Cerchi nell'acqua: An overview

Cerchi nell'acqua is an apparently underrated Italian niche line composed (and owned?) by nose Enrico Buccella. I've tested almost all the scents in their range (thanks to a friend which gave me the samples, no sponsorhips) and surprisingly they were almost all pretty much good, except for a couple of "fails" which however I tend to consider "in good faith". Here's the goods & the bads for me.



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Ambr'erò

Ambr'erò opens with a powerful, spicy, dirty and carnally shady accord right out of a classic dusty feminine chypre; the amber is thick and dense, dark, boozy, lying on a base of mossy-earthy and slightly animalic notes which enhance its darker and gloomier side - I smell here benzoin, patchouli, oak moss, even civet perhaps. At the center floats a vibrant jasmine note, which is good and realistic and adds a humid, heavy and "grey" floral note to an already dark blend. An interesting amber scent for sure, really spicy and musky, and a bit "moldy" too, which retains the dusty and golden warmth of amber but underlines its darker nuances in a creative and clever way. I also detect something similar to ambergris, and I mean the real one, a sort of camphoraceous, organic, salty smell which is typical of that material - but perhaps it may just be vetiver blending with other notes. On the drydown Ambr'erò sticks to its dark, spicy, woody chypre path, well centered on the baroque, almost intoxicating richness of jasmine, with a warm, dirty, somehow musky shade of amber. Really elegant, compelling and pleasant to wear, sumptuously austere, well built for sure: a peculiar scent which starts from chypres but twists the clichés in an unusual modern way. Great persistence, powerful projection. Remarkable.

8/10

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L'Exotique

Keyword: citrus. The opening is just an overwhelming, ultra-sour bomb of citrus and lime, really bitter and zesty, terribly realistic, astringent and pungent like ammonia. Greener than green, with a hint of boozy, so basically like a lime cocktail. This opening is so powerful and realistic and extraordinarily raw, it almost does not really smell like a "perfume", rather a pure plain smell of citrus and limes, as if you cut one in two and apply it on your skin. In a way, it's quite a statement fragrance, as it's basically so martial, austere (composition-wise) and "basic" it may be taken like some sort of avantgarde, ultra-raw and simple citrus composition: a hyperrealistic take on the classic masculine "eau de cologne" tradition – as below all this citrus, there is indeed here too a subtle base accord of patchouli and woods. On the other side, though, after this brilliant opening something starts to emerge with increasing sharpness... which is that ammonia note I mentioned at the beginning of my review. It was just a nuance at first, but it soon starts to become the prominent smell. And ammonia is an euphemism for, well, "cat pee". A pungent and more and more unbearable synthetic harsh smell of that, which made me make quite a 180° change of mind about Exotique - it smelled promising at first, but then it went just wrong. An interesting idea perhaps, but sadly it just does not work for me.

5/10

***

White Out

White Out opens with a peculiar accord, at the same time rough and almost harsh yet clean and "white" indeed: a sort of powdery, "anidric" aldehyde with a white musky dust, sweet (vanilla) and resinous, with also a note of tonka, but at the same time really metallic, salty, "mineral" in an abstract and almost industrial way. There are these white-green floral and powdery-musky nuances blending with an almondy talc, slightly boozy too, all floating into a "grey", gloomy, austere post-industrial place. The concept seems not that far from Helmut Lang EDC for instance, although White Out is sweeter, spicier, less "clean" and less complex (less cool, shortly). The drydown is predictably more dry and more dark, always "white" but dirtier and more austere, with also a spicy-woody according emerging with more strength - always covered with a white thin dust of talc, vanilla, musky and almondy floral notes. Shortly a sort of grey, futuristic, spicy and clean Oriental scent. Really persistent, too (as all the fragrances of this line). A "déja-vu" perhaps... but well build and worth a try.

