After Eau d'Italie and their watercolour rendering of the magnolia flower, Magnolia Romana, a formula that takes magnolias into a gouache approximation without their true oilier features visible, Magnolia Nobile by Aqua di Parma is another fresh take on the magnolia flower; like an unmade bed in black and white it fuses the contrapunto of cool and warm into sciaphobia, questioning our own gaze into seeing things that might not be there.
Magnolia as a note is proving to be very popular lately, if we consider recent launches: a new Helena Rubinsten fragrance fronted by Demi More, Wanted, the lovely Eau de Fleur de Magnolia by Kenzo (which we reviewed here), the "cologne florale" J'Adore L'Eau by Dior and Cristalle Eau Verte by Chanel.
In the last few years there seem to be big trends on certain perfume notes which take over and almost dominate the market: the year of iris flummoxed us with allusions to the Florentine rhizomes when the (respectable and often lovely) substitues concocted in a lab were playing hide-and-seek in the bottle; the from-top-to-bottom craziness for oud left many with the impression that the pathological secretion of the Aquillaria tree was indeed the source of the complex and medicinal smell in their fragrance (at those price points, not so!); the dominance of cleaned-up, de-moleculed patchouli has been harbouring a progeny of the hundreds into almost every new release to hit the market for some time now. It seemed magnolia couldn't escape for long...
Acqua di Parma was inspired by the ephemeral flower that can be smelled ‘in the gardens of elegant villas at Lake Como’ (in northern Italy).’ After the powdery-orange trail of Iris Nobile, Magnolia Nobile is woodsier, fresher and greener. A perfume of ‘elegant femininity intended for women who don’t need to attract attention.’
The natural magnolia blossom is a big waxy embrace of ginormous petals that seem to exude both a crystalline, lemony facet and more intimate, creamy jasmine-like effusions that can take a slightly tinfoil-like odour under some weather conditions to my nose. The treatment in Magnolia Nobile is following ~just like the bottle~ the one of iris in Iris Nobile of the same line, where the hesperidic top (especially in the lighter, more upbeat Eau de Toilette as opposed to the more chypre Eau de Parfum) is tieing the composition in style with the cologne genre that Aqua di Parma so effortlessly encapsulated in their classic Cologne. In Magnolia Nobile the lemony-green facets are pronounced at first, making it a zesty refreshing mix that cannot but provide an euphoric feeling, slightly sweet due to the floral essences, but there is also a familiar plummy-apricoty nuance which brings to mind popular mainstream releases which have been haunting the aisles of malls, restaurants and cinemas for a few years now. The woody musky base is also echoing in my ears like speakers in the car left on some news-relating channel in a sub-human frequency that can be felt more than heard.
In that regard the point of the construction of a "niche" fragrance along those lines (if a LVMH-owned company can be considered that) is eluding me. Magnolia Nobile is quite pleasant and does not become grandiloquent at any point which is a plus, but I cannot deny my disappointment with the familiarity with which it greets me when I expected a novel path that would bring me some Tarkovskian dream sequence. Maybe my expectations were too high. I am holding out for the next Nobile flower in the line before adding a companion to my Aqua di Parma Iris bottle.
Notes for Magnolia Nobile by Aqua di Parma:
Top: bergamot, lemon, citron, green notes
Heart: magnolia, jasmine, rose, tuberose
Base: sandalwood, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla
Available as Eau de Parfum in 100ml/3.4oz and 150ml/5oz at Neiman Marcus and select doors internationally.
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Photograph The Unmade Bed by Imogen Cunningham via personal.pblogs.gr. Ad pic via fashionindie.com