Usually in autumn I’m drawn toward woodsy, smoky, leathery fragrances. Not this autumn. Go figure. Despite the rain and falling leaves, it’s the floral, “girly” perfumes that have pulled me in lately. When I came across a full set of Masque Milano testers last week, I had to ask for sample vials of the line’s floral scents, Romanza and L’Attesa.
First, a quick word on the Masque Milano line. The fragrances are grouped into four “acts” that make up the “opera of life.” The acts are: experiences, places, discoveries, and journeys (no, that’s not all four acts, just one); interior monologues, emotions, deep thoughts and inner reflections, lights and shadows of human nature; sentimental relationships, romance and love, affections and betrayals; and dreams. Romanza and L’Attesa are part of Act III, the one about sentimental relationships.
Perfumer Cristiano Canali developed Romanza, a complex narcissus. Its notes include absinthe, orange blossom, angelica, French narcissus absolute, violet leaves, jasmine, vetiver, cedarwood, patchouli, amber accord and myrrh. Romanza is a wispy, shimmery, sexy narcissus that walks the line between white lace innocence and dirty stable.
Am I right in thinking that there aren’t a lot of fragrances starring narcissus out there, other than straight narcissus soliflores? Off the top of my head, I come up with Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fête, Amouage Myths Woman, and Caron Narcisse Noir. Of these, Romanza is probably closest to Myths Woman in its mix of purity and filth, although Romanza sparkles with jasmine and juicy orange blossom with a coyness that makes Myths Woman feel like a country girl.
Hay, civet and a whiff of skunky oakmoss run under Romanza’s prettiness, reminding me a bit of an ashtray in the groom’s room in the stable, and I like it. Romanza’s floralcy fades after a few hours, but instead of plunging into amber and woods, the fragrance seems to let up on the brakes and transforms into a light yet persistent waft of moss and earth.
Luca Maffei developed L’Attesa, a soft iris. Its notes include Italian bergamot, Moroccan neroli, Champagne accord, Italian iris absolute, Italian iris root butter, French iris root butter, tuberose absolute, ylang ylang, Mysore sandalwood, oakmoss and leather accord.
I’m a sucker for iris, and L’Attesa’s initial iris hit is everything I love: soft without powder, floral without popsicle sweetness, and earthy without rancid hair or turnips. It’s an elegant, silk velvet iris that smells like a million dollars. Carrot seed keeps the iris’s feet on the ground, and jasmine and ylang ylang stretch it skyward.
Alas, L’Attesa’s sharp iris glory softens into a merely lovely iris after a quarter hour. It’s an iris I’d happily wear regularly, but it’s hard to beat L’Attesa’s initial stellar hit. Other, cooler floral notes move in to share the stage and pull the fragrance into a nice floral alto harmony, which all too soon fades away. To me, L’Attesa is the Charvet shirt of iris: beautifully tailored of nice material, but unlikely to make the fashion pages. (That said, I’d love a Charvet shirt.)
The Masque Milano bottles are gorgeous. They have nice heft and balance, and under the sculpted cap — also satisfyingly heavy — a silver-toned metal ring covers the bottle’s shoulder. The atomizer is a dream. It sprays an ultrafine mist.
Unlike Masque Milano’s other fragrances, which come in 100 ml bottles, Romanza and L’Attesa Eaux de Parfum are only offered in 35 ml bottles. They sell for $165 each. For information on where to buy them, see Masque Milano under Perfume Houses.