Guerlain Homme L'Eau Boisée by Guerlain (2012)

Nose: Thierry Wasser

Yes, this Guerlain Homme series is definitely the last great Guerlain’s series for men. While the Intense flanker is just near pure perfection, this Boisée is more contextualized into a “summer-fresh” cluster, so perhaps it’s slightly less versatile and less “fascinating” than that; but still, it perfectly keeps and even enhances some facets of the unsurpassed quality of Homme and Homme Intense. So, this is a summer scent: easily among the most sophisticated ones you can get in today’s mainstream market. The only “competitors” I would find would be either some good classics (but lacking in some “contemporary twist”) or maybe some Hermès... but while they tend to be more unisex and lighter, this Eau Boisée feels bolder and with a more decided masculine shade. The clever elegance with which Wasser kept the “masculine” rhum note giving it a summery vibe thanks to mint and herbal notes is brilliant, so is also the tremendously enjoyable vetiver grass note – which is vetiver, but with a twist; grassy, kind of anisic, slightly citrusy, irresistibly natural and bracing. I perfectly get the comparison with Terre d’Hermès many reviewers suggested online, and maybe there wouldn’t have been any L’Eau Boisée without that, but honestly, there’s really no game for me. L’Eau Boisée smells far more crisp, natural, invigorating and complex than Terre. There’s surely something synthetic going on here too, but to my nose this smells so bright and natural. It feels golden, and it feels stereo. And plus however there’s a couple of differences; this Boisée is grassier, greener, more peppery, slightly smokier, and with a boozy note. Utter class, utter quality, utter skills. An effortless summer gem.


Fahrenheit Absolute by Christian Dior (2009)

Nose: François Demachy

Flowers out of black asphalt. It wasn’t surely easy to come up with a successful flanker of such a pillar as Fahrenheit, but this Absolute version, well, “absolutely” nails it. The connection with Fahnrenheit is as much subtle as clear in fact: the same sort of oil-leather accord, that “asphalt” terpenic note, is here too. But with a definitely charming and kind of more “modern-transparent” twist: less leathery and more rubbery, silkier, cozier, more mellow, with a tremendous powdery accord of violet (and lavender?) which adds a sprinkle of talc to Fahrenheit’s signature darkness. The darker side of Absolute is the main connection with the original version, but it’s still quite different enough to be appreciated as a different fragrance. First of all it’s not as deep and overwhelming as in Fahrenheit, and as I said is also less centered on leather and more on a synthetic, smoky oud note (more rubbery smoke than oud, actually); plus it’s overall far more discreet, velvety, refined, with an almost “liturgical” vibe underneath. It may be resins or something quite close to incense, but I do get an intimate, kind of meditative dark feel out of this Absolute. Still with a really modern, kind of “retro-futuristic” pungent metallic nuance. And soapy shades. Simple but fantastic, a truly remarkable modern take on a classic. With a really enjoyable “whiter” drydown, powder on black rubber. The name of this flanker is definitely misleading; one may expect a thicker, bolder version of Fahrenheit, while this is a rather gentler and way smoother version of it. Darker, in a more subtle way – quiet, gloomy and smoky. By no means I would consider duller or simpler than the original Fahnreheit, though; just a really creative different version of it, maybe a bit more sophisticated, meditative, somehow more shady and ambiguous. Extremely fascinating and great to wear, and above all, with the same distinctive creativity that made Fahrenheit beyond unique.


New niche line: Room 1015 (2015)

Another new niche line I've discovered at Esxence tradeshow in Milano, Italy. Unlike another couple of winners (Unum and Angela Ciampagna), this is quite a meh for me. Sort of uninspired hipster, wannabe-rebel stuff with very little to say - to me, at least.


