If a perfume is going to carry the name of someone I admire I expect it to live up to that. For the past four years one brand has tried mightily to disappoint me; Diana Vreeland. When I tried the debut collection of five I was crushed at their lack of originality. A perfume carrying the name of the woman who said, “Style, all who have it share one thing: originality” should above all be original. Unfortunately, it seems like that genetic spark has missed her grandson Alexander Vreeland who is the creative director behind the brand. It became more apparent over time as I received each subsequent release wondering where the soul of DV was in these limp perfumes. I keep hoping to find her. When I received the sample for the fifteenth release, Staggeringly Beautiful, it seemed like there might have just been a tiny bit of her there.
One of the things Ms. Vreeland was known for as Editor-in-Chief at Vogue was finding originality in the oddest places. Every morning she began the day by sending a memo to her editors. Mr. Vreeland, before he picked up the perfume business, collected all of them in a book. One in the summer of 1967 shows this as she writes, “I am extremely disappointed that no one has taken the slightest interest in freckles on the models…” She then urged her photo editors to make sure the applied freckles did not “look like black holes instead of pale red freckles”. It was her ability to see style in the perceived flaws; transforming them into fashion in the pages of her magazine. What drew me to Staggeringly Beautiful is I detected some freckles on this perfume that were not black holes.
Mr. Vreeland has been working with excellent perfumers; as he does this time with Pascal Gaurin. For Staggeringly Beautiful he chooses to use the classic Mediterranean mixture of fig and citrus. Where the figurative freckles appear is in the choice of daffodil as the floral component.
The perfume opens with a flare of stemone for the fig leaves. M. Gaurin tempers it with some other green notes. A ripe fig accord emerges through the green along with a bit of bergamot. At this point I was not impressed. Then the daffodil shows up in a significant concentration. Daffodil is a version of narcissus but not quite as narcotic. It is a smart choice by M. Gaurin because it captures the green theme while tilting it to a slightly less heady floral nature. Daffodil is not used often in perfume but as a partner to a full fig accord it comes together in a very pleasant way.
Staggeringly Beautiful has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Staggeringly Beautiful is still not the kind of originality I would like to see from a perfume carrying Ms. Vreeland’s name. It is the most original of the fifteen releases to date; which is faint praise. At least this time I was able to see a bit of DV in the fragrance.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample supplied by Neiman Marcus.