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January 11, 2006

Fragrance Review: Narciso Rodriguez for Her and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely


Chypre category with its strong accord based on the interplay of hesperidic, floral, woody and mossy facets has gathered popularity since 1917, when Coty Chypre intriguingly explored the extremes of olfactory spectrum to create a memorable and unusual fragrance weaving bergamot, oak moss, labdanum, and patchouli . Subsequently, the affinity of the chypre accord with the voluptuous fruity and floral notes has been discovered, resulting in the orchestrations that fused various flowers, peach (Guerlain Mitsouko, Rochas Femme), plum (Guerlain Parure, Shiseido Féminité Du Bois), as well as exotic fruit (Jean Patou Colony) with the classical chypre accords. The marriage of chypre with other notes is likewise fascinating, with fragrances like Grès Cabochard and Robert Piguet Bandit being examples of the animalic leather chypres, and Dior Diorella, Clinique Aromatics Elixir and Couturier Coriandre exhibiting the beautiful interplay of chypre accords with modern synthetics such as hedione.

While the popularity of the classical chypre has waned, the chypre category is hardly ignored. Ralph Lauren Pure Turquoise, Lulu Guiness Cast a Spell, Dior Miss Dior Cherie, Chanel Chance, Coco Mademoiselle EDT are the examples of the fragrances released in the past couple of years and classified as posssessing chypre accords. The very definition of the chypre seems to be changing, with the emphasis made on the transparent and fruity notes combined with the chypre facets, and many fragrances classified as chypre these days do not even seem to be related to the classical chypre accords. Narciso Rodriguez for Her and Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely are two examples of the classification that would consider them as floral oriental compositions with chypre accords and they are often compared. The main similarity between them is in their luxurious musk accords touched with the ambery warmth that makes these compositions melt beautifully on the skin, and while the fragrances are by no means identical, they create a similar effect of warm, sensual softness.  Now, whether chypre classification might applicable here is a whole another story. ...

Narciso Rodriguez for Her (2003) was created by Christine Nagel and Francis Kurkdjian for the fashion designer famous for his elegant and graceful silhouettes. The chypric ambery facet of its composition is slightly reminiscent of Miss Dior Cherie, which was created by Christine Nagel, although in Narciso Rodriguez, the woody-musky ornamentation renders the effect to be more sophisticated and refined. The crisp sweetness embellished with citrus fruitiness gives way to the floral heart, dominated by orange blossom. Its sensual, yet innocent radiance serves as a perfect prelude to the woody drydown lit up by the vanilla and amber. Bathed in the voluptuous musky richness, the composition has a decadent feel of a silk dress, and even the slight sharpness that marks the EDT, perfectly conjures the sensation of rubbing raw silk against the cheek.


Like Narciso Rodriguez for Her, Lovely (2005) with its gossamer layers is supported by a base of luscious musks and woody amber. While Narciso Rodriguez intersperses its musky layers with the woody richness and caramelized sweetness that reveals a vanilla bean pod one moment and a handful of raw sugar crystals the next, Lovely leaves a creamy trail, soft and delicate. Laurent Le Guernec and Clement Gavarry of IFF worked closely with the actress Sarah Jessica Parker to create her first fragrance. Lovely has a spicy top accord, touched by a soft herbaceous verdancy and a muted glitter of citrus. The fruity note of apple sweetens the composition without lending a cloying touch. It is not an overly complex fragrance, and indeed it is not as rich and interesting as Narciso Rodriguez, however it is subtle and refined, like a comfortable silk slip. Wearing it is an effortless endeavour, yet unlike some skin scents, Lovely does not have a predictable persona. It hums softly, yet the melody is soothing. While Narciso Rodriguez is more assertive about its sensuality, Lovely hints at it gently. Lacking the immediate impact of Narciso Rodriguez, it may be less unusual, but at the same time an easier fragrance to wear.

Narciso Rodriguez EDT includes honey flower, solar musk, orange blossom, osmanthus, amberlyn, vanilla, tactile musk, tactile woods, vetiver. The EDP also features rose and peach, being more floral, with the accent on pink roses, than the original EDT, although it is admittedly less interesting. The EDP notes include pink chypre, pink floral, voluptuous woods, soft amber, sheer chypre, flower honey, tactile woods, amber light. Lovely features notes of mandarin, bergamot, rosewood, lavender, apple martini, patchouli, paper whites, orchid, cedar, white amber, musk and woods.

Narciso Rodriguez line might cause some confusion, therefore perhaps some clarifications are in order. There are three concentrations of Narciso Rodriguez for Her: the EDT packaged in black bottle, the EDP packaged in pink and the parfum in a rectangular clear vial with a dropper. There also exist versions called Musk for Her and Musk Oil, which are blends of musks, lacking the floral notes of the original.

Both Narciso Rodriguez for Her and Lovely are available from Nordstrom, Saks 5th Avenue, as well as a number of other retailers and online discounters.

Please see other reviews of musk dominated perfumes.



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