Il Profumo, a niche Italian perfume brand, has been around since the early-to mid 2000s, and was one of those less-hyped lines you could only find at Luckyscent. The original range was mostly focused on single notes (vanilla, patchouli, vetiver), but also included some interesting and weird creatures such as Encens Epice (discontinued) and Cafe Vert (a really fun blend of green citrus rinds and freshly roasted coffee beans, also a goner. I probably should have gotten a bottle). Since I first got to know Il Profumo in 2005 and 2006 the lines had some new releases that sadly didn't find an audience (such as Nuda, a sweet delectable musk, and Touaregh, a very spicy fougere). Il Profumo has gone through at least a couple reshuffling before the current rebranding that's inspired by the aesthetic of the Commedia dell’Arte, that mixes fantasy and baroque aesthetics. In reality, Il Profumo is focused on the pretty, in a style that's surprisingly light and airy, especially in comparison to some of the original creations. There are thirteen perfumes in the current line, and I have tested twelve. The cats might have stolen the sample of Aria di Mare, so I really should go look in Gemma's favorite hiding spots.
Musc Bleu. I remember it from the original range and it remained pretty, friendly, clean, and very soapy. I'm missing part of the fragrance, since I'm anosmic to some musks, and I can tell there's something lurking behind the laundry detergent, my nose just can't capture it. I seem to recall better longevity from the original Musc Bleu, but again, it might just be that I can't smell the late dry-down.
Pioggia Salata. Translated as "salty rain", this 2009 perfume is incredibly fascinating. I'm drawn and repulsed at the same time because of the ozonic notes. Pioggia Salata reminds me of a couple of days during my honeymoon when we went through the Italian northern East Coast (yes, Venice area) in pouring rain. The aromas of seaweed and astringent eucalyptus (that tree has always conjured a salty taste in my mouth) are very evocative to me. Can I wear this? No. But I like smelling Pioggia Salata.
Ginger. I think the former concentration of Il Profumo's Ginger was higher (it was part of the Osmo line), but there's nothing to complain about here. Ginger is equal parts spice and soap, quite perfumy, which I love, powdery, and has a touch of vintage. I'm also reminded of a ginger geranium we used to grow in the back yard and was fabulous in herbal iced tea during the summer. The change of concentration hasn't hurt Ginger one bit and it's incredibly potent. Definitely one of my favorites.
Black Dianthus. This 2013 perfume is incredibly interesting. You'd think that rhubarb, red berries, and cherry would make a silly little fruity nothing, but this is actually a spicy oriental, where carnation is at its pepperiest form, fortified by thick black licorice that darkens the red jam considerably. It's not girly, and as a matter of fact my first impression of Black Dianthus was that it has a masculine vibe. In any case, it's a very satisfying perfume.
Quai des Lices. I tried to use Google to translate the name of this 2014 perfume and got some weird head-scratching results (pun intended). Apparently, there's a square near the old harbor of Saint Tropez called Place des Lices where market days are held and the area still looks like part of a Brigitte Bardot or Romy Schneider movie set. What does it smell like? Not an old port. Quai des Lices starts almost fruity and sweet but develops into an herbal coniferous scent. It's more of a candle or a shower gel fragrance than a perfume, but a tobacco note keep things interesting in the late dry-down. It has definitely grown on me.
Volie Blanche. This 2014 release is an aquatic floral, too gauzy and light for my liking, but would make a nice summer scent for those who favor this beachy style. I simply don't.
Cortigiana (=courtesan). The name creates high expectations and I was not disappointed. Cortigiana opens boozy and plummy, which later turns into a juicy cherry note, Coupled with a powdery almond and some sweet vanilla you get a sexy femme confection that doesn't lose its sense of humor.
Patchouli Noir. I remember it from way back when, and it's still an excellent take on sweet earthy patchouli that has some bitterness and dust, a floor wax note, and a hint of the forest floor in the deepest and darkest part of the wood. Patchouli addicts will love it. The rest of the population will mutter something about dirty hippies.
Qoquelicot (=poppy flower). A very aquatic floral that I personally cannot stand. Notes of bamboo, wisteria, and melon fortified by so much calone I can smell the lab it came from. The dry-down is some kind of musk I cannot smell, so the whole thing gets truncated at some point and I'm only left with a vague queasiness.
Fleur de Bambou. I like the idea of bamboo perfumes. Weil has one that's very dry, crisp, and cheap online, and I've gone through a full bottle of the one by Acorelle that I used as linen spary and air freshener. Il Profumo's version is airier and more watery (lotus and water lily notes will do that), and I'm missing more of the dry crisp greenery bamboo can offer. It is a light and airy perfume with a florist shop opening that's rather appealing, but my skin makes it disintegrate which is a shame.
Chocolat. Il Profumo used to offer several chocolate perfumes. There was the Angel clone Chocolat Frais, the spicy dusty woody Chocolat Amer which I loved, and the honeyed tropical fruit coated in chocolate of Chocolat Bambola. Now we only have Chocolat, which is another fruit and chocolate bonbon kind of scent. Think of Missoni with the rotten element removed, and nothing but decadence remaining. Plum, honey, and a very smooth and rich chocolate poured over candied rose petals. Like many gormands it's a love-or-hate thing, and currently I'm in the love camp.
Vanille Bourbon. Like wearing a good vanilla extrait. It opens boozy and slightly masculine, melts into the skin to create a not-so-sweet warmth, before gaining the more floral facet we find in many vanilla perfumes (think Vanilia). It's pretty, straight-forward, and while personally I have several more interesting vanilla perfumes it's impossible to object to anything about Il Profumo's version.
This most recent incarnation of Il Profumo ($110, 50ml a bottle or $165 for the 100ml) is available from Osswaldnyc.com. The samples for this review were sent from Osswald.
Photo of model Lily Cole by Miles Aldridge, Vogue Italia, February 2005.