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A Star Is Born — Oscar de la Renta’s Extraordinary Eau de Parfum Is A Shining Victory

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When the late fashion designer Oscar de la Renta spoke, the world listened — not just because of the exquisiteness of his confections or even because of his stature, but because he was a beacon of wisdom, a shining example of gallantry, an indefatigable advocate for women, and an endless source of inspiration.  His musings often focused on women’s inherent power, grace, and beauty, uttering such quotable phrases as “The qualities I most admire in women are confidence and kindness,” “Walk like you have three men walking behind you,” and “The essence of style is how you live your life, what you do with your life.” He often said that he believed his role as a designer was to make women feel beautiful  and he accomplished this goal with aplomb, season after season, breathing life into dresses and garments that epitomized elegance, romance, and femininity. Similarly, the fragrances Oscar de la Renta created did not involve shock tactics – no zany notes or gimmicky packaging — but, rather, they exuded a quiet confidence. The latest scent from the design house, the Extraordinary Eau de Parfum ($58 for 40ml and $92 for 90 ml at OscardelaRenta.com and Macys.com) deftly captures the traits that de la Renta so admired in women.

A floral aroma with a dewy freshness, Extraordinary opens with top notes of sparkling neroli and cherry blossom, creating a sunny first impression that’s rife with optimism but which, thanks to its dewy quality, feels youthful and luminous. These notes set the stage for the fragrance’s captivating heart, a bouquet of hydroponic long-stem rose and plush peony that feels wistfully romantic, quietly passionate. As the fragrance unfolds, base notes of vanilla orchid, blonde woods, and amber resin impart a soft but lingering sensuality.

Somehow, like so many of de la Renta’s magnificent gowns, the Extraordinary EDP manages to feel both diaphanous and decisive, perfectly capturing the push-and-pull between fragility and strength. It’s poised but not standoffish, elegant but not haughty, alluring but never garish. If the fragrance were a moment, it would be that second when a woman exhales while being dipped by her beloved during an elegant waltz, that instant when her head is tilted back and she faces away from him, one arm wrapped around his back. It’s her elongated, swan-like neck, her perfectly arched back, the twinkle in her eye,  the quick exhale she releases, the desire she communicates silently, without ever looking at her partner.

The pink-colored fragrance is encased in a glass bottle with a star-like shape. The celestial reference is not quite as literal as that of Thierry Mugler’s Angel, but the swooping ridges along the side of the bottle do vaguely recall the starry sky. The rose gold cap, suspended in a translucent cube, compounds the emphasis on radiance, thereby completing the woman-as-a-shining-star motif.

Oscar de la Renta once said, “A fragrance is like a signature, so that even after a woman leaves the room, her fragrance should reveal she’s been there.” Extraordinary accomplishes this feat — it’s a sensual whisper that makes as marked an impression as an operatic aria, an unassuming love poem executed via scent.

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