Whenever I’ve traveled, I have a travel guide in hand. Before I get to my destination, I have the plan of what attractions to see. They’re mostly the famous ones, the usual suspects, the highlights. Creative director Alessandro Brun also must give perfume lovers the highlights of Milan in his new fragrance line Milano Fragranze. I look at the remaining four perfumes I didn’t cover yesterday: Basilica, Brera, La Prima, and Diurno. The first three are composed by Violaine Collas and the last by Julie Masse.
The churches of Milan are both historical and sacred. In Basilica Mme Collas leans more heavily on the latter. This is a classic church incense type of fragrance. It opens with herbal notes of thyme and rosemary wrapping themselves around the frankincense. Both sources of green roughen the smoothness of the resin. There are times incense feels like a silvery monolith. The herbs break that up a bit. It leads to a woody base of sandalwood and cedar. These represent the polished wood of the benches and the sturdiness of the rafters.
La Prima represents the singular highlight of Milan, the opera theater of La Scala. Even an opera dilettante like me had to visit. Sig. Brun envisioned a beautiful woman in the audience on an opening night. Mme Collas interpreted that as a woman who would wear a fragrance as smart as her clothing. This has an intricate interaction of ingredients especially in the early development. Cardamom, orange blossom, osmanthus, jasmine, and davana are the notes of the scale leading to an engaging aria. Each of those ingredients wax and wane in a delightful way for a long time. It comes to an end when a gentle animalic accord sweetened with vanilla signals the end.
The art galleries of Milan is another highlight. Brera imagines the dreamy concept of the paintings coming to life after closing. When you’re the first visitor of the morning the scent of their cavorting hangs in the air. This results in a powerful shaded rose from Mme Collas. She uses two sources to form an uber-rose effect. The glow of saffron and the heat of chili pepper adds some texture. Patchouli and labdanum provide some shadows among the rose petals.
Mrs. C is a mosaic artist and her desire to visit them has taken me to some fantastic, unexpected places. On our first trip to Milan one of her highlights was to visit Albergo Diurno Venezia. This was the Art Deco designed place to be treated to a bath in a private bathing room. There was also a barber shop to get a shave. As we walked through, I felt as if the Lost Generation echoed through the now dilapidated structure. Diurno is inspired by this place which is now being renovated.
Diurno is my favorite of this debut collection. The reason comes from the first second. Mme Masse has fashioned a brilliant amaretto accord. So many perfume versions are syrupy sweet almond. She remembers that amaretto translates to “a little bitter”. This almond doesn’t ooze it bites. Some sage sharpens that. Lavender and geranium offer a floral contrast without blunting the bitterness. A suite of green notes from balsam, vetiver, and moss adds a terpenic bitter harmonic to the amaretto.
Sig. Brun has put together a beautiful tour of Milan. All he asks is for you to follow your nose.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample set provided by Milano Fragranze.