Although I really enjoy niche perfumes, and some pricey lines like Hermes, Chanel, Penhaligons, Jo Malone, etc., it’s wonderful to find and be able to recommend an affordable but pleasing fragrance — a bargain beauty, if you will. Oscar de la Renta’s Something Blue is one such beauty. It is readily available at discount stores and online for less than $20 for 100 ml, sometimes in a set with body lotion. Its name comes from the tradition of a bride wearing “something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue” on her wedding day, for good luck. The fragrance is meant to suggest exactly that: a sunny day smiling down on a beautiful young woman dressed in white.
The bottle, by the way, is very pretty and appealing. It has a nice weight in the hand, and the blue marblized cap is a delicate shade of sky blue with wisps of white across it like light clouds. The silver band around the neck, with the designer’s name, is meant to look like a wedding band, and it’s a nice touch. Something Blue was launched in 2013, the year before M. de la Renta died, and there are some delightful photos of him at its launch party:
What does it smell like? The opening is based on notes of linden blossom, neroli, bergamot and mandarin. The mandarin offers sweetness, while the bergamot adds some tart greenness; this young lady is tender but spirited. Linden blossom and neroli evoke sunshine and summertime; not summertime at the beach, but a summertime garden wedding. More floral notes arrive, including lily of the valley (a traditional wedding bouquet flower), stephanotis (another bouquet favorite), and narcissus, with a touch of litchi to keep things sweet. Of those notes, lily of the valley is most prominent, but this is not a muguet soliflore. The linden blossom continues to waft through the heart stage of the fragrance, and there is a nice balance between those two flowers.
The few fruity notes here are very well deployed to lift and sweeten the fragrance without being too sugary. The citruses provide the airiness and sunshine at the start to set the overall impression, while the litchi keeps the heart stage more sweet and less green than it might otherwise have been. I wouldn’t call this a “fruity floral”, it is mostly a light floral, but the fruit notes are important supporting players in Something Blue; they have been used masterfully, which is no surprise since the perfumers who created it were Ann Gottlieb and Frank Voelkl of Firmenich. There is no sense of “white flower” bomb, despite the presence of stephanotis and narcissus.
The final stage includes base notes of musk, vanilla, ambrette seed, ambergris and cashmere wood (which I assume means Cashmeran, especially as that base note seems to outlast the others after several hours). It is soft and warm, like glowing skin or the late afternoon’s golden sun. Here is the clever part: the progression of Something Blue emulates the unfolding of a summer garden wedding. The sunny, summery opening notes set the stage: the garden. The entrance of the lily of the valley and stephanotis notes evokes the entrance of the bride, bearing her bouquet of pure, white, virginal flowers. The gradual drydown to the warm golden notes of the base gives the impression of a late afternoon in the same garden, after the vows have been spoken, the ceremony performed, the refreshments had, the dances danced, the bride and groom departed for their honeymoon. Perhaps this is the hour when the few family members lingering can take a peaceful stroll through the garden, having said goodbye to their guests — it isn’t yet sunset, but the slanting rays of golden sun tell us that the day’s festivities are happily concluded, and it is time for quiet.
I have given a bottle of Something Blue to a young friend as one of her gifts at her bridal shower. She later told me that she did indeed wear it on her wedding day, and she likes it so much that she’s on her second or third bottle! A beauty indeed — both bride and fragrance.
Have you tried any of the many fragrances from Oscar de la Renta? What did you think? I also like another fragrance from his house that features lily of the valley: Live in Love. Do you have any favorites from his brand?
I’ve got Live in Love, it’s really nice and light.
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I wore the original Oscar in the late 70s and probably thunked 5 or more bottles. Have not sniffed it in decades.
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