It has taken me a bit of time, but I’ve finally collected all of the fragrances in the Minimal Collection by Zara. Well, almost. There is one that I don’t have, which is Blanc-à-Porter, but from what I understand, this scent is made to enhance the scents of other fragrances in the collection. It is a layered amplifier, consisting of notes like ambrette, bergamot, and cashmere wood. I think just using ISO Super E or Ambroxan will also do the trick. You can use fragrances like those from the Eccentric Molecules collection, or simply buy a cheapie alternative via eBay. I know there is a Polish house from Warsaw that sells a lot of these one-molecule scents and you can find it wares via Etsy or eBay. The brand name is IndependentsWarsaw.
Gosh, but Zara really is a fast fragrance! I just checked the national website here in Japan, and it seems like they have cleared their shelves of a lot of stock. Chances are if you cannot get them online wherever you are based, you’ll unlikely get them in-store, either. I was recently in Seoul, Korea, and visited their huge flagship store downtown, and the fragrance section there was dismal.
This Zara Minimal Collection consists of four categories, two fragrances in each. We have Into the Gourmand, Into the Woods, Into the Floral, and Into the Joyful.
Velvet Shadow (no. 1 of Into the Gourmand)
Number 1 in the lineup is Velvet Shadow, which has been compared to by others to Love Don’t be Shy by Killian or Oriana by Parfums de Marly. I can’t confirm the comparisons, but I can confirm that this is much better than I thought it was going to be, since the last marsh-mellow-y fragrance I tried by Zara – Bohemian Oud, I was not a fan of. This fragrance is a delicious, candied floral, which homes in on three notes (as do all the fragrances in the Minimal Collection), which are bergamot, jasmine, and marshmallow. I think there are some orange and berries in here too, which I do like. It’s sweet, but not too juvenile or sickly – probably because it’s fluffy and powdery soft as well as musky. The jasmine brings oomph to the party. It’s a bit dirty and sweaty, but that is how I like it. The bergamot starts the party like the pop of a freshly de-corked bottle of champagne – very sparkly. The party doesn’t last as long as you’d probably like, though. None in the Minimal Collection go beyond Zara’s typical performance range, which is traditionally lackluster. But if you like gourmands and cost is important to you, this is full-bottle worthy.
Splendid Bronze (no. 2 of Into the Gourmand)
Number 2 in the Into the Gourmand lineup is Splendid Bronze, which others have likened to Alien or Alien Essence Absolue by Thierry Mugler. Alien Essence Absolue is no longer available, which is so sad, as it is one of my all-time favorite fragrances, but Splendid Bronze, sadly, did not bring that to mind on first wear. I don’t even feel this is a true gourmand; it’s not that sweet. Not that gourmands have to be sweets, but gourmand is not the vibe this brings to mind for me. The triad of main notes in this one are jasmine, orchid, and black vanilla, but there is also orange blossom, heliotrope, and some woody notes. The name Splendid Bronze is weird for this. I thought there might be some coconut or tropical flower, but there is a lot of jasmine which might be trying to be sexy and dirty and creamy, but this one gives more screech. If there is any beach vibe here it could very well be an aquatic note, and I am not a fan of aquatics. I feel there is some vaguely not-quite-right note somewhere in the background of this fragrance. It could be an aquatic note, but it might also very well be the vanilla I’m not going for in this one. I love vanilla, but more of a cupcake vanilla, and not this knife-dipped-in-ammonia-scrapping-off-the-pod’s-little-black-curds stuff. The vanilla in here reminds me of one or two from the recent vanillas from Zara. I’m not certain, but it could be that it is Zara’s take on vanilla that is changing this from a possible love to just a like. This is the fragrance I was most looking forward to, so imagine my surprise when I found myself liking Velvet Shadow more, despite the marshmallow.
Someday Sometimes (no. 1 of Into the Joyful)
The next category is Into the Joyful and number 1 is Someday Sometimes, which, and I quote, “combines fresh floral notes with patchouli and raspberry undertones, resulting in an extremely accessible perfume for every day. Optimism and happiness define a bright fragrance, perfect for those who want to find their scent personality.” So there you have it – rose, patchouli, and raspberry: Uncomplicated, clean laundry that never needed much of a clean to begin with. A boring tale, you would think, but the rose is fresh and crisp and I could be wrong, but I get some pepper note in here; it’s snappy. The patchouli is appropriately restrained, and there is some sort of lovely unlisted wood melody going on at the very base. Maybe sandalwood? The raspberry (which could easily be any other tart fruit to my nose) is very watery, fresh, and a little sour. There is thankfully no sugary jamminess – that would not match well with this rose. I feel like I am carrying a bouquet of roses as I skip through a forest on a cool and sunny day. This is above-average Zara fare and as I am not usually a fresh rose type of girl, that is saying something. I would not have regretted getting a bigger bottle of this. And yes, it is joyful. This reminds me of a previous Zara fragrance I reviewed on this channel a while back, but I’ve used it up and my memory is not as good as it used to be. Maybe you can tell me, does it smell like Fashionably London?
