Orto Parisi is the new brainchild of Nasomatto‘s Alessandro Gualtieri who founded the theoretically separate, unrelated house in 2014. Boccanera and Stercus are part of the 5-piece collection, all of which follow Mr. Gualtieri’s manifesto to create over-sized, strong scents that represent “parts of our body,” as well as how our animalic side has been repressed by civilisation. I’ll look briefly at each of them in turn with a more generalised summation than my usual in-depth analysis.
Boccanera is a pure parfum that was released without any notes. It was recently chosen as a finalist in the Independent Category for the 2015 Art & Olfaction Awards. I’m surprised, to say the least, because Boccanera trods very (very) well-worn territory. In fact, it’s a complete riff on Mr. Gaultieri’s own Black Afgano for his Nasomatto line, only with a heavy dusting of cocoa in the opening phase and a heightened quantity of industrial-strength aromachemicals.
As noted earlier, Boccanera comes with no notes and Orto Parisi offers no description for the scent on its website. However, First in Fragrance has a small blurb that seems to quote the company’s press copy. It states: “Boccanera means ‘dark mouth’ in Italian. Nature offers dark holes that express sensuality in an erotic dark way.”
Boccanera opens on my skin with a plummy, smoky, sweet, spicy, and resinous bouquet that is essentially a clone of Black Afgano with one difference: it’s blanketed by barely sweetened cocoa. There was no such note in Black Afgano. There are other differences, too. Boccanera initially feels as though it skews more towards the patchouli and tobacco side than the leatheriness of Black Afgano. The plumminess and root beer cola elements are dialed down a hair, too. The fragrance also has slivers of greenness that evoke the sense of young, green shoots or, perhaps, an almost creamy bamboo sap. It’s a delicate note, though, and one that is quickly overpowered by the other elements. As a whole, Boccanera’s opening bouquet feels softer and less resinous or smoky than its Nasomatto sibling. For some reason, a fluffy but rich chocolate-woody tiramisu comes to mind, thanks to the unsweetened, almost dusty quality of the cocoa. In comparison, Black Afgano’s density would be more akin to an almost solid Devil Food’s cake with leathered plums and cherry cola.
The chocolate vanishes after 90 minutes on my skin, leaving a scent with even fewer differences from Black Afgano and one that is primarily an animalic, smoky, woody fragrance. It feels as though it were made from pure Norlimbanol, along with other industrial-strength aromachemicals like Kephalis, and something that smells like a very unpleasant version of cade mixed with heavy cypriol (nagarmotha) to create a fake oud vibe. The fragrance is starting to waft medicinal, antiseptic, and acetone nail varnish undertones to go with the out-sized smokiness and the arid, desiccated woods. In addition, the scent has turned muskily animalic, only it’s not a smoothly luxurious skankiness but a synthetic one. Honestly, I couldn’t bear the chemical cocktail, as it inflamed my throat and made the back of it seize up, in addition to giving me a migraine. I tried to last as long as I could to see if Boccanera developed any substantial differences from Black Afgano, but it hadn’t after 6 hours, so I scrubbed it off.
On Fragrantica, there are numerous comments noting the extreme similarity of Boccanera to Black Afgano. “Deadidol” wrote a long review that sums up many of my feelings, calling the Orto Parisi line “either poor remixes of BA or horrifyingly loud chemical slop buckets.” Now, from what I’ve read of Deadidol’s reviews in the past, he’s not someone who has an aromachemical issue and he hasn’t hated fragrances that I’ve found to be excessively harsh. So when HE calls these ones “horrifyingly loud chemical slop buckets,” it says something. Other parts of his review read as follows:
Like the other scents in the line, this is brazenly powerful and quite chemical smelling (although I suspect there’s cocoa absolute at work), yet it’s enjoyable for what it is—a wonky, countercultural stinky dessert type thing.
Overall, I’d say that it’s very busy, but I’d hesitate to call it “complex” as I don’t find it to be that articulate. The base is the standard Nasomatto base that he’s done over and over—synthetic ebanol-style sandalwood bomb that’s shaded by the usual woodyamber chemicals he overdoses for insane longevity. And yes, this one lasts far too long as the result.
