Collezione Privata: Viaggio d'Africa by Pal Zileri (2010)

There has been quite some talk about this fragrance, mostly for being allegedly a ten times cheaper clone of Hermès Vetiver Tonka. Since I happen to quite like Vetiver Tonka but nothing on Earth could ever make me spend that money for it, I decided to give Viaggio d’Africa a chance. If you want to skip the boring part: yes, it’s tremendously similar to Vetiver Tonka, especially for the opening phase. I don’t know if this means that Pal Zileri turned into a charity superhero to offer solid fragrances at cheap prices, or if Vetiver Tonka should cost ten times less its price; in any case, Viaggio d’Africa is just plain great. It has one of those openings that make you wish they could last forever: a warm, exceedingly sophisticated and smooth accord of vetiver, tonka and something powdery with a shade of cocoa, infused with earthy smoke, darker woods (guaiac) and some slightly musky coffee. Basically a true “brown”, rich and dusty fog; imagine the earthy-grassy texture of vetiver, the exotic sweet-vanillic dustiness of tonka, and a blurry, refined sort of powdery-coffee accord as if someone at 30 metres distance from you is wearing Rochas Man, with a faint echo of Dior Homme too. Both of you standing in the breezy middle of a desert. This is Viaggio d’Africa.

I admit Vetiver Tonka has a bit more vetiver (and a more elegant, rich and crisp one – shortly, more quality) while Viaggio d’Africa tends to drift more towards tonka and smoky-spicy-earthy territories; but nonetheless it’s really, really pleasant to wear. It feels elegant, warm, smooth without smelling formal or generic. It’s exotic, distinguished and mellow. And most important, besides being satisfactorily persistent, it’s decidedly unique for being a cheap mainstream. It obviously has some “cheap” nuances and if you smell it carefully you definitely get some usual aromachemicals you can find in many fragrances of the same price range (especially if you compare vetiver here with its Hermès more expensive twin); but the guys at Mavive were more than good in disguising them and bringing the best out of their budget. You can wear it and tell anybody it’s a niche scent, none will doubt it (and for once I won’t imply that this would happen because most niche scents are mainstream scraps in disguise). Recommended.


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