Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile (2009): Slow Magnolia {Perfume Review}


Magnolia Nobile eau de parfum which came out last fall, is the latest opus in the series of Le Nobili collection by Italian niche brand Acqua di Parma, which is dedicated to celebrating each time a single flower seen as an "...emblematic flower, a sophisticated and elegant expression of the Acqua di Parma lifestyle." After Iris Nobile edt in 2004 followed by an edp version in 2006, Magnolia Nobile centers on a floral accord inspired by the Magnolia Grandi Flora species taking inspiration from "a truly noble and majestic flower that reigns over some of the most prestigious gardens of historic villas that line the shore of Lake Como." The fragrance is signed by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu of Givaudan.

Notes: Calabrian bergamot, lemon, citron, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, tuberose, patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla from Madagascar. 

The perfume opens on a woody-floral impression with fruity, citrusy and even camphoraceous overtones (the tuberose); there are nuances of citronella and lychee. The warm yet not-too-heavy body of the fragrance can be felt readily as well with its blend of amber and creamy white vanilla. To an American nose, the citronella nuance is easily reminiscent of a garden or patio summer candle meant to repel mosquitoes; perfumer Antoine Maisondieu once confessed to an immoderate love for bergamot when talking about Eau de Jade by Armani which explained to me why I find sometimes his citrusy top notes to be rather overdosed (see Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection.) As the ensuing stages in the fragrance show, it can be seen to be in-character with the summery atmosphere of the perfume....

The beginning of the scent is not strikingly original, but what follows pulsates more with life - in particular that of the life of the magnolia - albeit suggesting a rhythm of life which is as active as the energy you need to spend to watch - not too intently - the sun set on a river, or lake as it were.

The development of Magnolia Nobile is slow and lazy like a calm river. It reminds you that "Nobile" means slow walking for those who are conscious of their status. If it were not for the mustardy-radish nuances of the slightly abrasive Bulgarian rose essence in the scent, one would just let oneself fall asleep.  

A very delicate softness follows suggesting the creamy petals of magnolia. There is a very slow, nonchalantly unfolding and lovely-to-pungent rose-geranium accord which evoke the scene in which an elegant woman dressed in white is sitting on a terrace in a patrician mansion during the summer. It makes me think of movies by Nikita Mikhalkov where the hours in the summer are idled away endlessly by striking up fantastical existential conversations with members of a vast household as in Burnt by the Sun. It makes me think also of the inaugural traveling in another Mikhalkov movie, A Few days in the Life of Oblomov, showing everyone sleeping from masters to peasants to animals.

Don't ask me why, but somehow, this scent makes me decidedly think of the representations of pre-Soviet era Russian aristocracy in those movies that make you feel like rare families were living an idyllic, unrealistic moment suspended in time before the storm of the revolution swept them away.

The deliberate slowness of the development allied with the softness of the magnolia accord - with some effects of citronella and cut grass in the background - is profoundly evocative of farniente, of the leisure class, of seldom-bruised, unburnished hands and large shady capelines belonging to those who have enough time to feel weighed down by it. It is a perfume which contains a certain stillness within it and evokes the hours at dusk by a river, or lake Como as it were. Perhaps it is the influence of the inspiration of the still waters of the lake which imbues the scent with this sense of quietness. 

I am not even sure that I appreciate the perfume notes per se in this fragrance, nor even its composition. But I find myself receptive to a certain sense of time and pace of life it captures, although I have to say that the creaminess of the magnolia petal here is rather languorously seductive.

The perfume slowly dies away while you watch the wake of a boat leaving in the distance on Lake Como.  

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