In general, this line was a real let down—low-brow Nasomatto remixes for the most part. But they do have some clumsy charm to them, and I can see them being a big hit for the right person. But for my money, Slumberhouse’s Ore does the dry cocoa and musk thing so much better than this. Boccanera isn’t the most offensive scent in the line (I think that award would go to Bergamask), but it doesn’t feel like an appealing perfume either. To me, Orto Parisi is kind of like the comic book version of perfumery—loud, gaudy, a tad juvenile perhaps, with “kapow!” and “blam!” explosive lettering grafted onto it. The line pummels you in every aesthetic sense, and Boccanera really isn’t any different in that regard. If you hated Black Afgano (and many people do), don’t even bother getting anywhere close to this one.
He’s right about everything. I’ve only tried two fragrances from Orto Parisi, but both of them are precisely as he’s described the line in general. However, I’ll go further than to simply echo his comment that you should avoid Boccanera if you hated Black Afgano: I think Boccanera is an utterly revolting fragrance that amplifies the difficult parts of Black Afgano to an overpowering degree. If the chocolate lasted long enough in a significant, distinct, truly substantial way on my skin, then maybe the differences would be greater between the two scents. But it doesn’t last, though. What’s left is a smokier, louder, woodier, more animalic take on Black Afgano with less of the plummy molasses that was an enjoyable part of that scent and less resinous warmth. There is no finesse whatsoever.
I simply don’t see the point of it at all. If you like Black Afgano, stick to that one. Why would you have the need for a more imbalanced, less pleasant clone?
Stercus is an extrait de parfum that was released in 2014. As with Boccanera, the note list is not given. One thing that is very clear, though, is that the name means “feces” in Latin. It is clearly intentional, given Alessandro Gualtieri’s “Manifesto” for Orto Parisi:
The parts of the body that carry more smell are those where more soul is collected.
The strong smells have become unpleasant to us, because the excess of soul is intolerable to the extent that our innate animalism is repressed and breaking from civilization.
This project is my garden I have planted, fertilized, cultivated, and harvested.
Stercus opens on my skin exactly like the Hard Leather version of Black Afgano. It smells as though the LM Parfum fragrance had been poured over a thin layer of Black Afgano to create, essentially, the musky, animalic version of Black Afgano. There are differences, though. Stercus is strongly chemical in a way that Hard Leather never is; it’s thinner in feel in the opening 30 minutes; it has no boozy rum, and none of the true, real, Mysore sandalwood that appears later on in Hard Leather’s development. Stercus is also not finely balanced, and doesn’t smell luxuriously opulent. Nevertheless, it has every other part of Hard Leather’s opening bouquet, only this one is smokier and mingled with streaks of Black Afgano’s plumminess.
Stercus shifts quickly, taking on other nuances that weaken the Hard Leather and Black Afgano resemblance. 10 minutes in, slivers of greenish, bamboo-like creaminess appear, similar to the ones in Boccanera. It might possibly be sandalwood of some sort, perhaps the Ebanol synthetic mentioned by Deadidol in his comments about the general line, but it’s too indistinct here for me to tell. Whatever the source, it diffuses the earthier, muskier qualities of the scent to a degree, leaving the woods as more of a focal point. Yet, the musky animalics never actually leave. What happens instead is that Stercus starts to feel as though Mr. Gualtieri were attempting to recreate the various facets of authentic, Middle Eastern oud wood, only in the general framework of Black Afgano and via the use of industrial-strength aromachemicals in addition to animalics.
There are other changes, too. 15 minutes in, the Black Afgano base begins to fade, though quiet vestiges of plummy spiced molasses linger. They weave in and out, sometimes quite noticeable, sometimes acting merely as an occasional, ghostly pop in the background. At the same time, the green (sandalwood?) creaminess takes on almost a floral quality, as though Stercus were an imbalanced, haphazard attempt to create a “floral woody musk” with a roaring animalic, musky side. That floral quality doesn’t last for long. For the most part, Stercus is merely a mix of creamy, musky, highly aromachemical, soft woods with smokiness, streaks of greenness, and an occasional plumminess. It’s a very strong scent, but it is airier and less dense in feel than Black Afgano or some of the Nasomattos. I wouldn’t say that Stercus has a billowy feel, per se, but it doesn’t have an opaque chewiness or sense of darkness.
