Vero Profumo Rozy EDP and Voile D'Extrait: Perfumery Can't Get Any Better.

Please, don't retouch my wrinkles. It took me an entire life to earn them…

Anna Magnani.

Rozy EDP

Upon application, the first thing that immediately catched my attention was how easy to like and very approachable Rozy EDP is. It opens with a sparkling combo of old-school fruity notes (mainly peach) paired to a minty and cold-ish geranium which served as an introduction to the main player of the whole composition: rose. Passionfruit is there as well and while confirming Vero's signature when it comes to her EDPs, it also provide a super green / unripe quality that will make of Rozy a fantastic candidate for summer wearings.

Rose takes over in the middle phase and is joined by a subtle honey note to warm-up up and slightly sweeten the overall fresh vibe. Just like with basically every other fragrance by Vero Profumo, there's a solid classicism inherent to Rozy but, Vero's mastery and incredible perfume-culture, preserve the whole composition from resulting a stereotypical old-fashioned rose. Yes, it's classic yet somewhat modern at the same time and definitely suitable for both younger crowds and grown-up audiences. The rose note is in complete harmony with the rest of the composition and while definitely being the main player, it never dominates or overwhelms the rest. Instead, it completely merges with other accords giving birth to amazing synergies one can only experience in the most accomplished works by unforgettable perfumers such as, say Kerleo. In this context, Rozy feels like a rose based fragrance, not a soliflore.

There's not much more to say about the evolution of this gem if not that a cedarwood note makes its appearance during the drydown to reinforce the bone-structure and provide an overall dryness. With that said,  what really matters to make of yet another rose fragrance a standout, it's there. Solidity, honesty, culture end personality.

Downline: Definitely the most easily approachable fragrance by Vero Kern and a terrific candidate to become her best-seller.

Rating: 8/10

Rozy Voile D'Extrait

Now, we're talking! This completely moves in masterpieces territories in my book. The funny aspect is that I'm generally neither a fan of rose nor of honey (which both play quite a relevant role here) but, again, Vero's take on the main theme is indeed one of a kind. She takes a very classic theme and completely turns it into her very own take giving birth to one of those fragrances that will surely live a trace in modern perfumery. Seriously.

Inspiration here is Anna Magnani, her imperfections, her disarming charme, her fragility, her strength, her peculiar features that made of her one of the most loved and talented actresses ever. In order to fully appreciate Rozy Voile D'Extrait, you have to be fine with beauty achieved through imperfections as opposed to pretty (and boring) features. With daring choices, with unconventional solutions. Don't get me wrong, Rozy VdE is NOT a difficult fragrance but, given its depth and complexity, it surely can be appreciated on several levels.

The opening is one of the best things happened to perfumery in a while. Cassis and an almost camphorous tuberose. Seriously, WOW! The fragrance starts evolving by introducing a mix of spices and rose while a dry sandalwood note starts lurking in the back together with honey. In this phase, I get distant echoes of other perfumery pillars (at one point I thought I was catching a kinship with Knize Ten but I'm pretty sure it will probably be just me). With that said,  the fragrance still feels incredibly unique and cultured as opposed to safe and stereotypical. In this context, it doesn't smell french, it doesn't smell middle-eastern…it simply smell like something only Vero Kern could deliver.

Honey takes over together with other moderately sweet elements (vanilla? sandalwood?) while a subtle dose of styrax provides smoky facets. The drydown is basically endless with continuous kaleidoscopic effects involving all the ingredients into play. It goes from dry and smoky, to sweetish and velvety via woody and obviously…Rozy.

Rozy is an act of love, a tribute and a gift from one of the most passionate and talented perfumers around. In 2014, I hardly can see fragrance going any better than Rozy and, believe me, either you will agree or not, I'm being 100% sincere here. Now, I'm seriously wondering how long it will still take to officially declare Vero Kern as probably the most valid *tout-court* artist in modern perfumery.

All of my love and support.

Rating: 9/10


Puredistance - Black: Expensive Pop.

