Something I hope has become obvious is that I have a great appreciation for mainstream perfume when done well. Not every fragrance has to push boundaries. There must be a place for a well-constructed perfume which builds on a popular style in the conversation. I found myself in a bit of a quandary when a new niche release built upon a foundation from one of the most popular mainstream perfumes. It is particularly difficult for me when I think the mainstream perfume was a cynically conceived effort. Especially when I like the niche release while recognizing from whence it came. Parfums de Marly Percival has more than enough differences from Bleu de Chanel for me to acknowledge the comparison while admiring the new iteration.
There is a desire for a style of perfume that can be the single perfume on a man’s dresser. Something good for the workday and the weekend. That is the kind of perfume Percival is. What sets it apart from its mainstream counterparts is at every turn there is more depth and complexity. Creative director Julien Sprecher collaborates with perfumer Hamid Merati-Kashani continuing their successful partnership begun with Layton and Layton Exclusif. In writing about both of those previous releases I detected an effort towards refining crowd pleasing trends into something more niche-like. That kind of thinking appears to be in place for Percival.
At its most basic Percival is a fresh fougere. Except M. Sprecher encouraged M. Merati-Kashani to find the nooks and crannies within that style to place different notes and accords. These add texture and depth. It is what sets Percival apart.
Percival opens with an herbal citrus top accord. The citrus are the bright sunny notes often encountered but the array of herbal notes provide the kind of effect I was speaking of above. This transitions into a floral heart of violet and lavender. These are combined to form another typical masculine floral duo. M. Merati-Kashani then dusts them with the spices of baie rose, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper, and nutmeg. I could tritely say he is butching up the florals. Instead I will refer to what I see throughout Percival as a way of finding depth without changing the intent. The use of the spices does create a vibrancy to the heart. In the base M. Merati-Kashani has built a gorgeous accord of synthetic woods and musks. He has seemingly used four or five of each to create one of those drydowns to die for. All these ingredients in the base last days on a strip or clothing. When I was sitting at my desk while testing Percival I kept returning to the strips I had sprayed days ago just to revisit. When I did my laundry and got to the shirt I wore one of the days I considered not washing it. I have a special place for perfumes with outstanding drydowns and Percival is there.
Percival has 16-18 hour longevity on skin and days on clothing. It also has above average sillage.
It is because the drydown is so neglected these days I would like Percival just for that. There is more to admire than that. Percival takes something that I perceive in its mainstream inspiration as cynical and transforms it into something fantastic. If Percival was the one perfume most men had on their dresser this would be a better smelling world.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample from Parfums de Marly.