Today’s Zara fragrances are from different releases of the so-called Chapters series, but I honestly don’t know which is which anymore. Sometimes they are obvious. For example, there are four Oud fragrances in the Chapter 4 launch, and they all have the same color cap, and I’ve noticed that the Chapter 3 collection all have shorter, gunmetal caps. But after checking out the Zara website of recent, the bottling all seems to have become a bit of a hodge podge. I notice that they are putting older launches like cherry smoothie into the same type of bottle, too (Well, actually, it’s an EDP now, so it’s a reformulation and technically not the same). The bottling choice for the Chapters series seems to be popular, but I wouldn’t say the quality in the packaging is there. The surface metal on one of my bottles seems already to have come loose, for example.
Let’s start off with Memoire Intense, which is a Chypre fragrance from the 2021 gunmetal-capped Chapter 3 launch.
- bitter orange, Mandarin orange,
- rose, jasmine,
- cashmere wood, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli
I’ve heard others reference Lancôme’s Idôle when talking about this one, but sadly I’m not familiar with it. I do know that Idôle has a pear note in it, though, which Memoire Intense is sadly lacking (I do love a good pear note). To me this one is a pleasant, non-offending, citrusy, fresh, and sweet scent day scent that morphs quickly into a woodsy combination that stays close to the skin and barely whispers. I love the smell of orange, and I like the clean, garden vibe this fragrance brings to my surroundings. But I don’t feel this perfume has much originality, and the performance rather suck. Overall, the fragrance is nothing to write home about, but it is wearable, non-polarizing, uplifting, and elegant. And I have indeed worn it for work. Though typically by the time I arrive at the office, I have to respray, and as I don’t haul the 80 ml bottle along, I usually spray on something else.
Next we have Sublime Epoque, from the same launch. This one is apparently a dupe for Armani’s My Way, another comparison I cannot confirm. Sublime Epoque is a milky, jelly fruit candy tuberose, with measurably better performance than Memoire Intense. Here is the very simple note breakdown:
- tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine,
- vanilla, cedar
This one is a tad too sweet and suffocating for my tastes at first spray, but once it calms down on the skin, this too is an easy pull for day-to-day wear. If you don’t like heady white florals, do avoid this one, though. It is what it is. One possibly good thing about the cloying nature of this scent is that the tuberose is of the young, fresh, and carefree variety; the concoction is neither indolic, heavy, nor dated. There’s a fizzy, champagne quality to Sublime Epoque that creates this. It’s definitely carbonated, and there is a perceptible bubble gum quality in here that often accompanies tuberose, but it doesn’t scream “chew me” unless you overspray. If it’s bubble gum I’m after, though, I’ll put on the pink bear (Boy Toy Bubblegum) or some other intentional bubble gum fragrance. If I had to compare Sublime Epoque to a perfume that I am familiar with, I would reference Givenchy’s L’Inderdit, which has a similar sparkly tuberose and perky jasmine.
Last, we have the gold-capped Amber Fusion For Her by Zara, which is an amber floral fragrance that launched a year earlier in 2020. I don’t know what Chapter launch this is from, but I think it might be one from the first.
Upon first sniff of this, without knowing the notes, I immediately thought they were going not for amber, but for ambergris – in the most fishy way possible. If you’ve been watching my videos, you know that I have a hard time appreciating fragrances that have any sort of marine quality to them, and oceanic notes are right at the top of this one:
- sea notes, bergamot, mandarin orange,
- lily, cananga, red fruits,
- amber, woodsy notes
Indeed it’s really hard for me to get past the sharp marine notes. I had no idea what Cananga was, but I looked it up and discovered that it’s some sort of dwarf ylang ylang that’s more resinous and less floral. But at the top all, all I am smelling is damp and salty seaweed air infested into shipwrecked wood rot and perhaps a few dried berries. And the wood has been pelted with peeled citrus fruit. You definitely smell the citrus at the top. To me this first part of the fragrance experience is simply unpleasant, but I know there are people out there that love marine scents. If that’s you, try this out, but it might be that you don’t detect the aquatic notes at all. I tend to be anosmic to some synthetic musks, but apparently many have the same issue with these synthetic marine notes.
There is some surprisingly good news with Amber Fusion: Once this perfume chills out on my skin, the pukey mix of citrus and sea notes fade, and I’m left with a very pleasant, cold, and watery metallic experience. The fragrance becomes a delightfully breezy and very unisex scent that is refreshing and sugar-free – actually very sophisticated and niche-like – something from Sospiro or Xerjof perhaps. If only those top note were different! I don’t recall having such a polarizing experience with any fragrance before. I suppose that in itself makes this one at least interesting. The other good thing about this fragrance is that the ambrox (I assume it’s that or ambroxin or some other synthetic compound) makes this last quite a long time, though the wearer might not smell it on their own person after a while. But others likely will. The dry down here is lovely. The vanilla and lily come into play later on in the scent’s life, too.
All three of these Zara fragrances are not terrible, but they do revert to the negative qualities I have traditionally associated with the brand, which include a heavy alcohol aura at first spray, a lot of syntheticism (a word?), and overall rather poor longevity, projection, and sillage. Nonetheless, it would appear they are reasonable dupes for fragrances that might be out of price range for many people, so it’s good that they exist!