Cleopatra (Tocca)

"Inspired by the Mediterranean seductress..." begins Tocca's description of Cleopatra, the 2007 version of what has now become their annual work-safe fruity floral. I might have expected a hypothetical mixture of bitter grapefruit peel, cassis, and greens to jack my eyebrows up at least half a centimeter. But this being Tocca, I know not to expect miracles.

Tocca is one of those outfits whose fragrances are so uniformly boring that they make real aficionados grit their teeth-- yet their "niceness" ruthlessly prevents a truly satisfying critical takedown. With each new variation on the house juice, you long to enumerate the ways in which Tocca disappoints-- the tissue-thin creative concepts enfolding beautiful bottles filled with sub-par pastel-tinted liquid; the paucity of imagination balanced by a headache-inducing white musk drydown that takes a dog's age to die and makes you forget every single note that came before it, etc. But just try to excoriate Tocca in print without feeling like a Grinch! How could you manage it anyway? Nothing about their products stands out enough to provide traction for your claws. Bland, smooth, and inoffensive, Tocca is truly the Teflon Perfume House.

I first smelled Cleopatra almost three years ago to this very day, and nothing about my original assessment has changed. Cleopatra is still flimsy and forgettable; it does not smell much like anything it claims to contain, except for the usual vague vanillic and THAT MUSK (but I knew that already, so I can't really complain). I don't dislike it; I mean that honestly. I could wear this to work, and no one would say boo. But what's the fun in that? I repeat: what's the fun in being flimsy and forgettable?

And why name it Cleopatra? Honestly-- Cleopatra herself would object. Or perhaps she wouldn't. Like me, she'd say to herself, "Oh, what's the harm in it?" and wear it anyway. Better than an asp bite, I'll give it that.

Scent Elements: Grapefruit, galbanum, cassis, jasmine, peach, tuberose, patchouli, amber, vanilla, white musk