The Perfect Mango Cocktail: Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire
A charming summer fling that’s not as ditsy as it sounds.
Bombay Bling! opens up on a charming, fizzy note of effervescent mango, lime, and what feels to me to be stone fruit – either plums or peaches. The fruity top notes act together to form the impression of a dollop of jammy, intense fruit puree added to a glass of champagne. It is incredibly buoyant and cheerful. At this stage, I have to say that it is slightly too fruity and too sweet for my taste. What saves this perfume, for me, is the creamy sandalwood and cedar base, which rises up to support and soften the piquant, acidic red and orange fruits up top after a couple of hours. The effect is to mellow and soften the entire composition, making the dry down comfortable and luxurious.
Unlike in Shalimar, where the clash of cream in the vanilla and the sharpness of the bergamot (citrus fruit) creates a rather curdled or “rancid butter” effect at the top of the perfume, here, the cream of the base and the bright acid fruit of the top blend smoothly and without incident. Longevity is good, at about eight hours. Projection-wise, this is not a loud scent, but it is not a skin scent either – a pleasant sillage, I would say.
I am glad to have my sample, but I would not shell out the big bucks for it simply because fruity-florals are not something I reach for often, and when I do, I have Jardin Sur Le Nil to fill that gap. However, I would rate Bombay Bling! over that perfume if money were no object, for a few reasons.
First, although both scents feature green mango, there is no sourness to Bombay Bling! and I do find the dry down of Sur Le Nil to be quite astringent. Second, although I appreciate Ellena’s minimalist style and the watercolor effect he achieves in his Jardin series for Hermes, I think that Neela Vermeire does an even more impressive job of corralling a quite vast array of notes and accords and blending them into a harmonious whole.
This would suit a young girl in her twenties who goes to lots of parties and who wants a fruity-floral scent that rises heads and shoulders above the crowd.
The Perfect Sheer Fruity Incense-Rose: Marni
I am absolutely crazy about the design aesthetic of Marni, the fashion house – it is quirky, intellectual, and definitely for women who are not afraid to be individual.
So when Marni announced that they were launching their eponymous perfume in 2012, I admit I was very excited. And even though Marni the perfume isn’t half as “out there” as the clothes, neither is it your run-of-the-mill designer scent, by which I mean it’s not drowning in sugar syrup.
Marni is yet another entry in the fruity, peppery rose-incense-woods genre, and as thus shares territory with Parfum Sacre, Paestum Rose, and Perles de Lalique. But there is an intriguing smell of paper in the dry down that I think makes this one a little special.
The perfume unfolds slowly, over the course of a day, and like the clothes, it doesn’t reveal much to you at first glance (or sniff). A peppery, citrusy rose is the first note to emerge clearly, and at this stage, the perfumes feels wet, fresh, and spicy. It is only mildly sweet, and reminiscent of a tart fruit not quite at the stage ready for eating.
But over time, the rose becomes obscured by smoky incense and woods. The perfume now feels dry, hazy, and slightly papery (the cedar, I expect). If you like roses, incense, and spice, then Marni is a great choice for summer because it’s not at all heavy. In fact, I think that if you like the modern, sheer rose and ink in Comme des Garcons’ 2 (Woman), then you’ll like this one. There are little flashes of modernism in Marni that make me think of 2 somehow.
So, in conclusion – not as genuinely innovative or interesting as the clothes, but does a fair job of encapsulating what the Marni brand is all about. And it makes an excellent choice for a sheer, fruity rose scent on a hot day.
The Perfect Oddball Fruity Rose: Chanel No. 18
No. 18 is one odd duck. What I get in the beginning is a blast of hard liquor so powerfully pungent that it almost knocks me off my heels. It smells clear, high-pitched, and fruity, almost exactly like sticking your nose into a shot glass filled with grappa or rakija – or is it Pear William brandy? Anyway, it’s one of those clear grain liquors that old Italian and Balkan men knock down before breakfast with their morning coffee and separates the men from the boys.
Once the top notes eventually settle down, I can sense a subtle rosiness, but here the rose is really different from other roses in perfumery – it is transparent, green, high-pitched, and tight. There are no spices, no woods underneath, no supporting ballast at all. I see in the notes listed that there is iris as well, but I do not sense it, beyond a certain sharp/citric edge to the rose.
Fruit notes support the rose, and also somehow alternate with the rose, so that sometimes you smell only the fruits (apple, pears, lemon) and sometimes only the rose (with the barest hints of fruit floating around the rose). The fruit smells amazing when it does come into focus, shifting in and out of the rosy picture – for me, it smells like the skin you peel off a hard Granny Smith apple – all green, astringent, juicy, and yet stalky tasting in your mouth. The whole thing sings in the same register pretty much throughout the life of the scent – high, clear, fruity-floral, pungent but transparent.
If I smelled this blind, there would be no way I could tell it’s a Chanel, since the iris-rose combo here does not feature the typical Chanel buttery effect, and there are no aldehydes. It does not smell rich or heavy or complex. Indeed, it is so odd and so transparent that it could quite conceivably belong to Comme des Garcons. Only on reflection do you understand that only Chanel could pull off the superb balancing act needed to keep each of the elements from teetering off the edge. People say that this is a great essay on the ambrette seed, featuring all the various aspects of that rare material, from the rose-iris
People say that this is a great essay on the ambrette seed, featuring all the various aspects of that rare material, from the rose-iris duet, to the fruity/alcoholic edge, and finally to the musky underpinnings (which I myself do not perceive or smell at all, alas) – I can’t say if this is true, never having smelled ambrette seed. However, for me, this is a clear artistic achievement by Chanel and quite different from anything else in their stable, not to mention in the world of perfumery.
It is odd, it is pretty, it is compelling, and it keeps you on your toes trying to guess what on earth it is that you are smelling. Pretty and interesting – well, that is an excellent and rare combination, I believe, no? I really like this for summer and I find myself reaching for it a lot.
The Perfect Red Wine, Grape, and Bubblegum Scent: Hanbury by Maria Candida Gentile
Hanbury is a fruity orange blossom scent that is quite different from the bog standard orange blossom scents out there. It opens up on a startling note of pink bubblegum, which is apparently due to the calycanthus in this composition. Calycanthus, or so-called “sweetshrub” in laymen’s terms, is an insignificant shrubby plant with attractive purple flowers whose smell is halfway between grape/strawberry (hence the bubblegum effect) and a light, fruity red wine. Although I am not a fan of bubblegum notes in general, I have to say that it adds a juvenile, happy-go-lucky air that is quite in character with the cheerful, sunny nature of this scent as a whole.
The heart of the perfume puts the wearer straight into the gardens after which it is named – a very lush and natural setting by the rocky cliffs near the Costa Azzurra. The blend of green-tinged neroli, bitter orange and creamy sweet orange feels voluptuous without the slight sleaziness I often pick up in other orange blossom-centered scents. It is not indolic in the slightest, making it a versatile wear even in the hottest of climates. It does veer towards the edge of extreme sweetness at times, but I find that there is something here – the lime? mimosa? – always ready to pull it back before it crosses the line. There is a slight pinch of bitterness running through it that cuts the natural soapiness of orange blossoms in just the right way. Very natural-smelling, refined, and balanced.