digging (into) vintage: Ungaro Diva, 1983

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Perfumer Jacques Polges

I owe Diva a bit of an apology. It’s a heavy rose chypre, an era-specific genre (70s-80s) that I love. In the past I’ve noted that I like some of Diva’s cohorts more than Diva. (Paloma, Knowing, Scherrer de Scherrer, La Nuit.) I’ve tended to point to what I find ‘off’ in Diva. Too much honey sweetness, not enough green, a bit soft for a chypre.

Well, on reflection, I was wrong. When I see Diva as a hybrid rose chypre/oriental, it comes into focus. What I used to see as a simple honey sweetness I now recognize as a sweet, waxy-honeycomb scent that connects the heartnotes to the spicy amber drydown in a lavishly paced transition. While there is an identifiably mossy drydown, the amber emphasis is both comfortable and stirring.

Right from the top there is an identifiable rose, but it is woody rather than green or dewy or brightly ‘floral.’ It calls to mind both rose and rosewood. And there’s a slightly acerbic note that balances the honey and ties it to the dry spiciness that lasts through the entirety of Diva’s drydown. Also, while I still hold that Diva is a rose chypre, there is an indolic note that suggests white flowers and keeps the rose from reading as strictly dark as in Scherrer or La Nuit.


(image Shei Pei Pu, aka M. Butterfly by Peter Serling)

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