Actually, it would all be quite nice were it not for the overwhelming nature of the chemicals. They’re not as extreme or potent as the ones in Boccanera, but that’s like saying the Hindenburg was less of a disaster than the Titanic. It’s highly relative. I think I actually would have preferred smelling the feces that some people on Fragrantica experienced, because Stercus killed my throat, finishing off the job that Boccanera began. I tried to last all the way through to the end of the fragrance’s development, but it was an exhausting struggle.
Like Boccanera, Stercus is a very linear scent and it didn’t change drastically over time. It merely became woodier, less animalic, and a touch sweeter, as well a bit fruity at times with an echo of Black Afgano’s cherries. The creaminess retreated to the background after 2 hours, and was replaced by a nice wallop of spicy, earthy patchouli with a touch of rosy fruitchouli. In essence, Stercus turned into a mix of Nasomatto’s Duro with Black Afgano, and it remained that way until the 6th hour when I finally gave up and scrubbed it off. The aromachemicals had gotten so strong, it bludgeoned my sense of smell to the point where I could no longer pick out any nuances amidst the spicy, woody, smoky haze. I will do a lot for a review and for the sake of thoroughness, but I’m not a complete masochist.
On Fragrantica, feelings about Stercus are slightly more positive than they were for Boccanera, relatively speaking. One person said not to judge a book by its cover or a fragrance by its (feces) name, writing: “This composition is very sultry and stunning.” Several people noted that Stercus is softer than other Nasomatto fragrances, with one person adding that it is “much lighter and easier to wear with a almost fresh yet deep smell.” Then again, others think Stercus has the brand’s signature forcefulness and sillage. For example, “Estebanz” whose gushing, adoring review calls Stercus a “monster” scent and reads, in part, as follows:
a real monster, I’m just blown away by this creature, this is just mind blowing spectacular. […][¶] Sweet, seductive, animalic, woodsy, fruity, creamy, dreamy, unique, Luxurious and ultra powerful. [¶] Not for the faint of heart. [¶] Finally a fragrance that can Stand on my shelves next to Xerjoff Oud Stars Al-Khatt in terms of Potency, quality and uniqueness. [Spacing between commas added by me for formatting reasons.]
“Houdini4” loved Stercus as well, but he ultimately didn’t find it different enough from other Nasomatto scents:
Unsurprisingly this too has the resinous, woody, oud accord of Black afgano perhaps with a hint of the spicy wood from Duro and magic from Pardon? [¶] A well and truly trodden pathe then, some might say trampled but I say…I love it! […][¶] I think if you had Black Afgano and Pardon, Duro etc…would you really need this? I suspect not. [Emphasis to names added by me.]
Finally, on the other side of the table, there is “Deadidol” who thought Stercus was an “obnoxiously loud wall-of-chemicals.” Instead of the “animalic insanity” that he had hoped for and anticipated, what he found instead was:
a slight modification of Boccanera’s main structure—which itself is lifted directly from Black Afgano. In other words, this is Black Afgano minus the smokey parts and with maybe a touch more synth oud and some castoreum. […] The usual Gualtieri moves are played: insane volume; zero dynamics; massive compression; and it becomes the sickly base that he uses in many of his scents (psychotic levels of ebanol, bacdanol, sandalrome etc.). Furthermore, it gets progressively sweeter and sweeter over time. Although I quite enjoy Black Afgano for what it is (even though I can only handle it once in a blue moon), these stripped down remixes (Stercus and Bocanero, most shamelessly) aren’t offering anything new, and Black Afgano does it better. So, all in all, this is an obnoxiously loud wall-of-chemicals that, while raising concerns about nuance and taste, does serve its purpose as a blisteringly loud synth amber. But what’s most disappointing is that, given the name and the kind of filth that might have produced, this could have been so much more interesting than what it is.
