Everyone has a few perfume houses that they have a soft spot for, and generally like. Profumum (or Profumum Roma) is one of those for me, a brand whose focus on doing one thing in the richest way possible appeals to me very much. I like their aesthetic, even when some of their fragrances don’t suit my personal tastes or style. In fact, there has only been one Profumum scent that I found to be a massive disappointment. Well, now there are two.
Sorriso (the Italian word for “smile”) is the newest fragrance from the Italian niche perfume house, an eau de parfum that was released in late 2013. Profumum‘s website describes the perfume very simply:
The taste of life and the enthusiasm of
an embrace will donate her marvalous smile.
[Notes:] Bitter chocolate, bitter orange, vanilla, tropical woods
Sorriso opens on my skin with a concentrated, somewhat boozy, intensely sweetened vanilla note which is overtaken seconds later by dusty cocoa powder, a hint of musky oil, and a subtle woodiness. As the dry cocoa asserts its supremacy, the vanilla melts into it, losing its boozy undertone at the same time and turning slightly drier.
The bouquet in the first five minutes is nothing more than that of a swirled chocolate and vanilla milkshake. It’s deep, smooth, rich, and decadent. The chocolate is lovely, feeling simultaneously like the powdered, dusty, semi-sweet kind and a milk-based hot chocolate. There is absolutely no orange that appears on my skin, but there is a faint whisper of something a bit like dried roses wafting about for three or four minutes. The less pleasant aspect is the hint of a musky oiliness.It smells a lot like a sweetened, but very generic, inexpensive oil before eventually turning into the smell of a common, drugstore Shea butter.
Sorriso barely changes, except for the growing prominence of the sweetened, musky oil. Twenty minutes in, Sorriso is a simple chocolate milkshake scent whose every molecule is infused with vanilla, all enveloped in a musky, wholly artificial-smelling, common oiliness. Sorriso is sweet, yes, but it is also a relatively dry sweetness. This is not a syrupy or diabetically gooey gourmand on my skin. It is also a very soft scent that is surprisingly thin in feel for a Profumum. It lacks the heft, viscosity and potency of the other fragrances in the line, particularly Ambra Aurea, Dulcis in Fundo, Patchouly, and Arso. It is also much thinner in feel than Fiore d’Ambre, though it is richer than the unpleasant, wholly synthetic Santalum. Sorriso’s projection is as soft as its weight, wafting out 2 inches at best from my skin with 3 massive smears.
There is a woody note underlying Sorriso that is hard to place. It doesn’t smell like Australian Sandalwood or any of its generic, beige, synthetic substitutes. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it smells more like Cashmeran. I own a hand cream from Bath & Body Work‘s True Blue Spa Line called “Shea Cashmere,” and it smells a lot like Sorriso, minus the cocoa powder. None of these comparison to common products — whether drugstore Shea butter or a B&BW cream — is meant as a particular compliment, by the way. Not at Profumum’s prices.
Sorriso stays on its uninspired trajectory for eons, taking Profumum’s general singularity to a new level. I always say that there is nothing wrong with linearity if you like the notes, but the issue here is that they are so unimpressive and mediocre. The other problem is that, even by Profumum’s soliflore standards, its scents usually have more variegated layers or nuances than Sorriso. There are changes in such Profumum scents as Arso, Ambra Aurea, Acqua di Sale, Olibanum, or the like, even if they can occasionally be subtle or a question of degree. Sorriso makes Ambra Aurea look like one of Serge Lutens’ morphing, complex, twisting, bell jar masterpieces. Hell, it makes the entire rest of the Profumum line look like something out of an Amouage catalog, particularly in terms of quality.
Sorrio’s scent is a fatally boring flat-line, with the most noticeable changes being to the weight, body, and sillage. It takes a mere hour for Sorriso’s notes to fold onto themselves, and for the fragrance to turn into a relatively thin choco-musk bouquet with vanilla, a hint of woodiness, and musky, Shea-like butter. By the end of the second hour, it’s soft and not particularly deep, though it’s not exactly gauzy either. At the end of the 4th hour, Sorriso is a skin scent, though you can still easily detect the unchanging, mediocre bouquet if you sniff it up close.
