Perfume Reviews
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Reviews by Toxicon

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Total Reviews: 1

Vibrant Leather Summer by Zara

Fantastic summer fragrance at any price; at the going rate, it's an absolute steal. (Full price is $29.90 for 120 ml; bought mine on sale for $17.99; at the time of writing, it's on sale for $9.99.)

Here's some additional background, since the basenotes entry is pretty bare. To start, worth noting this is supposedly EDP strength, which might draw some skepticism considering this is Zara and citrus is not known for longevity, but there's something to it. The box identifies the perfumer as Jerome Epinette, and he gives a little blurb about capturing summery days while listing the following notes:

Top: mandarin, ginger
Middle: neroli, lotus
Base: blonde wood, ambroxan

Packaging is very high quality: box is nice and gives lots of details, and the bottle is a heavy chunk of smoothly rounded glass with a well-crafted, sturdy plastic cap... best of all the cap is magnetic and the atomizer is excellent. If it didn't say Zara on the bottle, you would think this is rather high-end. (Much nicer than my Guerlain Vetiver bottle that comes with the lame Habit Rouge-style square-shouldered bottle).

On to the juice: this is clearly a modern summer citrus in the same lane as Dior Homme Cologne (DHC) or Chanel Allure Homme Sport Cologne (CAHSC), i.e., a clean and pristine, minimalistic update to the classic EDC style, focused squarely on the citrus but with synthetically enhanced performance. I get why people call it a DHC clone, since they're similar enough to wear almost interchangeably. they fit the same mood and share certain aspects, but they're not identical.

For context, before getting my bottle of Vibrant Leather Summer (VLS), I had been casually questing for the ultimate summer citrus. Earlier this year I picked up decants of DHC and CAHSC as well as a few Atelier Cologne samples (Bergamote Soleil and Cedrat Envirant), so I've been able to directly compare them all and see where VLS fits in.

VLS has a slightly brighter, fizzier opening note than DHC. It's quite similar and still reminds me of bergamot, but the presence of ginger gives it a slightly rounder / spicier feel that might explain why it's presented as "mandarin". Whereas DHC has more of a "chilled lemonade" opening. VLS also feels a bit weightier, partially living up to the promise of an EDP; it hangs on the skin with more density than DHC, which feels almost ethereally light and wispy to me. In this sense, VLS reminds me more of CAHSC; that has a more complex citrus opening (perhaps lemon, lime, bergamot, and tangerine) but that sometimes gives off a faint celery note that's not at all present here. In terms of performance, I find CAHSC hangs around on my skin a bit longer than the others; VLS is closer to that but not quite as sustained; and DHC is very light and requires a heavy hand on the sprayer to last more than a few hours, and even then I need to reapply.

The heart of VLS has a touch of floral presence to my nose,, similar to CAHSC, plus a noticeable hit of ginger, which gives it it's own character. And the base of VLS does feel ever so slightly woody or even faintly vetiver-ish in a way that the others don't. DHC, by contrast, feels like a bright citrus note that fairly quickly transitions to the light white musk that accounts for most of the wear. I still like DHC a lot, but I think it's greatest strength is that it's the most minimalistic of all of these. It's a total distillation of the style, and you can give yourself a single spray and smell perfectly decent without alerting anyone to the fact you're wearing a fragrance. Both VLS and CAHSC have stronger projection and last longer, so I'm not sure either of these is truly interchangeable with DHC in that sense. Though of course all three are quite similar and I would happily wear any of them.

Directly compared to CAHSC, I find that scent has a bit more going on; more citrus constituent parts in the top note; more florals in the heart; and a slightly different dry down (that I'm not equipped to describe particularly well). I have found that one cloying if I spray too close to a workout; the sweat brings it to life and can make it a bit too intense. It also lasts very well, and has a high quality feel to the blend and performance that I tend to associate with Chanel fragrances. That said, the opening of CAHSC often smells like celery to me. I've never seen it described that way elsewhere, and I've come to like it more over time, but I ultimately prefer the simpler approach of DHC and VLS.

In terms of performance... 2 sprays feels quite powerful on me in terms of projection. (By contrast I usually apply 5 or 6 DHC sprays from my decant and 2 or 3 of CAHSC.) It lasts a decent time for this kind of citrus-forward scent, maybe a few hours of solid projection plus several more as a fairly present skin scent. I know Zara fragrances have a reputation for terrible performance and longevity, but I can confirm that's not the case here. It's not beastly, but great for a summer citrus. CAHSC doesn't project quite as strongly, but I find it lasts a bit longer in the drydown.

The important takeaway here: VLS is excellent for what it is. In some ways, it's arguably better than DHC and CAHSC, depending what you're looking for. As a daily summer scent, it's fantastic and easily at the level of quality of Dior and Chanel, which is absolutely insane considering you can buy 4 oz of this stuff for $10 plus shipping. I assume that also means they're fully discontinuing it, because that's how the world works. If you already know you like DHC or CAHSC, or just want a good summer citrus, I would say this is blind buy worthy considering the blowout pricing.

Epilogue: rumor has it this is identical to Zara's other offerings, From Paris to New York and Vibrant Leather Cologne. (Vibrant Leather Cologne is still available for $29.90.) I haven't tried those and cannot confirm. There are apparently also similarities to an older Zara fragrance, Blue Hole. Again, I can't confirm. But I'm impressed enough with the quality here that I'll be curious to explore other Zara scents.
08th July, 2021