Basing on the press release, Atramental shall be meant at evoking a “tattoo parlour”. The smell of ink and blood-stained latex gloves, bandages, pomades, rubber and plastic, the noise of the tattooing machines, the “rebel attitude” mood. I happen to be a tattoo enthusiast pretty much constantly craving for all of that, so I am perfectly familiar with that world and those suggestions. But even making an effort to link Atramental to that, I can’t help but thinking this scent has very little to do with it. Just a shallow, kind of cliché-sque connection to tattoing – “black rubberiness” as any copywriter would imagine by googling “tattooing”, and that’s all. And, anyway, press releases and “concepts” aside... things don’t get really that better. Atramental is basically a rubbery-balsamic leather-vetiver scent with some floral notes, maybe a sprinkle of musk (and oud?) and a clean, synthetic texture, as much wearable and really mildly enjoyable as kind of a massive déja-vu. Pretty much like a hipster version of some Montale’s crossed with some self-considered “avantgarde” niche brands like nu_be, both aiming at making a cheaper ripoff of a hypothetical “Fahrenheit Absolute by Comme des Garçons”. Ok, that looks entangled, but basically that would be the genre: “plastic” darkness, polished rubbery refinement, salty synthetic musky-dusty-woody base, a sprinkle of ambery dust. Not bad, this meaning not (overly) cheap, but utterly negligible for me, especially at that price.



Blomma Cult

My guess, or better, how this smells under my nose at the opening: vanillin (and vanillin and vanillin), amber, citrus, powdery violet, cloves, cinnamon, maybe something like heliotrope – a kind of dry, floral, powdery-dusty-beeswax note - and clean musky lavender (or lavendery musk, you choose). Spicy, musky and powdery shortly, with a pungent juicy head accord of citrus and, I guess, the “higher-pitched” nuances of cinnamon. Kind of a “white-yellow” scent initially, somehow thick yet rather “modern” where modernity means synthetically (and slightly “cheaply”) plain and plastic. The smell overall ranges from pungent nuances to camphorous-floor cleaner tones, via a juicy core of something smelling halfway a spicy cheesecake, wet laundry and mosquito repellent. Once the tart-fresher head notes vanish, Blomma slowly drifts towards a frankly nicer powdery-spicy drydown; cinnamon, cloves, “lipstick” violet and musk take the stage, together with a hint of dry patchouli. Still a bit unpleasantly synthetic – by “unpleasantly” I mean that to me, this smells too synthetic to be satisfyingly realistic, but not synthetic enough to be “avantgarde”. Just some shy, halfway synthetic nowhere clumsily undecided about which polar opposite to emulate – whether trying to smell “good and realistic” of play the “plastic and futuristic” card. Anyway, my description may make this sound crap, but it isn’t that bad; just quite tending on the cheap chemical side, so hence my “supermarket products” references. The drydown is even passably nice, actually. As regards of the inspiration – not the actual quality – echoes here seem to range from Helmut Lang’s EDC, to many spicy-powdery scents of the 1990s-early 2000s, to a veritable shitload of citrus-powdery colognes, via Shalimar’s drydown, Dior Homme, and something of Buxton’s style and favourite notes. A negligible “synthetic contemporary scent” way late on the trends; not bad as I said, but I personally don’t see any point of interest.



Electric Wood

Here’s some good old cedramber galore, stuffed with mellow cashmeran and dusted with ambrette, citrus and something powdery, like violet (iris? Come on!). Name nearly any mainstream woody-citrus-amber fragrance from the 2000s on; Electric Wood won’t be far from that. Neither better nor worse. Plastic woods, dusty amber, a sprinkle of lemon, ambroxan, a shade of silky powder. From Chopard Noble Cedar to Terre d’Hermès and/or pretty any other recent designer "crisp woody" scent, that’s the family. Polished, synthetic-smelling, extremely déja-vu. Not unpleasant but a joke for the price and the naive “indie rebel” pretenses.


