I've always been a sucker for a good wood smoke fragrance, which is what I took Fendi to be. I had no idea what was actually in it. I only knew they sold it in the women's department, and that I loved it beyond reason. Now I know the pyramid: cardamom, coriander, bergamot, mandarin, laurel leaves, lily-of-the-valley, geranium, cypress, cedar, moss, labdanum, tonka. What's most remarkable about this incredibly potent perfume--potent even among its eighties sisters--is how devoid of floral notes it is. What, even then, made it feminine? It has less florals than most of today's men's colognes. Dior Homme is far more floral than Fendi, but so are less overtly flowery male fragrances.
Smelling Fendi now, years after first purchasing it, I'm able to examine it a lot more closely, a little more out in the open, and I realize it really isn't a wood smoke fragrance either, not officially, not exactly. It smells leathery, with incense undertones, a pronounced herbal influence, and spices. The spices, of course, aren't polite. Cardamom gives Fendi a piercing, camphorous quality, a touch of resinous warmth; coriander magnifies the combustibility, reinforcing the overall terpenoid character.
As it turns out, Fendi has a lot more in common with masculines than feminines, a disposition signaled by the advertisement, which depicted a woman snuggling up to Michelangelo's David, perhaps her inner male. Fendi is closer to aromatic fragrances like Kouros (geranium, coriander, laurel), Trussardi (laurel, geranium, tonka, landanum), and Paco Rabanne (tonka, geranium, laurel) than Poison, Giorgio, or Paris. Several years later, Fendi would affirm this by producing Fendi Uomo, a more officially masculine variation on the women's fragrance, close enough in spirit that the two might as well have been brothers.
Both EDT and EDP require a light touch. Fendi EDP is a little less overtly smoky to my nose, but the dry down comes very close to what you get in the EDT. Both have off the chart longevity. Comparisons have been made to balsamic orientals like Youth Dew, Bal a Versailles, and Opium, but Fendi is nowhere close to keeping that company. It has no fruity embellishments and, as mentioned, no discernible floral backbone. Granted, Youth Dew is no delicate flower itself, but Fendi is butcher still, and maybe even ahead of its time. Ten years younger, it relates very clearly to the original Comme des Garçons by Marc Buxton (geranium, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, labdanum, cedarwood) and it has more than a little in common with Comme des Garçons 2 Man, as well, also by Buxton. Michael Edwards classifies Fendi as a floral chypre, which seems a bit of a stretch. Still, though not listed, oakmoss is in the basenotes, and lily of the valley IS, after all, a flower. Fendi is still available online. I would love to know who created it.