My earliest perfume memory involves tiny perfume bottles from Hawaii given to me by my father. Housed side by side in a clear plastic box, the squat, round bottles were crowned with plastic caps shaped like their representative flowers — pikkake, orange blossom, and orchid — and I still remember the viscous film that gathered around their caps when I opened them.
My appreciation for Fidji is, no doubt, colored (scented?) by this early memory of "exotic" perfume, as it, too, evokes a fantasy of a similar faraway island, the island nation of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean.
Fidji, "the perfume of paradise found," rather than being a soliflore representation of an island flower like those simple souvenir perfumes, instead creates an olfactory translation of paradise, with notes that evoke the dreamlike mood you feel lying on the beach as an island breeze blows the scent of tropical flowers your way and the sun warms your skin.
Fidji starts off green-fresh in its top notes, moves into radiant (as opposed to indolic) jasmine, rose and ylang-ylang, and, softened by buttery orris, it dries down to the woody and spicy warmth of sandalwood, vetiver and oakmoss.
Top notes: Galbanum, hyacinth, bergamot, lemon
Heart notes: Carnation, orris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Vetiver, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss
From the moment Fidji adds a "d" to the real spelling of Fiji, it signals a move away from the real island to a paradise of its own making. Its whispery-soft evocation of island flowers stands in contrast to what I imagine today would be a kind of vulgar literalism. (Imagine a drug-store quality "Tahiti Extreme" — with notes of mango, coconut, pineapple and Tahitian vanilla. I know — I'd rather not, either.)
By the time Fidji dries down, I smell a golden rose, kept fresh by galbanum and citrus notes, fattened by orris, with the slightest woody spice of sandalwood and oakmoss. The volume of its initial, intense rush of greens and florals is turned down, but Fidji's quiet, gorgeous presence lingers for hours.
PLEASE NOTE: As for all the scents reviewed here, this review is for the vintage Fidji, whose juice is a darker caramel than the current light-colored Fidji you can still get pretty much anywhere. I bought some new stuff a few years ago, and I didn't quite know why the magic wasn't still there. Now I know — the top notes and florals are there, but they're not as rich as the vintage: they smell watery and transparent. They're also not followed up by the warming basenotes in the original formula, which makes the reformulated Fidji seem one-dimensional and lacking the dreamy mood the multifaceted original creates. The reformulation also just smells cheaper than the original. This lack of evolution from green to floral to spicy/woody/warm in the reformulation is like a day on a beach without a sunset, namely — not good.