The one, solitary change is the sudden appearance of the orange towards the middle of the 7th hour. Its unexpected arrival was almost shocking in the novelty of having something different finally happen! Unfortunately, the orange was both minor, hazy, and muted, doing nothing more than to underscore the continuing impression of Sorriso as a scent whose main characteristic from afar is dry-sweetness. Up close, if you sniff really hard with your nose on your skin, the perfume’s primary essence remains unchanged: a nebulous, sweetened, choco-musk bouquet, though even the cocoa is massively faded by now. In any event, the orange only lasted 20 minutes on my skin, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.
All too soon, Sorriso devolves into nothing more than an abstract, amorphous smear of musky, woody sweetness. There it remains until its very end, 9.75 hours from the start. I was thoroughly unimpressed with almost all of it, except for the opening two minutes which were relatively pleasant but still nothing to write home about. (Plus, the longevity was a big disappointment as compared to the rest of the Profumum line.)
I actually tested Sorriso twice, and my first experience was extremely different. These next words may not mean anything to anyone who didn’t live through the early 1980s, but I think it will definitely ring a bell for those who did: Bain de Soleil! At the time, my family and I were living in New York during the school year, and the big thing in America at the time were the commercials and print adverts for the suntan oil. The television commercials were especially catchy with their refrain, “Bain de Sole-ay/ For the St. Trop-ay/Tan.” It always amused me, because I never saw anyone IN St. Tropez or the South of France actually using the stuff. But I loved the commercials and how they mentally took me away from a place (and school) that I did not enjoy. So, I bought the damn thing, and rather liked the smell, primarily because it was nothing like the greasy, heavy, coconut aroma of the Hawaiian Tropic oils. Instead, the Bain de Soleil of my memory smelled of musky, sweetened Shea oil, with a touch of vanilla, some indistinct dryness, and a vague sense of a dried, abstract brown…. something. Dried fruits? Who knows? It was all so nebulous, except for the sweetened oil.
When I applied only a small quantity of Profumum’s Sorriso, the aroma on my skin smelled exactly like my memory of Bain de Soleil: sweetened, musky oil with a Shea oil-like aroma that was dry and infused with some intangible dried fruitiness. Bain de Soleil wasn’t at all tropical like usual suntan oils, and neither is Sorriso. But the similarities left me rather astounded for hours on end, transporting me back in time. With the small dosage, the cocoa was virtually nonexistent on my skin except as some sort of dusky, dusty…. something. The main aroma was… well, Bain de Soleil. There is no other way I can describe its nebulous, amorphous oddness. I couldn’t get over it. So, I was quite relieved when I tested Sorriso a second time around using the 3 massive smears, and detected chocolate from the start. Unfortunately, as I’ve already explained, it all went downhill from there.
My overall reaction to Sorriso isn’t boredom. It is more along the lines of, “Seriously??! This is it?!” My main problem is that Sorriso really lacked the luxuriousness that is Profumum’s signature, as well as the brand’s concentrated, hefty, rich elegance. Sorriso felt generic, cheap, and wholly pedestrian. I couldn’t help comparing it to Profumum’s gourmand take on vanilla, Dulcis in Fundo, which is one of the richest, most over-the-top vanillas that I’ve encountered, even if it is too much for my personal tastes. Sorriso does not do the same for chocolate.
In fact, I consistently found myself pondering whether the massively inexpensive Choco Musk oil from Al Rehab would be deeper and heavier. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard talk of Choco Musk, and I bet it is the same as (if not better than) Sorriso, especially for the price. It only costs $3.75 for 6ml on Amazon. Sorriso, in contrast, costs $265 which is either a rare exception to the usual Profumum price, or part of the company’s new, anticipated price hike for the line which was supposed to occur either sometime this month or in March. I’m going to order the Choco Musk just to compare, because Sorriso? Bah.
