Launched: 1998 - discontinued
Group: Oriental spicy
I didn't know about Theorema until I received it amongst a lot of miniature perfumes I bought for resale on eBay. After some research, I understand this is a very rare and discontinued gem. How did it end up being one?
The golden yellow liquid is housed in a tall and slender pyramide-shaped glass bottle that's topped off by a rectangle stopper. The writing on the bottle and stopper are equally a golden colour. The carton box is a luxurious black and gold affair, typical of the Fendi house in general and makes the packaging look and feel expensive and precious.
Top notes: nutmeg, orange blossom, jasmine, pepper, lemon, rosewood, cardamome, rosehip
A sniff from the miniature bottle before applying the perfume hits me with the wonderful, ambery aroma that is at the same time rich, sweet, sensuous and a tiny bit animalistic, like the fuzzy collar of a fur coat. One drop on each wrist and a couple of seconds later I can sample the emerging top notes.
Nutmeg is definitely there together with a pronounced woody accord accompanied by a slightly astringent feel and a freshness of lemon. There's a certain 'busy'-ness about the scent as if all the notes were vying for attention though none of them taking over. This gives the top notes a certain depth and impressive staying power unusual of modern top notes.
Heart notes: carnation, cinnamon, osmanthus, ylang-ylang, rose, spices
The somewhat sharp notes are diminishing though and in about 30 - 45 minutes Theorema turns into a lovely mixture of warm and cosy spices. I get the impression of putting my nose into an old and forgotten wooden box of spices! Very restrained, nowhere near as loud as 'Cinnabar' in this phase with a similar feel, nor outright sexy like Coco Chanel. Without the big florals, Theorema is very cosy, and a little bit sexy.
The fragrance has settled a considerable amount and is now clean and airy. The amber still lingers in the background giving the heart a kick, but the emphasis is on the gentle, soft-spoken spices. I can only identify cinnamon and a slightly sticky, honey-like substance reminiscent of ylang-ylang, but this is more than enough here. Too much of it and it would spoil the delicate accords; the whispers coming from the wooden box.
Base notes: benzoin, Guaiac wood, sandalwood, amber, patchouli
About 5 - 6 hours later Theorema has become a quiet and soft skin scent. I've since worn it on other occasions and applied more at the beginning with the same result. This fragrance does not overpower, on the contrary, it sits quietly on the skin when it dries down to its base. The final phase is a lovely, composed woody amber scent with caramel-vanilla infused feel coming from the benzoin I so appreciate in perfumery and it will last up to about 7 hours.
When I smelled Theorema out of the bottle, I was expecting to find a loud spicy oriental with a big personality like Opium or Coco Chanel but it wasn't to be. To my surprise, despite the spicy theme, the fragrance is soft and quiet and gets even weak, especially at the end. I learned to appreciate its subtle approach and I believe it actually makes Theorema what it is: a lovely, but shy spicy oriental that's more a cosy skin scent than a loud party scent.
Oriental skin scents weren't the order in the late '90s so I think it wasn't popular at the time and went completely unrecognised then forgotten. If a niche and expensive line such as Annick Goutal or Serge Lutens released this scent now it would fit perfectly with their streamlined, artistic and rustic compositions that are ahead of their time and at the same time anchored in the past drawing inspiration from natural perfumery.
Collectors have re-discovered it and now it's harder and harder to come by. I absolutely recommend trying to get a miniature of this if only for a unique olfactory experience of this understated perfume that smells like an expensive, niche work of art so sought after nowadays yet so modest and gentle.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
Being a rare, discontinued and a collector's item, prices / supply can fluctuate. A 5ml Eau de Parfum can be picked up between £0.99 - £2.99 though a full-size 50ml or 100ml bottle can reach £30-£50 on eBay UK.
Thanks for reading.
©powered by lillybee also posted on Ciao! UK