Guerlain Homme Intense by Guerlain (2009)

Nose: Thierry Wasser

Guerlain Homme Intense is one of those scents which seem deceptively “generic”, while instead scream quality and class like a very few others. All is quality for me here: the materials, the composition, the evolution. Still keeping it incredibly versatile and crowdpleasing. You can enjoy a crisp office scent without caring about its subtle superb quality, or you can dive into it and amaze yourself with Guerlain’s heritage on display – because, yes, Guerlain Homme Intense still belongs to “the great Guerlain’s” (unlike, for instance, L’Homme Idéale). Citrus, bergamot, bracing mint and its floral counterpart – geranium, other floral notes, bitter grass, a crunchy rhubharb note, a drop of rhum, sharp cozy woods. Dozens of mainstream green-woody perfumes feature these same notes, but what once was “the Guerlain treatment” brings them all up to another level here. Which is the real of pure understated elegance. You just have to smell this to get what I mean. It’s a matter of radiance, richness, a perfect balance of realisticness, deepness and “polished” cleanliness. Then, all nuances are just so deep and sparkling, morphing and evolving under your nose, in a subtle but totally perceivable way.

Homme Intense starts with a bracing, invigoranting and fresh slap of citrus, mint and grassy notes, then slowly revealing a warmer heart of rhum, geranium, pepper and woods, slowly drifting to an incredibly refined drydown which features a throwback in time – a really old-school, top notch quality smoky-salty vetiver note. Which is dry and woody, but perfectly enriched by rhum and made greener by a nondescript sort of bracing grassy-floral accord. All – I mean, all! – of these notes, try to imagine them in the best quality and crispness possible, blended together in a bright, cozy blend fitting you like a bespoke suit. Pure delight. The texture is clean and transparent, mostly green-woody with a slightly more unusual palette of nuances – rhum, rhubarb, a slight earthy-vegetable feel reminding me of good old Coriolan... Everything is perfectly safe and classic, even slightly formal, yet perfectly contemporary, as an everyday fragrance for “the modern elegant men” is meant to be. Fresh and sensual. This is my idea of modern luxury in a bottle; high quality and discreet elegance – and don’t have me started speaking about quality versus price, ‘cause the price of Guerlain Homme Intense makes any other self-claimed “luxury” scent look more ridicoulous than they already are. The only flaw of this fragrance is that maybe it is... a tad really too “apparently-generic” to be appreciated as it deserves. If I was more presumptuous I would rate this “for connoisseurs only”, but – aside from being uselessly pretentious – that wouldn’t do justice to the versatility and the positive “crowdpleasing” nature of this fragrance. Just, don’t underrate this.


Rochas Man by Rochas (1999)

Nose: Maurice Roucel

If there’s a bunch of good masculine-to-unisex gourmands, Rochas Man would be surely in. And possibly be the uncle of them all. Two references come to mind as a comparison among dozens; Yohji Homme, and Thierry Mugler’s style. Rochas Man is just way more discreet, compelling and refined than most of Mugler’s offerings, yet less sophisticated, cold and “avantgarde” than Yohji. Still that would be the family more or less; a coffee-anisic gourmand top accord on a sort of crisp barbershop-powdery base comprising mostly lavender, sandalwood, spices, amber, a hint of bracing citrus. Two notes or accords stand out for me in particular: coffee and flowers. The smell of coffee here is quite remarkably executed: slightly sweet yet “roasted”, earthy, much aromatic, fairly “natural”, mellow and dark, perfectly blending with amber and woods. Slightly milky and vanillic too, as if it was meant to evoke a “cup” of coffee rather than coffee beans – so, say, a quite “urban” and civilised approach to coffee notes, still quite realistic and not that tackily plastic (take that, Mugler). On the other hand, “barbershop” and fougère-ish grassy flowers provide a silky, gentle frame of clean powderiness, bit of “freshly laundered shirt” vibe, providing some more classic “masculine cologne” feel. Woods and amber do the rest acting as a discreet, warm, slightly earthy frame with a hint of smooth leather. What would you ask more? Rochas Man is one of those clever, well-crafted scents that have them all: it’s versatile, it’s classy, it’s distinctive, it’s surely kind of a “youngster” but perfectly suitable for gentlemen; it’s bright and dark, it’s quite “daring” yet completely civilised and wearable. It’s a bold gourmand, but it’s composed in a way it stays elegantly warm and discreet on skin, stopping just a step before getting tacky - so don’t fear smelling like a candy. You’ll smell just unique. Good stuff.


