Some time ago Marlen, one of the moderators on the basenotes forum, dissed my new favorite, Ormonde Jayne Isfahan, in a post on the men's fragrance board. To provide another viewpoint, he included a copy of my review from this blog in his post. We thought it might be fun to see what else we disagreed about, hence this review of Royal Water, which was released by Creed in 1997 as a tribute to Princess Diana. It features notes of mandarin, bergamot, peppermint, cumin, basil, juniper berry, and musk.
He says: Royal Water opens with a blast of citrus not too unlike the classic Eau's of the 20th century — Eau de Patou and O de Lancome come to mind — with a slight twist of green herbs. In Royal Water, the green note is the result of peppermint and basil and I think it's this last note that turned me off when I first smelled it on a test strip, though on the skin it blends harmoniously with the other top notes of verbena, bergamot and juniper berry. The scent slowly changes into something slightly unusual with notes of cumin and musk, and depending upon which website you look at, there may be a hint of ambergris. (A note about the cumin — this is not the Mexican food/ sweaty armpit type of cumin...in fact, it's barely detectable to me on the skin.) This metamorphosis into something slightly warmer, something slightly animalic, is what most intrigues me. Where other "water" scents stop at being fresh and clean, Royal Water continues and develops into something more. True, these darker basenotes are not major players in this scent's composition, but they certainly provide an unusual twist.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this scent is the fact that many of the comments by women describe it as "a little too masculine" while many of the comments by men describe it as "a little too feminine". Neither sex seems to know what to make of it. Perhaps this strange composition, as in my case, truly needs to be experienced to be understood.
The reputation and story behind the scent means absolutely nothing to me. If it smells good and I enjoy wearing it, then the scent has won my favor. When I spent a day with Royal Water, a fragrance with pleasant though subtle sillage and good lasting power, I discovered a scent that I just don't want to live without — fresh, green, invigorating, slightly mysterious, a tad animalic and musky, and overall delicious!
She says: Like Marlen, I was less than pleased by my first sniff of Royal Water. An overly helpful sales associate at Neiman Marcus managed to miss my arm entirely and spray this all over my coat, where it proceeded to linger far longer than any fragrance ought to. Since then I have tried this several times from a sample vial, which in my humble opinion is how most Creed fragrances should be tested, as the sprays tend to be overwhelming.
Royal Water starts very crisp and bright, with bergamot and peppermint. It settles into a green aromatic herbal citrus, heavy on the basil and juniper berry. No doubt there are flowers here, but I cannot make them out underneath all the heavy herbal notes. As Marlen points out, at least the cumin is muted. It does strikes me as on the masculine side, but that doesn' t bother me — I'll wear anything if it smells good.
My problem with Royal Water is that it smells like too much of too many good things. After an hour, it still smells brash and perfume-y, as though the top notes have just been replaced with other top notes. It feels raw and unfinished right through to the end. I don't hate it, but every time I wear it I wish I was wearing something else, something with a bit more subtlety. Annick Goutal Eau du Sud, in fact, fits the bill. It has similar notes, but is a bit more masculine than Royal Water, and has a woodier dry down. I would go even further and say that it has a touch of sweaty armpit, whether from cumin or not I cannot say. It just smells nicer.
Creed Royal Water is available in 30, 75, 120 and 250 ml. For buying information, see the listing for Creed under Perfume Houses.