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:
“Jesus, Dad”, gasps my daughter, hoarsely. “You smell like a bum’s nut-sack,” adding, perhaps superfluously: “and not in a good way.”
Oh Montagne, whoever you are, you had me at “nut-sack”. After all, all of the perfumes I love the best, such as Parfumerie Generale’s L’Ombre Fauve, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour Le Soir, and Serge Lutens’ Muscs Khoublai Khan, have (mostly) men writing reviews about them that reference:
a. the smell of a man’s sweaty nether regions, pee, poo, testicles, and/or;
b. the fact they would absolutely not, under any circumstances, like to smell this on a woman.
For me personally, that is just like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Half the stuff I do is on a dare already, so why should perfume be any different? It makes me wonder though – what is it about these big musky, castoreum-laden fumes that indicate they are for men only? And while we are on the subject, was there a board meeting back in biblical times that decided that violets and primroses were not to be worn by men? It’s not a facetious question. I would actually like to know.
Me, I try not to limit myself by all these (seemingly rather arbitrary) gender classifications. I love and wear Dior Homme Intense, Hermes Bel Ami, and Caron’s Le Troisieme Homme. I have worn Bvlgari Black since I was a teenager, even though every time I have gone to pick it up in the shop, a saleslady with a panicked look on her face would rush over and say, “MODOM! That is a MAN’s perfume!” I also used to wear Lalique’s Encre Noir, until the Iso E Super in it started to give me headaches.
But back to the matter at hand: does Mazzolari’s Lui actually smell like a bum’s nut-sack or not? Well, it’s been a while since I’ve smelled one*, but no – no it does not. It is much nicer. It is a fantastically dirty leather-and-patchouli fragrance that makes you feel like you are rolling around with someone you shouldn’t be on a fur coat that has been rubbed down with civet oil. The opening blast is ferocious and pungent, with a smell half way between the sourness of clothes folded away damp and sweaty horse leather. The civet makes it utterly filthy from beginning to end, but despite the predictably massive longevity, the sillage does a surprising dip down to a skin scent after the initial blast. The castoreum in the base gives it a rounded, sensual feel.
It’s really hot. I mean, it is hella sexy. It is an Austen Powers sort of perfume. It reminds me most of L’Ombre Fauve, with its furry animal sensuality, but Mazzolari’s Lui is far denser and more syrupy. And whereas L’Ombre Fauve is really just a riff on the dirty parts of amber, musk, and patchouli all joined up at the seams, Lui is a far messier, wilder thing altogether – an explosive cocktail of the unstable elements of pissy leather and patchouli and civet. Everything here is quite rough and disjointed. But in a good way.
I would highly recommend this one to the ladies out there who love a nice bit of skank. Any woman who appreciates the filthiness of Jean Desprez’ Bal a Versailles, MKK’s Absolue Pour Le Soir, Masque Fragrance’s Montecristo, or even the cute, furry little L’Ombre Fauve would get a kick out of this. Ignore all the “for men only” signs posted all around the Internet. If you are the kind of woman who wears perfumes to please herself alone, and not men, then this one is really worth looking into. I find it an intoxicating, almost fiercely private pleasure. I wear it for myself alone. I have worn it for the past five nights running, and one whole weekend, and as someone who has hundreds of samples I really want to try, that surely says a lot.
*It was a cold night outside Termini bus station in Rome. Woke up to find a vagrant gently grinding his crotch into my face. It was a mercifully brief encounter but I did get a tantalizing whiff of what Montagne’s daughter seems to have experienced in full.