By now it should be clear that I enjoy Acqua di Parma fragrances. The original fragrance, Colonia, is one of my favorite fragrances of all time, and I have taken the time review other fragrances ranging from the Blu Mediterraneo line to the first fragrance of the new Note di Colonia collection. Today I return to a staple, Colonia Essenza, which was created to be a modern interpretation of the original Colonia fragrance. In so doing I will make numerous references to Colonia (review here) in order to draw useful comparisons that might help with purchasing decisions.
As is usual with Acqua di Parma fragrances, Essenza opens with citrus. Instead of the distinct lemon that was present in the original Colonia, Essenza includes citruses that are more popular in modern colognes, such as grapefruit and mandarin orange, with a classical bergamot tying it all together. The result is a less sweet citrus opening, with green tones and bitterness underlying the freshness.
The florals in the mid have also been updated rather significantly. Gone is the traditional lavender element. Instead we find a beautiful blend of petitgrain and neroli, with echoes of both rose and rosemary (also included in Colonia) that link Essenza to its Parma roots. Partly due to the mix of rose and lavender, the original Colonia is distinctly floral, and perhaps even leans slightly feminine by today’s standards. In contrast, the floral elements in Essenza are less obvious and are presented in a way that ensures the fragrance comes across as far more masculine.
Something about Essenza smells extremely soapy, perhaps because it combines soapy florals with a base of oakmoss and clean white musk. Soapiness is in its DNA – the original Colonia was a soapy fragrance, but soapy in a different way; where the original was reminiscent of old-fashioned and powdery rose-scented soaps, Essenza has a soapiness that is much more modern. The overall result is that Essenza captures the same spirit of Colonia but for a modern audience, rendering it perfect for the gentleman of today.
If researching Essenza, you will find many comparisons to Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino. Though there are some similarities, most notably in the inclusion of a fresh neroli note, most of these comparisons are unjustified. Of course, Neroli Portofino is another excellent fragrance and is also in the cologne style, however it is more recognizably floral and less masculine and soapy than Essenza.
Essenza’s performance depends on the weather. In hot weather, Essenza seems to perform better, as its complexity, projection and sillage are enhanced with the heat of the sun. But in the cold, Essenza takes on a cool character, smelling mossy and more biting in its freshness than usual. I wear Essenza day or night, to all events, and with any sort of clothing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that fresh and clean fragrances are inherently versatile.
Every man should have an Acqua di Parma fragrance in his collection, and in particular one from the Colonia line. If trying to decide between Essenza and Colonia, I will note that the the traditionalist will find great appeal in Colonia, but Colonia Essenza is especially for the gentleman that embraces modernity. As a proper and respectful update to the original, Essenza is the fragrance that I usually suggest as a good place to start exploring the Acqua di Parma brand. I’d also recommend the other fragrances from the same line, but those reviews will have to wait for another day.