Puckrik on Perfume

Mimi ON Jun 26, 2009 AT 12:24 pm

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Katie Puckrik: Photographer Martin Shaw

Narciso Rodriguez Essence
Katie Puckrik

I’m having a hard time understanding my essence. Or at least, Narciso Rodriguez’s Essence, which is his latest fragrance for women and one that I’m wearing as I write this. It’s sort of…nothing …and something…at the same time – not very convincing as a perfume review, I realise. Which is why I’m going to sit here and smell myself some more while I discuss the bottle.

The Essence bottle is stunning:  a sculptural glass flask that looks like it’s filled with quicksilver. The reflective surface undulates, practically forcing you to pick it up and play with it. In your hand, it’s coolly soothing, like a river-smoothed rock. Well done, industrial designer Ross Lovegrove!

So, about this Essence. When I first tried it at the store, it just smelled like really expensive soap – and nothing else. (Full disclosure: the whole “clean craze” in perfumes does nothing for me.) Later at home, able to focus without the cacophony of the perfume counter screaming for my nose’s attention, there was more to it. This time I smelled it as powdery, pale incense. I got excited, because as much as I hate soapy, I love incense, and I started to think Essence would make a nifty little stealth incense for when I didn’t need to smell like Vatican City.

Narciso Rodriguez Essence

Narciso Rodriguez Essence

I thought I had Essence straight in my mind’s nose, until I wore it again. This time, it was back to those sharply soapy aldehydes, the molecules that bullhorn “SPARKLING” out from a fragrance like the loud talker in a restaurant that you can’t ignore no matter hard you try. And wearing it now, I pick up on a rose, but a rose heavily processed from its original dirt-grown aliveness to a stained-glass version of itself: transparent and brittle. There’s a titch of woody iris to give blessed powdery shade from the…OMG here it comes again – fluorescent white musk which teeters between aggressively clean and sinus piercing.

If you read between the whines, I really do admire Essence, created by master perfumer Alberto Morillas (other hits include Marc Jacobs Daisy and Kenzo Flower). This eau de parfum is a skillful essay in assembling every shiny, steam-cleaned, Pure with a capital “P” note into what Narciso R calls “the smell of sunlight”. Good hygiene never smelled so pretty. But as for me, I really need to go smell some moonlight now.

Info and stockists:

When not sniffing up a storm, Katie Puckrik is a broadcaster, performer and journalist. Her memoir, Shooting From the Lip, is published by Headline.

Katie discusses another fragrance created by Essence’s perfumer Alberto Morillas, Marc Jacobs Daisy, on her YouTube channel, KatiePuckrikSmells:

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