I thought 2014 was a fantastic year for designer perfumes. Part of that wellspring of mainstream fragrances was Narciso. Perfumer Aurelien Guichard used a creamy accord of big florals over what has become the signature note for the Narciso Rodriguez brand, musk. I really liked the way the musk sort of sprung out like something dangerous from among the gardenia and rose. When I received my press sample of the new Narciso Eau de Toilette I was wondering if making a lighter version of Narciso was going to be interesting.
M. Guichard was again asked to be the perfumer for Narciso Eau de Toilette. One of the things about the two fragrances is they share a description of the top, heart, and base notes. The description is “Tender Floral Accord”, “Sensual Musk Accord”, and “Assertive Woody Accord”. For Narciso I would have switched the adjectives in the top and the base. The florals in that fragrance were very assertive and the woods had a tender simplicity. For the Narciso Eau de Toilette M. Guichard does live up to the titles of the phases much more literally.
For Narciso Eau de Toilette the gardenia has been replaced with peony. In the original the gardenia carried an intense green tinted floralcy. The peony is one of those fresh florals and the green is nowhere to be found. Rose again provides some foundation but it is secondary to the peony. The musk in the heart has been changed for Narciso Eau de Toilette. This time M. Guichard has added some of the higher register white musks to the deeper more animalic musks. This still retains the sensuality of the animalic but with the addition of the cleaner musks it seems tamer. The base notes return to cedarwood and vetiver but for Narciso Eau de Toilette it is a much more transparent accord. The vetiver in particular has less presence than in the original but it provides a more diffusive green veil to the clean lines of the cedar in keeping with the lighter tone throughout.
Narciso Eau de Toilette has 6-8 hours longevity and average sillage.
If I was forced to choose only one I would opt for the original Narciso because I like my musk a little more feral. Narciso Eau de Toilette civilizes it a bit too much for my taste. Even so if you found the original a bit too much to bear the Narciso Eau de Toilette quite possibly is pitched at the right volume for you. It is a worthy follow-up to the original as M. Guichard made some significant changes to the eau de parfum formulation of a year ago without losing the plot.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Narciso Rodriguez.
As the year comes to an end I start organizing my desk looking to make sure I’ve reviewed all of the perfumes that have come out this year before the calendar turns over. Without fail I find at least one or two which kept getting pushed down the pecking order because of timeliness or some other seemingly more important reason. The one I found a few days ago and reacquainted myself with was Narciso.
I have a very fond spot for Narciso Rodriguez the fashion designer. I remember sitting gobsmacked at one of his earliest shows at New York Fashion Week. It was no surprise to me that his star would rise hot and fast so that barely five years later he would be named the Best Designer for 2004 & 2005 by the CFDA. Contemporaneously with being at the pinnacle of the fashion world he also would produce a pair of perfumes, Narciso Rodriguez for Her and Narciso Rodriguez for Him. Both of these sit in my mythical Designer Perfume Hall of Fame. They showed that mainstream wasn’t synonymous with mediocre. Both of them were centered on a sensuous musk which does not pander to the lowest common denominator. In the years since the perfume line of Narciso Rodriguez has not been as successful as the fashion line. Flankers that were uninspiring and yearly limited editions that were indistinguishable. I received a press release over the summer and it mentioned that Mr. Rodriguez was going to take a more active creative direction in the next release. I thought that was a good thing and once I had a sample that was confirmed.
Narciso was signed by Aurelien Guichard and visually it is striking as the juice has a milky cast to it. Even before spraying it you expect a creamy center. M. Guichard starts with florals floating on the surface of a milk bath in a cedar wood paneled spa room. It is simple but underneath it all is a very untamed musk, hidden, waiting to pounce.
Narciso opens with a florid gardenia note. Very expansive and also very green. A bit of rose is used to temper the green but it doesn’t really do as good a job as it might, for which I am thankful. That green gardenia is perfect prelude to the creamy ambery heart. The creaminess comes from a cocktail of white musks that M. Guichard layers one upon the other to create a plush sensuality. What becomes striking is partway through the musk accord begins to become a bit more animalic as it transforms from safe to sort of dangerous. There is a point, about two-thirds of the way through the development, on my skin that this less well-behaved musk hearkens back to the earlier perfumes. The base provides an austere framing of cedar which provides stalwart woody simplicity in contrast to the luminous muskiness.
Narciso has 8-10 hour longevity on my skin. It starts off with above average sillage but once the florals have disappeared the musky woody finish has very minimal sillage.
As I am starting to look back over the year I am surprised at the number of mainstream designer perfumes I have liked this year. Narciso is another one to add to that list.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Narciso Rodriguez.