Magnolia Nobile is the latest from Acqua di Parma, and it joins 2004's Iris Nobile in what I suppose will now be the Nobile collection or somesuch. The inspiration reportedly comes from "the gardens of majestic villas along Lake Como, graced with magnolia trees", and that romantic, upscale vision is a pretty good prelude to the perfume itself.
Magnolia Nobile starts off with fresh green citrus, in the same mode as the fresh green citrus that's in everything lately: Versace Versense, Bvlgari Omnia Green Jade, Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte. It's crisp and diffusive but lacks real sparkle, and I wonder if this is simply the new style, or if it's the result of the recent IFRA restrictions on natural citrus oils? Whatever it is, it does not make my heart sing: it's too fresh, and all of these perfumes remind me, to one degree or another, of functional products — nicely done functional products, to be sure, but still. I don't like my perfume to smell like it might be a spiffy new shampoo or luxury dryer sheet.
After that, we've got the magnolia. Magnolia is a fragrance note that I love in theory, that is, I love the smell of magnolia, but magnolia perfumes usually leave me cold: magnolia, like lilac, is a fragrance note that so often smells clichéd, like an old-fashioned soap trio in a pretty-paper gift box. Still, I was hopeful about this one because I do adore Iris Nobile, and I often like the work of perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. It is not to be. The floral heart of Magnolia Nobile is pretty, even extremely pretty. It's sheer, and smells like magnolia with jasmine (I don't really notice rose or tuberose unless I concentrate, but they're listed in the notes, along with bergamot, lemon, citron, magnolia, jasmine, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver and vanilla). It's bright and lively at first, with lemon-y/fruity undertones, paler and woodier in the later stages. It's very feminine and romantic, and it has a simple elegance about it, but in the end it's too clean, too dainty, to appeal to me. If you're looking for a light, clean, summer-y magnolia, not overly sweet, it might be just what you're after.
There were complaints about the lasting power of Iris Nobile when it first launched, and eventually it came out in a much-altered Eau de Parfum version. Magnolia Nobile is launching in Eau de Parfum, but on my skin does not retain its verve for as long as the original Iris Nobile.
Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile is available in 50 ($105) and 100 ($165) ml Eau de Parfum; for buying information, see the listing for Acqua di Parma under Perfume Houses.