Les Heures Passent (no. 2 of Into the Joyful)
The note triad for Les Heures Passent is bergamot, ginger, and tonka bean, but I do believe there are some amber and musky undertones as well. This one I like a heck of a lot less, at least at the opening. It’s hard to do citrus top notes with budget materials, I think. This one does indeed carry that lemon detergent overtone with it. I wish “Les Heures” would “Passent” a little more quickly into the mid-notes. One are there, I am forced to embrace this smell of lemon and mandarin peels mixed with week-old ginger shavings in a warm plastic bowl. Ginger might be better off in my mouth than on my skin, particularly when mixed with citrus. Both my taste buds and my nostrils must say, “non, merci” to the chemical peel threat in my facial orifices caused by this fragrance.
True Amore (no. 1 of Into the Floral)
The next category is Into the Floral and wouldn’t you know it, we have stereotypically love and romance-themed names to go along with them which is not my cup of tea. Neither are florals for the most part. Number 1 is True Amore, which some have compared to Delina Exclusif by Parfums de Marley and Flora Botanica by Balenciaga, which are two completely different fragrances, so I don’t understand. True Amore depicts, and I quote, “an overflowing femininity of facets thanks to its floral accords over a delicate base of vetiver and frankincense. The result is a long-lasting scent, timeless and cheekily modern that leaves behind a hypnotic footprint.” Zara is getting poetic there. I do like frankincense, but that is not one of the main three notes here. I like the grapefruit start. It’s sour but the rose is lending some offsetting sweetness. This fragrance is very rose-forward, with giant citrus playing more of a supportive role. It’s very green, thanks to the vetiver. Again, I find myself liking fresh roses. Zara, how are you making non-jammy roses so appealing to me? Better than the Christmas batch from Penhaligan’s I reviewed last year! Yet so much cheaper. I do know what they are doing here: the vetiver with the rose is suggesting actual rose stems. So creamy yet bitter, so soft yet you know there are also sharp thorns on those stems, and perhaps the impression of thorns is given by that spicy resin at the base which is frankincense? It’s very faint, but it’s there. The fragrance is very verdant and very fresh. Not sweet, but not woody like the other rose scent we had earlier, Someday, Sometimes. This fragrance smells impressively natural, or maybe that is because my nose was recently violated by Les Heures Passent. This is Scentgourmand-approved. Flora Botanica by Balenciaga does bear semblance to this one, but this gem gives much more stem.
Spirited Romance (no. 2 of Into the Floral)
The second into the floral is Spirited Romance. This one brought J’Adore and Pure Poisson by Dior to mind for some people, but I don’t follow their thinking. The triad of notes in this concoction is honeysuckle, a white flower bouquet, and white musk. There is also some fresh bergamot, some hyacinth with that honeysuckle, along with iris and rose. It’s appropriately delicate-smelling – a pretty day scent that is probably not long-lasting. I’ve nothing either terrible or wonderful to say about it; nothing to write home about. Next!
Bye Love (no. 1 of Into the Woods)
Bye Love, which reminds some people of YSL’s L’Interdit (Black) or Garden by Dolce & Gabbana. I don’t know those fragrances, but I suspect I might disagree based on the dupes mentioned so far in this post. In this fragrance, we get a sandalwood base that you might expect from this category, dirtied up with some patchouli and a very velvety rose. Bye Love smells… good. I like it almost as much as Someday Sometimes, but there is a soft sadness to this fragrance. The rose is dewy and wet. I can imagine a woman walking through a very earthy green park under grey skies and heavily misted air. She just dumped her boyfriend, and she’s weeping. As it turns out, the guy’s a cheating dickwad and she meets someone far better the next week. So, the name is apt. The sadness in these bottled tears is serene, calm, cool, and pretty.
Knowbody Knows (no. 2 of Into the Woods)
Last is Nobody Knows, which some say resembles an earlier Zara release called Ebony Wood, a dupe for Jo Malone’s Sage & Sea Salt. Some also have brought up Te Noire by Le Labo. I don’t agree with these comparisons. Nobody Knows is an intense experience of cassis, rose, and ebony, and I admit I have a hard time with it. It’s strong, and don’t you hate it when the ones that don’t work with you are? Sadly, this one is a scrubber for me. Even though I find it interesting and frankly addictive to sniff from the bottle, I can’t stop sniffing it! On my skin, though, this just turns offensively sour and just plain off-putting.
So there you have it. I would give this bling buy hauls a 50-50 success rate. Four of these I will keep for personal use, and four I am going to be either selling on the second-hand market or giving away. I will have no problem using up all the number 1’s from each category: Velvet Shadow, Someday Sometimes, True Amore, and Bye Love.
To recap the number 2 losers, Splendid Bronze had either a weird vanilla or an ozonic note that didn’t vibe with me. Spirited Romance had nothing that did much for my spirits, and Les Heures Passent and Nobody Knows were both… just nasty. You know, the chances are high that people with perfume channels tend to like a lot of stuff out there, so to say that I cannot recommend these at all is saying something. Sorry, Zara. On a positive note, there are going to be some people out there who like the ones that were less agreeable to me!