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Masque Milano Fragrance

Sammarco Naias – Deconstructing Violet

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When I heard that Giovanni Sammarco had shown mods of a yet-to-be-announced violet perfume called Naias at Pitti to a couple of friends, I began to salivate. Then, after wiping the drool from my keyboard, I asked for a sample. (More likely, I begged).

For the past year or so, violets have been a sort of secret passion of mine, and I’ve been collecting samples and even small bottles of some of what I see as the standouts in the genre. Opus III for a grand, oriental violet, Stephen Jones for weird crunchy space rocks, vintage Jolie Madame for leather, Insolence for trashy charm, Aimez Moi for kittenish cheer, Bois de Violette for candied darkness, and McQueen for grungy face powder. But each violet added to the collection shrinks the space left for others – could Naias really bring something new to the table? KEEP ON READING

Masque Fragranze Romanza: my wild, green romance

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The absinthe scene in Coppola’s “Dracula”, the world around swimming in a mysterious sea of green. My nana’s old, but strong hands burrowing deeper inside the black, fertile earth, planting her narcissi, hyacinths and tulips, cradling carefully the fragile bulbs from which sweet, spicy, musky beauty was going to arise. Honey dripping over tanned, hot skin. Oh, and the smell of his body, so warm, the feel of it, smooth like velvet, there, in those secret places. So damn intoxicating! I could rest my cheek against such preciousness forever. My mother bathed in the morning light, singing bittersweet love songs and getting the linden blossoms tea ready. Jumping up and down on hay bales. Tilda Swinton as Emma Recchi in the movie “I am love”, her white skin capturing the blinding sheen of a fallen angel, while she was being loved among tall grasses and insects buzzing lazily in the heat of the summer. A funeral during a blistering July, the incense smoke, and salty tears and the smell of decay escaping from underneath the masses of half wilted flowers. Life’s happiness and sadness and the myriad of small things in between. These were some of the images and thoughts flooding my brain the second I put Masque’s “Romanza” on. A fragrance that is first and foremost alive.
Young perfumer Cristiano Canali has achieved a rare feat: a passionate, moving tour de force around a difficult and expensive material, the narcissus absolute. He managed to create something completely beautiful without striping away any of the “ugly” bits of his raw ingredients, a perfume that is soothing and feral at the same time, elegant yet rough.
I love the complex textural feeling I get from this fragrance: dry and moist, sweet and bitter, oily and powdery, soft and scratchy, animalic and floral and so on. A way to simplify the complicated nuances puzzle of “Romanza”, is to look at it as an intensely, almost cutting green floral wrapped around a warm woody-ambery accord with animalic inflections. And this is basically it. But it would be a pity to try and simplify, analyse, box in, compartmentalise a thing that is living and breathing on the skin like that, a thing that keeps changing and pulsating like some weird alien just being born. Scary yet somehow tender and fragile. At  some point the animalic vibe it’s so golden naughty, so warm and addictive and comforting you forget all about the beginning’s poisonous floral trauma, and I mean that trauma in the best possible sense. It’s a shock to the senses, but it comes with the precious side effect of any shock: it makes you feel alive and totally immersed in the moment. The far drydown reminded me a bit of Molinard Habanita, with far less powder and sweetness, but the vetiver it’s just as scrumptious. To be honest I’m moved beyond words of such emotional display in a perfume. It truly is a liquid poem, and alas when it comes to words I’m not poet enough to sing its praise the way it should be sung. With force and vulnerability and realness. I hope at least you’ll try it and hear its message clearly: to live and love before it’s too late for any living and loving to be still done. KEEP ON READING

Singular Summer Soliflores

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Confession: I don’t actually like soliflores. I mean, I don’t like to wear them. I like sniffing them from a sample and I consider them useful to have around as a reference, but wearing them simply wears me down. Soliflores say one thing, and one thing only. I admire the single-mindedness of their message, but as the day goes on, it grates. Flowers must be part of a more complex composition for me to wear them.

