Diane Von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dress turns 40 this year, and Tatiana, the fragrance named after her daughter, is almost 40, too. But she might as well be a teenager or an early 20-something, because vintage Tatiana still smells as young, fresh, and vivacious as ever. (I can't say the same for its reformulation, which I've heard — not surprisingly — smells like a chemical stew.)
Like Fracas before her, Tatiana is a bouquet of white flowers in a bottle just itching to start trouble. See the flame that shoots out of the Tatiana bottle in that ad? That’s truth in advertising. Whoever composed Tatiana really let its white florals out of their cages, to do their thing and roar.
Top notes: Orange blossom, bergamot, rosewood, green note
Heart notes: Jasmine, narcissus, tuberose, jonquil, rose
Base notes: Sandalwood, musk, civet
Tatiana opens with a wonderful bubblegum-sweet and rubbery tuberose combined with rich jasmine and orange blossom, but it's momentarily pushed into a green, sharp direction. The green comes from what my Haarmann & Reimer guide calls, mysteriously, a “green note,” (galbanum?) and from a luscious narcissus note.
A perfumer once gave me a sample of narcissus absolute that I am smelling right now, and it’s an interesting counterpoint to orange blossom, jasmine, and tuberose, notes that I imagine as three headstrong women, headed in one direction in a united front. Pulling them into a greener, earthier almost dried hay and leaves direction, like the green hair in the Vent Vert ad drawn by Rene Gruau, narcissus tempers Tatiana’s sweetness and gives it an edgier, moodier dimension — for a microexpression of a second. (Narcissus absolute on its own almost smells pissy and animalic.)
Soon, its sensuous base of musk, sandalwood and civet come into play, rounding out the bouquet with waxy richness and subtle warmth.
Tatiana could initially be mistaken for an 80s scent — it has that bigness of sweet, white florals at the beginning. But unlike 80s scent-bombs like Amarige, Tatiana has restraint. There’s no fruity aspect, just the subtle counterpoint of green, and the heady white florals that subside into that rich base. Tatiana is a floral, all right, but she’s accompanied with just the right entourage to bring out the best in her, to highlight and to soften, like good makeup and lighting.
Tatiana’s development and restraint, in spite of its big white flowers, makes it a quintessential 70s fragrance. If you love tuberose, jasmine or orange blossom, and you find modern versions to be either too watery and tame, or too outrageous and screeching, Tatiana will show you that she knows when to show her stuff, and when to retreat and leave you wanting more.
P.S. You can find minis of vintage Tatiana on eBay and the Miniature Perfume Shoppe for a song.