Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Maria Candida Gentile Hanbury: fragrance review

The mouillettes by Maria Candida Gentile have been lying on my desk for several weeks now, aromatizing the air with their delicious mélange, making me nostalgise about the mystical splendor of wintertime Venice. They all speak in mellifluous voices that you really want to follow into the echoing cobblestone alleyways, over the silent canals. Hanbury, arguably the most immediately feminine among the niche line, presented with no sex barriers, exudes the uniques of Calycanthus praecox, one of the few flowers in blossom during winter time in the North of Italy. (Indeed its other name Chimonanthus literally means "winter flower" in Greek)

Honeyed, rich, with an intimacy that is reminiscent of early childhood games discovering one's sensuality, due to mimosa's sweet muskiness, it nevertheless stands a little apart from both other calycanthus fragrances (Santa Maria Novella, Acca Kappa) or cassie ones (Une Fleur de Cassie, Farnesiana). Hanbury is its own thing, a staggering vista of a Mediterranean garden; sweetly citrusy on top, lushly floral and nectarous in the heart, wonderfully understated and elegant in its base.

The name of the fragrance derives from The Hanbury Villa in the northern Italy city of Ventimiglia, which lies by the blue sea that has seen pirates and sailors crossing it for millenia. As if it smiled through it all, its garden grows beautiful mimosas that scatter the landscape with yellow pop-pops of joy at the drawing of each winter into spring. The charming Dorothy Hanbury still gathers the flowers for precious essences production.

Signora Gentile uses a very high ratio of natural essences as a perfumer, no doubt thanks to her Grasse training which coaxes perfumers into appreciating the palette of superb materials produced there. These are vibrant, quality materials which bring on what the human nose can only recognize as richness, opulence, lushness and this is evident in her whole line, from the balmy woody amber of Sideris, to the spicy decadent rose of Cinabre all the way to the light-hearted vagabond heart with leathery nuances of Barry Linton, inspired by Thakeray's character. These fragrances shimmer and present rounded, masterful portraits, as if lighted from within.

The intensely femme blend of Hanbury, poised on mimosa and calycanthus, is taking honeyed facets, with a sprinkling of sweet hesperidic top notes and a tiny caramelic note, softly balsamic, kept in check by the deliriously happy, clean essence of neroli. Hanbury keeps the floral element into a lightly musky sostenuto, which persists for a very long time on the skin; almost as long as a Med garden is in bloom.

Notes for Maria Candida Gentile Hanbury:
top: lime, bitter orange and orange
middle: mimosa and white honey
base: musk and benzoin

M.C.G. besides her fine fragrances sold at her online shop is the creator of some really exclusive and rare fragrances. Among them the Pinede des Princes for princess Caroline of Monaco; the La Posta Vecchia signature fragrance for one of the oldest and most acclaimed hotels in Italy; Satine, a custom blend for the yacht of Tarak Ben Ammar (first president of free Tunisia) and a custom fragrance for the Eco del Mare resort.

pic via


  1. kathleen16:04

    I would love to try Hanbury but the price for shipping is 25 euros, and she requires a purchase of 2 or more items, before she will ship.

  2. K,

    good point!
    My understanding is that she uses courier services, not regular post, and these do cost a lot, especially overseas (I'm in Europe and close by, so things are easier). The purchase of 2 or more products is probably common sense on her part to justify the cost of shipping.
    But I hope she sees your comment and devises some way to make up for the frustration of the inquisitive perfume buyer.

  3. annemariec22:31

    And for me in Australia I would have to buy four products and the shipping would be 50 Euros. So that is a no from me. I'm disappointed. Hanbury sounds lovely! Thanks for your review.

  4. AM,

    it's a pity (had no idea it was so much) as ALL her fragrances that I have tried are very much worthy of sampling and wearing. They're quality products.
    I will definitely make it a point to the company first chance I get!

  5. You mention that this fragrance has mimosa as a middle note. Growing up in the Southern East Coast of America, Mimosa trees were so fragrant, and great for little climbers. But mimosa is a name for many plants. The one I am familiar with is mimosa pudica. Is this the same genus?

  6. N,

    pudica eh? I always considered acacia dealbata or pycnantha the emblematic mimosas of Australia. Of course I mainly stayed in the south-east and haven't got an extensive knowledge of the down under flora.
    In this perfume I think dealbata and farnesiana are used.

  7. Thanks Jennifer and thanks for stopping by!

  8. I'm in Ontario, Canada, and ordered three of the MCG scents in the small size. Coming by courier, they bypassed Customs so shipping was not an issue.
    These are SPECTACULAR fragrances. Each one of them unfolds in an extraordinary way. They are complex and subtle at the same time, obviously created by a true artist.
    Thanks for your excellent reviews and for leading me to Maria Candida Gentile. Now I have no choice but to order the rest of her fabulous line.

  9. That's extremely gratifying to know. Thanks for saying it and glad you enjoyed the reviews!

    Come back again :-)


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