I'm a big fan of both Antoine Lie and Puredistance but this time, I can't say I'm impressed. Lie is responsible of some of my favorite *contemporary* fragrances. His work for brands such as Comme Des Garcons, Etat Libre D'Orange and, lately, Nu_Be is the most blatant example of his talent and his ability to create subtly twisted fragrances that are wearable and at the same time anything but dull. On the other hand, Puredistance is pretty popular for targeting the upscale audience with their luxurious / plush deliveries. The pairing of these two polar opposites, sounded extremely interesting on paper but, as a matter of fact, Black doesn't convince me one bit.

The fragrance opens with a citrusy-peppery-saffrony accord that is definitely well executed and promising. There's a dusty, sort of sharpish vibe that brings to mind of modern masculine fragrances while speaking at the same time of quality and artistry. Unfortunately things fall apart right away with the composition taking a sweetish, red fruity, trajectory during the middle phase. This part is completely boring and, if you want, *cheap* smelling. Overly safe and somewhat generic, even a tad *sporty*. Things get a little better during the drydown when a sweetish oudy-incense base takes over but it's still not enough to save the whole fragrance from precipice. The deja-vu vibe is so strong to drive me mad. It goes from Clive Christian V to something more generically Amouageish (thinking about Epic Man but also Interlude Man and more in general their latest masculines) via Monegal's Agar Musk, Piguet's Casbah and the plethora of other oudy-peppery fragrances released in the past 5 years or so. 

I think they tried to target the more mainstreamish upmarket crowd here but, as a matter of fact, while not being completely bad, Black is far from justifying the hefty price-tag. For those who care, the fragrance is pretty restrained but with an exceptional longevity.

Rating: 5/10


Hermes - Bel Ami Vetiver: JCE's Remix.

Bel Ami Vetiver is a winner. The original bone structure of the popular masculine fragrance by Hermes, is there but not as much as one would think. Now, that's a good news for me because while I absolutely ADORE vintage BA, I don't think I needed a replica. Also, I don't think BAV should really smell like Bel Ami, for that, one has to check directly Bel Ami. BAV striked more as a sweetish suedey thing with an unripe green citrusy (almost fruity) vibe. There are the usual JCE's spices while the leather note seems definitely more vegetal than animalic. The vetiver is extremely old-school, green, soapy and a tad angular and provides great balance turning the fragrance into something unquestionably masculine (at least theme-wise) while its slight rubbery facet, perfectly pairs with the overall leathery-suedey vibe.

I'd say BAV feels like a very smart move from JC. Smells like a modern remix of something very classic. Sort of a tribute to barbershop / soapy leather-vetivers of the past. In this context, the first fragrance that comes to mind is Tuscany Per Uomo by Aramis. Don't get me wrong, these fragrances don't share many objective similarities but they move in very similar territories. The best part though, comes with the Ellena's *treatment* which turns a somewhat dated theme into something that's surely old-fashioned but at the same time contemporary and even modern. That's basically why I think about *classic-remixed* as opposed to merely *old fashioned*. It's like a modern fragrance that continuely quotes *the bigs* of the past. In this context, Bel mi Vetiver feels cultured as opposed to trendy but also cultured as opposed to nostalgic, If that makes any sense. All of the Ellena's hallmarks are there: transparency, weightless character, spices, clean vibe, watercolor tones but this time, they're supported by a more traditionally robust bone structure to create what, in my opinion, is a contemporary classic. 

Now, my final question is this? What this beauty has to envy to whatever Hermessence? Absolutely nothing.

The fragrance is probably not groundbreaking and original. Bel Ami (especially the vintage formulation) was completely on another level, but I can totally see myself wearing the hell out of this stuff. Very good and absolutely full bottle worthy.

Rating: 8/10


Liquides Imaginaires - Sancti: Four Seasons Incense.

