Abigail and I agree on a lot of things, and are often right on the same page on any given number of subjects, but every once in a while we part ways when it comes to a particular fragrance. A while back, after buying a bottle of Teint de Neige, she observed that it smelled of baby powder; nothing more, nothing less. Hearing that, I might have passed on Teint de Neige altogether. Who wants to smell like baby powder? And in fact, when I ran across some of Villoresi's fragrances in Milan, I smelled everything but Teint de Neige the first few times I visited the shop in question.
I'd never read the Chandler Burr review, which awarded the fragrance five out of five stars, but I'd heard a lot about Villoresi on the perfume blogs. I liked what I smelled, but not enough to buy anything. A few days before leaving Italy, I finally asked to test Teint de Neige, figuring I should at least be familiar with it, and I was surprised how much I liked it. I liked it so much that, after spending a day with the sample I'd been given, I returned to buy my own full bottle. Teint de Neige (color of snow) does smell like baby powder, which is why I initially dismissed it. Gradually, I realized it smelled like a lot of other things to me too: almonds, rose, jasmine, musk, orange blossom, vanilla.
In some ways, Teint reminds me of Hypnotic Poison. The two share a strange, lactonic-floral undertone. It also reminds me of make-up, the aroma of cosmetics, a smell I really like for various reasons, most of them having to do with nostalgia, evoking memories of my childhood fascination at how much time my grandmothers and mother spent putting on their faces. Teint smells vintage somehow, and formal, and something about it brings to mind the powdered wigs, cakes, sets, and fashions from the film Marie Antoinette. Like that film, Teint de Neige is very specific, maybe even exhaustive, in style. It's a very focused fragrance, and this might preclude many people from enjoying its more subtle attractions.
As Burr says, Teint de Neige has great longevity and diffusion. Many of Villoresi's fragrances seem to, and the discussions and reviews about them often point out their strength of character. They are frequently slammed by Luca Turin, who seems to have decided, if not decreed, that their maker has no talent. Aside from Mona di Orio, there are few perfumers to whom Turin and Sanchez are more thoroughly unkind. Villoresi is dimissed as a talentless hack, while Orio is regarded as a sort of impostor, pretending to have studied with the great Michel Roudnitska. Both Burr and Turin are dismissive of various perfumes. It isn't often they dismiss an entire line. Even rarer that they dismiss a perfumer him or herself. Even the worst seem to produce something of interest now and then. I forget how much influence these kinds of reviews can have, and how insidiously they affect the attitude toward a brand or a specific fragrance. I was surprised, too, when I smelled di Orio and realized how much I like her work.
Fortunately, people seem to swear by Villoresi, and, according to Burr, Teint is Villoresi's biggest seller. The shop where I bought my bottle stocked it more than any other, in two sizes, whereas every other Villoresi but Patchouli came in only 3.4 ounce bottles. I bought 1.7 ounces because Teint is strong and requires very little. To me, it works better faintly, as if a hazy but persistent memory.