Fendi "Donna" (Fendi)

I don't make it a habit to review discontinued perfumes, because people can't buy them anymore, can't find them anywhere, and wind up shelling out hundreds of dollars for something that might only cost $60 if it's randomly reissued. It's the sort of hilariously un-funny thing that happened to Red for Men fans when Giorgio Beverly Hills (now licensed by some other entity) decided to crash the ebay party of hawking half-used bottles for $150 each. Suddenly, there's Red for Men sitting at Marshalls for $15 again, no more a hit this time around. So the following review is written not as a temptation to vintage seekers, or as a frustration to non vintage seekers, but rather as a eulogy for a fine fragrance that no longer sees the light of day, but should: Fendi's original feminine perfume, nicknamed Fendi "Donna." She is a masterpiece.

Fendi is an animalic-woody chypre, an extension of K de Krizia's peachy take on the classic fresh floral of four years earlier. This extension of the dry, brightly aldehydic structure of K brought a darker and denser pyramid, and the result is sultry leather, full of rosy snarl and spicy texture, with the brisk sweetness of cardamom and coriander shuffling through an incredibly dry cloud of patchouli. Where K leans on its aldehydes, Fendi embraces mossy woods, never succumbing to trite sweetness. The pairing of rose and rosewood in its heart is inspired, as the rose is smooth and burnt, while the wood is fresh and vibrant, magnifying all that surrounds it. If you imagine Fendi as a woman, she's none other than Sophia Loren, the swarthy Mediterranean siren of the big screen. Sexy, a little scary, but ultimately warm and friendly, this perfume inhabits its own realm, transcending forum discussions and genealogy charts.

My only objective thought about Fendi is that it is a landmark chypre in an eighties style, very big boned and broad-shouldered. Men could wear it with ease, and perhaps today they'd be better off wearing it than women, as it seems ethyl maltol is still all the rage with the ladies. Yesterday I heard a woman remark that she loved the smell of cotton candy, and I found myself wondering whether this was nearly as bad as it first seemed. I actually like that smell, too. Cotton candy has a pleasantly soft, cuddly aroma. It's a comfort smell, in a way, the sort of thing that accompanies the thrill of having your father treat you at a ball game. Integrated into perfume, it creates a fun, bouncy mood. And we all enjoy "edible smells", so it's understandable that a woman might find cotton candy appealing as a perfume scent.

But another voice inside me kept saying, "yeah, but still . . ." There's something about a challenging woman that appeals to me. It's not the idea that she would be intentionally "hard to get" or anything like that. It's the idea that her range of moods, behaviors, personal sentiments, and even fashion sense is variable, diverse, subject to instantaneous change. I enjoy women who wear their thoughts on their sleeve, and speak their minds, even when they're quiet. Women like that (I've known a few) should present something unconventional, something daring, even for a chypre. No one is sweet and fluffy all the time, but sometimes people are sweet one minute, dry and crackly the next, and then altogether charming just a few moments later. This is Fendi. The sweetness of its floral notes persistently hints at its good intentions, even as its uncompromising spicy-leathery heart rolls over everything. The far drydown, a golden glow of sultry moss and amber, reads as the final word on who wears this well - a good, solid woman. She's beautiful, she's bold, she's not afraid to tell you how she feels, and she rarely cries. She's my future wife, and I'll be a happy man when I meet her.