A severe-looking fencer loosening his jacket and hairtie in a featureless white void
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Diva is one of those perfumes that I always saw at fragrance discount stores, but never picked up and tried. Unlike some of the others of that stripe - I'm thinking of Bal à Versailles and Phantom of the Opera - it hasn't since become wildly rare and valuable. I impulse-bought a mini of the eau de parfum without thinking too hard about it.

The bottle is really something. Some Diva minis have a plain white plastic cap, but I got one of the ones with the fluted glass stopper. It looks like a crystal cognac decanter. Hey, there's an idea for what to do with it when the perfume's gone. They'd have to be very small drinks, though, since it's only a quarter ounce. The world’s smallest cocktail to drown the world’s smallest problems.

Diva wants it all and it gets it. It was released in the early '80s and manages to nail the top trends of both the outgoing and incoming decade: a chypre, a spicy amber, and a loud floral. If I stretch, I can even see it with a fourth foot into the future with a breath of 2010s ‘handbag full of candy’. It is kind of a long stretch, though. The opening is roses and honey, very sweet and fruitlike. A thread of vetiver runs all the way through it. It adds a balsamic touch, except when it comes off more leathery (which could explain why I’m thinking of the candy handbag). Under the roses and honey is a bouquet of creamy tropical flowers and spices. This rich undertone clings pretty close to the skin. I wish it broadcast itself more, since it’s my favorite part. If I buy another bottle after the mini is gone (or before then, if I’m feeling impulsive), I would get a spray in case that changes how the fragrance diffuses.

I love the contrast between the flashiness of the honeyed roses and the sultriness of the spiced ylang and jasmine. These could have been divided into two different perfumes, both of which could have carried the name Diva by themselves. But they’re better together. Instead of being two different performances, I can read it as the outer life of a single magnetic performer – their colorful stage persona and the intimate secrets they’re keeping. I feel tacky writing this paragraph. If I had a dollar for every perfume copy I read that claimed it captured ‘the duality of woman’ or whatever, I could buy a bottle of Phantom of the Opera. Diva pulls it off, though. Sometimes the bullshit is real.

- 7/7/21