August 19, 2016
Yves St Laurent KOUROS 1981 ad
What I like most about writing about pre 21st century and modern fragrance masterpieces is that it forces me to think in perspective, making my “mental” nose span from a century ago to what’s next. I was reflecting on Yves Saint Laurent Kouros (1981) by Pierre Bourdin and its polarizing beauty. It is sad to say but it a ghost of its former self. So which contemporary fragrance takes the crown as “le parfum des dieux vivantes”? This was not a difficult question…. The answer is Vero Kern’s Onda.
Vero Kern Onda Extrait photo Ermano
Smelling like nothing else before, vero.profumo Onda rendered in pure perfume fits the bill. Soapy and filthy with coriander freshness, sweet and sour with honey edible poignancy, it shouts out the grave bitter vetiver root up to the skies thanks to a nose pinching flash of ginger, clove and mace. Even the mouthwatering chypre salty tooth seems to allude to that Hellenic breeze blowing through sundrenched ruins and naked Gods. As for thhe celestial bodies carved in flesh by Olympic trainings and Dionysian nights of the ‘80s, Onda is a modern idol kneaded in sweat and dust, scorched by sun and sea and rolled in toxic honey has found so many worshippers since its launch that it has become a reference for vetiver and leather lovers.
Vero Kern of vero.profumo photo July 2016 courtesy of Vero
Vero Kern signature radiates timeless perfumery, caching hints to lost masterpieces from the past in a puzzle worth of Umberto Eco novels. There are those who have compared Onda to Jacques Guerlain’s 1926 vetiver loaded leather-chypre Djedi.
Stella Tennant channeling Ethel Granger who was purported to have a 13 inch waist Vogue Italia Sep. 2011 – by Steven Meisel Love is the New Black
But there’s no trace of the fusty tombstone air here, as it gets far less powdery and cold in the drydown. The connection with Pierre Bourdon’s muscled masterpiece though came so unexpected but so right. From ancient Egypt to contemporary Switzerland, Onda bridges the years from antiquity to the present perfectly traveling on a mystery road from the hieratic decay of Djedi to its disturbing splendor.
Vogue Italia September 2011, Stella Tennant by Steven Meisel
Onda, was released in 2007 as a pure perfume, but in 2010, Ms. Kern returned and as is done in classical perfumery expanded her line to include eau de parfum. Vero proposed different concentrations not just as a matter of strength but as a different take on a concept. In particular Vero Profumo eau de parfums’ feature a prominent fruity note, passionfruit.
Stella Tennant as Ethel Granger by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia September 2011 and Ethel Granger
In 2013, Vero added the Voile d’extrait formulations which are lighter in concentration. This embodiment keeps enough of the original gilded warmth but opens up the top notes, giving way to the brighter facets of ginger, basil and coriander.
Stella Tennant as Ethel Granger by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia September 2011
Everything Vero creates is artfully crafted, but for me Onda Extrait is a modern masterpiece. The unrelenting density combined with the ceremonial chic of applying it from the glass stopper makes this the closest form to a sacred ritual, odd embalmment worth of a living od and the closest step to eternal albeit unconventional beauty.
Disclosure: This review was based on my personal bottle of perfume and samples of voile d’extrait and eau de parfum I got from Campomarzio70, the Italian distributor of Vero.Profumo.
Ermano Picco, Contributor and author of La gardenia nell occhiello
Art Direction: Vero Kern, Michelyn (with written contributions) Ermano
Ethel Granger 1920s multiple piercings and at 13 inches, the smallest waist recorded in history
Editor’s Note:, I am so pleased Ermano chose Onda for our series. I was the first journalist to review Onda, Rubj and Kiki when I was the New in Niche columnist for Basenotes, three years prior to starting CaFleureBon. Corsets are associated with women, binding, festish…but in Ancient Crete, Minoans male athletes wore them, thus returning full circle to the theme of Kouros- Michelyn