There are certain brands which just go deeper with more ease than others. One brand for whom I have an outsized affection for their deeper darker releases is M. Micallef. This is a brand which thrives in the shadows of the perfumer’s palette. Ouds, gourmands, white flowers, and animalic musks; my favorites are the ones represented in that list. The creative direction of the brand has been via Martine Micallef and her husband Geoffrey Nejman. They have done what all brands aspire to in creating a definitive identity for their fragrances. For their most recent release they looked for creative direction from an interesting place; one of the people who sells their fragrances.
Martine Micallef and Geoffrey Nejman
Osswald NYC is one of the US points of sale for M. Micallef perfumes. If you’ve ever visited the store you have likely met Josie Alycia Plumey who is there to help guide you through the products on sale. Ms. Plumey is one of those infectiously enthusiastic personalities within perfume sales. I’ve watched her interact with experienced perfume lovers and those who have wandered in from the hotel across the street not knowing anything. Her success is due in large part to her ability to pay attention. A little over a year ago, M. Micallef produced an exclusive perfume for Osswald NYC called The No. 1. When I tried it on a visit I thought to myself the sweet vanilla and oud was nice but I wanted something darker. Evidently Ms. Plumey also shared that desire and communicated that to M. Nejman. At which point he gave her the creative directorship for the next Osswald NYC exclusive called The No. 2.
Josie Alycia Plumey
I have long sneered at consumer focus groups as a means to design perfume but a single observer like Ms. Plumey is different than that. She would provide to M. Nejman a brief where she asked for The No. 2 to be the nighttime counterpart to The No. 1. What that meant practically was reversing the ratio of vanilla to oud in favor of the latter while fine-tuning some of the other complementary notes.
The No. 2 opens on the same oud accord as The No. 1 but this time the components are given the opportunity to expand a bit becoming less constricted than in the previous fragrance. Early on plum and saffron provide the harmonies. Saffron is one of those choices which seems to meld intrinsicatly with oud. The plum is pitched at the right volume to not overwhelm the delicacy of the saffron. The heart is the traditional rose and oud pair that is a classic. It is expertly composed because of M. Nejman’s long experience with working with oud for the brand. It isn’t until very late that the vanilla makes its appearance and this time it is there to provide subtlety not equivalence.
The No. 2 has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
The No. 2 is that darker version of The No. 1 I desired. It seems Ms. Plumey has the right stuff when it comes to creative direction.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Osswald NYC.