EDIT: the review above was based on the later "version" (pink box, pink-ish juice). I now acquired an older bottle (wine plastic packaging, brown-ish juice) and if you're interested in a comparison, they're, say, 90% identical. The 10% is what makes the earlier version better; slightly less sweet, more smoky, more ambery, more "mature". It's a matter of subtle nuances but if you get the chance, my advise would be to prefer the earlier bottles.

New Italian niche project: Angela Ciampagna (2015)

So, here's the last nice discovery I made while visiting Milan's tradeshow Esxence a couple of weeks ago. Angela Ciampagna is an exquisite line of perfumes composed, produced and marketed by Label, which is a small family-run artisanal laboratory producing fragrances and candles located in Atri, a fantastic small village in the South-East of Italy. You may expect then a "traditional" artisanal line of fragrances with good raw materials... you wouldn't be entirely wrong, but that's only one of the features of Ciampagna's line. There is much more you wouldn't expect at first. First of all, these fragrances smell incredibly contemporary, even avantgarde to some extents. And they show an incredibly clear fil rouge, a perfect stylistic consistency, a really clear recurring inspiration which creates a solid background for this line. I would summarize this inspiration with "post-modern Mediterranean gothic". Not sure if that makes sense but that's how I picture Ciampagna's world: there is a feel of "darkness" tightly connected to nature and to countryside, making you think of paganism, spooky traditions, the elusive and austere quiet of desolated ancient villages. But there's also a clear feel of modernity: the compositions are creative and clever, the textures are sharp, breezy, polished, unpredictable, non-classic for sure. Definitely contemporary, but with a recognisable and clear "South-Italian heritage" footprint. Finally, the fragrances smell at the same time incredibly refined and appealing. And the guys are kind, passionate, humble. And look at those packagings!

They offer a really fairly-priced sample set on their website. Grab that! For the meantime, here's my favourite three from the line (you'll find the rest of my reviews on Fragrantica - and Basenotes, once they will add them to the directory).



Holy grail stuff for any licorice-hay lover. Liquo opens with an extremely vibrant, realistic, darkish smell of licorice sticks, wet hay under a cloudy sky (think of the hay note in Heeley’s Cuir Pleine Fleur... just in 3-D full power), anise, a ton of dusty and sharp cumin, woody notes, with a gentle touch of lavender and powdery flowers. Mediterranean to the bone, a thick blend transporting you right into a small village’s fair, blending the smell of home-made, non-sweet – rather salty on the contrary – licorice and anise candies with earthy whiffs of barn smells from farms and fields – hay, woods, herbs. That’s it, and it’s terribly good for me. The notes smell raw and realistic, but the blend is extremely refined, crisp, “polished” in a good way; so don’t expect anything overly “hippie and artisanal”. It surely smells natural and almost organic to some extent, and surely shows an artisanal touch – especially that fantastic note of hay – but overall it’s all tamed down and mastered enough to appear as a proper work of high class perfumery. A win-win compromise, shortly: wild and sophisticated. Also, don’t expect any gourmand scent: too earthy and realistic for that. Quite dark too, or better say with a palpable sort of “rainy” feel... ever been to the countryside after a storm? That’s the smell. Peaceful, but almost unsettling, with a soothing, drier and dusty-smoky drydown. A velvety somber perfume managing to smell extremely elegant and enjoyable yet “uncivilised” and moody, with some “gothic” vibe underneath – a “rural” kind of gothic deeply rooted in the elusive quiet of the Mediterranean countryside. Great materials as far as I can tell. Solid and evocative.




