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the dreamer


The Transcendent Androgyny of Versace’s The Dreamer

Taking your first steps into the world of fragrance is a wonderful experience. I grew up in a house with a mother who was allergic to near everything, so my first experience with fragrance was raiding the old spice shelf with a college packing list clenched in my hand. Even those deodorant scents painted pictures in my mind that I’d never seen before. The smells of sandalwood, cypress, jasmine, cedar – they were like colors I had only glimpsed in passing, and now here they were, painted onto a canvas where each one shone as never before. I know the wonder of smelling a true masterpiece of perfume for the first time, both through my own experience and watching the faces of friends light up as they find something that truly connects with them.

A little spray of Versace’s The Dreamer was nestled among the first perfume sample set I ever ordered. It was not the first perfume I fell in love with – that would be Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino – but it was the first one that snuck up on me. I remember falling under the enchantment of Dior Homme Intense and marveling at the weirdness of the same house’s Fahrenheit, but something about The Dreamer stood apart in my mind. It’s taken me years to figure out why.

If perfume forums are any indication, men often enter the world of perfume with a ton of misconceptions. One of the more benign misconceptions, and one that is constantly reinforced in mainstream perfumery, is that men are limited to masculine scents. Once you roam out of designer perfumery, ‘unisex’ perfume also becomes acceptable, but it took me half a decade to really reject the silly idea that I couldn’t wear traditionally feminine fragrances. The Dreamer held so much power early in my perfume journey precisely because it was marketed toward men, yet bears several characteristics of feminine fragrances.

The Dreamer lives in the mystical post-gender realm suggested by its sparkly purple box. It opens with a blast of florals and bitter herbs, at the center of which is tobacco blossom. Tobacco blossom really is a confounding floral; it echoes the smell of regular tobacco but in a much more natural, gentle fashion than tobacco is usually rendered. The floral tobacco is flanked by a number of bitter herbs (artemisia, tarragon) and soft florals (lily, iris). As the fragrance dries down, amber floats to the forefront, offering a warm foundation for the fading florals to rest upon. The result is an enchanting fragrance whose qualities are equally androgynous and magical.

To the fragrance’s detriment, this light quality leaves The Dreamer feeling just slightly hollow. It feels as if there’s a bit of room within the fragrance that’s been underutilized. This could very likely be due to the fragrance’s reformulation that took place sometime in the last decade; there are certainly proponents The Dreamer’s vintage formulation roaming in online forums. However, any bottle of The Dreamer that you find will bear its signature charm: a blatant defiance of gender cast in an elegant form. Wear it with pride and enter the realm beyond.

Grab a sample here or a remarkably affordable bottle here.

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated. 

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  • Jade is the Lifestyle Editor at the Fandomentals, where they obsess over perfume and underground music. Their wacky poetry is floating around the internet - beware! Follow them for fragrance and poetry content @johndarrextreme on Instagram.

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