Marni Eau de Parfum (2013): A Fragrance Designed in a Lower Key than the House Fashion {Perfume Review & Musings}


Marni eau de parfum is the debut perfume of a fashion label known for its originality and fondness in particular for unexpected remixes of patterns, textures and colors but also love of boldness and something which has been perhaps less stressed but which is revealed in this Marni scent, a taste for and an experience with fur fashion...

Perfumer Daniela Andrier of Givaudan is said to have re-worked a vintage formula - well 10 years old - that Consuelo Castiglioni had wanted to launch earlier. Apparently Castiglioni was ready to be forceful and offer more of a raw statement of a perfume, but professional fragrance developers at the Aramis division of the Estée Lauder cos. advised her to soften down the tone of the composition, with rose. The latter however was styled so as to remain in sync with the brand and reflect the smell of what is commonly called a "dark rose" accord. Otherwise, the preferred olfactory palette of the fashion designer is about spices and woods, and nothing sweet if possible. These personal preferences made the fragrance too masculine for the wider public, needing it to be recalibrated.


The result is an unisex leaning towards the feminine, an eclectic composition which zigs and zags with unpredictable shifts of accords. It very much and faithfully echoes the feel of Marni fashion. It is a niche-y fragrance in its stylings while perhaps being less intense and lasting than it could be ideally if launched in smaller batches. At press time, it reminds us of several threads of inspiration and yet, there is an elusive reference that we can't quite put our finger onto but which feels familiar. 


Marni opens on a peppery oud-y rose composition which is softened by delicate powdery aspects yet strengthened at the same time with less than shy animalic aspects. Next, there is - it feels this way at least - an almost complete change of scene thanks to the entrance of an iris note which turns the color and the atmosphere of the perfume which was dark and rosy to being satiny and mauve. All this while, the thread inaugurated in the opening pursues its course but by mingling yet retaining a scrimmage line - a bit like that point where a river touches the sea and there is this point of ambiguous contact between two kinds of waters, which might be signalled only by rippling or muddy waters.

A prominent note of cedarwood smelling like fresh pencil shavings comes to the fore of the composition next while the floral and now leathery notes mute themselves down, become vague, and Marni edp becomes more of a skin perfume evoking an alluring potpourri of nothings and everythings. Only a more substantial ambery base comes to bring renewed heft to the composition. Fresh, green accents surface but overall the perfume is characterized by animalic and spicy notes. As Marni developes further, an ozonic note, in total contrast with the spirit of animality takes off, surprising you once more. 


For olfactory reference, the fragrance made you think at first of the rose-oud accord in Portrait of a Lady by Frédéric Malle Editions de Parfum but it goes much beyond that point which might have served as a springboard for inspiration. The animalic, warm nuances made you think of a scent like L'Ombre Fauve by Parfumerie Générale. And now we are in an altogether different atmosphere still with the display of a fresh cedar-y rose accord going in the direction once smelled in Inis A Rose. But then incensey nuances enter once more opening the door to new sensations this time recalling Dune by Dior as a distant echo of a fresh oriental with incense swirling on a beach. Later it smells of chocolate and vanilla becoming gourmand a bit. The elusive, missing reference we are trying to search for might be, we think, Mythique by Parfums DelRae and/or Noir Epices by Editions de Parfums, or both. 

Marni edp is a variegated perfume composition, which feels "very composed". It is eclectic, versatile in its personality. It feels like a colorful mosaic, which of course reminds you of the fashionable Marni patterns. At the same time, the perfume seems to move with you like a very good material.

I note that for their debut perfume, Marni chose a dominant animalic note, which a fur specialist would not have rejected. After having written down this remark, I happen later on this titbit found on the Saks fifth Avenue site about Consuelo Castiglioni, the co-founder of Marni with her husband Gianni, "Gianni's father was the founder of Ciwifurs, one of Italy's biggest leather and fur companies. Consuelo designed for them a fur and leather collection with a new fur as fabric approach, it was an immediate success." There is something about this edp that reminds you of what one used to call "fur perfumes" when real fur was much more fashionable and fragrances to be worn on fur were developed by the likes of Weil. Marni uses a lot of furry texturing on their outfits, so it is not surprising that this proclivity was reflected in the fragrance. This year interestingly, there is a return to pretty raw animality in the perfumes of both Daniela Andrier and Christopher Sheldrake as both perfumers have laid an accent on that basic-instinct note like for Serge Lutens in La Fille de Berlin but also Chanel in 1932, Prada No.14 Rossetto and Marni EDP. 

Marni EDP is more illustrative of the house's fashion than that other work by Andrier, Untitled by Margiela, which stands more on its own as a perfumery oeuvre. It remains however a noteworthy fragrance albeit a bit unsatisfying where textural depth and prolonged longevity are concerned. At one level it is a remarkably mind-teasing composition in as much as it interprets the visuals of that fashion universe very well, on another level, it comes across as a watered-down version of a creative perfume.

To use a gustatory analogy, it reminds you of one of those foods sadly lacking in flavor that push you to dig deeper into your plate so as to go after an elusive sense of satisfaction. It is easy to repritz from Marni edp, but there is something in it that's lacking a bit. There is here a gnawing sense that we are smelling the discreet scent of blandness - a sense that we are stuck below the threshhold limit needed to really make a sensory impact - rather than restraint, or subtlety. We think that ultimately this impression might be due to a lack of enduring tension, which if it stays on can justify better subtle levels of olfactory tuning. 

Fragrance Notes: Bergamot, pepper, ginger, pink peppercorn, cardamom, rose, cinnamon bark, patchouli, incense, vetiver, cedarwood. 

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