Aqua Manda has been re-jigged, along with it's trademark, owned, lock stock and barrel by Givaudan and Beauty Brand Development (Westex), who fell upon the pressure group "Bring Back Aqua Manda" with glad cries, and allegedly brought in Christopher Collins, the chap credited with the creation of the original as a consultant in the re-creation of this iconic fragrance.
IFRA rules have, it seems, made life a little troublesome for the new owners, who, whilst trumpeting that the formula is the original, are happy to admit that there have been substitutions falling into line with IFRA guidelines. And although there are a couple of semi favourable reviews, the consensus so far seems to be an unhappy thumbs down. Reports lean toward the perfume having lost all of it's citrus and spice impact, and being a powdery, insipid shadow of it's former glorious self.
The pressure group have, en masse, dismissed the idea of buying it on the evidence of the samples they felt they had to fight for, as the campaigners were left out of the loop during the creation and testing process. There are some mighty disappointed campaigners now wondering where they might get this elusive, and wonderfully nostalgic fragrance.
For my own part, I tested it, and found it weak, lacking in citrus and, as many others have noted, powdery and somewhat reminiscent of Helena Rubenstein's "Apple Blossom", which is a long, lonely stroll from the zingy, spice filled air puncher we all remember. Try befor you buy has to be the maxim here.
In choosing not to bring the fragrance back in it's original high octane packaging, another avenue has been missed, for the dresser value of those beautiful pressed glass bottles is not there either, nor the elegant orange talc bottles, or the squat brown flacons with the embossed tops.
To quote Jean Guichard, who heads the Perfume School set up in 1946 by fragrance maker Givaudan AG - "Perfume lovers are hard to fool. Consumers know their perfume better than any expert. We say nothing to consumers but they know when their fragrance has been changed and may decide to opt for another product. Brands need to be careful when they reformulate their perfumes or they can lose customers".
Aqua Manda may gather a few nostalgia driven customers who may well be disappointed, and may attract the young who simply don't know how it's supposed to smell. Ultimately, like any other perfume release, only time and brutal honesty will tell.
I can see that this vintage scent from the 1970's has pleasant associations for many. So much of a scent's appeal can be linked to memories. I bring no memories or associations to the table, I am simply reporting on what I've encountered.
It starts as a spicy orange scent, and so far I like it. The orange notes are quite good, and are still vibrant after all these years. The spices are gentle, and they remind me of cinnamon, nutmeg and mace. Although this was marketed to women, at this point the scent seems dry enough to interest me. At this point, the scent is not heavy, and is smooth and quite attractive.
Gradually, notes of benzoin and patchouli emerge, and the faintest hint of vanilla.
The drydown gets rather powdery and ultimately too sweet for my rather austere tastes.
Still, it is a pleasant scent and I feel that it is well constructed.
03rd December, 2012 (last edited: 18th December, 2012)
I'm going to try fothergills immediately - I've been reminiscing about Aqua Manda for years - it was the only perfume I ever had as a student in the late 60s/early 70s and I deeply regret its passing
A company in Hebden Bridge are now manufacturing the Goya Aqua Manda. I bought some for my mother and she absolutely loved it, said it was just as she remembered. You can buy it online also at feathergills.co.uk along with Black Rose by Goya, Californian Poppy and Mischief.
05th October, 2011 (last edited: 13th October, 2011)
I have a very small collection of vintage Aqua Manda Fragrance - a couple of gift sets in the iconic William Morris type of decoration and some bottles of fragrance and the oatmeal soap. It is too much to expect them to smell just the same after all these years, but one of the eau de toilettes is almost right.
I would love to smell this fragrance again. My Mum used to wear it in the 70s and 80s. It was a lovely spicy orange but not too overpowering. I remember it being a very happy sunshine fragrance. She now wears Lush Karma from time to time which she says reminds her of this. Patchouli and Orange a go go! I would say Karma is sweeter and spicier with a harsher edge than aqua manda but it may be my memory playing tricks on me.