The blog reviews for Sorriso thus far are either ambivalent or negative. For Jessica on Now Smell This, the main problem seemed to be the longevity, though it doesn’t scream enthusiasm to me as a whole. Her short review states:
Just as Vanitas feels like a smoother, better constructed version of Confetto (minus the almond), Sorriso is an improvement on Battito d’Ali’s theme. It doesn’t have Battito d’Ali’s strange sharp after-taste; the vanilla helps to encourage the chocolate’s sweetness, without turning it into cake frosting, and the “bitter orange” note is meshed with a subtle anise and some mysterious additional aromatic-herbal note. The main problem with this fragrance, for me, is its lack of longevity — if Sorriso is a smile, it’s a fleeting one. And, as for much of the line, the price seems high for compositions that aren’t particularly innovative or complex. I like a guilty-pleasure gourmand as much as anyone, but to me, it shouldn’t cost more than a perfume from Editions de Parfums or Serge Lutens.
The Non-Blonde couldn’t stand Sorriso, though she had no longevity problems at all. She wrote, in part:
I was very excited about Sorriso, the new fragrance from Profumum. […] It sounds like a gourmand heaven for my chocolate-loving heart. The problem started right away: Sorriso greeted me with a harsh and loud saccharine confection that reminded me of dairy-free whipped desserts. It’s frothy, sweet, vanillic, and utterly artificial. The worst part? On my skin this perfume smells cheap.
No matter how much I tried, the chocolate Profumum had promised never arrived for me (neither did the bitter orange). I tested Sorriso in the cold air and while working out. No chocolate, but … I kept getting this piercing not-really vanilla foam. I did not enjoy the process. The husband’s skin was not much help, either. Sorriso on him was a bit fatty with a hint of a coconut-like suntan lotion. Not real coconut, just that manufactured oiliness. No chocolate either.
As is often the case with overly sweet perfumes that trigger my Do.Not.Want reflex, Sorriso has the tenacity and determination of Her Majesty The Queen. […] I enjoy several Profumum creations, mostly the masculine woody ones. I guess Sorriso will join Dulcis in Fundo and Acqua e Zucchero, two other hugely popular Profumum gourmands that I simply can’t stand.
I smirked when I read about her husband’s experience and the fatty suntain oil. (I wonder if he’s ever smelled Bain de Soleil?) It does seem as though the Non-Blonde herself doesn’t like serious, heavy gourmands, though her issue here was clearly more with the total domination of a synthetic-smelling vanilla than with anything else. I don’t like hardcore gourmands, either, but Sorriso wasn’t one on my skin. It wasn’t anything, frankly, except wishy-washy and utterly mediocre, at best. If it had at least tried to be like Dulcis in Fundo, I would respect it for meeting the Profumum standard, but it doesn’t. In fact, Sorriso falls far short of it, in my opinion. And we won’t even start on how over-priced it is for what you’re getting!
On Fragrantica, there are only two reviews for Sorriso thus far, and they are widely divergent. The first is positive:
If Dulcis in Fundo can be called a magnificent orange dreamsicle, then Sorriso can sit beside it in the freezer as a magnificent Fudgesicle. [¶] It’s a prominent, yet soft, cocoa on a creamy vanilla base, tempered by a touch of popsicle stick. I get no orange here (certainly nothing like Dulcis in Fundo).
I find it gentle and appealing, something I would be happy to wear. I would be tempted to go for a full bottle if I had not already invested in Gourmand Coquin. Gourmand Coquin is *in your face* divine, while Sorriso is more reserved. They don’t serve quite the same purpose, but it would take a budget bigger than mine to justify owning both.
The second review is from “Alfarom,” a poster with whom I often seem to share the same opinion of things. In fact, his second sentence is verbatim what I wrote in my notes a few times:
What? Are they serious? Considering the name of the fragrance, I don’t think so. Italian word *Sorriso* stands for english word *Smile* but I think at Profumum they understimated the hilarious power of this stuff. It would have probably better be labelled as *Laugh* or, considering how juvenile this stuff smells, even *LOL*.
A cheap and vile concoction of cacao and hyper-sweet vanilla with a tad of the sweetest sandalwood thrown in. It would suck even in the I Tesori d’Oriente’s range. Meh!…with a laugh.
I quite agree. “Are they serious?” sums it up perfectly.
Too bad! I love Arso and Acqua Viva from this house.
This was miles away from Arso in feel, depth and body. I haven’t tried Acqua Viva, but I’ve heard lovely things about it.
My sincerest commiserations.
The Dandy’s heart sank when you spoke of disappointment only to plummet when I read the words “intensely sweetened vanilla note which is overtaken seconds later by dusty cocoa powder”.
