Top Notes: Carnation, Coriander, Rose, Angelica, Neroli, Bergamot, Amalfi Lemon
Heart Notes: Patchouli, Hyacinth, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang, Mimosa
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Civetta, Castoreum, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Musk, Amber, Honey
Paloma is classified as a Chypre Floral fragrance. It was launched in 1984, and in my opinion is well deserving of its reputation as a vintage classic. The perfumer is Francis Bocris.
Chypres generally do not work well for me. I can wear some of them, but many of them prove to be too challenging, too strong, too overpowering. For example, I can wear Ungaro Diva, but I cannot tolerate Estee Lauder Knowing. I read many, many reviews of Paloma before I finally purchased it because I feared it may turn out to be a lot like Knowing and thus be intolerable. However, now that I have tried it, I am both relieved and happy to say I have no problems with Paloma.
Paloma is unmistakably a chypre perfume with a fair bit of oakmoss in the base that rises up through to the top notes and remains throughout the full wearing, but I do not find the fragrance overpowering at all. It is a very mature and sophisticated fragrance. I cannot imagine anyone under 30 wearing this well.
Re the notes, I definitely detect strong oakmoss and smoky vetiver. Both oakmoss and vetiver are challenging notes for me, but here the oakmoss is tame, and the vetiver is the kind I can enjoy. Here both the oakmoss and the vetiver are handled quite beautifully, quite deftly by M. Francis Bocris. None of the floral notes really stand out to my nose. I simply detect a very gentle floral bouquet strongly supported by a rich oakmoss and a smoky vetiver. I love civet and castoreum, as well as musk done well, but I cannot detect any of them very strongly here either. Once again, the animalics are handled quite well. Paloma is a very well blended fragrance where none of the notes really stand out to my nose aside from the oakmoss and the vetiver. I really like this fragrance! I do not think it is one I would wear frequently, but I very much like it. I wish I had mustered the nerve to purchase a bottle years ago. I can see why so many fragrance lovers love this one.
I cannot add more than what the many other reviewers have written about this fragrance before me. It is a lovely, wearable chypre. I think it is unisex and best suited to evening wear. I would never wear this to an office, a wedding, a christening, a church service, etc. This is strictly an evening fragrance best worn in Autumn and Winter and probably for more formal events. There is definitely something formal and sexy about it insofar as perfumes can be said to be "sexy." This is not at all a casual fragrance in my opinion. Paloma would pair well with an elegant gown, upswept hair, elegant jewels, and (for me faux) fur. It is sumptuous, luxurious, and not for the faint of heart. Performance is very good. This is a stunning, sophisticated fragrance for the price point.
I am very glad indeed that I added Paloma to my collection. If you love chypres and have not tried Paloma, I highly recommend you try it. If you are not a great lover of chypres but can wear some of them, then again I highly recommend Paloma because I think this chypre has a great chance of winning your heart as it has won my own.
ETA: My bottles (Already purchased a back up!) are not the most recent formulation, believe is through Elizabeth Arden, or the oldest formulation insofar as I am aware, but they are vintage, and the perfume is divine. My advice is not to pay a hefty price for a super old bottle. The more recent vintages are absolutely stunning and very affordable!! My bottles have the clear glass in the middle with the black plastic case surrounding it, so no worries about plastic chemicals leaching into the fragrance. It is not the most expensive looking bottle, but who cares if the fragrance is this gorgeous?! I think the packaging is attractive anyway, though.
So, save your money. You positively do not need one of the earliest bottles because the more recent vintage is absolutely wonderful. Sillage and projection are good. Longevity is about average at 5-6 hours which holds for my more expensive Chanel Exclusifs as well.