Bruno Acampora wants to take you on a journey into the twin worlds of tuberose and jasmine where the waters run blue and the white flowers are almost green, drenched with a dewy freshness that drips onto their bitter stems. The Italian niche house is an interesting one, and I’d long heard about their famous Blu, a tuberose scent, as well as their Jasmin. (Officially, the fragrance is called “Jasmin T,” but I shall sometimes go by the simpler version that several retailers use.) What I hadn’t realised at the time was what an interesting chap Mr. Acampora was. He was part of the European jet-set, close friends with Gianni Versace and hung out with Andy Warhol at the latter’s Silver Factory. In fact, there is even an Andy Warhol print of Mr. Acampora.
A Fragrantica article from earlier this year provides more details. Apparently, Mr. Acampora founded his perfume house 40 years ago after advice from a “French sensualist” on the beaches of St. Tropez who told Mr. Acampora to create fragrances that embodied his jet-setting experiences from Rio and Cairo to the Saharan Desert, Kenya, Marrakesh, Venice, Capri, the Antilles, Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, India, China and Japan. In 1974, Bruno Acampora did precisely that, releasing several fragrances, including Blu and Jasmin, all in very concentrated essential oils.
Mr. Acampora is now deceased, but the company continues under his son, Brunello Acampora, who works alongside his wife, Sonia, to continue his father’s vision. To that end, in 2012, they released the classic scents in a new concentration: sprayable eau de parfums. It is those versions of Blu and Jasmin T which shall be the focus of this review. One reason why is that they are much more affordable, per ml, than the oils. Another is that the eau de parfums apparently hew closely to the scent of the originals.
First in Fragrance has an explanation (presumably from the company press release) that talks about the general character of the eau de parfums, and the years that it apparently took to make their scent “come as close as possible” to the oils:
The eau de parfum sprays offer a fundamental turning point in the evolution of Bruno Acampora Profumi. Each eau de parfum is a “diluted” form o the original oil, but has not lost any of the essence principals. In fact the eau de parfum brings out the excellence and purity of the fragrance. Long years of testing were required to guarantee a result that would come as close as possible to the olfactory experience already found with the pure essences.
Blu initially captured my interest because I’m passionately obsessed about tuberose, but I practically keeled over when I saw the liquid in the vial. As a general rule, I don’t care much about packaging, bottles, or appearances, because it is the smell of a fragrance that matters most to me. Still, I’m a bit of a sucker for pretty-coloured perfume liquid. That said, I’ve never seen anything like Blu before. My jaw hung agape, because it is the most beautiful, turquoise-azure colour imaginable. Simply stunning. I tried to capture its colour in a photo, but I can’t really do it proper justice, since it is much more of a bold, Moroccan turquoise than what the image presents. Still, I hope the photo gives you a rough idea of what is inside the bottles which are aluminium silver (in order to protect the liquid from heat or damage), thereby obscuring the gorgeous colour of the liquid.
That colour is intentional, as explained indirectly in the Acampora description. First in Fragrance has the text:
Tuberose is an aggressive and persistent flower, from which Bruno Acampora has extracted a unique blue dew. Whoever dares to wear an essence the colour of the sea of Capri, isn’t afraid of embracing sensations.
It’s a flowery essence built on the note of the persistent tuberose that soon fades into orange, sandalwood and ylang-ylang notes, contained in the heart and the base of the fragrance. Its blue complexion expresses the colours of Capri’s deep waters
The succinct list of notes is:
Tuberose, Orange, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang.
Blu opens on my skin with tuberose that is green, dewy, liquidy, and extremely bitter. It feels like the flower in budding form, more than one in bloom. The greenness is intense, as if the stems and leaves had been crushed, then dusted with a pinch of galbanum perhaps. There is a wisp of earthiness mixed in with mushrooms, just as if gardenia had been incorporated as well. It’s subtle and doesn’t last long, but it’s very noticeable in the first 10 minutes. I have to wonder if gardenias were used to amplify the greenness of the tuberose because its aroma is quite persistent in the mix at various stages.