Heave (almost literally in this case had I been in your shoes) ho.
Tomorrow is another day.
The Perfumed Dandy
Knowing your love (heh) of gourmands, 😉 I can only imagine what your reaction would be to Sorriso. Definitely NOT one for you to try when you go to Harrods to sniff the salty sea one!
Profumum has been very hit or miss for me so far. I really do not like Ambra Aurea – too metallic, too rich, waaay too full-on. Vanitas was sickening, sticky boiled sweets and Battito d’Ali was an overly-sweet lemon chiffon cake. But I love the full-on lemon in Acqua Viva and somehow Confetto’s almondy sweetness works for me, as does Rosae Mundi’s musky patchouly rose. Sorriso surprised me just by the fact that it was only ‘meh’ – perhaps because they turned the volume down a bit for once. Not great, but not awful.
Do you generally like or, rather, LOVE gourmands? If not, then I think Profumum’s versions would be too much in general. They definitely skew quite sweet. I haven’t tried Acqua Viva, but I’ve heard very lovely things about it. Interesting about Ambra Aurea having a metallic note on your skin. I wonder why? Hmm, intriguing. 🙂 Have you tried Fiore d’Ambra? That is a MUCH more approachable, soft, light amber with also less sweetness and a touch more dryness. It has more of a powdery undertone as a whole, especially during the drydown. Perhaps that would work better for you?
As a whole, I really like the line, even when the scents aren’t for me personally. And a number of them aren’t. But I respect them. I couldn’t respect Sorriso. It actually didn’t feel like a Profumum scent at all. I think that, as a general matter, the line is only for people who DON’T want the volume turned down. IMO, you’re paying for super-concentrated Extraits with massive density and body, so (for me at least) Sorriso was like something from another perfume house entirely, especially in terms of the cheapness of its notes.
It must be said that I am not a huge gourmand fan. I like them pitched at the level of Cuir Beluga, which I seem to remember you classified as a bland beige thing 🙂 So I agree that the super-strength gourmands in Profumum’s line are not a natural fit for me. I cannot imagine being able to use up a whole 100 ml bottle!
The first time I tried Fiori d’Ambra I didn’t think much of it – oddly it came across as a softer version of Ambra Aurea’s metallic amber mixed with some powerful white musk! However, while I didn’t think it special at the time, it did stick in my mind, and has since made it into the group of Profumums that I like. In small doses 😉
Haha, at the “bland beige thing.” That was actually Tonka Imperiale which I hated passionately. Ghastly rivers of beige nothingness like shag carpeting. Too, too much taupe. Gah, I’m curling my lip at the sheer memory. Cuir Beluga I thoroughly enjoyed and liked. Thoroughly. I compared it to Mary Poppins’ spoonful of (heliotrope) sugar and marzipan. My issue was the wispiness, ridiculously low sillage and longevity, and the price, in light of how quickly it dropped after the first 20 minutes on my skin. So, no, it wasn’t the “bland beige thing.” 🙂
I’m truly glad that Fiore d’Ambra worked much better for you, but yes, it does seem like Profumum aesthetic or approach is not an automatic fit for you. That’s perfectly okay, we all have houses which suit us better or worse than others. 🙂
It’s a shame about this one, as the description sounded wonderful. I do remember Bain de Soleil, which I, like you, loved not for its smell, but for its advertising. What was it, SPF 2? But I felt very sophisticated smearing it on by the pool in my black-and-white OP bathing suit, which unfortunately could not be gotten wet in mixed company, as its white half was inadequately lined. As a young teen, products which were useless for their intended purpose apparently represented the height of sophistication and elegance for me.
Bain de Soleil had the sexiest ads!!! Hurrah for someone else who remembers them! I loved all of them, and was utterly fascinated by their main model! Stunning, or Lizard Reptile Queen? I could never quite decide. How hilarious about you and your experience with Bain de Soleil, especially the bathing suit dilemma. Haha! Love it.
PS — I’ve spent the entire bloody day since writing/posting this review, singing/humming “Bain de Soleil/ for the St. Tropez/ tan!” It’s driving me a little mad at this point. lol
You passed the earworm on to me when I read your review, so in theory you should get some relief.