I will say this, though, and my apologies if this sounds like a contradiction – there is nothing like a good soliflore to move me to tears. The smell of a Bourbon rose, a tuberose bloom, or newly opened jasmine flowers are so astoundingly beautiful in nature that any successful attempt at recreating their smell in perfume has a similar effect on my senses and emotions. KEEP ON READING

L’Attesa by Masque: Wait Up – This is Great

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It is fair to say that Luca Turin’s decision to start writing about perfumes again – and specifically perfumes he loves – in his new WordPress blog, has sent a gust of fresh air through the dusty halls of perfume reviewing. Everyone’s ears are pricked, wondering whom Luca is going to shine his avuncular love on next. For niche brands, it must be utterly nerve-wracking – they’ve all either sent him samples or cornered him at Esxence – and now they must wait for Turinesque rapture….or worse, total radio silence. KEEP ON READING

Masque Fragranze Romanza: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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The latest fragrance from Masque Fragranze, Romanza, is neither easy to describe nor to wear. That doesn’t mean it’s not utterly brilliant, because it is. It features narcissus, but instead of wrapping it in sunshiney beeswax (Ostara) or sweetening it with rose (Lumiere Noire Pour Femme), Romanza plays up all its ugly, bitter facets, resulting in a fragrance that is a real punch in the gut. Do you want to be challenged, confronted, and swept off your feet? Well, Romanza may be just the ticket. KEEP ON READING

Masque Fragranze Montecristo,Tango and Russian Tea-a modern hedonist triptych

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One of the perfume lines I was most excited to discover this year is Masque Fragranze. The buzz around it, the wonderful reviews made the waiting even harder, but now that I finally have samples of Tango, Montecristo and Russian Tea, the waiting is over. I can take the tops off those little vials, spray and let the scents tell their stories.
And I sprayed and waited to be moved, and waited and sniffed furiously at my skin, gathering the molecules up my nose, into the brain, but my soul didn’t want to react. And not because the fragrances are not good, in fact quite the opposite. Intelligent and very well blended, perfect images of perfect storylines, shiny and modern, the epitome of cool, but all I felt like saying was “It’s not you, is me”, the common excuse of anybody wanting to extricate themselves out of an unwanted display of affection. And indeed, how else can I justify not loving this perfumes?It must be my twisted little psyche, that even surprises myself at times reacting positively to stuff I never thought I’d like, and being perfectly cold toward things that seemed to send all the right signals.
And the Masque Fragranze brand certainly did send all the right signals: interesting concept (the whole line is composed like an opera, out of different acts and tableaus, each perfume created to be the same as a theater masque, helping the wearer to get into a specific role or atmosphere), talented perfumers, beautiful, elegant packaging,va lot of positive, even glowing reviews in the blogosphere.
I remember well the day I tried them for the first time: a crisp, sunny afternoon, rays of sunshine streaming brightly through branches and trees in the lovely park in which I sometimes like to go for walks on my work break. It had been a stressful and agitated morning, and I needed to get away from the crowds and have a few moments to myself. The perfect time to try the perfumes I’d been dreaming about for months. KEEP ON READING

Russian Tea – a Wintertime Story

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The name of the new Italian niche perfumery house Masque Milano born last year started to spread fast, their scents : Terralba, Monte Cristo, Tango, Luci ed Ombre creating emotions in the perfume aficionados world. Their latest launch is Russian Tea.

The concept behind this brand is the mask (masque) used in theater to create characters, the perfume being perceived as a mask under which somebody can hide and disguise : “ Perfumes to wear like a second skin….the perfume behind a mask”. KEEP ON READING

Mazzolari Lui: Raging Beast or Purring Pussycat?

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beast grafiti

Mazzolari Lui is crazy sexy good. Yes, ok, technically it’s a men’s perfume (“Lui” means “Him” in Italian) and if you read the often hilarious reviews for this online, you will see an awful lot of male reviewers using words such as “virile”, “masculine” and “testosterone” which is akin to putting up big, neon signs reading, “Wimmen Folk Turn Back Now!” and pissing around it to demarcate the territory.

One review in particular on Basenotes had me writing to my friend, Sjorn, at Essenza Nobile, begging for a sample of Mazzolari Lui straight away. Written by a guy called Montagne, it opens with possibly the best first sentence ever written about a perfume: KEEP ON READING

MAAI by Bogue: Bridge between the Past and the Future

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There is a road that stretches exactly 674 kilometers from Rimini on the North-East coast of Italy up through the Alps to Zurich, in Switzerland. This journey, were you to make it by car, would take you seven hours to complete, and by the end of it, you would have taken in most of the independent and artistic perfume making that still exists in Europe today. We are talking here about small, mostly self-taught perfumers who, instead of designing according to briefs set by the big fragrance conglomerates, create perfumes that take big, bold leaps into the dark and are limited only by the outer boundaries of their imaginations. KEEP ON READING

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