As the rest of Ciampagna’s line, the “visual” inspiration and the ambiance are quite clear since the very first sniff: a sort of dark, provincial “austerity” somehow sitting between a feel of desolation and a raw, archaic, vibrant naturality. In “olfactive” language: dryness, thickness, earthiness, a palpable “artisanal” feel, an overall dark and meditative mood, but at the same a peaceful sense of quiet thanks to balsamic and aromatic spicy-herbal-floral notes - I guess evoking the “soothing power” of nature. Ducalis is particularly, elegantly dark and dry at first, yet with a warm heart, mostly focusing on a thick woody-floral blend with dark shades and spicy hints; as minutes pass though, it progressively unravels its beautifully intricate texture, which is quite more than you would expect at first. Sweet, velvety, slightly metallic flowers on warm, balmy but also dry and really austere woods: two main “axes” each comprising several facets that you get throughout the evolution. Flowers range to the threatening obscurity of rose and jasmine, to “whiter shades” of lily and cyclamen; the same for woods, which comprise nuances ranging from sandalwood (“juicy”, sweet, bright and cozy) to drier, shadier and “woodier” notes of rosewood and cedar, with some added weight thanks to cloves, leather, and nutmeg. A touch of amber and vanilla provide some sweet and warm “roundness”. Overall Ducalis may appeal fans of oud scents as well, as it shows some similar sort of “dark silky thickness”, just more complex and aromatic – not due to a single note (but indeed, woods, jasmine, nutmeg and leather do create a similar aroma). On the other hand, flowers are worked in a really peculiar way here, which kind of just uses “some” nuances of them; so despite you see many of them listed in the composition, I wouldn’t define this a “floral scent” – rather a woody scent with many interesting and complex nuances, this including flowers. Artisanal to the bone, totally fascinating and sophisticated but at the same time kind of raw and dark. Utterly enjoyable. Bravi!




Hatria opens with a really compelling and thick rose-oud combo which smells finally slightly different from the usual clichés of these notes, so don’t think of Montale rose-ouds or similar stuff. Of course that’s the family, but Ciampagna made some efforts to do it in a slightly more personal way. It’s dark, classy and “juicy” as one may expect, but has also a salty, balsamic-herbal quality which definitely brings the blend closer to a Mediterreanean inspiration – something more unusual for such notes in my opinion. The notes are quite simple to get, they smell quality to me and are perfectly blended: rose, herbs, oud, a balmy-ambery sweet base accord with a great sandalwood note, and an overall warm breeze echoing vintage fougères (cloves, patchouli, musk...). The “caramel” note, luckily I almost don’t get it; more than an individual note, I think “caramel” here (whatever they used to build that) provides just a sort of dark, warm, slightly sticky thickness that perfectly gives “weight” to the composition. Another note which I don’t get is saffron, although I do feel a sort of dusty, spicy, “culinary” and Mediterranean feel. Most of all anyway Hatria is about rose, oud, patchouli, sweet-balsamic warmth. A sure “yes” for me overall: it smells deep and quality, and the composition – which is quite linear, though – is crafted in a way that it conveys a fascinating feel of warm abandon as you may experience in a sleepy desolated village in the deep South of Italy – kind of dusty, sweet, earthy, with a balmy feel of “suspension”. Lights and shades. Refined but with a nice “rural” feel.


New Italian niche project: Unum (2015)

So, together with Rubini, here is another fantastic discovery from this year's Esxence tradeshow in Milano. Tattooed artist, former church organist and now renowned ecclesiastic tailor Filippo Sorcinelli and his team at L.A.V.S. atelier are the creative minds behind this project, three fragrances manufactured by Cererie Terenzi (yes, that means they would be good anyway...). Passionate people with a really solid, broad and cultured approach to perfume making. A terrific consistent mixture of dark contemporary avantgarde aesthetics with Medieval Gothic art and architecture, and a keen eye on a non-banal "spiritual" approach. A "non lieu" anywhere between Nicola Pisano and Anne Wenzel. Or Christian Rinck and Kas Product, or a Kompakt dubplate. Three complete standouts.



