I have liked Diva since its introduction, though I feel I've only now grown into it 31 years later! Interestingly, I find that its gorgeous warm, spicy, honeyed rose drydown smells precisely like my memory of vintage Coco, more than the current Coco does. They share Jacques Polge as their perfumer, and they share a lot of the same components, I'd venture. I don't particularly care for Diva's opening, the relative harshness of which must be why it's been compared to Paloma. Though just a few minutes in it warms up and becomes more...comfortable. I know it could be quite scary if over applied, yet with a light hand, I think it's fine for daytime, if not for the gym. Really a beauty, and when you can consider how reasonably it can be had, it must be one of the best perfume values going.
I first came across Diva in the eighties as an Australian teenager holidaying in Sicily with my extended family. One of my snobby Sicilian cousins wore it, and I always associated it with her in a negative way. I donít really remember what it smelled like, because I was having a love affair with the original Poison, but the bottle was prominently displayed on her dresser.
Anyway today I was at My Chemist and there was a lone bottle of the edt sitting on the shelf. I looked at the ingredients Ė oakmoss, tick - so I weighed up the reviews I had read against the memory of my cousin, and thankfully took the bottle home with me.
No doubt the edt Iíve got is nothing like the vintage edp. Even so I like this scent very much, and I donít have the heart-break of knowing what it used to smell like. On me itís a very powdery fruit-tinted rose and ylang with softened woods - matt and suede-like in texture. Itís not animalic at all, which for me is a good thing. It has a soft sillage with good longevity and I can imagine wearing it on a long work-day without having to touch up. I donít think it was never meant to be a work-day scent, but thatís the difference between the past and the present.
So aptly named, this big, gorgeous rose Chypre is not for shrinking violets--it is for the grand entrance, the big moment or for women for whom every gesture is a grand, dramatic one. While the rose is always front and center, there is an indolic, rich spicy element--even a rank and very feminine musky/civet accord--that makes this a beautifully balanced scent. I cannot help but think of the French film of the same name and its own diva when I think of this scent. This is what clung to her stolen dress in the hands of the besotted delivery boy. Once in college I splashed out on a bottle of Diva parfum as a birthday present for a girl whose mother said that she could ONLY wear this for special occasions--it was far too grand and suggestive for the everyday life of a co-ed. Great stuff, for ladies who can--and want to--pull it off.
In the same vein as massive fragrances as krizia, Roccobarocco, Etro Magot, Paloma Picasso, Fendi Classic, V&A First, Coco Chanel and Gabriela Sabatini Magnetic (it reminds me mostly Fendi Classic, the fragrance of my aunt in the time i was a child) this floral-aldehydic chypre is a rich, dark-brown, spicy, animalic 80's powerhouse, sumptuous and chic, performing a†central chord of rose, tuberose and ylang-ylang as absolute protagonists. The initial hesperidic (i catch a bergamot-neroli accord), dark, spicy and earthy opening conjures me effectively the Van Cleef&Arpels First's introduction which proceeds endly towards a slightly different evolution. The projection is immediately impressive and such of dusty-powdery-aromatic because of the aldehydes power. The rose (together with tuberose) is the main floral note of the scent with its conservative and decadent touch of innocence, somewhat retro with the indolic consistence that joins itself to the general mossy-animalic chypre density. Tuberose and ylang-ylang, together with mossy amber, imprint mellifluence and gorgeous exoticism while orris root complements (with its floral earthiness) the general soapy refinement. The aroma is brewing and deep because of the final almost caramellous power of honey, amber, vanilla and sandalwood combined with spices (i perceive cinnamon or nutmeg, may be cloves) and secret civet, musk or castoreum. I perceive this juice as one of the most animalic ever smelt (according with my current experience) with its amber, musk, honey, civet and may be castoreum centered final accord. A note of ambery patchouli enhance the dark vintage earthy vibe on the side of bergamot, rose, some greens, vetiver and amber. Ungaro Diva is another great creation by Mr. Polge probably too much sumptuous, baroque, vaguely retro and holy for the vulgar current taste.
18th November, 2011 (last edited: 28th November, 2014)
I owe Diva a bit of an apology. It's a heavy rose chypre, an era-specific genre (70s-80s) that I love. In the past I've noted that I like some of Diva's cohorts more than Diva. (Paloma, Knowing, Scherrer, La Perla.) I've tended to point to what I find 'off' in Diva. Too much honey sweetness, not enough green, a bit soft for a chypre.
Well, on reflection, I was wrong. When I see Diva as a hybrid rose chypre/oriental, it comes beautifully into focus. What I used to see as a simple honey sweetness I now recognize as a wonderfully sweet, waxy-honeycomb scent that connects the heartnotes to the spicy amber drydown in a rather lavishly paced transition. I used to want more brash green with more patchouli and moss in the drydown. What was wrong with me? While there is an identifiably chypric drydown, the amber emphasis is both comfortable and stirring.
A few other bits make Diva's evolution so interesting to keep tuning into. Right from the top there is an identifiable rose, but it is woody rather than green or dewy or brightly 'floral.' It calls to mind both rose and rosewood. And there's a slightly acerbic note that balances the honey and ties it to the dry spiciness that lasts through the entirety of Diva's drydown. Also, while I still hold that Diva is a rose chypre, there is an indolic note that suggests white flowers and keeps the rose from reading as strictly dark as in Scherrer or La Perla.