Zara is one of the world’s top brands in fast fashion, and it also deals in fast fragrance. What that translates into is fragrances that are mass produced, have mass appeal, and are changed up from season to season. I believe it also means that their fragrances have built-in obsolescence, meaning they are designed not to last so you have to spray more and then buy more. Conceptually, then, I should not be a fan, and I have not been, but the brand appears to be stepping up its game (although this will be evident in later Zara reviews I post on this blog).
Because the fragrances are mass produced, they are therefore easier to sell with lower profit margins due to high production volumes, and this translates into lower prices. So I finally backed down and gave into the temptation to do a fragrance hall with the brand, purchasing four large bottles, a discovery set, and a mini roll on.
The box arrived within days, and I was most pleased! Three of the fragrances are from the 2022 Bloom series and that is what I’m covering here. All three are EDP concentrations in 90 ml bottles, and are priced under USD20 each, which is excellent, even if the performance is substandard. And yes, none of the three fragrances I’m about to describe do well in terms of longevity or projection, but I am pretty critical in that area. They are better than previous Zara releases I’ve tried in terms of longevity, but where they do last, the projection is close to null. However, the sillage is nice with these. For the first few hours when I tested them at the office last week, I my nose detected little scent bubbles living not on, but rather near my person. This to me signifies the use of some potentially man-made aroma chemicals, like ISO Super E, for example. Another point is that these are very top-loaded with alcohol. It does settle quickly, but don’t bother sniffing right after you spray, because you’ll just load up your nostrils with alcohol – the non-drinkable kind. Finally, one of two sprays will NOT be enough for these. I probably spritzed these two dozen times each morning, mostly on my clothes, mind. All of them are more appropriate for day time wear, and only one – Gardenia – might be OK is colder weather.
The first fragrance is the one I preferred least, although there is no orchid listed in the notes, oddly. Orchids or are a family of plants that include several genera and species whose flowers produce a variety of different smells, depending on the subspecies. I think they are the Venus sex stars of all flowers, and Georgia O’Keeffe might agree.
- rose, lily-of-the-valley,
- peach, apple,
- musk, wood, amber
But I don’t think sexy goddess was what they were going for with this one because it’s light, fresh, and clean. There is zero skank, and personally, sexy to me is a little naughty, not nice. This is a fresh-out-of-the-shower, girly floral fruity clean and nice smell. I’ve heard in smells like a clone of Victoria’s Secret Bombshell, but that’s a brand I have an aversion toward. I’ve owned one of their scents before, though. I can’t remember what it was, but I remember thinking it was too sweet and juvenile that had terrible performance. It wasn’t Bombshell, though. Oh, I remember – it was called Eau so Sexy. And it wasn’t sexy. Anyhow, what I do appreciate about Zara Orchid is it’s a light, happy, and uplifting fragrance that I don’t find too sweet. What I don’t like about it is its terrible performance and the fact that is it is, well, pretty boring and generic. But not at all unpleasant. Nonetheless, I will be passing this fresh spring scent on to a friend, me thinks.
Gardenia by Zara has several iterations. It’s been released in different bottles over the years, and I assume this is the most recent and I also assume that there have been reformulations. But this is the note information I have for you, directly from Zara:
- orange blossom, peach, raspberry, coffee, vanilla
Earlier renditions of the ostensibly the same perfume on Fragrantica list Zara Gardenia as containing jasmine, bergamot, tangerine, peach, lemon, patchouli, cedar and/or musk in place of the orange blossom and vanilla, making each of them sound like completely different fragrances to my mind, but what do I know? I’ve taken a perfumery course, but I’m no perfumer.
I’ve both heard and read some people mention YSL’s Black Opium as a reference for this fragrance. I don’t remember exactly what Black Opium smells like, but I do remember my disappointment after sniffing it in a department store and revulsion to the price tag when it first came out. I got a sample of it on the day anyway, which cemented Black Opium to my do-not-buy list because I was not impressed with its performance. Just to be clear though, the actual smell was disappointing to me not because it smelled like crap, but rather because I was looking forward to it being an updated version of its predecessor. Opium is a beautiful fragrance my mother wore, but personally I would not wear today because the composition is too traditional for my tastes. In any case, I remember black opium smelling a lot like other top-selling mainstream fragrances of our day. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s not where I want to invest my money.
Enter Zara Gardenia. The performance does suck, but it’s a fraction of the price of Black Opium. It’s a pleasant scent. I can pick of a hint of light roast coffee and I do rather enjoy the peach and raspberry. I have to get through a sweet, vanillic candy opening first, though. It’s yummy. The florals are soft and gently support the entire dewy blend. My guess it this is more of a daytime scent whereas Black Opium might be also OK for evening. But again, overall it’s doesn’t offer a great deal in the way of uniqueness or performance, although this does last a lot longer than Orchid.
Hibiscus by Zara was also launched this year and indeed targets the ladies.
- bitter orange, mandarin
- peony, mango, passionfruit,
- vanilla, amber, orchid
So orchid is listed here, but not in the fragrance titled “orchid.” I guess hibiscus is a conceptual note to remind us of hot weather? There are plenty of wild hibiscus where I live in Southern Kyushu, but it doesn’t give off much of an odour, if any. This is my favourite of the three – a simple fruity floral scent with a pleasant, tart edge. But I admit I may be drawn to it because it’s gotten so hot of recent. This is a very juicy, thirst-quenching fruit punch. The mango is easy to detect, but I don’t find there’s much in the way of hibiscus. It’s a top-heavy, tropical scent, and that’s ideal for the warm weather months. The first minute gives you a blast of tangy, juicy, sour, fresh, water-packed fruit. It settles quickly down into a creamy warm vanilla skin scent in no time for me, but that is rather expected with Zara fragrances. It might last longer on you, but sorry, no such for me! Thankfully, these fragrances are not very spendy. And some of you might appreciate the dry down more than the initial blast, which is very girly, I think. Reminds me of some brand of sugar-coated sour fruit chews… with added juice. Like Sour Patch Kids? (I forgot to put a picture in the video!)
Side note: Zara does not list any individual perfumers for their fragrances, either on the retail website or on Fragrance websites like Fragrantica. That’s a bummer, as I rather like to know who the artists are, even if it’s a team of noses and they don’t necessarily have room to indulge their artistic visions.
This will not be the last you hear from me regarding Zara perfumes, since just this afternoon a second box that I promptly ordered came in the mail (had to take advantage of the sale!). I did manage to control myself a bit, though, but checking to see if anyone was selling some Zara fragrances I was interested in online secondhand on the Mercari platform, and indeed they were – for 25 to 50% less. So I used up some Mercari points! Just because I got some good deals, though, doesn’t mean my wallet is thinner!