Seplasia (Bruno Acampora)

The Seplasia was ancient Capua's Fifth Avenue-- a glittering thoroughfare housing all the perfumers, beauticians, and luxury-goods purveyors who catered to the Roman elite. To illustrate its influence, the great Roman statesman Cicero (106 BCE-43 CE) took a moment during his Orations to chide a politician lacking in savoir faire: "Seplasia, in truth... the moment that it beheld you, refused to acknowledge you as the consul of Campania." In other words, if the Seplasia sniffed at you, baby, your Senate career was over.

The Seplasia's reputation still held strong in 1898 when Oxford University's John Frances mused in his Notes and Queries: "Seplasiarius--the equivalent, perhaps, of a Bond Street man." Proof positive that whether your toga is hand-draped or tailor-made, it's the name on the tag that counts.

Owing to its roots in perfumery row, Seplasia is undoubtedly a well-chosen moniker for any fragrance. How do you apply it? You can go big: top of the line ingredients, fancy merchandising, intimidating price tag. Or you can radiate humility and release a simple fragrance with refreshingly few pretensions. Or you can do both-- package a humble (yet fearsomely dear) perfume oil in quiet (yet expensive) trappings and charge a whopping $175 for ten measly milliliters on LuckyScent.

Bruno Acampora chooses door number three. What does the consumer get out of this devil's bargain?

Beauty. Natural, uncomplicated, beauty.

I admit I was skeptical-- and who was I to be skeptical, right? I didn't fork over any of my hard-earned simoleons to Mr. Acampora. Nan and I got our sample gratis from Carol, who included it in the Bag of Wonderful after calling Seplasia "love at first sniff... (the) Holy Grail". Has she ever steered us wrong? No. So where did I get off decrying the price tag as 'beastly' (which I did, choking with indignation). Is it really fair that we must be made of money to deserve so simple a pleasure? I cried. Maybe I was possessed by some ancient Roman senator with an axe to grind and a taste for filibustering.

Then I opened the sample vial and fell off my soapbox.

Seplasia is the sort of gentle, lovingly-crafted fragrance that says to the average person, "Step right up; don't be afraid. I might be high-end, but I'm not going to bite." There's not an ounce of snobbery in this scent. It's undoubtedly a thing of quality, but it's nothing so lofty or exclusive that Caesar would arrogate it for his own particular use. Wearing it, I envision an citrus grove within a pebble's throw of the ocean-- penetrating fruity sweetness interlaced with ozonic salt air and the scent of geraniums on a sunny stone plaza. At its tail end (which is hours away from initial application), Seplasia becomes more and more lemony and herbal. I feel as though I've enjoyed a weekend in a luxury spa, all thanks to two tiny drops of this elixir. Literally two drops. (At that rate, what's eight dollars per 0.2 milliliters?)

Friends, fumeheads, lend me your ears: if there ever was a perfume made for saving your pennies to buy, it's this one.

Scent Elements: Neroli, lemon, bergamot, geranium, rose, violet, tuberose, jasmine, patchouli, coriander, vetiver, rosewood, ylang-ylang, musk