Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eau d'Italie- Magnolia Romana

Magnolia Romana, another Bertrand Duchaufour creation for Eau d'Italie is another proof for me that no matter how beautiful the composition and how perfect the execution, pale watery floral perfumes were not made for me. I can appreciate them, I can admire the clarity of some notes, I can adore the idea and vision. But I shouldn't wear them, because so much of the beauty and delicate work goes missing when my skin is involved.

I smell Magnolia Romana in the vial or on a test strip and there are all these colors- green, white, pale yellow and a hint of pink. The opening is bracing, the flower notes are sheer and bitter, like a blossom still on the tree. But when I wear this Eau d'Italie perfume it becomes hollow and wan. I don't know where the promised notes of cedar and hay go- they seem to have been washed away in the aquatic wave leaving nothing behind but a limp pale musk.

It's depressing, really, because I love the cleanliness and wearability of the magnolia note itself in Magnolia Romana. As much as I enjoy walking in my neighborhood on an early spring evening when magnolia trees are in bloom, I  know I can't wear anything like that without smelling incredibly dirty. I don't know enough about the molecules that come from a real magnolia, but there's a point during their bloom (at least the breed that grows here in the north) that is quite skanky and indolic. Smelling it on a balmy spring night when the entire spring and summer are still ahead and the promise of adventure is ripe and tempting makes me feel like a teenager again, and for once it's not in a bad way. But in this Eau d'Italie perfume, Bertrand Duchaufour managed to take the pretty parts and make them streamlined and elegant. There's a spa-like element, like high-end white lotus creams and potions. It hangs around the skin like a veil.  Magnolia Romana would make a wonderful summer perfume and a stunning bridal scent for someone with the right skin chemistry. I just wish I would actually enjoy wearing clean fresh scents.

Magnolia Romana by Eau d'Italie ($120, 100ml EDT) is available from Lafco in NYC and Luckyscent.

Photo by Romana Klee


  1. I've just found your blog, and have been reading your impressions of all the Guerlain perfumes, as they top my list of all-time faves. (I'm 66, and have been wearing Shalimar since I was 18 (or younger when I could swipe some of my grandmothers, so make that since the age of 4 or 5(?) I have of course worn tons of different perfumes by different houses since, but always go back to my Guerlains at some point. And, like you, I cannot wear the watery florals no matter how much I love them. Anyway, I have a question. One of my all-time favourite aromas is a large cornfield in the evening at the end of a long, hot day as the corn nears maturity. Do you know that aroma? If so, is there ANY perfume that uses that, or an accord resembling that? If not, I wonder why not. Anyway, I'm off to read some more of your blog now. Thanks.

  2. Hello, Non Blonde!
    Console yourself-you can wear every version of Shliimar, and there are not many people who can! I've been wearing Shalimar EDP all winter, and I love it. I also think that it has somehow contributed to being able to detect notes in other fragrances.

    Carolina, I think the Santa Maria Novella line has a hay perfume. I have not smelled it, but I know that their other scents have been spot on for me. Diptyque used to have a fresh mown hay candle-Foins Coupe-which smells exactly like what you described.

    Have a good day, and thank you for the beautiful blog,


  3. Carol, I DO already have some scents that incorporate hay aromas, but those are totally different than ripe corn as it's tasseling out in the heat of late summer. It also isn't exactly what I'd call a 'gourmand' aroma, as it really doesn't smell like 'food', but maybe it would be classified as that. Who knows? I just know it is an amazingly beautiful aroma. It brings back a LOT of 'sense memories'...the feel of the summer heat, the cicadias 'singing', the bitter-sweet knowledge that summer will soon be over, etc. But, I loved that aroma long before I associated it with any memories at all. It does, of course, bring back my childhood memories full force.

  4. Carolina,

    It sounds like you have something very specific in mind-I hope you find it! I have not smelt what you have so evocatively described, but your descriptions are amazing!


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