LAVS is the first scent in (chrono)logical order from this line, meant to represent the “roots” of Unum – which are grounded in L.A.V.S. atelier (“Laboratorio Atelier Vesti Sacre”), a successful Italian tailoring workshop that produces vestments and regalia – even for the last two popes (Benedetto and Francesco). LAVS was basically produced as a room fragrance the atelier’s staff used to apply gently on the garments before delivering them to clients and sell as a room scent. Once they realised clients liked to wear it too, Sorcinelli and his team thought about starting a line of fragrances. LAVS is that early "non-scent" just reworked in a “wearable” form. And just to get straight to the point, it’s an incense scent. A majestic one, a “liturgical” one with a subtle exotic vibe, and despite I am not the most enthusiastic fan of this family of scents, one of the greatest around by far for me. What makes it great, besides an undisputable high quality, is that it finally shows some complexity and some classy, clever work with notes; whereas most of other incense scents just rely on a repetitive and overworked couple of molecules (which smell fantastic, like Givaudan’s Mystikal, or just bare play with Iso E), LAVS is built around a more complex evocation of a liturgical ambiance – the garments, the incense, the rituals, the history, the dust, the cold feel of metal and gold, the intimate relation one establishes with all of this. With some facets evoking more distant references, from coriander to spices, that provide a subtle but palpable sort of pagan, exotic feel.

The main accord is incense though, which smells dark, grey-ish, with a slight ash aftertaste but also breezy metallic nuances, not overly synthetic; and it’s beautifully and perfectly melted into a really airy and uplifting blend which definitely plays the balsamic-herbal-spicy card – I personally get sharp cloves, pepper, coriander and aromatic woods above all. As hours pass it becomes warmer and quieter, still carrying a powerful, and almost intimidating “ritual” feel; a round, mellow and resinous ladbanum-amber note with a hint of dark fruitiness emerges, defining the frame of LAVS and tightly connecting it to the other two scents of this line which contain a similar accord – like a secret sign of masonic brotherhood. So despite being at first clearly a monolithic incense scent, and to this extent being similar to others, it has definitely so much more to offer. If you compare this to other “liturgical” references like Comme des Garçons’ Avignon or Jovoy’s La Liturgie des Heures, you can easily get what I mean. Mostly because as I said, most of other incense scents stop at a more shallow level of “incense-ness”, just recreating and reiterating that same accord which simulates a cliché of incense.

Maybe also because LAVS is an extrait de parfum and therefore is also deeper and richer in nuances than Eau de Parfums, or maybe because Sorcinelli and his team know what they’re talking about when they talk “spirituality” ... but LAVS goes just deeper and further than any other, with a  passionate, balanced craft work around the nuances of incense. Spices, amber, musk, aromatic woods, flowers, they all discreetly enhance the main accord and they all help to define and deepen the incense aroma, like participants in a ritual. Not a thick scent, though, and above all, not “heavy” as you may expect: it’s deep and enveloping, but as regards of its substance, it’s incredibly balanced, really “spacious”. Totally pleasant to wear, even effortless. And well, all that aside since we’re talking about a perfume... the fragrance itself smells great, sophisticated, with a cozy and spiritual mood and a quiet feel of “sacred” austerity. If you’ve a penchant for “meditative” fragrances with a refined look, this may easily sit among your holy grails. Total quality.



OPUS 114

Probably my personal favourite among Unum line, despite the really bold opening which may be off-putting at first. Opus 1144 is inspired by the born of Gothic architecture and art and shall be meant to be a tribute to it; and believe me, if you try a non-prejudicial, “synesthetic” association with the idea of Gothic cathedrals and frescoes and all the cultural implications they were meant to convey, it does trigger an association. Nothing to do with incense or other more “liturgic” aspects, here the reference is the material feel and smell of stones, marble, woods, flowers, candles, paper, which all together create the “meditative majesty” of that artistic style.

