I don't really remember where I learned about the existence of Asja. I however do remember the hunt – it has been discontinued for a while, they still had it at a few discounters but whenever I placed an order, the response was Oops, out of stock so the hunt started. Not that it wouldn't be available here and there but I wanted it for a civilized price.
After some time, I succeeded. Meantime, I grabbed a few minis which I've been using until three days ago when someone asked me for a decant and I found that both the spray nozzles in both of my bottles refuse to work.
Due to the necessary poking and prodding to get the substance out of the bottle, I had a chance to sniff this fragrance more than I would have planned... so.
Fruity oriental, created by Jean Guichard, launched in 1992 and sadly, discontinued for quite a while and never to appear again – LVMH got hold of the Fendi perfume division and axed it all.
Asja is one of the fragrances that are so well constructed that they are almost seamless – no accords sticking out. Upon closer scrutiny, it appears that the fragrance is based on honey, vanilla and soft sweet resins. The fruits are there, none of them any prominent, though, and the soapy rose and lily of the valley are somewhat discernible, too. Thanks to this soapyness and a generous dose of eugenol (think of carnation, good part of rose and some clovebuds), Asja is wearable pretty well even in summer, which I frequently did. Where Opium becomes a weapon of mass destruction, Asja was still pleasing, in a different way than in winter.
Another slight drawback of Asja, along with the not-exactly-excellent spray nozzle design is the lack of lasting power, maybe that's another reason why it keeps being wearable even in summer. It stays longer on fabric or paper than on skin (1) but beware, the juice is very orange, don't spray on light-coloured fabrics.
I've found remarks here and there that Asja is very Lutensesque – I cannot really judge because I never really fell for Serge Lutens with the exception of Feminité du Bois (the Shiseido version with lots of bois and hardly any feminité) and since this is the only Lutens fragrance I own, I found a bottle to check, without actually believing that there would be any apparent affinity. Well, there is. There is some superficial similarity in the scent as such, I'd say, but also something about the style. I guess these two will make a good mix, which I'll try someday soon.
Now, all things shiny. The bottle! It looks indeed exquisite on pictures and I coined an image of heavy black glass, or rather very deep purple or red, so deep that it appears to be black, with gold print. The reality wasn't that impressive, the bottle is encased in two plastic shells but still it reminds a piece of Japanese work in lacquer if you back away a few metres and it's a misty evening, in other circumstances, it's just plainly cool. Says me who would vote for rectangular bottles of clear glass because most of the 'creative' flacons tend towards ugly. I have a slight tendency to love the overdone. I also solemnly promise to dig up the boxes in red, black and gold, to update you on the whole concept that seems to refer to a ball in the Opera. I haven't found a mention that Asja would be ever made in extrait but I can well imagine the flacon – finally that gold stamped glass – and a faux lacquer coffret. Neither have I found the designer of the packaging, should someone know, let me know.
If you only vaguely like orientals, Asja is a must at least to try.
Asja was made in eau de toilette in sizes of 20, 40 and 75 ml and it's sometimes seen at discounters, dusty corners of very local drugstores and at auction sites.