As a whole, Blu is very clearly intended to be a tuberose plant that is presented from petal to stem, from top to bottom, but the opening is a little difficult for me. Something about Blu goes far beyond a watery freshness or a flower drenched in dew, and actually verges on the pungently bitter in its pronounced greenness. I keep thinking of the way you take tuberose stems out of the vase to cut the ends in order to prolong the flowers’ shelf-life. A day or so later, the water takes on a certain odor, as the dark leaves and bitter oils of the stem swirl out.
Here, during the first 30 minutes, Blu smells like that bitter, green, icy vase water on my skin. For reasons I don’t quite understand, the sweeter, more overtly floral aspects of the flower in bloom are almost completely hidden behind that greenness. You can sense it, beckoning with its heady, fleshy, narcotic qualities, but it lingers just out of reach like a ghost. It doesn’t help that the tuberose grows even crisper and cleaner in the opening hour, as if a synthetic white musk had been used and the flower’s indolic richness had been stripped away completely. It reminds me of a florist’s shop where the floral aromas swirl with the icy air conditioning and a certain brisk, liquidy cleanness.
The combined effect of all these elements is a tuberose that is much more bitter and green than that in Carnal Flower‘s opening hour, and a whole galaxy apart from the creamy, narcotic headiness of Moon Bloom. There is no point even trying to compare it to Fracas or Tubereuse Criminelle; this is a whole other sort of fragrance entirely. Yet, I do like green tuberoses generally, and this one has something slightly appealing about it after the first 20 minutes. The mushroom-gardenia note vanishes, a subtle woodiness stirs in the base, and there is a suggestion of something vaguely fruity amidst the bitterness.
The whole thing is very soft on my skin, both in terms of body and in sillage. Initially, I started with 2 good smears, or the equivalent of one spray from an actual bottle, but that only gave me 1 inch of projection right from the start. I was rather astounded, because Blu is strong up close in aroma. Sillage and weight are different things than bouquet, though. So I applied a greater quantity, ending up with 4 massive smears in total or roughly 2.5 sprays from a bottle. It added 1 more inch, so Blu now wafted 2 inches in total above my skin. Then, to my disbelief, the whole thing dropped down to 0.5 of an inch after a mere 30 minutes. Over the last few months, I’ve started to realize that the Italian style of perfumery generally seems to tend towards intimate sillage, but this was going too far, too soon for me, especially for an eau de parfum. I rarely have problems with sillage, especially not for the “Big White Flowers” genre of perfumery, so I find the whole thing to be disappointing and quite unimpressive.
In the midst of all this, Blu’s bouquet is slowly starting to change. Roughly 75 minutes in, the top notes lose their unpleasant bitterness and overwhelming greenness, while a suggestion of something creamy lurks deep in the base. From afar, the flowers feel more shapeless, almost verging on the abstract at times as a haze of “white-green florals.” They’re dewy, clean, and only vaguely redolent of tuberose. For whatever reason, there isn’t a truly distinct, clearly defined tuberose scent on my skin.
Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Blu feels practically translucent in body at this point, a sheer wisp that lacks the tuberose’s truly buttery, ripe, narcotic headiness. It doesn’t help that a mere 90 minutes into the perfume’s evolution, Blu turns into a skin scent on me. The bouquet is still strong and easy to detect up close, but only if I put my nose right on my arm.
Blu’s middle phase begins after about 2.25 hours, and the perfume finally begins to resemble a creamy, floral white flower. The tuberose is no longer a green bud, but is unfurling with petals that have a hint of sweetness. Yet, I would swear that there was a good dose of creamy gardenia mixed in as well. The whole thing lies atop a quasi-sandalwood base, though it does not smell like Mysore and is more generic in nature. Still, the soft, white woods have thickened the scent, and its body no longer feels translucent or gauzy. By the middle of the 4th hour, Blu is merely a creamy, woody, white floral that hints at being tuberose but sometimes feels more like gardenia.
The surprise lies in Blu’s drydown which begins at the start of the 6th hour. Suddenly, the perfume veers abruptly, and its focus is centered almost entirely on soft woods that are infused with vaguely fruity, orange-like sweetness. The whole thing is laced with slivers of cleanness and soapiness. Quickly, the orange takes shape, surges forward, and merges fully with the woods. In its final moments, Blu is nothing more than orange wood with an undercurrant of soapiness and clean musk. All in all, it lasted just a hair over 7 hours.
