Today I’m going to focus on two fragrances I got from one of the Jo Malone – Zara collaborations – the Vibrant Cities Collection, I believe it’s called. I was almost going to buy the whole box set – all 30 ml bottles of fragrances representing Dubai, Venice, Madrid, Tokyo, Shanghai, and the two I ended up buying separately – London and New York, but I wasn’t ready for a blind buy of that scale. I was interested in these two because of comparisons made to Delina by Parfum de Marley for Fashionably London, and to Santal 33 by Le Labo for Energetically London.
Energetically New York
Energetically New York lists cardamom, jasmine, and sandalwood in the notes, but I think there is more to it than that. Yes, definitely reminiscent of Santal 33, but certainly not identical. This one is more sour and fresher, and perhaps a little less spice. I admit I did not like it at first sniff. It’s like being slapped with a dill pickle and wet lettuce in the nose at first sniff – more dill than pickle – very abrasive and slightly bitter. I also get carrot in here – the bitter core part that lacks sugar, you know? Wait for it to settle, though, and the overly green components will settle down, and then you can pick up a bit of jasmine and the synthetic wood note – the star of the show, starts to take over.
It’s very dry and invigorating. I guess the name is appropriate, then. Santal 33 is the scent I think of when I think of New York. I’ve learned it’s very popular there. That would perhaps mean that this was created with the intention of being a dupe, or at least an inspiration. If you like Santal 33, which is very pricey, I recommend this one as an addition, since the price is right, my friends! But no, it’s not a replacement and it doesn’t smell luxe. In fact, it’s a little cheap-smelling, I’ll admit, but I think it gets the job done. Unsurprisingly, I much prefer Santal 33, which is much smoother, more sophisticated, stronger, slightly spicier – and I mean sweet spicy, and less synthetic. The jasmine might make this Zara-Jo Malone scent feel more feminine, but I think it’s very unisex.
The notes listed for Fashionably London are just bergamot, rose, and musk, but again, I do get more out of it than that. Sadly, I do find the bergamot is sharp, screechy, and sour, and the rose is a little bitter and medicinal when you put your nose up right to newly sprayed skin, but the dry down is admittedly better. It’s very powdery sweet, soft, and musky, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there might be the slightest dash of some sort of synthetic oud in here, along with a sprinkling of incense. The musk is airy, but at the same time, I would describe this as a thick and creamy scent with a stuffy, vintage rose.
Some will love it, others not. For me, the rose in here is a good thing. The oud (or whatever) in here is making it jammier, darker, and more serious and gothic. There are no fruit notes, but I get the impression of a fruit-flavoured candy. And yes, I suppose that could be lychee, hence the Delina comparison? But honestly, this is not a dupe, and Delina is the better fragrance – as it should well be for the price difference. OK, so they both have roses and musk, I’ll give them that. I’ve also read this compared to Sisley Eau du Soir which I don’t have, and Shagaf Oud by Swiss Arabian.
I wouldn’t think of traditional London when I smell this, but if you think of a modern London that has been influenced by Middle Eastern elements in recent years, I think the name works. Also, although this is not a fresh rose, perhaps it’ll bring to mind traditional English gardens to some – gardens where there is a lot of rain and soil. This is a thick and earthy fragrance, after all. To me this fragrance is a bit like something Montale or Mancera would make – very synthetic and rosy and long lasting (but lacking Montale projection) Maybe this scent is both London-like and fashionable, then. Then again, I wouldn’t call the rose in here up-to-date. Funny, I have read some people say this is grandma-ish, which is not a term I like. Regardless, I think they mean dated or mature, and honestly, I don’t think this fragrance is either. It’s nothing like something my grandmother or even my mother would have worn a few years ago. Maybe those reviewers are exceptionally young? I know not.
I have to say that overall, I’m neither disappointed nor thrilled with these two. I’m glad I did not get the box set, at least for now. Like the other recent releases from Zara, these fragrances are top heavy with alcohol, so you do have to let them settle a bit. Also like many Zara and Jo Malone fragrances, the performance on these is poor. I wouldn’t say longevity or sillage is terrible, but projection is far from beastly. I’m not overly delighted with these fragrances, but make no mistake, these will be lovingly used and emptied. And again, people – ZARA fragrances have exceptionally low price points, and the performance on at least these two is better than older Zara releases. And by the way, if you spray these on clothes in addition to or instead of skin, you’ll get even more bang for your buck. If you are on a budget, and don’t mind synthetic vibes (heck, I don’t), I would say yes to both of these. Definitely good value.