This stuff has completely won me over. One of the most sophisticated, transparent and *clean* takes on incense. The composition is actually pretty simple but is so smartly conceived to result refreshing and novel while sticking to a somewhat classic liturgical-incense structure. It opens with a plethora of unsweetened and fizzy citruses (mandarine, pamplemousse and bergamot) paired to a super soft cardamom note and maybe some aldehydes. The citruses smell extremely natural and realistic as opposed to the *undefined* lemony notes we experience too often in modern perfumery. In this phase Sancti feels extremely sparkling and fresh, almost freezing and wintery as in a early morning breeze. 

The evolution starts right away and the citrusy opening perfectly links to the lemony aspect of frankincense. This is basically the middle phase where the fragrance smells of clean church floors, wax and sunlight entering from the mullioned windows. Think about Comme Des Garcons 2 Man with an extra dose of citruses and the vetiver toned down. There's also the *clean* accord of Cardinal as well as the white linen vibe already found in some of the Maria Candida Gentile's works.

A white smoky base starts emerging from the back while the incense gets drier and drier to give birth to a simple yet incredibly satisfying drydown. There's something so purifying about this fragrance, something that smells salubrious. Smells white, pure, clean...almost virginal. If you're looking for something bombastic and tenacious, you'll probably be disappointed. Don't get me wrong, the fragrance is anything but weak bit its weightless character gives it an ethereal vibe throughout that makes of this composition a perfect fit for almost every occasion and every season. Fantastic if worn both on skin and fabric where the incense drydown lingers forever.

Mucho Love.

Rating: 8/10


Nero Profumo's Best Of 2013

From my point of view, 2013 has been a pretty interesting year for fragrance. Some expectations fulfilled as well as some very interesting new faces. Italy has done its part with what, in my opinion, is probably the best fragrance of the year: Montecristo by Masque. A sweaty/animalic concoction of spices, booze, woods and thick animalic musks that strikes for its tremendous character and immense beauty. Incredibly evocative, comfortable and daring at the same time. From the same house, Terralba definitely deserves a mention as well. Completely a different beast from Montecristo but nonetheless outstanding in its peculiar rendition of sand dunes and italian coasts. Extremely aromatic herbs and woods paired to a transparent and salty vibe throughout. Endless wearability and a great all-rounder. 

Nu_Be, which is known for their sublime quirkiness applied to very practical fragrances, delivered two of their most interesting fragrances to date: Mercury and Sulphur. The former is a crazy and avant-garde concoction of sparkling aldehydes juxtaposed to a warm sandalwood base while the latter strikes for its subtle animalic character paired to green and assertive notes such as vetiver and costus.

Beside all the controversy, O'Driù is still delivering pretty solid stuff and Peety gains a special spot in my list of recommendations for this year. A terrific spicy-woody-musky concoction that's vastly head and shoulders above the average quality available in today's niche offerings. French line Liquides Imaginaires introduces to a wider audience its former trio of fragrances Les Eaux-Delà enriched by a new series called Les Eaux Sanguigne. These fragrances, previously available only in very selected French stores, have been now re-launched also in user-friendly 100ml flacons of immense beauty. My personal standout is Sancti, a citrusy and sparkling composition built around a crispy frankincense base. Probably the most literal iteration of church-y incense to date.

On more *popular* territories, Tom Ford's Sahara Noir setted up a new standard for incense-centered fragrances by introducing what's probably the most straight-forward incense since Norma Kamali's infamous Incense. Neela Vermeire has setted the bar so high with her former trio of fragrances and I've been more than glad to discover my expectations for her Ashoka have been completely fulfilled. A trustworthy follower to her previous Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling with an incredible evolution from the top notes till the drown. Pure virtuosism.

Comme Des Garcons keeps on doing its own thing without disappointing. Both Black and Sugi have been two big winners in my book. The former is a viscous, and indeed dark, composition of incense, tar and unsweetened licorice which strikes for both its perfect balance and incredible versatility. The latter is probably my favorite in the Monocle series. A minimlisitc (as opposed to simplistic) concoction entirely based on bizarre synergies between few and pretty common ingredients that give birth to something absolutely novel. Kudos.

