Really a 3.5. Aldehydes, neroli, peach, coriander and hyacinth, sandalwood, tonka, styrax. Charisma is a 1968 aldehydic floral wood. I turned to Charisma when my nose was tired from the challenges of traditional floral, rose, fruity or citric leather chypres that I had been wearing. Tired of smelling like gasoline, rubber, vetiver, oud, then come here :)
The first time I sniffed it, I was not really impressed - yawn. The second or third time, it felt like slipping on comfy house slippers after a day in beautiful high heels. Charisma's peach is less overt than mitsouko. Charisma's hyacinth is not pollinated powdery like chamade. The composition is progresses calmly without startling (unlike anything Routnitska). Somehow I get the impression in Charisma's green opening that it is a chypre, even though it isn't one and doesn't contain oak moss, but then I realize the feeling is due to the fact that Charisma is classically structured.
Reading about aldehydic florals (Charisma, Chant d'aromes, Chanel 5, Amouage Gold etc) caused me to think about what civet combined with citrus smells like on my skin. For some reason, I feel that I can smell the notes clearly here, which makes me happy. (Originally I gave this four stars because of that, but I knocked it back to three stars because the happiness didn't make me inclined to wear it more often). Other reviewers compare Charisma to Coco. I originally didn't see the resemblance, but now perhaps I am beginning to grasp it. The difference is with Coco, I kept wishing for stronger woods. Here, I feel like it's pretty well balanced. To me, Coco makes me think of Polge's other creation Ungaro Diva or of Prunol base which, in its original De Laire formula, is in the differently seasoned vintage Rochas Femme.
I am gravitating more towards vintage perfume, including mass market ones like Avon Charisma, Unforgettable, Occur and Persian wood or Revlon Intimate, a mass market version of Miss Dior, because I've been reading that today's luxury bottles often contain only 1 or 2 euros of ingredients for every 100 spent on the retail price per bottle. Amouage is obviously a luxury brand that prides itself on the quality of its ingredients, and Amouage Gold sometimes subs in for vintage Chanel 5 EdC in my fragrance rotation. Compared to Charisma, Amouage Gold is smoother, softer and much creamier. Gold's notes (from either fragrantica or basenotes) are something like rock rose/cistus/labdanum, lily of the valley, jasmine, sandalwood, cedar, myrrh, frankincense. I am guessing that the myrrh and frankincense might lighten and 'lift' Gold. In comparison to Gold, I imagine that Charisma opens more sharply, but when I wait for a fast evolving dry down from a dab of my snail bottle, it's a greener, older, less sweet cousin that ends up faintly green soapy (since i am not generally a fan of aldehydic floral blends, I mean this to be a compliment).
For the price, I might consider sacrificing a little smooth creamy luxury. The fact that I bought Charisma, in perfect condition, in an adorable original glass snail bottle,in its box for 10 usd (it looks like 15-20 ml) makes it even better.
Note: if you find it skunky or fusty, consider whether your bottle may have turned. I feel that people tended to display their cutesy avon bottles and unwittingly caused spoilage. However, with the relative little cost and ready availability on line, I wouldn't take away a star. Rather, I recommend you buy your vintage avon in a splash, not atomizer bottle; that you choose one that has been stored in its box; and that it not be too dark in color.