Almond scents can sometimes be one-dimensional and boring, or maybe too sweet. Other times they smell cheap, or suffocatingly synthetic. When paired with a regrettable overdose of tonka bean or boozy notes, they can be cloying, and when paired with heliotrope, they often smell exclusively feminine. Carner Barcelona’s Tardes manages to avoid all of these pitfalls.
Yes, it’s an almond scent, but it’s certainly non-traditional. Instead of going the typical route, stuffing the perfume with sweet almond oil and tossing in a few synthetic sweet notes for good measure, Carner Barcelona is crafted as a proper fragrance that features almond, but never quite lets it dominate. Here the almond is more green and fresh than unctuous, perhaps because of the judicious use of the celery and geranium notes. This makes the fragrance unique, and ensures that it is able to use the remainder of the traditional pairings without becoming boring or generic. Heliotrope, tonka bean, and boozy notes are all present in this fragrance, yet somehow it avoids being cloyingly sweet or completely feminine. This can partly be attributed to the green nature of the almond, but also could be a result of the woody notes – cedar and rosewood anchor the composition, and both are framed by a deep musk.
When I first sniffed Tardes I was pleasantly surprised. I admit that I expected something boring, inarguably feminine, and perhaps even generic. What I found was a beautiful and creamy fragrance that defies explanation; one that somehow manages to be unique while using many common notes. It is obviously floral without being too feminine for a man to wear, extremely sweet without being cloying, and intellectually stimulating in its depth and complexity. On a woman, Tardes smells sweeter and more flowery. On a man, it smells more boozy, woody, and heavy on the tonka bean.
And performance is great. I get a solid 10 hours with this fragrance with moderate projection and sillage. Tardes gets closer to the skin after the first couple of hours as it begins to settle into the comforting creaminess of its heart and base notes.
This is a gem that is a joy to wear. It will stretch the boundaries of both masculine and feminine perfumery, so don’t be surprised if you feel just a touch uncomfortable. It will get easier – I promise – and you’ll be left with the realization that Tardes is challenging your preconceived notions of what it means to smell masculine or feminine. And what could be better than that?