I will close this list with two fragrances by two houses that haven't impressed me in a while. Amouage seems to have found his way back to the old glory by introducing Fate Woman. Humongous, bombastic and absolutely perfect. Gucci, on the other hand, delivered *Forever Now* to celebrate the Gucci Museo in Florence. A collaboration with master perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi. Probably not a wower at first but definitely a grower after some wearings. Leathery, woody and spicy with a smooth vetiver base and soft floral patterns. It took me a while to completely get it but it has slowly become a favorite for this year.


Honorable mention to Vero Profumo for enriching its catalog with the Les Voiles D'Extrait versions of all Vero's previous fragrances. Fantastic options for anyone who loved her Extraits but prefer spraying over dabbing. Etat Libre D'Orange delivers La Fin Du Monde which strikes as an incredibly solid and easy to wear take on iris with *that* quirky twist that has become the house's hallmark. Perfectly unisex, perfectly sized, smooth and endlessly wearable.


An Excursion Into Sonoma Scent Studio - Part 2

Sienna Musk

Sienna Musk strikes as an extremely modern take on the woody-oriental theme. It opens with spices (mainly nutmeg and cloves) juxtaposed to something bright and fizzy, almost metallic that immediately made me think about a citrus-ginger combo. A sharp-ish woody musky base breaks in right away and drives the fragrance towards the modern and transparent spicy-oriental theme that Duchaufour played in several of his fragrances. Moderatley sweet, remarkably woody and unquestionably modern. It honestly would do great in any major niche range such as Eau D'Italie, Le Labo or, say, L'Artisan Parfumeur.

Tremendous lasting power. 

Solid and very nice.

Rating: 7/10

Fireside Intense

Campfire / fireside inspired fragrances are extremely risky because they often tend to bring tomind of barbecues or, more simply, of your house on fire. Fireside Intense, while definitely being smoky, avoids all these *unpleasant* associations and deliver a dark-woody aroma that will appeal to fans of thicker woody fragrances.

The opening is by all means smoky with a nice leathery vibe provided by birch-tar. The whole composition evolves around a guaiac-driven dry-sandalwoody bone structure to which Mrs.Erickson pairs a plethora of other woody-oudy notes. Fireside Intense feels very warm and while being definitely striking, it's not as scary as it might sounds. Powerful, dark and thick but somewhat weightless (as opposed to *heavy-handed*). Good for an evening spent reading a book in front of the fireplace but absolutely perfect for a walk outside during winter. This fragrance really shines outdoor.

A real gem and together with Incense Pure and Tabac Aurea, probably my favorite in the SSS range.

Rating: 8/10

Wood Violet

Violets and I generally don't get along very well and unfortunately Wood Violet makes no exception. With that said, I still appreciate how it skips the usual thick sweetness associated with this note. The fragrance opts for a tart and plush fruitiness and it's surrounded by an overall leafy green vibe that makes it more tolerable for me.  Problem comes with the unbearable powderyness that kicks in during the middle phase and lasts till the very final stages of the woody-musky drydown.

If you like the genre, you might want to give it a chance but for my personal tastes this is a no-go. Sorry.

Rating: 5/10

An Excursion Into Sonoma Scent Studio - Part 1

Tabac Aurea

Wonderful! This is the first thing that came to mind just right after a bunch of minutes of wearing. 

Tabac Aurea is definitely up there amongst the most intriguing interpretations of this wonderful aroma. Yes, it is sweet and ambery but it's neither *too* sweet nor foody. It just takes the typical sweetness of certain tabac leaves and translate it into an incredible blend of smooth woods, resinous (dry and restrained) amber and deep musks. If you like stuff a-la 1740 or Feuilles De Tabac, you'll probably dig Tabac Aurea as well. Don't get me wrong, these fragrances share very very few aspects if any at all but this is just to say that sweetish stuff doesn't necessarely mean cupcakes or food. On top of that Tabac Aurea is pervaded by a resinous dryness which carefully preserves it from becoming cloying at any stage. 