I feel as though I should say the usual comment about how you should try the two fragrances if you’re a diehard Nasomatto fan. You probably should. Don’t expect much, but maybe you’ll enjoy Stercus. (At least that one doesn’t feel like a flanker fragrance or badly copied, imbalanced dupe with a mere cocoa addition like Boccanera.) Personally, I would suggest trying LM Parfums Hard Leather for a better, more balanced, more luxurious, smoother take on animalics, woods, leather, and smoke. It may lack the patchouli aspect of Stercus, but then you can just spray Hard Leather onto Nasomatto’s Duro, if you own that one already.
The bottom-line, though, is that none of these fragrances are distinctive, and both of them were disappointing. Putting aside the issue of the aromachemicals, I’m really quite irritated by the laziness, and perhaps even more so by the obnoxious marketing hype. Orto Parisi arrived with fanfare, as Mr. Gualtieri loudly announced “Nasomatto is dead! Orto Parisi is born!” When you make a bold statement like that and you present your new brand as something different, complete with a “manifesto” declaring ostensibly edgy rawness and bodily stink in what are supposed to be unique compositions, then I really don’t expect you to lazily serve up flankers of your greatest hits. Boccanera and Stercus are not only a total pass for me, but the brand is so disappointing and so painfully aromachemical that I see no reason to bother testing the rest of them.
Can’t say a good thing about any of them. Or the previous line for that matter. There was a brief infatuation with Narcotic Venus, but after a while it became completely synthetic. I’ve found that they all open with a boom and die young. I had high hopes for Stercus but it was essentially the cocoa tree where the dog had its ‘thing’ but not in a good way! 😉
Ouch, you got the feces/poop?! I know you’re not alone in that, so I’m glad I just got some light barnyard. So Stercus had the same cocoa note on your skin as Boccanera. Interesting. The one thing that surprises me is you finding that the Nasomatto line dies young, because, Lordie, they’re famous for their longevity. It’s all those super-charged synthetics. Even on my skin, something like Black Afgano can last for an eon. I’m sure if I had let Boccanera go, it would have endured a good 15 hours at least. The thought of going through that was simply too much.
I got the poop alright. And I also had Bergamusc on so it was a citrusy poop! Nothing beats that! I had to shower, scrub, and re-calibrate with a good dose of vtg Shalimar!
I find myself wondering whether, in another generation, perfumes will retain any natural elements at all. I have no objection to aromachemicals as such, and appreciate the increased longevity that they can offer, but when bottles full of them are sold at high prices as fine perfumes, I shake my head. What could the materials cost per bottle be? Maybe a dollar or two? So I will stick with Hard Leather, which has its aromachemicals but is also well-balanced and lovely and has that exquisite Mysore floating through.
I think aromachemicals need to be used with a fine hand, even more so the super-charged, extra potent industrial ones like the sort used here. When a fragrance smells more of chemicals than anything else, the balance is out of whack. Being “bold” and “strong,” as Gualtieri wants to be, doesn’t mean having to pile on the synthetics and nothing *but* — ESPECIALLY when the fragrance isn’t cheap to begin with. These ones are, as that Fragrantica chap put it so well, “horrifyingly loud chemical slop buckets,” so yeah, their price does become an issue.
As you noted, what could the cost of the various materials really be? I know how much The Perfumer’s Apprentice sells things like Norlimbanol and it’s hardly anything. A large 80 ml bottle costs only $36, and a little of that stuff goes a long, long, long way because usually only 1% or 2% is needed to be diluted out. Buying en masse for large-scale perfume production lowers the price of the bottle even more. Bottom-line, imbalanced, chemical perfumes at bad prices.
Or perhaps the real bottom line is, what’s the point? It’s not as if Nasomatto’s Black Afgano were discontinued. If one likes that sort of thing, why not go for the better version that was the original? Plus, selling what amounts to flankers or suspiciously close copies as though they were a revolutionary twist on “bold” animalic fragrances insults the intelligence of the educated niche perfumista, and the educated perfumista who knows Black Afgano is the precise sort of person who would buy or be interested in Orto Parisi in the first place. Taking all those things into account, I find the line to be just plain irritating and somewhat obnoxious.
