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Farina Gegenüber has a long proud history. Johann Maria Farina was the first person to market his hesperidic light fragrant water as Eau de Cologne and fortuituous circumstances (a new philosophy of scent rejecting older animalic styles, the French presence in the Rhineland), sound marketing and last but not least the quality of his product made Farina Gegenüber synonymous with Eau de Cologne for 200 years. After a persistent decline in the 20th century leading to co-ownership by a mass market producer of beauty products in the 1980s, the company was bought back by Johann Maria Farina and his brother in the 1990s and reestablished as a niche house. Farina is a trained pharmacist and perfumer and believes in the necessity of adapting the original formula to present expectations, besides having to conform to regulations and being unable to employ natural musk for reasons of scarcity. The formulation has apparently undergone a number of changes - an older bottle listed hydroxycitronellal, a popular synthetic providing a greenish lindenblossom note, and other synthetics, which have disapperead in the most recent INCI declaration. As a whole, however, the fragrance is still far removed from a natural, more short-lived Eau de Cologne, though it still far superior to the ghastly cocktail of low-end materials that goes by the name of 4711. I enjoy the bergamot opening, but don't find what the ionones add in power and persistence to be particularly pleasant - it is simply too reminiscent of the standard building blocks of mass market perfumery. My four stars, then, are given for the vintage Farina from ca. 1955 I own, which is a completey different creature - a light bergamot and citrus with delicate, whispering undertones of florals, woods and musk that fades within the hour. I'd welcome it if Farina decided to return to the original formulation to produce something as beautiful as Lorenzo Villoresi's Acqua di Colonia.
15th September, 2009