7/10

***

Ipazia

Ipazia is a pleasant "exercise" of rebuilding a fairy conventional floral-woody chypre with a modern taste. The opening shows nuances of aldehydes, a camphor note of benzoin, oak moss (unexpectedly thick and rich), neroli, herbal-balsamic notes, and a subtle hint of leather. A light breeze of flowers, mostly rose, provides a clever and lively powdery feeling which blends and contrasts with the overall chypre-sque "darkness". It reminded me a bit of Eau de Givenchy among others, as it has no animalic or carnal notes - so it's not a "bitchy" dirty chypre - but it's rather played on flowers, citrus notes, aldehydes, benzoin and woody-mossy notes, with a bold balsamic feel all over. The mood is quite radiant overall, still somehow austere and sophisticated, but on the bright side. Not that original, though (Eau de Givenchy is just the first among many references), and perhaps just a little bit boring after a while... but well made for sure, pleasant, persistent and dense, and most of all modern enough to smell just like a "tribute" of woody chypres (and not a boring "rip-off"). This is one of those – good – scents that may appeal more to "non-fans" of perfumes, while many "aficionados" (like myself) may consider this a bit derivative.

7/10

***

E5 

E5 opens with an overwhelming blast of citrus notes and a sweet, slightly creamy base of vanillin, patchouli, sandalwood and an accord which smells like castoreum to me, although I guess it's more the result of sweet notes (both vanilla and sandalwood) blending with mossy-woody-musky ones. But that is the feeling, which overall quite reminded me at first of Ettore Bugatti pour Homme (the first version from 1993), that has a similar opening – but the main difference is that here it's all in stereo power, boosted on steroids. And sadly in my opinion it shows the same "defect" of Exotique from this same brand: it's so powerful that it has a bold, and to me frankly unbearable smell of lemon-flavoured floor cleaner. Here added with a sweet note, which somehow makes it even more sickening. It's not about a "feel", or a "nuance": it's all over, it's the main smell, and it's quite strong. I don't know if it was intended or it's just too much citrus aromachemicals, but it smells really that way. Perhaps fans of "daring" scents à la Humiecki & Graef may like this; to me it's just a big "no" from the beginning to the end (no evolution whatsoever).

4,5-5/10

***

Emilie

Simple but great. Emilie is an earthy and ambery patchouly with a subtle fruity-spicy accord, which provides a peculiar whiff of exotic and bittersweet warmth, sweetened by vanilla and perhaps tonka too. Really elegant, yet really natural, almost primitive, well enhancing the balsamic-earthy "hippie" personality of patchouli. Emilie is sharp and powerful, but really dry and so simple it's almost "basic", delivering a really peculiar and pleasant kind of organic and natural sense of refinement which - I don't know why - kind of reminds me of a certain type of "deconstructed" primitive-urban fashion (Doma, Saberi, Altieri etc.). It reminds me of fashion also because it brilliantly integrates the organic naturality of the materials in a modern, elegant and perhaps avantgarde composition style, "deconstructing" again the raw, almost archaic simplicity of materials and re-assembling it in modern ways. The composition is linear and quite "essential", yet it's not light: it's dense, smoky, earthy and dark. I don't get how it does it, but it manages to smell simple but totally fascinating, dry and austere yet cozy and warm. The drydown comprises more or less the same notes, just a bit drier and darker, with also a leathery-boozy feel all over, well contrasting with the powdery-ambery warmth. Great projection and long persistence too. One of the most interesting, pleasant and "different" patchouli around. Bravo Enrico!

8/10

***

Jolie

Jolie is a(nother...) gourmand scent centered on vanilla, powder, tonka notes, patchouli on the base, white musks and aldehydes. Not far from White Out from this same brand, just sweeter and more based on vanilla – less futuristic, and sadly, less fascinating too. Basically, not far as well from pretty much any other vanillic gourmand à la Montale, or Comptoir Sud, or even Angel itself. Not much else to say: bold projection and everlasting linear persistence. For gourmand lovers – for anyone else, me included, highly forgettable.

5,5-6/10


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