The new collection of fragrance from creative director Alessandro Brun is called Milano Fragranze. Sig. Brun’s simple concept is to translate different places in Milan into fragrance. Just as the name says. Another thing which has always set him apart is his eye for young perfumers. When I received my sample set of eight releases, I saw the name of two perfumers who were unfamiliar to me, Michelle Moellhausen and Dominique Moellhausen. Sig. Brun asked them each to take on two of his Milan neighborhoods. For me it was a journey of discovery of a city through one of its natives but also two new perfumers. The two by Michelle Moellhausen are Cortile and Naviglio. Dominique Moellhausen is responsible for Galleria and Derby.
Cortile translates to courtyard. The brief from Sig. Brun is to imagine the end of a summer day. Sipping espresso as the white flowers scent the air. Mme Moellhausen opens with a bitter coffee accord. It captures the oily bitterness of the un-roasted bean. Some violet leaf and cinnamon give it a bit of cappuccino froth. This courtyard is covered in jasmine vines. They settle heavily on the humid air. Mme Moellhausen stiffens the jasmine with tuberose and ylang-ylang. This forms an equally rich floral accord to match the espresso one. For much of the early going the coffee and the florals switch back and forth. Eventually the espresso is drunk, and the jasmine remains. The base accord is of warm amber and sandalwood.
When I read the description of Naviglio I expected it would not be for me. Sig. Brun wanted to turn the work of the washermen of the Vicolo del Lavandar into perfume. Which means soapy, something I don’t usually appreciate fully. Mme Moellhausen made me reconsider that. It begins as soapy as can be. It is the smell of a freshly unwrapped bar of soap. In this case carrying a bit of neroli along with it. The heart is what transforms it. As the soap is used to wash the fine linen shirts. A trio of lavandin, petitgrain, and vetiver provide a fantastic fresh place for that soapiness to float. The powdery lavender the green vetiver and the stern petitgrain combine into a morning of happy scented labor. In the base the scent of the water and the expansiveness of white musks provide the final touches. This is a smartly constructed perfume featuring soap.
Dominique (l.) and Michelle Moellhausen
Galleria is meant to evoke the Salotto di Milano where travelers used to come to purchase leather goods. This is a fabulous depiction of being in a fine leather store. It begins as the store owner invites you into a showroom and serves you a cup of espresso. Polished fruits mingle with the coffee. Unlike her sister the coffee is complementary to the davana and berries which take the lead. It is the heart where the luxury appears as iris pallida and a refined leather accord build a presence. Some carrot seed allows for the rhizome to peek out around the powder of the iris. A gentle caress to the leather. As this moves to the base patchouli deepens the leather accord. Sandalwood provides a lovely woody foundation.
One thing Derby proved to me is the scent of horse racing might be a constant. I grew up near a racetrack. Sig. Brun wants this to replicate the racetrack in Milan. I can tell you if this is accurate, Florida and Milan are not so different. As you watch the trainers taking their steeds out for an exercise run on the turf is what this perfume smells like. A slug of galbanum and the herbalness of lavender form that dewy smell of the grass before the horses are set loose. Mimosa adds in a hazy sunny floral, but things remain firmly on the green. The base accord is the scent of the earth as the horses run by. Vetiver, oakmoss, and patchouli form a “churned-up grass” accord that had me looking for a horse in my vicinity.
As much as this collection is Sig. Brun showing off the scent of his hometown it is also an opportunity for others to interpret his passion. Mmes Moellhausen have made these four pieces of Milan their own.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample set provided by Milano Fragranze.