With "Parma" everyone has his own associations. Gourmets think of Parma ham and Parma cheese (a.k.a. Parmesan), my friend Miro, who works at the EU Commission (no, he's not responsible for the allergen rules on perfumes), probably thinks of EFSA, the EU agency for food safety based in Parma, historians may think of the house of Bourbon-Parma (Parma was for a long time Austrian or French before the foundation of the Italian nation state), and literature lovers think of Stendhal's novel "The Charterhouse of Parma", which, however, is not about Carthusian monks but about love and politics. Perfume lovers think, of course, of Acqua di Parma, perhaps THE best-known Italian fragrance brand, at least in the men's segment.
One of them is the "blue series" of AdP with a wide variety of mostly quite successful summer waters: I think the house has succeeded very well in occupying the modern niche segment and earning a lot of money. I'm no expert, but could I imagine that this series appeals to a similar (perhaps not quite as prestige-conscious and rip-off-resistant) segment of buyers as the equally blue one by Tom Ford.
The other is: This scent here (and its flankers): THE ORIGINAL.
In "Colonia" by Acqua di Parma we encounter (historically certainly not correct, but in the sense of a felt truth) something like the Italian Ur-Cologne, the ultra-montane counterpart of 4711 and Farina Gegenüber. Especially in the opening phase, the relationship to the German and French colognes and colognes in the tradition of the Cologne houses, but also, for example, of Guerlain's Impérial, is clearly noticeable: A tradition is being continued, which is why there are nine points for the well fitting name "Colonia".
The attack is perfectly lemony; and this lemon holds exactly the middle ground between creamy soft veiling and sharp, hard or sharp prickiness. It is a wonderfully strong, medium to dark yellow, round, solidly built, soft and yet strong lemon, with slightly green and bitter-fresh citric companions (I would have guessed bergamot and bitter orange here and was close).
After about 20 minutes, stronger floral impressions become visible, I would not have suspected rose, a decided (even heavy) rose scent is also missing, it is more an unspecific, but very beautiful floral aspiration. I don't think that rosemary and verbena were separate either, but I assume that they provide the stable, pithy and masculine bass underlay, even without smelling them specifically. In this phase Colonia changes miraculously between a floral-soft lemon and a crisp lemon sorbet, possibly with pistanzias on it.
Here I think, wow, this is such a stand-alone fragrance that is just as difficult to optimize as a Parmesan loaf, a cypress or the cathedral of Parma. The thing just stands in the world and you hope, forever, or at least for a few thousand years. After about an hour, however, there is a development that irritates me a bit, because the lavender enters the stage noticeably and fills it for about an hour. Lavender in eau de cologne is classic at most, it is also in 4711; but I find this too dominant here; for my nose the citric is (temporarily) too much displaced here. But that may have a very subjective touch. I actually like lavender very much, but for the last few months I seem to have been noticing it very strongly, perhaps more strongly than it is there.
From the third hour onwards, the citric regains lost ground, lavender remains moderately present, and at the same time the base, first woody, then wonderfully classic, fades into soapy, tender sweetness. Great, incredibly harmonious finish! br />
Apart from my lavender irritation, I like colonia very much, but I perceive it as almost overclassic. So classic that I find it almost a bit old-fashioned, which is saying something for me, because I'm not twenty-five anymore either and usually get rather curious about labels like "Opaduft". But my opinion doesn't seem to be a general opinion: If I look at this: 385 owners, and many of them with rather hip and club-suited nicknames, which rather less remind of educated citizens in retirement. It's nice that this fragrance seems to have kept its youthful freshness; I indulge and wish it at least another hundred years. Parma per sempre!
Two further remarks:
A friendly perfumer has left a note under No 1 of this small series saying that hard times are good for light fragrances. There seems to be something to that. The No. 3 of this series was launched in 1938, during the time of the annexation of Austria, the Munich Agreement and the late phase of the Spanish Civil War. This one actually dates from 1916. What "Verdun" is for Germans and French, the Isonzo River was for the Italians and Austrians, where the bloom of Italian youth died in mud, hail of grenades and machine gun fire during several years of war in succession, including 1916. It was a stalemate that lasted for years, ironically "won" in the end, in 1918 the Austrians: the Italian front collapsed and the way through northern Italy to Rome was open. But at this very moment the Spanish flu and the political disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire caused the Austrian army to collapse. And so everything remained as it was: a big draw, military situation as it had been four years before, only with infinite mass graves in addition, such as Northern Italy had last seen, if at all, in ancient times. And in the middle of this mess, a few dozen kilometres behind the front, in 1916, this light, cheerful little summer water was created, which is still a good mood bringer today. Crazy, right?
AdP's Parma occupies an intermediate position for me: it clearly shows its affinity to the Franco-German tradition of light, fleeting, citric-cool colognes. At the same time, with its good performance, differentiated fragrance development and a shelf life of five to six hours, which puts many a modern 300-euro-supplier-niche EdP in the shade, it can unhesitatingly claim ambitions to play a role in the world of "real perfumes".