As far as mainstream lines go, Prada is one of the very best. Everything about the many fragrances in their collection, which stretches from the likes of Candy, Les Infusions de Prada, L’Homme Prada and La Femme Prada, and Luna Rossa, feels finely curated and created in their inimitable house-style. Where many brands would take a cynical approach to masculine perfumery, Prada seeks to incorporate quality and a distinct signature to create fragrances that stand out from the crowd, but not so much that they don’t appeal to the average consumer. The result is something like Luna Rossa, which is a minty fresh blend of lavender, musk and spices inspired by the brand’s professional sailing boat. It’s an accessible fragrance made with a high degree of excellency.
With their latest launch in the Luna Rossa franchise, Prada seem to be innovating. For Luna Rossa Carbon they are exploring the clash of natural materials and synthetics to represent the olfactory idea of carbon. They call it “a set of intriguing, engineered-contradictions” and describe it as an “iconoclastic fougère”. Well, them some pretty big words you got there, Prada – let’s hope that this fragrance lives up to the hype. What I will say, before we get to the sniff test, is that it’s always refreshing for a mainstream brand to talk about the use of synthetics so openly. In an age where ‘natural’ is valued more and more, it’s encouraging to know that the technology and innovation of the industry can be promoted in such an open manner. Anyway, let’s sniff.
Vert da Bergamote, Patchouli, Ambroxan and Lavender.
How Does it Smell?
Luna Rossa Carbon opens with a dark and gauzy lavender note accented by citrus and spice (I get a hint of black pepper and elemi somewhere in the mix). Rather than evoking the idea of bright purple lavender blooms gleaming in the sunlight, Carbon presents the note in total blackness and crafted from synthetic materials. It’s almost as if one is smelling a sculpture of lavender that has been 3D printed in rubber. To compliment the blackness of the lavender, the spice and citrus add a mineral facet that allows for touches of grey to elevate things and to provide space.
The lavender increases in volume as the fragrance develops and as the metaphorical 3D printer continues to build, build, build its project. In time patchouli comes into play and adds a sharper tint to proceedings, ensuring that the darkness has just a glimpse of light. The patchouli also adds texture too, giving the impression of carbon fibres being linked together. It all creates a really interesting dynamic and it’s fascinating to see a fougère treated in this way.
The synthetic portion of the fragrance sits largely in the base where neo-lavender meets a gauzy bed of ambroxan and god knows what else. The impression is fuzzy, much like the texture found in barbershop fougères however, the impression is much more rugged than the classics. Theres a diffusive darkness that feels like dried rubber in the base and it blends with metallic notes to create a fresh and fizzy end to what feels like a dark fragrance overall. This is a thoroughly modern fougère that seeks to innovate rather than rely on the tropes of the genre.
Luna Rossa Carbon is a very decent mainstream masculine. It does what it says on the tin and the idea of dark black carbon, and the clash of the natural vs the synthetic comes across really well. For me, it strikes the right balance between weird and accessible, meaning that it has a touch of plastic/metallic darkness that gives it interest, but at the same time it’s still relatively easy to wear. I don’t think it’s going to set the hearts of niche fragrance lovers on fire but it smells very good on and it really is an innovative take on the fougère, which is surprising in this day and age. I’m happy wearing it as much as I am smelling it on handsome gents (it’s a bit sexy, I must say) so overall I can only give it a big thumbs up!
Luna Rossa Carbon is available in 50ml (£48.50), 100ml (£66.50) and 150ml (£83) Eau de Toilette.
Sample, notes and quotes via Prada. Images are my own.