On Luckyscent, there is only one review for Blu, but it echoes some of my feelings about the bitter greenness of the start which the poster says is common to all the Acampora fragrances. (It certainly was true of my experience with Jasmin T, as you will soon see.) The review reads, for the most part:
After a few seconds of a peculiar accord common to all the Bruno Acampora’s I’ve tried ( Something like dill – a papery grade of galbanum, perhaps? ), Blu settles into a majestic tuberose that is one of the best in perfumery: the density of the Caron Tubereuse, that creaminess married to greenness and a pinch of orange that make this both rich and brilliantly summery. Unfortunately, after an hour, this fades to a perfectly presentable but not exactly magical tuberose accord that’s a bit of a let-down after those olfactory fireworks. Recommended for: tuberose lovers, and those seeking a perfect warm weather floral that won’t overwhelm.
On Fragrantica, people generally seem to like Blu. One person noticed the gardenia, while several comment on the ylang-ylang which wasn’t present at all on my skin. For one commentator, Blu had bold, massive sillage, but their comment specifically talks about a few drops of “oil,” so it’s clearly not about the EDP that is the subject of this review. In fact, I suspect that a few comments are about the oil; one woman says Blu was her wedding scent 8 years earlier, but the EDP only came out 2 years ago in 2012. Perhaps the concentrated oil is a much more powerful beast than what I experienced, but I noticed that the sillage and longevity votes tended towards the low end of the scale in both categories.
For me, Blu is a complete pass, but you should give it a sniff if you enjoy very fresh, crisp, tuberose fragrances that have no indolic fleshiness but a lot of greenness and cleanness, along with very intimate sillage.
Like Blu, Jasmin T originally debuted decades ago in an essential oil form, but was released in an eau de parfum concentration in 2012. First in Fragrance has the Acampora description:
A hot August evening, a childhood memory, pure golden honey. This is jasmine in its natural essence: fleeting, yet surprisingly intense and arousing.
All the contrasts that make jasmine so mesmerizing are here: delicate, but sensuous; soft, but intoxicating. This melts into the skin in the most exquisite way, leaving you with an enchanting jasmine-scented aura that lets you pass through the world like a tropical breeze.
The succinct list of notes is therefore:
Jasmine, Cyclamen, Cloves, Ylang Ylang.
Jasmin T (or “Jasmin” on a number of sites) opens on my skin with… tuberose! I’m baffled, but it’s green, bitter, liquidy tuberose just like that in Blu, complete with the scent of its crushed stems in water. The jasmine trails a few steps behind, smelling sweet, intoxicating, and fresh, instead of indolic, black, or mentholated.
Lurking behind the florals is a powerful wall of spiciness that has a bite which resembles red chili peppers or pimentos far more than the “cloves” mentioned in the note list. It’s fiery and sharp, with a touch of pepperiness about it. Within minutes, it grows stronger, pushing the jasmine aside, then kicking it to the sidelines almost entirely, as it vies with the bitter greenness for second place, behind the main tuberose note. Something synthetically clean weaves its way around the two, but I can’t tell if it is the “clove” or the woodiness that runs through the base. For the most part, Jasmin T feels like Blu, only with a powerful streak of fiery, peppered spiciness and a pinch of sweet jasmine. The same suggestion of gardenia lurks at the edges as well.
Jasmin is like Blu in a few other ways. Like its sibling, Jasmin had very little projection on me. Using 4 huge smears or about 2.5 sprays from an actual bottle, the perfume wafted about with willowy gauziness about 2.5 inches above my skin before soon dropping to a mere 0.5 inches after 40 minutes. Once again, it took only 90 minutes for the eau de parfum to turn into a skin scent on me.
Also like Blu, Jasmin begins to change character at the end of the first hour and the start of the 2nd. The jasmine returns from the sidelines, and the green bitterness weakens. The fiery spiciness had softened after 20 minutes, retreated to the edges at the 40-minute mark, but becomes a mere speck by the end of the first hour.
