Times Square, one of two new releases from Masque Milano, seeks to take you back to the cacophony, smells, and busy streets of New York City before Mayor Giuliani cleaned it up in the 1990s. Masque’s official scent description is one of the most unusual, unexpected, and humorous accounts that I’ve come across in terms of what a perfume brand promises to offer you if you try its fragrance. It bluntly and cheerfully talks about the city’s “stink” and its many, divergent “miasmas,” from the scent of cheap tobacco to the garbage on its streets and how the “cherry of the whore’s bloody-red lipstick melts with the strawberry of her chewing-gum.” Yet, if you “find your way through the crowd of bachelorettes waiting for the male-strip show,” [there… ] will be a flood of tuberose and carnation.”
Masque Milano‘s L’Attesa is the sort of fragrance that I could very much see Coco Chanel creating if she were alive today — and I mean that as a positive thing. Like Masque’s other release this year, Romanza, L’Attesa sometimes evokes flowering country meadows in Spring, but there is a sophisticated, urban elegance to L’Attesa that made me think of the couture and the streets of Paris even more frequently. In the most reductionist, simplistic description, one could sum it up as a “green floral,” but I think L’Attesa is a fragrance with deceptive simplicity; its surprisingly fluid profile slips from one genre to another in a very seamless fashion. While the end result is outside my personal tastes, I admire the sophistication, and I think it demonstrates Masque’s continued evolution as it moves from its earlier focus on heavy, dark orientals towards polished florals with romantic, almost nature driven, and streamlined elegance.
Masque Milano will be changing its pricing structure in the months to come, in addition to offering its fragrances in a new bottle size.
This morning, Alessandro Brun, one of Masque’s co-owners/co-founders shared that information on the blog’s Facebook page following yesterday’s review on the company’s upcoming release, Romanza. His comments were in response to a discussion in regarding the new Romanza bottle, its size, its price, and the difference as compared to Masque’s existing fragrances.
Romanza costs €138 for 35 ml of eau de parfum. (I don’t know its American price yet.) It will be released on or around April 26th, which is when I think Masque will be launching L’Attesa, a new iris eau de parfum, as well. It, too, will be in the new 35 ml bottle for €138.
Spring is in the air in most parts of the Western hemisphere, and the latest release from Masque Milano embodies its essence quite well. Romanza is a new fragrance that departs from the style of many of the Masque fragrances that I’ve tried thus far, focusing almost entirely on florals this time around. Despite being inspired by Oscar Wilde, the Victorians, Dorian Grey, and romantic dandies, it evoked something else entirely for me for most of its lifetime on my skin: a spring day in the countryside. It’s a largely unisex composition that I suspect will become one of the more popular fragrances in Masque’s collection.
Romanza is an eau de parfum that was created by Cristiano Canali. It officially debuted at the Pitti show in October 2015, but its world-wide release seems to have been postponed until April of this year. One reason why might be Masque’s change in packaging; unlike the others in the line and unlike the way that I think Romanza was originally shown at Pitti last year, it will now be released in a clear, glass 35 ml bottle instead of the more usual patterned, gold and black 100 ml one.
The inspiration for Romanza seems to be the myth of Narcissus as seen through the lens of Victorian romanticism and 19th century artists. While number of sites discuss or quote copy that is almost entirely about Oscar Wilde and Dorian Grey, Masque’s own website has a slightly different account, but the general narrative is largely the same: a 19th century romantic and artistic twist on Narcissus. That is undoubtedly why a major part of the fragrance is the actual narcissus flower. In addition, Romanza includes also artemisia (aka wormwood), the basis for Absinthe, a potent, allegedly hallucinogenic liquor that was nicknamed “The Green Fairy” and that was beloved by 19th century bohemians and artists, particularly Oscar Wilde. As the wormwood link explains, the legends surrounding absinthe and its effects were such that the liquor was banned for more than 70 years in many parts of the world, but it was a quintessential part of the 19th century’s artistic culture in Europe.