Now that’s clearly a case of “thank you for testing them, so I don’t have to…”
And it’s also a clear case of “I feel so sorry for you that you had to test them…”
They sound really scary to me !
Haha at the twin “clear cases.” 😀 😀 Yes, definitely better me than you. From what I know of your tastes, I think Stercus would put you off wearing perfume for at least a week. 😉
Having read some reviews, I had decided not to sample any of this line and now I’m really glad I didn’t. Yikes!
I really don’t think either of these would suit your tastes, Tara. So, wise decision.
Aw, now I feel badly for wishing you’d go back to writing about loathsome scents so I don’t have new material desires!!
How you managed to wear either for as long as you did (once again) amazes me!! You deserve a medal.
I’ve quite respected the reviews from “Deadidol” on Basenotes. He also tends to review (and like) much of what I enjoy.
Someone somewhere gave Stercus a great review, and I was curious about this line. Well, now I’m not. And really, I’m tired of these over-the-top marketing/high concepts and truly lowbrow scents. It’s *so* old to “scare the horses.” Isn’t the 1970’s over yet?
Sigh. Please excuse my fragmented ramblings. . .it’s been a hard day. Now, I will go find a beautiful perfume to put on. Isn’t perfume supposed to be beautiful? Really. I think it is.
*I* think perfume is supposed to be beautiful, too, or at least enjoyable, but we all define that differently and some enjoy more challenging scents. Let’s just say that I think these are a little *too* challenging in the wrong way for my tastes and, I have no doubt, for yours as well.
BTW, it was after experiencing these two fragrances that I lost all tolerance to put up with the other 4 fragrances this weekend. The sad thing is, neither Boccanera and Stercus are the Orto Parisi fragrance that is considered the most chemically synthetic or unpleasant of the line. That would seem to be Bergamusk, by many accounts.
As for Deadidol, I greatly respect his reviews, too. We may not always share the same opinion on a particular scent (particularly a few in the Imaginary Authors line), but he writes detailed, thoughtful reviews that are more informative and more knowledgeable about both perfumery and specific materials than many bloggers. In that regard, he’s one of several Basenoters whom I respect a lot, and whose opinions carry great weight with me.
I laughed about comparing the scents as the “Hindenburg was less of a disaster than the Titanic”. Seems to express your opinion so well!
The sad thing is, neither of these two fragrances is said to be as bad as a 3rd Orto Parisi fragrance called Bergamusk. I can only shudder to think what’s entailed there.
My finger hovered over the “Try a sample” button for Boccanera, Stercus and Brutus on Luckyscent last week when I was gathering samples. Thankfully intuition told me to pass by. Sorry you had go through the 6 hours for us K.
I’ve been smelling my Black Afgano & Hard Leather samples whilst reading this (sniffing coffee in between) . I’m afraid I love Hard Leather now, so much I want a bottle. :/ After testing Gulbadan last night I’ll stay away from anything remotely smelling like ..um…you know….Btw, when I saw the word “Stercus”, I had the words “Quercus” and “Quercia” in my head translating to oakmoss. Not sure why. lol
Luckyscent offered samples of Orto Parisi? Are you sure, Don? I hadn’t seen such an option and I have the impression that none of the retailers are offering samples either to comply with a brand request or because of the fragrance’s cost. It seems more likely to be the former because there wouldn’t be such a blanket approach on no samples, especially in light of how Orto Parisi itself comes out strongly against the issue of samples on its website.
As for Hard Leather, I’m so glad to hear it worked out for you and that you find it full-bottle worthy! You may want to check eBay in the future to see if decants or partial bottles are available. There aren’t any at the current time but the fragrance used to pop up there often.
Kafka, I must apologize and explain what happened. In my sampling frenzy and because Luckyscent was out of so many samples, my sleep deprived brain translated Parisi’s
request of not giving out samples
as simply temporarily out of samples. I am sorry for my unintentional confusion to you and anyone who read this. I swear I saw “I’ll take one”.
I’m embarrassed. :/ And today I’ve got snow falling! It won’t go away.
Anyway, 🙂 thanks for the information about partial bottles and/or decants. I have overwhelmed myself with too many FBWorthies. I need to be more discerning and critical.
