Previously, I've blogged about the uber-chic Italian design house Costume National, and the exquisitely crafted Scent Intense.
In 2007, Costume National celebrated 21 years in the biz, and to celebrate the milestone, they created 21 - a new, bewitching eau de parfum created for both men and women. I have been waiting for many months to try this, and was thrilled when a sample recently appeared in my mailbox.
CN fragrances to me, are like a sheep in wolf's clothing. Their minimalistic shiny flacons and stark, monochromatic advertising campaigns suggest that the scents themselves should follow suit: clean, linear, unembellished. But if the truth be known, 21 is yet another perfume in the CN portfolio that challenges this very notion. It contains 21 components that run the gamut from cold milk and fragrant saffron, through royal jelly and creamy tonka bean, to spicy cumin and smokey oud. Though there appears to be a striking diversity in its individual components, a rare sense of balance and harmony has been masterfully achieved. 21 intoxicates the senses and captures the imagination.
This scent opens with a crisp scattering of orange blossoms that are cushioned by a comforting lactic milk accord skimming just beneath the surface. It transitions rapidly into something warm and really rather profound... saffron, pepper, cashmere wood, musks and amber all lend their radiant heat to the mix. Curling wisps of labdanum and olibanum and oud contribute a balsamic richness... the effect here akin to something of a smoky tobacco accord. I can also detect dark earthy pits of patchouli (similar to Tom Ford's interpretation in White Patchouli) and bushels of fragrant vetiver. But there is also an ever-present softness - vanilla, sandalwood and smooth tonka bean that allow this scent to last for hours and hours on the skin. This being said, 21 is not a "sweet" scent by any stretch of the imagination; Ennio Capasa's perfume innovation is a clever marriage between white purity and veiled complexity. A fragrance that again epitomises the Costume National ideal of modern sophistication melding with timeless elegance.
I will definitely be adding 21 to my Christmas list this year, and dropping all the right hints in all the right places. Roll on December...!