Since this spring has turned out to be a bit cooler for a bit longer than usual in my area, I think it’s time to talk about heady perfumes… what’s usual in my area around this time is three or so days of “spring”, then bam! Pre-summer, not the most appropriate for these kind of scents. I don’t know about you, but even to stay at home, I will still smell like a prima donna, for its psychological benefits.
On the other hand, I know this really isn’t a time for splurging on the finer things in life, even if you’re still lucky to have spendable income for hobbies and happy things. So the two perfumes to be reviewed next are affordable, but unbeatable in terms of value for money, in my opinion.
Oud Noir by Mercadona
Scent-lovers who spend holidays in Spain may have heard of this one before. Not from Fragrantica, for sure, since though there’s a small section of Mercadona scents in that site, for whatever reason the last time I looked they hadn’t yet listed this ridiculously inexpensive EDP, which smells the way much more overblown, overpriced designer perfumes are supposed to smell like.
Anyway, for a bit of background, the fragrances from Mercadona typically draw “inspiration” (cough, cough) from other well-known and frequently high-priced brands. According to some reviews I’ve seen, this perfume would be comparable (within reason) to one in the Armani Privé line – I’m guessing that would be Oud Royal -, or Dolce Vita by Christian Dior. This is, of course, to be taken with a heavy sprinkling of salt, and since I don’t remember having tried either of these perfumes, I can’t say how accurate those impressions are.
While I’m at it, I also have to say that I’ve never really smelled authentic oud, and I have no reference as to how quality oud or agarwood is supposed to be. If you’re new to perfume nerdery, you may or may not know that a few grams of the raw material cost more than my car, and most of the production is destined to buyers in the Persian Gulf, where it’s sold for insanely high prices.
For this reason, a good portion of the perfumes listed as ouds (including very expensive and prestigious brands) are made with substitutes, some of which are better than others, and from what I know, these are also very expensive to produce. In any case, for those of us that aren’t accustomed to the scent of authentic oud, my understanding is that it’s quite startling at first, and not in a good way.
Anyway, I’m telling you all of this just to put into perspective how curious this perfume is. As I mentioned, I can’t really say how close this gets to a reasonably authentic oud perfume (I imagine that any similarities to the real thing are coincidental, for all the reasons noted). I can say, however, that this does not smell in the least animalic or like a 13-euro perfume from the supermarket. If I could put a mental picture to this perfume, I’d say it smells like: sitting in an Arabic courtyard by a cedarwood table at dusk, drinking spiced tea and eating a corne de gazelle. Only one, more would be too much sweet.
The first spray to me smells a little like orange flower and soft rose, with lots of cardamom (I love this), nutmeg and other spices… cinnamon maybe? I’m not sure of the last. Apparently in the note pyramid it also includes vanilla or tonka bean, but I don’t smell this as much; it does have a noticeably creamy and sweet touch, but just a touch, it’s not loud or cloying in the least. What I do smell is the woody base, cedar with a tinge of sandalwood. I can’t imagine wearing this during a Mediterranean summer, Oud Noir is more appropriate for autumn/winter, or for cooler spring and late summer evenings.
Would I buy again Oud Noir by Mercadona? It’s rare for me to repurchase perfumes after I run out, but for 12-13 euros I’m considering picking up another bottle, because I really love it, and I’m sure I’ll want to wear it again sometime after I finish mine. Probably best to hurry up before Mercadona decides to reformulate it, hike up the price, water down the quality, or all at once, as most brands end up doing. At this moment, my bottle still has plenty left, because 2-3 sprays are enough for almost a full day. It also projects strongly, so this is not one for overspraying.
To sum up, I’ve no doubt that this Oud Noir, dressed up in fancier packaging (or just take the cheap plastic golf ball cap, and put on one that’s a bit sleeker or something; the black matte glass cube bottle is nice enough IMO), and with an A-list celeb as the face of the perfume, could easily put to shame a good many designer scents that cost more than three times the price. This is a typically Oriental perfume, but not in an “unsubtle 30s film noir vamp” way: it’s enveloping and warm, but not shrill or sharp-edged. To me this deserves full five points.
Roberto Cavalli Eau de Parfum
This perfume from Roberto Cavalli caught my eye one day while browsing in a shop, which is odd, because usually this brand’s aesthetics give me the shivers. Still, even though to my eye a good chunk of the garments and accessories by Cavalli go from awful to goddamn ugly, this perfume was actually quite pretty, and the smaller 30 ml bottle was 20 euros, so into the basket it went.
Curiously enough, this perfume doesn’t really fit with the idea I have of its brand. The first spray reminds me of the typical powerhouse perfumes of the late 80s to early 90s, big white florals with resin and a dash of spice to zing it up.
Said like this, it seems like the perfume’s going to be rather heavy, but doesn’t really turn out that way: when it dries down it becomes smoother and feels like a springtime or autumn perfume, or for a cool summer evening. This is white flowers (a bit of a mix of orange flower and jasmine), benzoin and soft vanilla, and has a kind of soapy touch that, odd as that sounds, I really enjoy for balmier days. I suppose it could be worn in deep winter, but somehow it doesn’t “bloom” as much when it’s cold, I find.
For this price, this perfume isn’t so similar to so many others out there, probably because of its vintage vibe, decidedly unlike so much of what’s currently available out there in recent years (this perfume was launched in 2012). It has good longevity and projection: 2-3 sprays are enough. It’s true that by lunchtime it’s already very close to the skin and not as present; I do have to respray once if I want it to last longer.
So, if the previous perfume made me think of tea in an Arabic courtyard, Roberto Cavalli reminds me of seeing my mother get ready to go out when I was little, or when guests came for dinner at home: this scent is quite reminiscent of the type of heady, sophisticated perfumes that my mother and her friends would wear back then, and to no one’s surprise, she also likes this one a lot.
Note that I don’t mean to say with this that I think the perfume is old-fashioned, to me this is more like a modern-day approximation to that type of perfumes, not a verbatim transcript. Roberto Cavalli EDP hasn’t enamored me quite as much as the previous scent, but I do enjoy this a lot and personally I find it a joyful, comfortable scent, so this gets 4.5 points from me.
1 point: No! Never again, not even if you gave it to me, or even paid me to wear it.
2 points: I didn’t finish the container and it’s very unlikely I’d buy this again. It might work for you, but it does nothing for me.
3 points: Meh. I’ll use up my jar/tube, but I don’t think I’d buy again. It might work for you, but it doesn’t do much for me.
4 points: I like it. It’s nice and does its job. I might buy this again, if I find nothing I like better.
5 points: I love it! It does its job very well, I find it a pleasure to use, and it’s earned its place in my beauty routine.