Prada No. 14 Rossetto (2013): O Ambergris! {Perfume Short Review}


Photo©The Scented Salamander

My first impression of No.14 Rossetto by Prada is that it feels familiar; but I can't quite put my finger on what it recalls for me exactly. The principal motif of the fragrance inspiration is meant to be the scent of lipstick. My representations however hover between the sticky, lush raspberry heart of a French Pierrot Lollipop and the smell of hair lacquer. More precisely still, I'm brought back to a scene from my childhood in Paris, and even more precisely to a bathroom you accessed by going down a short flight of steps. It was my best friend's bathroom and her mother was a devotee and regular user of Elnett Hair Spray whose smell permeated the atmosphere of that room...

The fragrance's distinctive feature at first is that it feels warm and enveloping like a maternal hug and a familiar childhood memory. The composition projects incredible atmospheric warmth. You could imagine a hair dryer blowing nearby. 

Little by little, it becomes more of a rose perfume but with unconventional metallic accents and smells of a blusher. The perfume feels both like a cosmetic odor and a woody rose. There are hints of well-used makeup pans, finely sifted face powder, perhaps even a remembrance of Coty airspun face powder, only with raspberry. 

The sense of the familiar is present throughout although it remains elusive, moving - as in a moving target - but always, always warm, and I would add, always maternal. It feels as if you were snuggling inside the nook of the neck of your mother and inhaling all the beautiful smells associated with her beauty routine. This is not just a flat, literalist copy of a retro lipstick smell, it is the recapturing of a precious moment - we can imagine at bedtime - of a mother kissing her child and offering her or him at the same time the olfactory and body-warmth mark of her feminine presence. The composition then becomes moving in its capacity to stir half-forgotten emotions in you.

This is a very delicate, minimalist perfume. Accompagnying the rose-violet accord are nuances of wintergreen, cypress, and ambergris, which combined, exercise their pull on you. Wintergreen evokes Christmas. Ambergris has this once upon a time well-known milky-maternal facet - like sandalwood - which can make it be a very emotive note {See Ambre Gris by Balmain for some descriptions of the smell}. The rose and the vanilla here evoke somehow, strawberry and vanilla swirl ice-cream bought at the Jardin du Luxembourg for me, albeit very chicly and dicreetly.

As the fragrance "roars" more on the skin after reapplying it more generously, I am reminded of the ambergris concerto that is contained within Zibeline by Weil, a fur perfume of yesteryear, but also recall Ambre et Diamant Noir by Ambregris, a modern old-school perfume exclusively sold at the Ritz Hotel today. 

Finally I understand better the charm of this perfume: Rossetto is to some extent a lipstick-y perfume, but more importantly it showcases a mythical material of perfumery, ambergris, recapturing its magnificent, classical personality and its incredible power of seduction, maternal and otherwise. If you wanted to smell the perfume of a mother who is still capable of seduction, this is it.

When you come to think of it, it might be a great perfume to have nearby to remind you from time to time that you never need to retire as a seductress, nor does your mother, or your wife, yet still remain a mother. Ambergris was such a smell, once much more common. Here perfumer Daniela Andrier has recaptured its retro-nostalgic, nurturing-motherly and seductive-erotic impact, all at once.  

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