The result is that even with Creed's I've seen a dozen times, I don't keep much of an open mind. It took me ages to even smell Irisia--to simply pick up the tester bottle and sniff, let alone spray the stuff on a card. Lo and behold, I loved it. Likewise Love in Black, which featured violet, one of my holy grails. Abigail, my blogging partner (would this term have seemed like anything but science fiction ten or fifteen years ago?) has played a big part in my experiences with Creed over the last year or so: I've tagged along as she treks through the line's bounty, giving everything from Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie to Tubereuse Indiana to Fleur de The Rose Bulgarie new perspective. Still, fixed ideas run deep, and even a more recent discovery like Fantasia de Fleurs seems like some kind of revelation to me. Can someone please hold this rock I've been hiding under?
I first smelled Fantasia de Fleurs the day I finally decided to purchase Irisia. Because of my bias against Creed I do this little dance. I visit and revisit the fragrances I like. I weigh the decision to buy or not to buy like it's some life or death dilemma, in a way I would never do with something I loved from Frederic Malle, Parfum d'Empire, or Serge Lutens. I spray some on and walk away. I roam around smelling it. I go home thinking about it as it fades and becomes a memory, and the memory haunts me a little as I try to remember just how much I liked it and why. I return to the store and repeat this all over again.
Fantasia de Fleurs had some stiff competition that day, as it was make or break time with Irisia, but I remember perking up at the smell of it, like Hold up, what's THIS? I'd never heard of it, I thought, but I read so much online about perfume that I know that can't be true. More likely, the name was white noise to me. Oh goody; another Creed floral. Now I read all the reviews, which are remarkably favorable. Fantasia is one of those Creeds people seem to unanimously appreciate, with a few general caveats: very strong stuff, and gorgeous if you're into that kind of thing. I did my little dance back to the store.
Fantasia strikes me as a love child of Poison and Joy. You either can't go wrong or you're doomed to excess with such a combination, depending on your perspective. Poison is one of my favorite fragrances ever, nuclear strength magic in a bottle, and Joy is pretty special too in my personal perfume canon, so naturally Fantasia speaks to me in a pretty compelling voice. That said, I would advise people who don't like Poison, or Joy, or do like one but not the other, not to hold this against Fantasia. It lacks the things about each which detractors tend to consider biggest offenses. Fantasia has no tuberose. There are no indoles, that I can tell. It isn't spiced like a meal served up to someone who's lost his sense of taste.
To be sure, Fantasia is strong stuff, but it mellows fairly quickly. It is spiced, but faintly, giving it much of its dissonant appeal. The iris, however undetectable, must go some way toward bringing the rose into the present century. One of the things Fantasia's fans point out is how modern the fragrance feels, given what it is. Judging it against a cursory glance at the local mall's inventory, I'm not inclined to agree. But I see the overall point; Fantasia isn't stuffy, and while it recalls or evokes a certain kind of brocaded, heavy velvet fantasy of centuries past, it doesn't feel out of place in this one. It has a formality to it, but it doesn't fall into that grandmotherly gap between something your ancestors subjected their families to and something you might wear on a night out.
Note to fact-checkers: Some people DO find something slightly indolic here, making the fragrance more of a Fantasia de Feces. I really don't, but you should be aware that not everyone agrees with me, as if you didn't already know. Some DO consider Fantasia stuffy, though it seems to me these are generally people who aren't much into anything so unapologetically floral. I think of Fantasia as an interesting precursor to Amaranthine, without the sugared facets. That isn't to say it has anything remotely like cumin in it either. But it does represent another way of scuffing up what might otherwise be a relatively staid floral. Like most Creeds I've experienced, Fantasia lasts well, persisting into a slightly musky, amber dry down that stays close to the skin without hugging it for dear life.