Fundamental by Rubini (2015)

Fundamental by Italian newcomer Rubini is meant to act as a tribute to an early 1900s “Italian Belle Epoque” inspiration, more specifically of the North-East of Italy where Rubini’s heritage is grounded, but with a contemporary, almost hyper-modern feel – as you can imagine by looking at the (supercool, and quite clever) packaging designed by Francesca Gotti (nu_be). This “past into the future” thing may sound as a cliché, and it sure is quite often; but it isn’t here. First of all because there is no generic “old Italian heritage” inspiration, but a specific geographical reference (Verona – which means shortly: wines and cafès); then because the composition totally reflects it, finally getting rid of, again, “old Italian heritage” clichés in perfumes. What you get at the first sniff is a surprisingly good and compelling grapes note that manages to smell fruity, bitter, fresh, kind of Mediterranean, really aromatic and slightly pungent, with a crisp wine vibe; while it isn’t overly and predictably “boozy”, it does provide instead a sort of domestic, almost “rural” but at the same time extremely sophisticated feel, also thanks to the silky and aromatic - and again, Mediterranean - note of sage that perfectly enhances the herbal fruitiness of grapes. Herbs and grapes in turn perfectly blend with a nostalgic kind of “eau de cologne” vibe (a thick, raw, almost “urinous” lavender note, woods, the bitter-astringent side of grapes) and a carnal powdery accord (iris) aimed at evoking the playful lasciviousness of brothels and dancing cafés (early 1900’s, again...). An overall smoky feel and a woody accord also comprising costus (rubbery feel) complete the blend – iris and costus will then remain quite bold on the drydown. I think I get something musky too but I am not sure if the note is there.

The keys for me – meaning what I get more deeply and clearly - are however grapes, lavender, sage, iris, costus. Shortly, a kind of fresh-aromatic fruity-herbal scent with a bitter and almost animalic facet, some smokier and darker nuances, a sprinkle of powdery dust. And a ton of class. If notes don’t speak to you, here’s some images to think of; vineyards, wines, gentlemen, cafès (... and women). Not over yet, though: while some notes do clearly smell “retrò”, meaning dusty and kind of “dirty”, taking you right next to a Dannunzian gentleman and his shady businesses (the dirtier side of lavender, the powdery notes), and while others smell clearly “Italian” (herbs, lavender, grapes), there is also a distinctive sort of breezy, almost metallic and kind of wet concrete-like vein (violet leaves, maybe? I think I get some really slight similarity to Narciso for Him, to this extent) that gives Fundamental a crisp texture and a sort of polished, futuristic look – a jump forward in time, the cryogenic mummy of a dandy. Modern class with a heritage feel. I am super picky with niche novelties, but this is really good; the materials smell great as far as I can tell, the concept works, the owner (Andrea) is humble and passionate. And the composition is clever and creative. One of the niche standouts of 2015 for me so far (lucky for Rubini, niche market is so depressing these days... “easy wins are easy”).


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