Tabac Aurea has really nothing to envy to the most popular fragrances playing similar themes and it's a tremendously solid option for anyone looking for a top-notch in this genre and an easy-to-wear elegant composition at the same time. Tobacco Vanille, move on. 


Sometimes, it's really not necessary to splurge big tickets to smell great. 

Rating: 8/10

Incense Pure

Just right after spraying Incense Pure on skin, it immediately brings to mind of an hypothetic
mash-up between the infamous Norma Kamali Incense and Jovoy La Liturgie Des Heures. It has the same dark starkness of the former and the sparkling, clean, greenish vibe of the latter. The main accord has been played ad nauseam but it's absolutely incredible how Incense Pure is able to gain its own spot amongst the most valid options in this genre. The main point of strength of this fragrance is that it doesn't play the churchy theme but opts for a more realistic interpretation of sap resins and woods. 

Yes, the fragrance is surely driven by an holographic frankincense accord to which Mrs.Erickson paired several other resins (mainly labdanum and some myrrh) and woody notes. What comes out is a *slightly* smoky composition enriched by a smooth dry sandalwood base. Powerful but absolutely comfortable, well rounded and tremendously balanced. As in other deliveries by SSS, there's an overall outdoorsy vibe which brings *natural* perfumery to a completely new level. It's natural because it smells natural but, most of all, because it evokes beautiful natural landscapes, great outdoors, fresh air.  In this context, Incense Pure speaks more about incense in the forest as opposed to incense to church. I've to be honest, the first time I tried it, I was sort of disappointed but it *completely* won me over after the second wearing. There's something so special about this stuff, something perfectly nailed. Something probably more inherent to its simplicity than to its originality but this *je ne sais quoi* turns the whole composition into a total winner in my book.

Nice sillage, tremendous longevity. No matter how much you apply, this stuff always feels perfectly sized. Love, seriously!

Rating: 8/10

Forest Walk

Forest Walk opens very green, no doubts. There's galbanum and fir but also something very resinous. From the very early stages the fragrance is pervaded by both an outdoorsy vibe as well as remarkable hearthy notes providing a wet-soil nuance. There's something mossy and almost moldy that immediately brings to mind of wet foliage and, yes, a forest. A consistent violet note breaks in right away and smoothes the otherwise stark-ish opening. I'm generally not fond of violets but the way the accord is handled is absolutely nice. Maybe because it doesn't lean towards the overly sweet, candied violet note we too often experience in classic perfumery. It provides a tad of powder and some sweetness but nothing to be scared of. The fragrance still goes on with its earthy vibe and it's joined by smooth-and-deep woody notes and more resins. It takes a slightly darker twist that leans more towards meditative types of compositions. Very intimate, sort of sullen, perfect for fall days spent in the outdoor.

One thing to notice is that Mrs.Erickson completley skips any apothekary vibe which is typical of certain types of perfumery. Her fragrances smell natural as opposed to indie, beautiful as opposed to trendy and elegant as opposed to ridiculously priced.

Forest Walk is a bit too sweet to completely match my tastes but it's very nice nevertheless.

Rating: 6.5-7/10

Winter Woods

Winter Woods strikes as a darkish smoky amber. Its woody presence, together with birch tar, preserve it from becoming too sweet while a smooth animalic presence adds some density and depth. As in many other ambers, Winter Woods has a remarkable deja-vu vibe throughout but, as I already experienced in other SSS, the real secret here is the incredible balance. It wears comfortable and cozy just like your favorite brown cashmere sweater you use for winter walks on sunday mornings.

All in all, I'm not intrigued enough but those who like moderately sweet and non-foody woody ambers (as opposed to woodyamber), might find in WW a valid option that's unquestionably on the same level of more popular deliveries playing similar themes.

As usual with this line, sillage is nice while lasting power is definitely outstanding. Reasonably priced. Nice.

Rating: 6.5-7/10