A few weeks ago I reviewed Loewe Solo Mercurio. I was curious to see the impact of a new creative team upon the brand. At the time I mentioned it was going to take a few releases to see if the promise I perceived in that first effort would be borne out. My second opportunity has arrived with Loewe Paula’s Ibiza.
Nuria Cruelles Borrull
Loewe has always worked with an in-house perfumer. Ever since the calendar changed to years which begin with 2 it had been Emilio Valeros. There was a contiguous aesthetic through the nearly two decades of his fragrances. At the end of 2019 Nuria Cruelles Borrull took over the job. Solo Mercurio was her first release. I saw a perfumer who seemed to enjoy working in dualities. Forming accords of two ingredients looking for harmony or contrast. For Paula’s Ibiza it seems that has expanded as the accords seem to be trios this time around.
The name comes from a now-closed famous fashion store on the resort island of Ibiza called Paula’s. It was where you went to get your island style before you turned yourself over to the rhythm of the island. Creative director Jonathan Anderson and Sra. Cruelles Borrull spent summers of their youth on the island. It was important to them to get the smell along with the ambience right.
Sra Crulles Borrull moves away from the typical beach fragrance tropes of Calone, ozonic notes, and sand. This portrait of Ibiza is much more interesting for its variety. The top accord consists of galbanum and coconut water with just a pinch of mandarin. If you’re used to beachy perfumes being citrus and fresh air, this trends differently. The galbanum is given some sparkle through the manadarin. It is still a sharply green effect given a watery sheen via the coconut water. Using this ingredient instead of coconut adds in a bit of the muskiness of the copal with a less sweet version of coconut. With the galbanum it forms a unique holiday accord. The heart accord is a very desiccated sandalwood with lily and frangipani growing upon it. As if a large piece of driftwood had been beached long enough for the flowers to grow through the gaps. The scent of the ocean comes through a synthetic version of ambergris and patchouli with a small amount of vanilla. The ambergris gives the sense of the ocean as the patchouli provides the scent of the island. Vanilla adds in the sweet fun of being on vacation.
Paula’s Ibiza has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
I am impressed again at the way Sra. Cruelles Borrull is willing to work away from the common fragrance genres. She is showing an admirable degree of independence which bodes well for the future of the fragrance side of Loewe. Paula’s Ibiza is here to take you on an island trip without leaving home.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Loewe.
When perfume brands make big changes, I am always curious to see how it plays out. To be fair it takes a few releases to really know. To be unfair, as I will be here, I overanalyze the first release looking for differences that probably will not be true over the long term. Which is how I came to my sample of Loewe Solo Mercurio.
Loewe is a luxury leather brand from Spain. They got into the fragrance game back in 1972. The brand has gone through several fluctuating fortunes. One thing they did right was to name an in-house perfumer. Since the beginning of the 2000’s it has been Emilio Valeros. He oversaw one of the better eras of Loewe fragrance making. It got better when creative director Jonathan Anderson took charge in 2013. Mr. Anderson was a hands-on creative director for fragrance which resulted in a more cohesive aesthetic.
Nuria Cruelles Borrull
At the end of last year Loewe changed their in-house perfumer to Nuria Cruelles Borrull. This could define a new aesthetic for Loewe under Mr. Anderson’s guidance. Solo Mercurio was going to give me my first data point. Based on it I think Sra. Cruelles Borrull likes to create fragrance as dualities. It is certainly the way this perfume unfolds. It forms a nice give-and-take on my skin highlighting these differences.
Solo Mercurio opens on two contrasting accords a citrus one formed around tangerine and orange blossom. And a green one around geranium, fig leaf, and cardamom. Sitting in between as an arbiter is lavender. The tangerine has a fulsome citrus effect. The lavender uses its sweet floral nature to bring it closer. On the other side the lavender’s herbal nature summons the creamy fig leaf, breezy cardamom, and green floral geranium. Then over time as if the spear of lavender rotates each strand around itself until both are wrapped around it. This is a fantastic spring accord. It has some heft to it for the chilly mornings while feeling appropriate once things get warm in the afternoon. I liked all this but Sra. Cruelles Borrull sold me with a licorice tinted tobacco base that had me smiling. It gives a classy foundation to the overall accord that came before.
Solo Mercurio has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Based on a single perfume I am hopeful for Sra. Cruelles Borrull and Mr. Anderson to form a new team which takes Loewe to some interesting spaces. Solo Mercurio is a great beginning.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Loewe.
The difficulty of making perfume is not necessarily obvious. Every perfume brand and perfumer has ups and downs. Occasionally, though I receive a pair of new releases done under the same creative aegis but one is good and the other is not. As I compare back and forth I wonder why one is balanced while the other careens out of control. The latest set of perfumes to have me asking this question are Loewe 001 Woman and Loewe 001 Man.
Loewe is a luxury brand out of Madrid. It started in leather goods and branched out into fragrance in 1971 with L de Loewe. Over the ensuing forty years Loewe has had a fluctuating commitment to their perfume offerings. As we entered the new century things solidified in that regard as in-house perfumer Emilio Valeros was behind all the new releases. Sr. Valeros is still the perfumer but in 2013 the creative direction at Loewe changed as Jonathan Anderson took over. Mr. Anderson has taken an active stewardship of the brand. This would include the fragrance area. For Loewe 001 Woman and Loewe 001 Man he creatively directed Sr. Valeros’ efforts.
The press materials say both 001 versions are meant to evoke “The Morning After”. The press copy wants me to believe it is the dawning after passion. The perfumes say otherwise, both are such buttoned-down affairs it is difficult to see how they evoke any of the desired “spontaneity”. As perfumes they feel very engineered which works really well for 001 Woman and less so for 001 Man. 001 Man lurches from citrus to bland wood to clean musk. Sr. Valeros places each piece meticulously and it goes nowhere. The same meticulousness is also apparent in 001 Woman but in this case the pieces form something which has a sense of progression.
It starts with the same bergamot that 001 Man uses; but for 001 Woman baie rose is used to give it more character. This is then placed on an expansive jasmine bubble. The jasmine that Sr. Valeros uses has that cleaned-up quality with the indoles tamped down. Which if you’re truly going for a “morning after” vibe need to be turned up. What is here is an airy jasmine. It then evolves into a sweetly complex mix of sandalwood, vanilla, and amber.
Loewe 001 Woman has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Both 001 fragrances are a departure from the previous forty years of Loewe fragrances as those were much stronger in character. If there is an apparent fingerprint of Mr. Anderson it is that significant lightening up. In the case of 001 Man it doesn’t help. For 001 Woman it does set out a new direction for the brand which I would be excited to see built upon.
Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Loewe.