Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Costume National 21

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...!


Divina said...

Really??? This sounds absolutely yummy! I've never tried the CN perfumes: Whenever I visit a shop that carries them there's other way more interesting stuff to spray and the CN bottles just look so ... boring to me, so unappealing, I've never felt inclined to pick them up. But this review! I'm definitely going to try this one now :)

Dimitri:THE REDOLENT ONE said...

Divina, the bottles are very understated, with lines echoing the sloping shoulders and curving back of a fashion model... but the juice inside really ought to be explored. Take a little time to get to know them all next time you stumble across them in your travels! :)

waftbyCarol said...

This does sond great , I didn't care for the original .
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Dusan said...

You make 21 sound absolutely amazing! Should I order this unsniffed (no CN here in Serbia)? So far I've been lucky with unsniffed purchases, plus I really can't see this going wrong :)
Hvala na sjajnom opisu, D! ;-)

Dimitri:THE REDOLENT ONE said...

Dusane, molim, nema na cemu... i drago mi je da ti je interesantno! ;)
I'm not a big fan of blind purchases myself, but I did enjoy this scent a lot. Certainly it might be wise to order a sample first if possible, as CN scents are quite edgy and unusual.

Robbie said...

I'm wearing 21 today - it emanates a pulsing, addictive scent all day long that keeps you smiling. Dimitri, Santa absolutely needs to bring you a big ol' bottle of it!

Dusan said...

I think I'll take your advice and order a sample first. Lovely though it may be, it IS a bit pricey for an unsniffed buy *ahem, says the proud owner of Fumerie Turque and Chergui*
Btw, are you planning a visit to these parts any time soon? Wouldn't it be fun to meet up and go a-sniffing together? :)

Dimitri:THE REDOLENT ONE said...

Robbie, Im pleased you too have an appreciation for the radiant nature of 21. Enjoy (and, if you happen upon one... do put in a good word with one of Santa's elves for me) ;)

Dusane, I am almost 100% certain I will be coming to Belgrade next year (perhaps easter). I would be delighted to join you on a sniffing tour of the city. I do enjoy visiting all the perfumeries in Knez Mihailova and surrounds. Its a truly wonderful city!