Perfume Directory

Diva (1983)
by Ungaro


Diva information

Year of Launch1983
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 151 votes)

People and companies

PerfumerJacques Polge
PackagingJacques Helleu
Parent CompanyFerragamo Group
Parent Company at launchWertheimer > Chanel

About Diva

Diva is a feminine perfume by Ungaro. The scent was launched in 1983 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Jacques Polge. The bottle was designed by Jacques Helleu

Reviews of Diva

Diva is a tuberose bouquet. But 'bouquet' hardly does it justice. This is tuberose plus (almost) every floral known to perfumers ... plus bergamot and heavy citrus, plus spice and aromatics, plus a creamy orris note ... and plus a massive patchouli chypre revving its engines in the basement.
It makes for a startling image : our diva, arriving at the glizty reception on a rip-snorting motorbike while acrid whiffs of pollution cling to her wacky, bias cut cocktail dress.

Like many of the 80's tuberose blockbusters, Diva is an impressive achievement, but one which is, I would have thought, well nigh impossible to wear these days, unless of course you're a drag queen - and then it must be de rigueur.

15th April, 2020
It isn't readily known by the buying public that retired house perfumer Jacques Polge has had a tryst or two with designers Ungaro and Salvatore Ferragamo, but this is because at once time Wertheimer, the owners of house Chanel since before WWII, also owned stakes in the fragrance arms of Ungaro and Ferragamo. In these cases, Jacques Polge was "out on loan" for them, and created a few unsung masterpieces that never received the same level of attention because they didn't hold the Chanel name. Diva by Emanuel Ungaro (1983) is one such hidden gem, a honeyed rose patchouli chypre masterpiece that was probably traditional even by 80's standards, and an exercise in such traditional perfumery that Polge was unlikely to indulge under the forward-thinking house of Chanel. What's even more interesting besides the perfectly dialed-in use of animalics here is the the core structure which bears some resemblance to the later Coco Chanel (1984), but it was not unlike Polge to take his ideas the refine them in revisionist fashion for later scents, and he'd do it again when he transformed much of Salvatore Ferragamo Pour Homme (1999) into his modern reconstruction of Chanel Sycomore (1930). It isn't to exactly say that Diva is a dry run for Coco, but that logic could be easily bridged considering how close together the release dates for these both were.

Diva is a full and powerful perfume, brimming with a floral citric aldehyde opening of bergamot, hyacinth, coriander, and rosewood. The meat and potatoes of this perfume is the honeyed jammy rose core, flanked by indolic jasmine, tuberose, and ylang-ylang, but kept tidy with narcissus and iris. This isn't the full broad shoulder-padded blouse and teased Aqua Net hair of the original Coco, but is still rather big-boned and boisterous in a more mid-century way when beehives and cocktail dresses were a thing. The base really heads into Bal à Versailles (1962) territory with civet and oakmoss, but much smoother like Estée Lauder Knowing (1988) thanks to the patchouli, sandalwood, and honey. Late in the game this comes across as eminently wearable, refined, elegant, but obviously not daring or modern in any way. Civet and animalic honeyed leathery tones will feel challenging to someone raised on 21st century mainstream feminine perfumes, but to the perfumista, this is class in a bottle. Wear time is all day thanks to the potent base and sillage is appropriately 80's in volume. Use in fall through spring seems best, as the honey may make this too cloying for muggy summers depending on your climate. Once upon a time this would have been a formal event perfume, but considering the animalic notes and how society in general has turned away from "dirty" musks, this is likely a personal enjoyment fragrance only.

Jacques Polge hadn't quite made a rose perfume like this since his early days with Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche (1971), and although this is far more hoary and seductive in nature than that older YSL number, the rose focus between them draws some parallels in my mind. Overall, this is a classic perfume lover's perfume, and more over a classic rose patchouli lover's dream, especially at the prices this can be attained for online. Older vintages will have more of the goods like civet, oakmoss, and real sandalwood absolutes, but I had the pleasure to smell both the "then" and "now" bottles by way of an old tester and fresh sprays from new box product, and I can say this unsung treasure has held up to be relatively respectable. Fans of stuff like Montana Parfum de Peau (1986) should appropriately be all over this if they aren't already, and in some ways this also informed the long-discontinued unicorn-status Ungaro Pour L'Homme I (1991), which was a masculine rose Polge produced in collaboration with a pre-Dior François Demachy. Diva is just a solid rose patchouli with a smoothed-out animal musk edge and plenty of chypre yumminess in the base, and if you can get past the name, has plenty of unisex appeal for fans of the genre, especially niche fans used to adding a zero to the price just to have something of comparable style to this. Beware, as there are many flankers to Diva as it was quite the seller for a number of years, and not all of them are created equal. Thumbs up.
10th October, 2019
A classic throwback scent which screams 1980's, but is more laid back than I would have expected.

Diva by Emanual Ungaro is surprisingly muted, despite having so many notes in its fragrance triangle! It starts out with the typical 80's powerhouse scent spice assault, but it then becomes a musky, soft powdery floral that is both layered but fairly stable. This occurs after only 5 minutes on the skin, and I rather like this part of Diva's development!

I definitely smell civet, a gentle rose, bright carnation, earthy oakmoss, ylang, cardamom, and tuberose above all the other myriad of notes. It is a sexy, still-relevant perfume that daring ladies of today can experience with open minds. It DOES smell retro, but not cloying. It's elegant, for mature women to wear on special evening occasions. Sillage is medium, and longevity is nice.

If you are a lady who wants to rediscover the world of scents from yesteryear, this is a great place to start!
15th October, 2018
I had this back in '83. It was a powerful fragrance then; it is a powerful fragrance now. I can detect about half its ingredients (of which there are way more, than listed here). Not as sweet as I thought I'd remembered. A good, chypre floral, for blustery autumn days.

Darvant nails it, below about it being "retro" for the current tastes, of most. Got to have womanly balls, to wear this one.
13th June, 2017
Stardate 20170226:

Starts almost like nahema but get better very soon. It is a great classic rose and a nice honeyed drydown.
Reminds me of Paris in the heart phase.

When I wore it a few days ago I did not get much rose from it but today it is as Rosey as they get.
27th February, 2017 (last edited: 06th March, 2017)
Barbara Herman calls this "honeyed, creamy, spicy, soft, animalic and rich."

I can't disagree, but for all those qualities, it strikes me as rather bland. It does not have the powerful quality described in so many of these reviews, nor do I find it to be a rose chypre. Funny, how different noses are.

For me, this is no more than pleasant. I sampled an edp that seemed rather weak. Fabulous bottle design, though. I'd be more interested in getting an empty bottle for my collection than one with juice inside.

Top notes: Bergamot, Coriander, Rosewood, Hyacinth
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Tuberose, Carnation, Orris, Ylang
Patchouli, Vetiver, Honey, Oakmoss, Civet, Musk, Cistus
24th July, 2014

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