Following Kevin's review of Arquiste Él, I'm here to report on its feminine counterpart, Ella. Like Él, Ella was inspired by Acapulco in the 1970s and was developed by perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux. It was designed to evoke "a sultry night of disco, plunging necklines and champagne-soaked skin" followed by a rendezvous on a "golden beach, under a silvery moon," with notes of cannonball tree flower (curupita), angelica root, carrot seed, rose, jasmine, cardamom, buckwheat honey, amber, patchouli, civet, vetiver, cigarette smoke accord and "chypre accord."
I've never been anywhere near Acapulco, and I don't think I've ever worn a "plunging neckline," but I do have some very early memories of the 1970s (in New Jersey and New York, anyway). And Ella brought me right back to those days: it reminds me of the fragrances that women — glamorous grown-ups! — were wearing before the mid-80s arrived and everyone began dousing themselves in Poison and Giorgio.
Ella is actually difficult for me to describe, partly because of that "flashback" feeling and partly because it's so seamlessly composed. It starts with a cool, aromatic layer of something like juniper and a wisp of cigarette smoke. These notes seem to hover just above the others — a jasmine heart with a spicy aspect that's enhanced by the cardamom, and a chypre base with a sultry amber glow. It's a smooth transition from airy sophistication to something warmer and a little naughtier.
Ella is less "big" and flashy than I expected; applied with a light hand, it could easily be worn in the daytime in cooler weather. I suspect that it would also bloom beautifully when worn on a warm, humid evening. It gives off noticeable sillage during its first hour or two, and it has excellent endurance on skin.
If I could travel back in time and experience the disco era as an adult, I'd take Ella with me and wear it with a slinky Halston dress and an Elsa Peretti necklace, and it would fit right in. (I'm streaming a online radio station called "Disco Inferno" as I write this review, incidentally, just to set the mood.) Ella doesn't fit me as naturally as Arquiste's Aleksandr or No. 31, but I enjoy it for a change of pace. I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants an olfactory throwback to that glittery heyday of the 70s, whether or not you were there to live it the first time around.
Arquiste Ella is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum for $190. For buying information, see the listing for Arquiste under Perfume Houses.