don’t we do it in the road?” Because Onda likes the tarry smell of the highway, the grass and weeds growing up around it, and the dirt where the two meet. She will blacktop you like some witchy woman that you’re not sure you can survive, but when she’s finished, you’ll feel like she rolled you from the highway onto a bed of sweet grass and flowers.
The Vero Profumo website describes Onda as “the finest vetiver roots seasoned with sizzling, fiery notes of ginger, mace and coriander.” The drydown on this scent is intoxicating, like an olfactory opium delivered to you after an olfactory you-know-what. Interestingly enough, there is not what I perceive as a sexual note in this scent, but it does smell so peaty, earthy, smoky, green, and rooty that sex is what comes to mind. Apologies to those who prefer a genteel review from me; I can’t give it to you here.
I thought I couldn’t wear Onda, and then it was all I craved. This scent is the complete opposite of my outwardly sensible and discerning Virgo personality, but it is completely in keeping with my Aquarius moon: unconventional, highly imaginative, and somewhat perverse. In astrology, the moon represents your inner psyche—the personality you keep hidden. Perhaps that’s all I should say on this subject.
Finally, we have Rubj, the exotic one. Rubj to me is like the love child of Serge Lutens A La Nuit and Frederic Malle Carnal Flower. Her notes include sweet Moroccan orange blossom, musk, Egyptian jasmine, and (though it is not listed on the website) what my nose is convinced is tuberose. Rubj is the kind of scent I always lose myself to—the smell of carnal decadence and soaring transcendence existing, intertwined, in the closest thing that comes to nirvana: a great, white floral perfume. Rubj possesses the indolic jasmine that reminds me of A La Nuit, yet it also has a bit of green menthol and uplifting tuberose that one finds in Carnal Flower. And the orange blossom is as orange blossom should be: heady and sweet. You would think it would be overpowering, but I find it isn’t, most likely because all of the Vero Profumo perfumes are extraits (pure parfums)—so they stay closer to the skin without the heavy boost of alcohol that one finds in a lesser concentration.
Rubj is the scent of my Cancer ascendant—my rising sign. Cancer is ruled by the Moon, which means that the moon is very prominently placed in my horoscope, and the moon bestows heightened sensitivity and imagination to the person whose chart it touches, as well as deep emotion and kindness. “Many Cancer Ascendants are extraordinarily gifted as writers, poets, and painters,” says Woolfolk.
I don’t consider myself gifted, nor am I exotic in any way. Yet I think of the exotic Rubj as perfectly matched to my Cancer ascendant because it does very much encapsulate my dreamy, imaginative nature. My family has always viewed me as someone who is lost in daydreams, oblivious to the real world. They see that more than they see my pragmatic Virgo qualities, so having said that, I feel more certain in saying that this Rubj is very much me, too.
Or, at least, one of the three faces of me.
April 8, 2008:
The Three Faces of Me: Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj
Suzanne's Perfume Journal
Vero Profumo perfumes (including samples) can be purchased directly from Vero’s website, VeroProfumo.com, as well as from LuckyScent.com, where a 7.5 ml flacon of the parfum is currently priced at $180, while a 15 ml flacon is currently $255. Please note that these fragrances are also available in an eau de parfum concentration, but the edp versions are slightly different in composition than the parfum version. My review is for the parfum concentration, and my samples were provided by the perfumer.
Image: photo of Kiki de Montparnasse taken by her lover, the artist Man Ray, in 1926. The gorgeous photo of the Vero Profumo perfume bottles and boxes was shamelessly stolen by me from Fragrantica.com-- a terrific perfume reference site that features lots of reviews by perfume lovers in the online community.
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