Ahh, now here I’m glad to say we’re back in total accord once again. (yay!) 🙂 … Had I not known this was a Profvmvm ‘fvme I’m pretty certain I’d NOT have guessed – I was like huh WTF !?? …
I’ve been hoping for a new release of theirs to come along that might overtake my estimation for, or ‘out-masterpiece’, their nonpareil Ambra Aurea, BUT no cigar ! 🙂 (Tho’ a few did come commendably close-ish.) – It seems I’ll just have to keep waiting (possibly in vain too by the looks of things).
LOL. We clearly need to just avoid the subject of Dzing or iris-y suedes. What have been some of your runner-up, almost favorites from the line?
A.Aurea is the only one I couldn’t resist forking out even their asking price for, (tho’ rather begrudgingly). It’s my top fave amber/ambergris ‘fume, tho’ I’m ‘amber-nut’ enough to could easily have a different one for each hour/mood of the day. 🙂 (Liked their ‘Fiore’ one too BUT next to AA sorry no contest. …
As for ‘runners-up’ I luv smoky ‘campfire’ scents so was easily captivated by Fumidus & even sweet Arso. – Plus I really like their Patchouly, think it’s a near perfect ‘soli-patch’ no doubt, however still have others I’d choose before it for wearing personally. – Really enjoy sniffing their addictive D.in.F, gorgeous, but again if in need of a full-on vanilla binge there’s many others I’d actually choose first. (for e.g. Felanilla, Note Vanillee, evn C.Beluga, amongst others). Tho’ do still think it’s one of their better ones. – Also think Vanitas is an equally fine ‘soli-nilla’, BUT not exactly warrants £$s when there’s so many equally good one for less. … Oh, I think Ichnusa is also nicely done for a luvr of fig notes. Plus probs forgetting a couple others more worth mentioning this minute. … Ah yes, lastly I’d like to add I was also a big fan of the original ‘pitch-dark’ Santalum which WAS indeed warranted, but unfortunately far different from the now ‘pi**-paler’ one. Which tho’ pleasant enough, no longer quite enough to make this list ! 🙁
However, generally, I do think that with all the constant price hiking Profvmvm’s biggest drawback is they ARE unfortunately getting a little overpriced for what they are, so the less impressive ones don’t quite warrant it when there’s abundant equally fine or even better alternatives. – Plus annoys me no end too their staunch refusal to offer smaller sizes, which at least would go a part way to help mitigate this (for those with less money to burn.) – But I imagine they’re deliberately NOT concerned with such … . 😀
I agree completely on the pricing issue, in light of the fact that there are some similar alternatives out there. There could just — JUST barely — be a case made for one or two of them at $240. But with the price hike? Err….. hm. It’s significantly harder to make that case. And you’re right, they really and truly don’t seem to care about either pricing, sizes, or making things easier on people. I imagine they have a rather “Well, let them eat cake” attitude and see themselves up there with Armani and the like.
BUT…. for someone who really and truly loves the notes in question, I’m not sure even the alternatives compare. The simple reason is that almost none of the alternatives will have Profumum’s massive viscocity, depth, heaviness, and richness. At the end of the day, it’s a very personal balancing act. People will spend far more on Roja Dove’s stuff, in part because of the body and depth, and in part because of the prestige luxury factor, even when some of his fragrances aren’t really as complex as people insist.
I guess we need perfumes like this one in order to appreciate more the masterpiece scents like Arso or Dulcis in Fundo… Or do we? 🙂
Well, I would choose Ambre Aurea as the best one in their line, but I like your positive way of thinking about it. 🙂
I think even if this were pitch perfect for what it is, I wouldn’t be super interested. Not a big fan of chocolate notes in perfume, do not like orange/chocolate combos generally. I do love Ambre Aurea and Fiore d’Ambre though. Arso was also good, but I wasn’t as taken with it – probably because I have a few smokey scents that already do the trick for me.
I can’t see you wearing chocolate, no matter what the perfume or brand. LOL
I love Sorriso! I find it’s chocolate vanilla coco butter deliciousness comforting & just up my alley! I love Dulcis in Fundo, Acqua e Zucchero, and Confetto also – but if you don’t share these sweet scent buds, perhaps it’s not for you!