Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Natori Eau de Parfum by Josie Natori: fragrance review

There are few things more fundamental to a woman's confidence than the "just right" underwear and by that I mean proper fitting, excellent craftmanship and luxurious materials. It doesn't matter whether the clothes on top are fashion-conscious, whimsically bohemian or practical athletic-inspired gear, you only need to slip once into decent, quality underwear to never go back. In an exhibition of self-appreciation even in the most frugal of times, I prefer to invest in Aubade, Andres Sarda and Eres instead of other ~more evident~ outer garments, justifying the expense with the knowledge they put me in a good mood first thing in the morning.

The sensuality evoked by quality lingerie is not illogically compared to the feeling instigated by that category of fragrances which we call "snuggly" or "cashmere sweater" scents (like Bois des Iles, Barbara Bui Le Parfum and Rykiel Woman). Industriously ~and indeed fittingly~ lingerie designers have not been idle: From Barbara Bui to Fifi Chachnil all the way to the more bubble-gum sporting Victoria's Secret, major brands have expanded into smells to accompany their smalls.
So did Josie Natori (née Josefina Almeda Cruzhad in the Philippines), who has been creating lingerie, swimwear and women's fashions since 1977, creating a micrography of an empire that spans several upscale department stores in the US and at least 15 countries internationally.

The new release, Natori by Natori, is a floriental that although not innovative, or exceptional in any way, will win lots of people who will snuggle its ambery floral bouquet and purple-black bottle with a pleasure akin to putting on their favourite heavy-silk pajamas. Natori (the Japanese word for "highest artform" and a feminine name as well) has just launched, a fitting foil for the first evenings of autumn weaving their way through the raised blinds, creeping up on us unsuspecting with their crisp step.

The fragrance was created by perfumer Caroline Sabas of Givaudan. If Sabas's oeuvre (Fresh Cannabis Santal, JLo Miami Glow, Badgley Mischka Couture, Charles Jourdan Le Parfum) can be summed up it would transpire she goes for smooth compositions of modernised orientalia, like tapestries' motifs seen in densely-pixeled digital form.
In Natori this typical trait is immediately evident in a sparkling floriental that smells the way a devoré velvet would: smooth, with depth, yet surprising lightness of heft. Despite the advertorial on aldehydes, the impression is not the characteristic soapy-powdery effect of classic aldehydic fragrances, but instead what immediately fizzes off skin in a rather denser way is the plum. Its alliance with feminine flowers, out of focus, the silky musks (I hypothesize the new Cosmone being one) and the light amber notes (recalling the westernised impression of the latter middle-Eastern mix) makes it very wearable and exactly the kind of tactile scent which although you don't particularly notice all the time, you feel good wearing it.

As March from Perfume Posse wisely puts it: "Natori is the perfume equivalent of an expensive but very soft, flattering set of underthings that you’d wear as much for your own pleasure as anyone else’s." Personally I am a little disappointed at the lack of a certain "kick" at some step of the process: Natori develops lineary, with good lasting power and with a seamless progression in which one cannot discern any specific notes without tilting their head again and again and trying to catch them by force. Usually the latter is a trait of supreme technique, yet although technical merit is not lacking, I would have prefered it to exhibit the more shockingly feminine (and naughty) undercurrent of Une Fleur de Cassie by F.Malle incorporated into the standard dusky floriental bouquet. The way it is, Natori can be worn without blushing one iota, nor is it going to be especially chosen for grandes horizontales. Rather it's a go-to scent for women every day, like a boost of confidence they themselves are aware of. Nothing wrong with that, come to think of it.

The Natori flacon is a deep purplish black inspired by the lotus blossom, a flower imbued in symbolism in Eastern cultures, where poets have compared the blossom's furling leaves to female silhouettes coming out of their bath (There's something to be said about poets, flowers and women!). The cap is smooth like a river pebble. There is a small "window" on the body of the bottle, recalling the design of the inro-shaped Opium splash bottle, from which one can see the purplish shade emerge triumphant. Its purple colour recalls royal gowns but also the merging of opposites: like the primaries that conspire to create it, it possesses both cool and feisty vibrations.

Notes for Natori:
aldehydes, rose, plum, jasmine, ylang ylang, peony, musk, patchouli, amber.

