I’ll make a little admission. I sometimes go back and read the first reviews I did on Basenotes. I don’t think they are bad. They also show some of the things you can still see almost fifteen years later. As I began writing reviews the fashion designers all seemed to be discovering fragrance as part of their brand. I like to remind myself where they started too. For this month’s Discount Diamonds I go back to the beginning for Prada with Prada Amber pour Homme.
In 2006 Miuccia Prada wanted to get into perfume. She would start by releasing pairs of perfumes for each gender. The first effort was around amber at least that was what the label said. When it came to Amber pour Homme the dirty little secret was there was no amber. Perfumer Daniela Andrier began her long tenure as perfumer for Prada by throwing a curveball. This should have been called Myrrh pour Homme. Myrrh is one of those malleable resins which can seemingly be hammered into any shape. One which always surprises me is how it can be made to smell soapy. This is where Mme Andrier starts.
Right from the open the myrrh is there. When I say soapy it reminds me of scented dryer sheets. There is also cotton-like cloth under it. In the early going labdanum slides it in a sweeter direction. Geranium and vetiver pull it back with their greenness. It goes back to being slightly sweeter as orange blossom and sandalwood assert their presence.
Amber pour Homme has 14-16 hour longevitry and average sillage.
Because it has been around so long, I found it regularly in my rack store bins. It is also on most of the discount sites and stores. It is always within the price range to qualify for this column.
These first perfumes by Mme Andrier would begin to form what would recognizably become the Prada fragrance aesthetic. I have always thought of her as a classical designer of perfume. Revisiting the earliest effort at Prada reinforces that thinking.
Disclosure: This review is based on a bottle I purchased.
Sometimes the way a brand treats its perfumes completely baffles me. None is more perplexing to me than the way Prada treats its line of exclusives. Every other designer line you can name displays their exclusive line in ways which are as elaborate as the perfumes themselves. Not Prada, you have to know these exist to even have a hope of finding them. In the Prada flagship store in New York I go through this same ritual every time I want to find one. I walk into the store and tell them I’m interested in perfume. They direct me to the counter which is full of the mainstream bottles. I ask them for one of the exclusives and they very politely tell me they don’t have it. I equally politely ask them to look it up on their computer. They are surprised to find out they have this and it is in stock; in the back room. They go retrieve my bottle usually mentioning they didn’t know about these. I walk away shaking my head.
Since 2003 Miuccia Prada and perfumer Daniela Andrier have made one of the great experimental lines of perfume. The forerunner of Infusion D’Iris was the very first of these called simply Iris No. 1. Mme Andrier is one of our greatest perfumers because of her versatility and in this collection it is vividly on display. Last summer I repeated the ritual for the latest release Rossetto No. 14.
The concept of this line of exclusives is not necessarily to break new ground but to re-interpret existing fragrant forms. Rossetto No. 14’s task is that of the iris-scented lipstick. This is a study which has been done previously in perfume. It is a natural because for many, including me, the first smell of iris they ever encountered was the smell of their mother’s Coty lipstick. What Rossetto No. 14 does is to take that smell and update it to the super luxurious lipsticks being sold by the top luxury brands today. Even as a man I can see the depth to the newest lipsticks which look like the most upscale Chap-Stiks ever. Mme Andrier winks to that in the opening moments of Rossetto No. 14 but then she goes for the iris lipstick accord and it is beautiful.
The opening of Rossetto No. 14 is a breath of aldehydes of the hair spray variety reminding one you are at the vanity table surrounded by the appropriate accoutrements. The wink to more pedestrian lip balms comes with a flash of cherry followed by astringent violet leaves and baie rose. This is a fleeting phase as Rossetto No. 14 transitions rapidly right into the lipstick accord. Mme Andrier takes orris, rose, violet, and heliotrope to form the basis but it needs a catalyst. That ingredient which sparks the lipstick accord to life is raspberry. It is the moment of sheer genius within this perfume. As I detected the florals I was a bit disappointed but then the raspberry converts all of it into a lush lipstick accord. Mme Andrier places all of it on a vanilla and benzoin foundation which adds contrasting resinous sweetness to the lipstick. The final moments are a cocktail of musks as the lipstick has finally worn off.
Rossetto No. 14 has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Rossetto No. 14 is, as I mentioned, not a breakthrough lipstick evoking fragrance. It is a new interpretation of it. I find when I’m in the mood for it that Rossetto No. 14 scratches my itch without causing Oedipal issues. That is because Mme Andrier has tweaked it just enough to make it her own and to allow me to make my own memories with it.
Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.