New Zealand Perfume Guide: Going Mainstream

Mainstream perfume instead of niche perfume in New Zealand: no 19 chanel, narciso EdP Narciso Rodriguez, Un Jardin Apres la Mousson Hermes

New Zealand was actually not my first stop among the countries that I visited in the last three months but scrolling through my pictures of this beautiful country, I can’t but wonder again how difficult it was to find decent perfume over there. This is my slightly different perfume guide for all of you in New Zealand!

Before I arrived in Auckland, I consulted the fabulous Basenotes forum for some niche perfumery recommendations and was surprised to see that there were barely any. People commented on how expensive and hard to get perfume was in New Zealand and after travelling the Northern and Southern Island, I come to the sad conclusion that they were right: New Zealand is pretty much a niche perfume desert.

Now what to do when you are a perfume lover and living or staying in New Zealand? You can either despair and cry in silence or find some good alternatives among the mainstream brands which is what I did. I say, get yourself to the nearest Farmer’s and give these beauties a sniff:

Narciso Rodriguez Narciso EdP

I must have slept when NR introduced Narciso EdP (white square bottle) in 2014. I’m a fan of their For Her EdT but didn’t pay much attention to any of their other releases and completely missed out on the small hype about Narciso.

Here is the thing: Narciso smells like marshmallows. Or rather, like sexy intelligent marshmallows. This sounds weird but the scent is actually a nicely composed crowdpleaser that keeps the right balance between gourmand, office appropriate musk and some light floral notes. Imagine the slightly sweet vanillic smell of marshmallows together with Narciso Rodriguez’ signature musk (the first step on the ladder to the dirty adult musks out there) and just a hint of clean gardenia mixed in. That is Narciso EdP.

Narciso is no little girl’s marshmallow scent as it is musky enough for making a statement and luckily far away from the dreadful washing powder musks that keep flooding the market. While the staying power is great, the sillage is medium and not overpowering which makes Narciso a perfect office scent.
Narciso EdP has two younger siblings with the Eau de Toilette (black square bottle) being quite unmemorable and the Poudrée (nude square bottle) being a sweeter, more floral and powdery summer version. I was reminded of sun lotion when I smelled it and think it is just as nice as the original but for different occasions.

Narciso was composed by Aurelien Guichard, notes include:

White gardenia, rose, musk, vetiver, black and white cedarwood

Chanel No 19 Poudré

I admit that I was amongst the snobs who dismissed No 19 Poudré right after its launch in 2011. I mean, No 19 is cult, it’s beasty and green and a real Chanel, being aloof and comfortable at the same time. No modern version of No 19 could ever come close to this. And No 19 Poudré doesn’t. It is nice and polite which I found utterly disappointing when I first smelled it. Fast forward six years and No 19 Poudré is still nice and polite but not as bad as I remember it.

All difficult edges of the original No 19 have been removed, there is no harsh galbanum and no dry leather, the Poudré is basically a more creamy, powdery and transparent version to the original. It is like its ghost version, lying somewhere between No 19 and Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, just lighter and sweeter.

Does this sound bad? Wearing No 19’s name, it sure does. I still think that No 19 Poudré should get its own new name as every comparison with its mother will only make it stand in a bad light but let’s try to forget about the name and heritage for a minute: the scent is actually good. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to wear a green scent that is easy enough for just any occasion, not as dry and straightforward as Infusion d’Iris and not as grassy and woody as Ormonde Woman. Just a creamy green iris scent that gets sweeter with time on skin and which has just enough polite Chanel-esque to please the young and the old (if only you ignore the name).

No 19 Poudré was created by Jacques Polge, its notes are:

Mandarin, neroli, iris, jasmine, galbanum, vetiver, hyacinth, musk and Tonka bean.

Hermes Un Jardin Apres la Mousson

This is one of my former favourites. I once owned a bottle and used every single drop of it during one summer, then it got autumn and Un Jardin Apres la Mousson was forgotten for the next years. When I now saw the beautiful blue green bottle on the shelf, I gave it a go and was surprised to find that it is still calling my name.

I might be alone in my admiration for Apres la Mousson (together with The Smelly Vagabond) as the scent is often named the least popular among the Jardin series. Maybe the reason for this is that people expected something similar in style to the usual Hermes / Jean Claude Ellena release. Personally, I always considered Ellena’s creation too thin and lacking soul. I know, that is a hard verdict and his perfumes are high quality and something like the olfactive equivalent to watercolour paintings in pastel colours but I have never been drawn to these sort of paintings either. It’s a matter of personal preference, I guess.

Anyway, Un Jardin Apres la Mousson is meant to represent a garden in India after the monsoon has washed over it and although I have never been to India, this is exactly what I smell. There is melon, ginger and cardamom, green leaves and a strange lush wetness (that is masterfully done and not the dreaded aquatic note used in many modern scents). Apres la Mousson is fresh but in an odd way, as if the hot and spicy air has mixed with the cooler rain, leaving behind the scent of a warm humid garden. I can’t help but be reminded of Ellena’s “Eau Chaud” L’Eau d’Hiver (for Frederic Malle) which also plays with warm and cool notes.

I am not sure why so many people are appalled by the melon note, Apres la Mousson is certainly no bubble gum scent and quite spicy and green – too green for some, I might mention, some people apparently smell overripe fruits and dirty vegetation. Maybe it’s all about skin chemistry but Apres la Mousson smells lovely on my skin, refreshing, deep and interesting, like the younger and well-travelled daughter of Le Parfum de Therese.

If you are in the mood for an odd but easy perfume that will remind you of gardens far away, Apres la Mousson is your best bet. Notes are:

Floral notes, cardamom, coriander, pepper, ginger, ginger flower, vetiver and vegetal notes.

Right, I hope you enjoyed this little guide and you will give some of the mainstream perfumes in your nearest department store a second look – there is more than niche out there!

What are your mainstream favourites?

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