What is left is a tuberose-jasmine duet with both greenness, sweetness, and a lingering trace of watery freshness. Jasmin T remains that way until the middle of the 3rd hour when the flowers blur into a haze of indistinct “white flowers” that rest upon a spicy, woody base. A lot of the time, it feels as though tuberose is the main note, followed by gardenia, with the jasmine bringing up the rear far behind. Then, finally, at the start of the 5th hour, the namesake note catches up. Jasmin T is now a sweet, lightly honeyed jasmine scent, flecked with tuberose and clean musk. The latter grows stronger over time, and is joined by an occasional nuance of soapiness. In Jasmin’s final hours, it’s a mere blur of sweet jasmine with white musk. All in all, it lasted just under 8 hours.
On Fragrantica, there are 3 reviews for Jasmin, 2 positive and one negative. One chap had a fundamentally different experience than I did: he talks about a jasmine scent with a rose heart and dusty tobacco nuances (among other things), calls it a chypre in essence, and much more. His very long review feels like it is about another fragrance entirely. (Roses? Chypres?) You’re free to look it up, since I find it too inapposite from the general view to quote it.
At the other end of the spectrum is a woman who found Jasmin to be deeply unpleasant with a rotting, funereal aroma:
Jasmin smells like it is rotting, and whatever is rotting is not jasmine. Then for the rest of its development it smells like funeral bouquets of gladiolas ordered directly from the florist, and it brings back bad memories.
I can see how she smelled gladioli, and suspect it’s the cool, watery, green bitterness of the opening which created that impression. (It’s that whole florist vibe that I talked about with regard to the tuberose in Blu.)
The third review is useful in providing comparisons to other jasmine scents, even though it is about the oil version, not the EDP discussed here:
This oil does for jasmine what Yosh’s Sottile does for rose. It opens green and stemmy, indolic in a natural way. My nose does not detect the clove, but the combination of notes conjures up images of wild jasmine in a rustic vase more than a live bush. It’s ethereal and a little linear, which is expected given it’s a soliflore.This is not high pitched as A La Nuit nor is it fruity green as Love and Tears, I’d say it’s closer to MPG’s Jardin Blanc without the screechiness. This house has impressive creations, really well crafted and straightforward, which I appreciate a lot. Now they also come in spray cans for the mist spray crowd. A must sniff for any white floral aficionado. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
I really wonder if the press copy about the allegedly identical nature of the oil and eau de parfum concentrations is true. Serge Lutens‘ A La Nuit never once came to mind when I was wearing Jasmin. On me, that was a very intense, rich, “death by jasmine” scent, while the Acampora version feels like a non-turquoise version of Blu was somehow accidentally mixed into my Jasmin vial. (It wasn’t, as Jasmin’s colour was most definitely normal and quite watery pale.) There is nothing indolic about the scent on my skin, and no custardy, velvety ylang-ylang either.
Yet, A La Nuit, indoles, and ylang-ylang come up again in an old 2007 Now Smell This review for the oil version of Acampora’s Jasmin. Robin writes, in relevant part:
Jasmin starts out rich and strong, and more than a little indolic. At first I worried that it might be more jasmine than I can stand — it very nearly outdoes Serge Lutens A La Nuit in the buried-alive-in-flower-petals category. Just as I was beginning to question the wisdom of testing it in July, of all times, it started to settle. A bit of stemmy green arrives to temper the floral notes, and then the ylang both sweetens and mellows the jasmine without overpowering it.
It isn’t an overly complex fragrance, so that is pretty much the whole story. There is a little murmur of spice but I’d never have identified clove, and I’d guess there are other white florals in the blend as well, but it smells mostly of jasmine and ylang with the slightest hint of green. It is rich, but also very bright and clear (it is much brighter than A La Nuit). The lasting power is very good (although the ylang does eventually outlast the jasmine) and a little drop goes a very long way.
Perhaps it’s my skin, or perhaps the respective Jasmin and Blu eau de parfum versions are not quite as close to the essential oils as the company claims. Maybe it’s a little of both. All I know is both fragrances were nice and had some enjoyable bits, but didn’t bowl me over. (And that’s without considering the sillage problem.) Still, if you’re a fan of the Big White Flowers genre, I think both of them are worth a test sniff.
Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.