The opening is triumphally bold and powerful: a thick, nearly overwhelming dusty-ambery blend (“ambery” à la Goutal’s Ambre Fetiche) with creamy candied-floral nuances (elemi and flowers) and a whole citric-astringent side of citrus and bergamot, perfectly opposing a warm and sweet vanillic base also comprising sandalwood (speaking decently-aged Shalimar here) ... in turn juxtaposed to dirtier, almost skankier notes of benzoin, jasmine, salty ambergris (forget ambroxan, I mean salty, slightly animalic-aqueous ambergris), and something that reminds me of tonka – a sort of sweet-exotic almond touch. Thick, radiant and deep, gourmand-ish on one side (this even comprising a weird sort of balsamic vinaigre feel), almost chypre-sque on the other; slightly waxy - meaning both powdery-iris and leathery as in Lutens’ Cuir Mauresque - monolithic but somehow almost “lascivious” thanks to its softer-darker sides, slightly reminding me of the (few) best aspects of Mona di Orio style – that sort of dusty, antique vibe, just less baroque and more austere (and, ok, uncomparably better executed here).

The drydown is equally great, and for me is quite the key to get the whole beauty of this fragrance. After the citric-vanillic opening it enters a sweeter phase echoing tonka and resins (echoes of “guerlinades” again), then an un expected drift towards an incredibly beautiful powdery-dusty drydown with darker shades that is as much uplifting, peaceful and mesmerizing as looking at the dust floating in the light of a Middle-European cathedral. Complex but so fulfilling from the very first sniff to the very final drydown (Terenzi’s lab made this, and you can smell that). It’s quite hard for me to describe this fragrance, so I’ll just cut it here; as the other two of this line the composition is incredibly well enginereed and harmonic, really compact, it would be enough to say it smells stunning and perfectly connected to the concept behind Unum line, and that’s all.




Within the concept of Unum line, which in rough terms drawns a line (pardon the pun) “from darkness/meditation to enlightenment/purification” with a tight connection to spirituality and Medieval Gothic architecture and art, Rosa Nigra is meant to be the third fragrance in order – the brighter, the sweeter, the “purer”. If you want to skip my review: a terrific standout, here and in niche in general. Not my personal favourite of the line, but still great. Although despite the name there is no rose in here, the first fragrance I though of as a rough reference at first was indeed a rose heaven - Lyric Man by Amouage; if my memory serves me correctly about that, I think here I get some similarities, mostly due to the “darkish” treatment of fruity notes, but overall tad quieter here, and less opulent. And honestly far more fascinating, less suffocating, with just the right amount of “weightlessness” and airiness allowing you to experience a really “dimensional” composition.

Anyway, in the first minutes it does overall evoke a rose smell somehow, especially its more dark-carnal and syrupy-fruitier sides, but avoiding any camphorous-soapy effect. Complex on one side, but also totally “straightforward”, almost simple on the other. Basically it’s a sort of bright and uplifting fruity-herbal sandalwood scent with velvety floral nuances and a warm base with powdery-vanillic hints. More fruity at first, with an incredibly nice smelling peach note (vintage Piguet’s Visa somewhere there...) showing a slight aqueous substance, surrounded by juicy flowers, leafy herbal angles and enriched by sandalwood. A clean texture, substantial but elegantly balanced between crisp sharpness and balsamic exoticism, wrapped in a sophisticated, warm and enveloping allure (the “trait d’union” among the three fragrances – a dusty, vanillic, slightly fruity ambery accord). On the drydown, quite the same but woodier, more discreet, somehow muskier too. Dense, rich, incredibly refined and appealing, deeply fascinating, with an undisputable high quality of materials and an irresistible feel of peace and radiance... still, with an austere, and kind of dark vibe, like the other two scents of this line. “Dark” in a “liturgical” meaning again, if that makes sense.

All of this backed with a solid concept: I usually can nearly never stand marketing releases and “storytelling” stuff, which often look like an unnecessary boring load of clichés, but here’s different – just give a look at Rosa Nigra’s page on Unum page while sniffing the perfume, you’ll get what I mean (if you read Italian). There is indeed a solid connection showing the brand’s solid and cultured approach to perfume making. A honest and non-shallow tribute to the “sacred sense of beauty”. Rosa Nigra perfectly fits some facets of this, as the other two fragrances do with other aspects. Perfect quality to all extents. Bravissimi!