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'10:10 a.m. in Sicilia' is one of a collection of perfumes by Kenzo that includes '7.15 a.m. in Bali' and' 5.40 p.m. in Madagascar'. Known as the 'Kenzo Travel Collection' these fragrances are available only from duty free outlets in airports though inevitably they occasionally appear on E-bay. To be certain of getting one, however, you do need to be passing through an airport, or have a friend kind enough to pick you one up.
I bought this perfume during a brief stop in Brussels en route from Berlin to Newcastle one very windy December day. The first leg of the journey had been quite an ordeal due to the high winds and I was feeling quite low and anxious about the next flight (which proved to be quite horrific, the worst flight I have ever experienced): I needed to take my mind off things and cheer myself up.
A Beautiful Bottle
When I entered the shop I knew I wanted to buy a perfume but didn't have anything specific in mind so it was the bottle for '10:10 in Sicilia' that caught my eye and made me try it. I have perfumes that I love that come in gorgeous bottles and I have perfumes I love that come in rather dull packaging: usually if I've bought something in dull packaging it's because I've had a recommendation that I've made a point of trying for myself. There are so many perfumes in the duty free stores that you need somewhere to start and I started by trying the ones that interested me visually.
'10:10 in Sicilia' comes in a clear glass bottle that started life as a rectangle but now tapers upwards on one side of the vaporiser button ( a little like a ski jump). On one side there's an inlaid version of the same image that's on the box - a view of a tranquil blue sea seen through slightly (but deliberately) out of focus blossom and tree branches. Seeing this image always reminds me of that famous image of the tree in the Villa Communale gardens over looking the sea in Sorrento that is used whenever a photograph of that town is required. It also reminds me of my own trip to Capri looking down from Capri town to the impossibly blue waters of the bays below.
The reverse of this decal which is the outside of the bottle (whereas the blossom/sea scene is seen as if inside the bottle) is blue, depicting almost imperceptibly at first because it initially appears to be solid blue, a gentle sea. Topped with a brushed silver metal lid over the vaporiser button, this is classy packaging that makes this feel like a special fragrance. The only disadvantage is that it isn't exactly 'hand friendly' and there's split second to wonder 'how am I meant to hold this?' but it only takes a second to spritz a scent so this isn't really a big deal.
How does it smell?
'10:10 in Sicilia' bursts into life with a zesty citrus explosion. Grapefruit and lemon are prominent but I don't get any of the promised mandarin. That's not a disappointment to me because I can't imagine that any obvious mandarin would give anything extra to the blend of scents already at play. The lemon element is more like bergamot and therefore grassy rather than sugary like sweet lemon. 10:10 in Sicilia is marketed as a scent for women but at this stage I think it has quite a masculine appeal, very clean and fresh.
As the fragrance moves towards the middle phase it becomes more feminine as the vibrant citrus notes gently fade and the core scent becomes a floral with peony and freesia blending nicely to make a combination that is delicate without being bland. It's decidedly floral without being 'old lady-ish' and it makes a refreshing change to enjoy a floral that isn't mixed with that overly sweet fruity element that is typical of so many popular scents at the moment. The element that really makes this scent, for me anyway, is the inclusion of fig which adds a hint of fruit without that artificial sugariness.
The base notes come from cedar and vetiver; I find that these only really come into their own when I wear this scent in milder weather but when they are picked up they add a much needed element of depth to what is generally a very light combination. If a perfume contains woody notes I almost always prefer to pick up the cedar than any other woody element: I think of cedar as a cleaner, fresher wood than others commonly used in perfumes, more 'green' where others like sandalwood could be considered 'reds' or 'browns'. The vetiver too has a 'green' aspect to it which is a nice echo of the fresh opening notes.
I've never been to Sicily but if someone asked me what I thought a Sicilian inspired scent would offer, I'd definitely have put lemons at the top of my list. I have been to Naples, however, and while I was there I left the city early to get to Pompeii before the hottest part of the day, taking the train bound for Sorrento and passing through lemon tree groves on the way. It was already getting warm as the train chugged through the middle of these lemon groves but there was still an element of morning freshness in the air before the real heat makes the air almost stifling. The scent of lemons filled the carriage as we trundled through the groves, and it is that scent, combined with the grassy freshness of an early start in the Italian countryside that I am reminded of in this scent.
Thinking about the fragrance overall, however, and not just that lemony essence, it is somewhere further south and perhaps a little further east that comes to mind. Occasionally I find this has an oriental aspect because there is a very gentle spiciness: it's nothing I can identify with any precision, just the vague warmth of spices. This may be why I think of the eastern reaches of the Mediterranean when I wear this scent: the combination of lemon, figs and spice along with the cedar is, to my nose, more Middle Eastern than southern Italian.
When to wear?
In the height of summer I tend to wear Jil Sander's 'Sun', a fragrance which has been designed not just to evoke a summery scent, but one which has been formulated to be suitable to be worn in hot weather; if I don't have that to hand I tend not to bother wearing fragrance because it disappears too quickly and is therefore a waste of money. However, I gave '10:10 in Sicilia' a go in hot weather, applying it early on just after showering before the temperature climbed past the mid twenties and I found that not only does it last reasonably well, it imparts a psychological feeing of coolness that belies the increasing heat.
This seems to me more like a daytime than an evening scent but I have been known to wear abroad on warm evenings when I wish to finish off with a fragrance for going out, but find my usual scents too heavy to wear when the temperature is still in the twenties.
I think '10:10 in Sicilia' has a quite a broad appeal because the citrus opening is vibrant and youthful and the floral aspects are not cloying or overbearing.
A Pleasing Purchase
After the ordeal of our very bumpy flight I didn't much feel like wearing this perfume because it reminded me of a pretty awful experience but once that memory had faded a bit I was ready to try again and '10:10 in Sicilia' was as lovely as I remembered it. I find that the zingy opening is a lovely invigorating way to start the day while the floral heart is pretty and feminine.
As this is an eau de toilette it isn't going to last as long as an eau de parfum but that is perhaps what makes it more appropriate for summer wear. I find that the top notes endure longer than I would usually expect from an edt, still going strong an hour or so after initial application, but the heart fades more quickly than I would like. On a cooler day I might re-apply after four hours wear but in hot weather I'll generally just make one morning application and leave it at that.
The exact prices eludes me now but I think I paid somewhere around Euro40 for a 50ml bottle; '10:10 from Sicilia' is only available as an edt and only in this size. It's not cheap for an edt, but I felt that it was a good purchase based on how much I enjoy wearing it.