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Van Cleef & Arpels Zanzibar Eau de Toilette

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1 Review

Brand: Van Cleef & Arpels / Type: Fragrance / Concentration: Eau de Toilette

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      06.09.2012 11:17
      Very helpful



      A soft and long-lasting citrusy - peppery - woody cologne

      Launched : 2001, discontinued
      Group : Woody spicy


      While browsing through my miniature perfume collection, I've come across this now rare and almost forgotten men's eau de toilette, Zanzibar from Van Cleef & Arpels. As I love and have been to Zanzibar and an ardent fan of spices in fragrances, I've been thinking to have found a hidden gem.


      The outer packaging is a hot brick red colour that does evoke the red African land and its spices. The glass bottle is clear and rectangular and is topped with red plastic stopper that looks like a diamond-shape gem. The design tries to be original and stylish however the I'm not quite keen on the stopper being plastic. It's placed in an unusual angle which makes it difficult to remove it as well.


      Top notes : coriander, cardamom, lemon

      At first, lemon, more precisely freshly squeezed lemon hits my nose. It has a green tang to it and a just a light touch of sweetness. Zanzibar projects a rather fresh sillage mixed with a long-lasting spicy and peppery core as it slowly moves towards its heart.

      Heart notes : ginger, tobacco, black pepper, lemon

      Following the first half an hour, a slightly drier, earthier scent develops that is still surrounded by fresh lemon. I'm getting a faint hint of clove-like eugenol (naturally present in ginger, clove and cinnamon) that fades quickly in the background. I'd describe the heart as earthy and woody fresh however it isn't particularly spicy and apart from the pepper you really have to look for other spices. I find it disappointing that not a single spicy element is emphasized and the result is a kind of light, peppery mish-mash.

      On the whole, the heart is non-sweet, lightly fresh and masculine without being harsh. The accord is soft its gradual development feels natural throughout. It has just the right depth and a medium-weight projection; a balance that isn't easy to find in fragrances nowadays. Due to the fresh lemony facet the fragrance stays light and airy overall projecting a lovely, fresh medium sillage over 6 - 7 hours so practically it is noticeable for the whole day.

      Base notes : amber, sandalwood, vetiver

      At the end of the day, Zanzibar finally takes on a warmer attitude thanks to the presence of soft and powdery sandalwood giving it a smooth, warm texture like satiny wood. The amber doesn't really come through to sweeten the composition though. The presence of vetiver lends an aromatic, earthy and peppery feel and creates a lovely long-lasting balance. Now without the lemon, the soft and masculine spicy woody side dominates and surrounds the skin like a glove in the final 2 - 3 hours or so.


      The marketing blurb goes like this : « The name of the perfume says everything: this is a fragrance for adventurers and explorers. It's soaked in the scent of red African land, exotic trees and hot spices. « This statement doesn't even come close to the truth. I was expecting a hot and spicy scent heavily loaded with cinnanom and other spices however Zanzibar is mainly soft and ressembling a lot to the clean and fresh woody compositions of Hermes's Un Jardin... series only more on the masculine side. It's no surpise the aforementioned fragrances were also created by Jacques Cavallier. resident nose at Hermes.

      In my opinion this eau de toilette isn't worth at full price and I fully understand why it has been discontinued. It isn't unique and characteristic enough so eventually fails to live up to its promises. On the good side, the airiness and cleanness of the composition paired with 9 - 10 hours staying power and the substance and presence of the precious raw materials composed with a precise hand to perfection are all unmistakeable signs of good perfumery and can only praise the hand of the perfumer. For an alternative, try any Hermessence or Un Jardin... cologne and you'll see the comparison.

      To sum up, Zanzibar is a subtle but powerful enough fresh and well-constructed quality cologne that is sadly not memorable enough and doesn't live up to its name. It will not be missed.


      Van Cleef & Arpels perfumes don't come cheap, it's enough to look at current editions of Tzar for Men or First for Women to see that. The original price of Zanzibar Eau de Toilette was a similar £60 / 50ml and £100(!) / 100ml Eau de Toilette. Now discontinued so availability is scarce, I recommend you look on eBay, you might bag a bargain.

      ©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk


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