Aquatics, on the whole, are a genre I avoid. My reaction to Oltre was all the more surprising given that fact.
I've lived by or near the sea for more of my life than not, on both of Canada's coasts and in the UK.
Oltre, to my nose, isn't the sea itself, but rather a cold, stormy day beside it. The aquatic note is rain-soaked rather than pure salt spray, and the botanical notes place its olfactory world firmly on terra firma.
It's a fairly linear fragrance, based on a quartet of the aquatic notes, pine, seaweed and muguet. It goes on cold and a fresh with the pine prominent and gradually softens and fades to allow the muguet to shyly peak through. This is never a floral fragrance though, and seaweed is always the biggest green note in the composition.
The sillage is good and the longevity is excellent. This lasts well over twenty-four hours on me.
Oltre ranks up there with Profumum's Acqua di Sale and Erolfa as one of the highest quality, marine fragrances I have tried. I concur with Foetidus that it is not a cheaply made, synthetic marine. That is my prime directive in choosing one from this category. It has to actually smell like being by the sea, not like being at a mall.
Oltre is beautifully crafted and super salty like Acqua di Sale. I did detect a discordance but found myself reacting to it positively and playfully--much like walking along the beach in the sun and then passing through a shaded area near a tide pool where the darker elements have had time to meld in the on-again, off-again, salty, wet environment--and then walking in the sun again where the negative ions from the waves collide with a humid breeze of pine/myrtle greenness combined with optimistic, serene muguet. I can sympathize with Scentsitivity on the level of the of the muguet, as probably most guys would. Although floral-sweet scents tend to stay true on my skin and I am a floral-loving guy, this came across as being a bit too feminine for me as well. Unlike Erolfa there is no ambergris (or sandalwood) in the base which keeps it cool as others have noted.
In the end I chose Acqua di Sale (I had already owned Erolfa) over Oltre, at more than twice the price, because it had the longest duration and it's the saltiest. True saltiness is what I yearn for most in a marine fragrance. I found Oltre to have average duration and sillage.
If you are at all interested in marine fragrances you should most definitely give Oltre a try--and all the Laura Tonattos.
btw Oltre means Beyond in Italiano.
Salty and oceanic. Ms. Tonatto has accomplished such a true-to-the-sea marine scent without the synthetic notes that occur in so many other marines scents. Oltre is sharp and maybe even harsh and astringent, but those qualities are capable of speaking the character of the sea. “Potency” and “discordance” work because this is not a warm comfortable take on waterworld. I think Oltre removes or makes moot, the human dimension – possibly Ms. Tonatto cares more for her creation and her creativity than for the profit they might produce. Oltre presents the chill and emptiness of the universal ocean. It is, as robyogi says, icy cold, and lonely; and that, along with its discordance, is exactly what I love about it. To me this is symbolically existential – it is the emptiness of infinity in a bottle and on my skin. Oltre is an astonishing fragrance and a work of art – the cold yang to Erolfa’s yin warmth – love them both, but certainly this one is not for every one.
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I tried Laura Tonatto’s Oltre hoping to find an authentic marine scent which gave the impression of a storm at sea. My hopes were partially met. For while I admire its authenticity, I do not get a dark side in Oltre at all. It has a sweetness punctuated by lily of the valley and a subtle musk in the base. Overall, a nice scent, but one that I think more suited for a lady.
This is probably the most extreme and realistic marine scent I've ever tried, with an incredibly sharp salty marine note. It's almost icy cold, lonely...but very marine. It brings to mind images of a gathering storm on the ocean - you know, when the sky is gray and there's a certain coldness and energy that makes you feel both calm and utterly powerless in the face of nature. I still can't decide if I like it as art, or like it as something to wear. The more I smell it, the more I like it, but it's certainly not conventional, and not for everyone. A tentative thumbs-up.
Update: What to add? I wore this as a SOTD today and was surprised by its longevity. It still ranks as one of the most realistic marine fragrances I've tried, while also smelling natural, i.e., lacking the synthetic vibe of, say, Kenzo Homme. The seaweed note in this stands out. Still, I'm not sure I enjoyed wearing it as much as Ineke's Derring-Do, but it is fragrant art. If you think you know "marine" or "aquatic" scents, and haven't tried this...you really ought to.
25th July, 2006 (last edited: 12th May, 2011)