I hadn’t looked at the company website yet. I was curious what they had to say about samples. Not offering samples seems par for the course. It’s not about whether a person “likes” a fragrance and decides to buy a bottle. From what I saw, this is conceptual art. One does not sample it.
The thing that bothers me here is that the photographs are gorgeous. I am not “against” the idea of subverting the norms of olfactory beauty. But, when uses marketing and high concepts alone to do so, instead of finding that sometimes gorgeous place where what’s simply stinky and off putting meets beauty – jolie laide? – well, it just feel lazy and obnoxious, imho. It’s the type of Art which causes some to like it simply because they’re afraid not to and others to think the Emperor has no clothes, once again. It’s tiresome, and then I think again of the truly good art direction and think, oh, what a waste. . .
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I find this educated review highly interesting, especially since I’m not in a position to discuss synthetic fragrance substances at all. But wearing Black Afgano for the first time today (which I like it, even though amongst others details it’s a tad too sweet for me) and about to try Boccanera tomorrow, I’d be interested in your view on Orto Parisi’s Viride, which I love to wear.
I’m afraid I haven’t tried Viride. The Orto Parisi line is a difficult one for me with its super-charged aromachemicals, but I know some people enjoy it quite a bit.
Really interesting, accurate and succesful review. You describe perfectly those fragrances. Curiously, I am another of those who suffer migraine with black afgano, and it’s a pain for me, because I loved that perfume (even knowing about how synthetic is), but also it’s a relief that I am not the only one who suffer that problem, because I started to think that maybe it would be my imagination. I would love to know what do you think about some of his more succesful and friendly offerings like Pardon or Baraonda. And of course the new Orto Parisi; Terroni. I think you can capture the fragrance like no one other on the fragrance community.
You’re very kind, Gonzalo, and I thank you most sincerely for your words on the reviews and blog.
You and I are definitely not the only ones who suffer from things like Norlimbanol or the various woody-ambers used in both Black Afgano and many of the Nasomatto/Orto Parisi lines. We are, however, in the distinct minority.
With regard to Baraonda, I didn’t review because that, too, gave me a splitting migraine. These days, I have much less willingness to suffer through the physical effect of my sensitivities merely to write a review. It’s just too difficult to go through the number of hours necessary to get a good sense of a fragrance, never mind the usual repeated testing that I typically do before I write a review. I’m less patient *and* less masochistic to go through the hours of migraines and everything else. I had expected a lot from Baraonda given everything I’d heard but, in the end, I just couldn’t handle the slew of pretty hardcore synthetics.
If I recall correctly, I thought Pardon had some nice parts but, once again, that one was too difficult for me to get through in a way that would really permit a review. As a general rule, I really do try to test things a number times when possible, smelling not only in-depth again and again for hours at a time but also testing several times in a row. Unfortunately, I think my sensitivities may have grown over the years and over the repeated exposure to the super-strong aromachemicals because I simply can’t go near the Nasomatto/Orto Parisi line any more. There are guys who just don’t mind this sort of stuff and/or can’t detect it at all, and I often wish I were one of them because my life would be so much easier as a reviewer. But bottom line, it’s highly unlikely that there will be any Orto Parisi or Nasomatto reviews in the future. I wish I could manage it, but I’m afraid I just can’t. 🙁
Thank you again for your kind words on the blog and the reviews. I hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to pop by again on occasion and/or not lurk in the future.
Oh! I didn´t think in the posibility of that illness could appear with Pardon and Baraonda too, I didn´t wear it properly yet, but I recommended you because that two seems to be more friendly and inoffensive. I´ll test them with patiance because If you can react to those chemicals maybe me too in the future. It´s really something surprisingly, because my reaction to Black Afgano is not a little thing. Anyway, is good to see I need to test them neatly, before I’ve bought them.
Another one that causes me reaction is Amouage – Interlude man. And the old Slumberhouse – Jeke, I don´t know if you’ll react to them.
It´s pleasure to share experiences, and I’ll tell you in the future if maybe any other of this brand causes me something strange. For the moment, only Black Afgano. I´m going to test soon the Orto Parisi whole line, included Terroni.