Natori has just debuted as Eau de Parfum in the United States from Parlux Fragrances Inc. as a Saks exclusive (for the time being) with plans to incorporate it into a lifestyle line. Fifth Avenue Club members and Saks First participants will be invited to receive a deluxe ¼ ounce Eau de Parfum miniature in Limited Edition packaging.
The fragrance collection includes a 3.4 oz Eau de Parfum Spray ($110.00) and a 1.7 oz Eau de Parfum Spray ($80.00)

Please do not confuse the new Natori with the same-named discontinued fragrance by Avon from 1985.

Pic of Natori feather dress via and of bottle via Sniffapalooza Magazine


  1. E, just to say I'm glad you mentioned Eres, my favorite lingerie boutique.

  2. Delightful read, as usual. Thanks for the background, as well as the description. Sometimes nice, when done well, is just right.

    On a different note...oh, my, that dress...gorgeous.

  3. I tried this twice. It wasn't quite right on me, although I think it is a nicely done scent. Well worth trying. It was great on one or two of my sniffing partners, but I found it to be a bit synthetic and murky on me. I could have used a little more sparkle in the opening (I love an aldehyde lift) and a little more clarity as it developed. Maybe the ubiquitous patchouli note in the base is muddying it up for me?

  4. The presentation is lovely, especially the 'boite' for the body cream.

    I think it is well done, but an attenuated form of Opium, in many respects-
    With less possibility of polarizing folks .

    Unfortunately, the ability to polarize may often be the deal-breaker between the 'nice' and the 'great' ;-)

    I'll be happy to sniff it on someone else-
    But I think I'm set, LOL.

    Great review, darlin'.

  5. Oh, that dress!! What a perfect illustration. I'm loving the usual variety of responses to Natori. Some like me enjoy its plainness; others want more. And an interesing minority, not me, have complained about a plasticky note. What do you think, the musk?

    "a seamless progression in which one cannot discern any specific notes without tilting their head again and again and trying to catch them by force" -- that cracked me up.

    Thanks for the link!

  6. Anonymous17:07

    Hi E!

    I am glad to see you review Natori. I am one of the ones whose chemistry this perfume works with. I love it and I love it for the exact reason you stated: "Rather it's a go-to scent for women every day,"

    It is a great everyday kind of scent and this is the first one of those kinds that I am happy with.

    Even if the juice were terrible, I would buy it exclusively for the bottle. The bottle imo is quality artwork and that is rare nowadays.

    As for the scent, on my skin it has a very very light gourmand thing going on. I am not a big fan of aldehydes and I was surprised to read aldehydes in the notes because I can barel detect them.


  7. E,

    they do some exquisite designs which prove that beauty can be quite comfortable as well ;-)

  8. S,

    that dress is wonderful which is why I included it...makes one dream, eh?
    Yes, I predict this scent will do well sales-wise as it's so snuggly. Not innovative, but good smelling.

  9. M,

    I think your own taste runs to the more uplifted, powdery-soapy aldehydes with a touch of iridiscence, so it doesn't surprise me it didn't suit.

  10. I,

    like you say, it is indeed the polarizing which differentiates good from great. Ah well...I am sure many people will wear wonderfully, and you know, it's very much better made than many pop fruiti cocktails these days.

    Hadn't thought of it as an attenuanted Opium, what an intriguing thought! Thanks!!

  11. M,

    hi girl! Glad you chimmed in. The dress is something else, eh? (wish there was a way of getting this one, perhaps I will have one copied or something).

    I think this is a well-constructed scent, it has good lasting power, seems to warm up nicely and is a feel good thing. Is it a masterpiece? Well, probably not, if we apply objective criteria. But I wouldn't object to having people around me wearing it very often and I could sneak some spritzes myself from time to time. It's good.

    Luckily, I do not perceive a plastic note(perhaps the peony can be a little screechy sometimes) But I wouldn't believe it might come from the musks: they're very nicely made in Natori! There is a shimmering, smooth quality with no detergent overtones. Nice work.

  12. D,

    you are exactly the kind of person on which this sort of composition would be perfect! You suit snuggly scents and you seem to bring on their best aspects to the fore (the gourmand touch etc.)

    I find it well-made, like I said. It would be great if people ditched the tutti fruiti to opt for more of this kind of scents. (I'm hopeful)
    Didn't have the chance to see the presentation in person, but it does seem striking. It's certainly an upscale design meant to look impressive and mysterious. That and the new Epic by Amouage caught my eye flacon-wise, these days.


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