As summer sets in we all think of taking some vacation time. For many of us that choice is to head to our favorite, or nearest, beach. It is one of the reasons the whole aquatic genre of fragrance has been successful. It reminds us of being next to the ocean even when we are in our work-a-day world. Up until about a year and a half ago I was impatient with this style. It had grown insipid in its insistence on slavish imitation. Then something surprising happened as some of the independent perfume brands did a hostile takeover of the aquatic. They used the basic building blocks but began adding new ingredients. It was like they were looking for their own private beach to share with those in the know. As a result, I have a whole new grouping of aquatics to wear this upcoming summer. One of the latest additions is Carner Barcelona Costarela.
Costarela is the seventh release for Carner Barcelona. Owner and Creative Director Sara Carner took us on a trip of her hometown of Barcelona over the first five releases. Last year was the first release to travel somewhere else, Palo Santo, but it fit in with the overall brand aesthetic. Costarela is a marked departure from both place and style for the brand.
Sra. Carner worked with perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu on Costarela. One of the things which fueled my disdain for the previous generation of aquatics was they got the marine vibe right but they missed out on the beach. Sort of like a forest themed perfume focusing on the trees but missing out on the earth they grow in. In Costarela Mme Maisondieu brings the surf and the sand together.
Cotarela opens with a delightfully odd pairing to open an aquatic. Bergamot for its sunny qualities is a staple of the form. Saffron is not. Mme Maisondieu adds the saffron and it almost seems like it acts as sun spots against the sparkly brightness of the bergamot. This phase has surprising staying power. I expected it to move along but it hangs in for over an hour on my skin. Eventually the crashing waves draw my attention away from the sun. Here Mme Maisondieu’s marine accord imparts the combination of water and salty sea spray. Then the mineralic sand accord buttresses that familiar sea spray accord with a granularity of stoniness that completes the total beach accord. Like the top notes Costarela lingers here for a quite a long time. When it eventually progresses into the base it is a very dry woody accord of cedar and ambroxan.
Costarela has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I think Sra. Carner needed a beach vacation she could carry around with her. By designing Costarela I now also have a beach carry-all whenever I need to get in that relaxed state of mind.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Carner Barcelona at Esxence 2016.
First day of any of the big perfume expositions is a time for renewing friendships in fragrance. My day started out being introduced to a new aquatic perfume from Bruno Acampora called Azzurro di Capri. When it was presented to me I again had my skepticism of this genre front and center. What I found was a typical Mediterranean seaside opening but the drydown to a base of musk, patchouli, and amber is what elevated this above others within this style.
After surveying the layout of the fair I headed to the first panel of this year’s Esxence. Moderated by Professor Claus Noppeney of the Scent Culture Institute it was on the way perfume is judged and criticized. On the panel were Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison Managing Editor of Fragrantica, Saskia Wilson-Brown of The Art + Olfaction Awards, and Dr. Bodo Kubartz. Dr. Harrison eloquently described the personal connection bloggers provide via their writing. By giving regular readers that context it allows for the concept of perfume as an art form worthy of this kind of judgement. The flip side of that was explored with the idea of judgement as the end goal within the framework of awards. There, by necessity, for a fair judgement to take place as much of the context and surroundings of a perfume being assessed needs to be removed. It was a spirited discussion among the panelists making it a great way to start conversations that I would have for most of the rest of the day as I walked the show floor.
After the talk it was time to get back on to the hunt for new releases from some of my favorite brands.
I stopped in at Atelier des Ors and was presented with a sneak preview of their upcoming iris and musk release. This is a brand that has quickly developed a distinct aesthetic. What I smelled in its preliminary forms looks to me like this next release is going to be another winner.
I then stopped by to meet the team behind Coolife Carole Beaupre and Pauline Rochas. I am a big fan of the most recent release Le Quatrieme Parfum. Perfumer Yann Vasnier turned in a beautifully realized Oriental. For Le Cinquieme Parfum the communication chakra is represented, again by M. Vasnier, in a really vibrant and kinetic composition.
Of course the chemist was excited to stop by Nu_Be to try the latest elemental release Curium. I also found the name of the brand is also undergoing a change to One of Those. The brand name may change but the new perfume by perfumer Evelyne Boulanger is an extension of the Elemental series. Opening with a fantastic ambrette into a vetiver focused fragrance. It isn’t radioactive but it sure does glow.
As the day was drawing to a close I collapsed on a couch in front of Carner Barcelona. They saw my tired look and brought to me the new release from them, Costarela. Perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu added little twists to this classically constructed Mediterranean-style aquatic. The use of saffron along with the more typical bergamot in the opening is what revs things up for the eventual sea breeze and amber finish.
Day 1 opened and closed with two very different yet enjoyable interpretations of Mediterranean aquatics. For Day 2 I’ll start diving in to the new brands while catching up to some other new releases from established ones.