Eau de Cologne Bergamotto Marino by Ferrè was launched in 2005 as an unisex fragrance, two years before the premature death of Italian designer Gianfranco Ferrè. The composition is signed by master perfumer Pierre Bourdon, the man behind scents such as Féminité du Bois (with Christopher Sheldrake), Cool Water by Davidoff or French Lover by Frédéric Malle.
One of the ideas behind this little-known perfume was to capture the scent of the fruits growing on the Ionian coast swept by the oceanic air and which thus become permeated with it, "Its fruits are imbued with scents carried by sea winds on the coast, toward the Strait of Messina."
In a way, we are witnessing here the encounter of the dark woody plum of Féminité du Bois with the marine accord of Cool Water. The scent feels "niche" in its olfactory signature. The packaging, which made me mistake it at first for a confidential, very limited work by Frédéric Malle, reinforces the feeling that what is cultivated here is a certain idea of urban sleekness and suavity which is often best represented in perfumery by the so-called niche sub-culture and codes. A perfume packaging which looks like a tome - Malle was famously inspired by the typographic codes of French publishing house Gallimard - can only suggest a fragrance that knows what it's about and gets to the point. One can expect it to smell essentialist and intellectual...
Ferrè Eau de Cologne is a restrained composition intertwining the modern marine and classic Eau de Cologne genres. While the figurative notes of seaside do play a role, the fragrance is very much about minimalist casual elegance and a sense of polished sensuality.
Notes are: blackcurrant, melon, bergamot / neroli, lily of the valley, Egyptian jasmine / ambergris, musk, moss, mahogany, seaweed.
Eau de Cologne Ferrè opens on a wonderfully dry, chilly, white cologne accord with a hint of oakmoss, which progressively takes on a darker fruity tonality when you smell your perfume up-close. From a more natural perspective - by this I mean when you just breathe in the air around you - it smells very fresh yet round, marine, with a mellow warmth which mimics the scent and feel of skin, but without going too obviously in the direction of the vacation cue given by Coppertone salycilates. The musks cocktail here is efficacious in creating a sensation of supple and clean skin while obliterating the vision of a soap. If the skin of the wearer is tanned, it's the scent of warm, seductive skin under a white shirt. The dressy feeling never leaves the scent.
The note which gives an impression of darkness is cassis or blackcurrant, and I must say that it is one of the most pleasant and elegant rendition of it. It is neither too fruity nor sweet; there are green and aromatic nuances, with a subtle juniper note appearing in the drydown evoking the dryness of Gin; the color of the blackcurrant accord seems to be that of a Crème de Cassis -- very dark and with a certain understated, almost subliminal syrupy thickness to it. The tart facet of cassis comes better into play later on and remains removed from any gourmand connotation. The scent at this point feels both pleasantly tangy and dry.
Faint soft leathery hints, blonde hay and mahogany wood reinforce the olfactory signs of elegance. Floral accents escape the scent, revealing its feminine side. Ambergris - a warm marine note - brings a solar, animalic and salty quality to the perfume while deepening it. The woods in the base notes are a bit dusty, a bit peppery, and centering.The seaweed is subtle like the scent of a dry wakame sushi wrap even evoking for me a hint of creamy white-rice scent.
While offering a streamlined personality, this woody, fruity and floral marine composition by Pierre Bourdon reveals discreet, delightful facets which keep it from becoming dull. The big-picture impression remains that of a sleek, both intellectual and sensual, urbane Eau de Cologne which never imposes its presence, but certainly signs it. It is a must-try for those, women and men, who relish to splash on with the traditional 18th century Acqua Mirabile recipe offered here with a very contemporary feel and a great sense of restraint.
Image: ©Marie-Helene Wagner / The Scented Salamander