The great thing about luxury brands such as BVLGARI is that, regardless of what they make, whether it be clothing, leather goods, jewellery or fragrance, they truly care about the end product. They want to create a luxury item – a thing of beauty that demonstrates the quality of materials and craftsmanship that makes these brands so luxurious. It’s brands like these that make truly beautiful, accessible fragrances, because they care enough to get it right. They mark art with everything else they do, so their thinking is why not apply that to fragrance as well? BVLGARI is perhaps one of the best examples of this and they dedicate time, care, attention, quality and artistry to all of their fragrances, making for some absolutely beautiful perfumes.
In the Splendida collection, BVLGARI celebrates “the most iconic flowers in the history of perfumery”, namely the iris, the rose and the jasmine. For 2018, BVLGARI is adding to the collection and this time it is the magnolia that gets to take centre stage in the guise of Magnolia Sensuel. Created by perfumer Jacques Cavallier (who has made too many good perfumes to list) who calls the magnolia “an unforgettable note”, Magnolia Sensuel aims to showcase the “supreme beauty” of the flower and by extension, the BVLGARI woman who wears it. Having been a big fan of the Splendida collection (Iris d’Or is heaven, y’all) and a life-time addict of white florals, Magnolia Sensuel definitely caught my attention. But does it live up to my high, BVLGARI-loving expectations? Well, read on and you shall find out!
Top: Neroli Essence and Mandarin Essence
Heart: Chinese Magnolia Essence, Orange Glower Absolute and Jasmine Absolute
Base: Patchouli Heart, Musk and Tahiti Vanilla Absolute
How Does it Smell?
Right from the first spritz, Magnolia Sensuel asserts itself as something refined and beautiful. There’s a glowing citrus accord that hums along gently with the buzz of an orange neon light. I hesitate to call it fizzy, because its not an energetic or bubbly citrus, instead I’d say that it glistens, rather than sparkles. The tangy, juicy quality of mandarin is made golden by the honey freshness of neroli – a note that amplifies the sequin-like citrus but also starts a thread that weaves itself deep into the magnolia heart of the fragrance. So far, so good…
Magnolia is a flower I adore because it’s a bloom of contrasts. On one hand it smells fresh and bracing, with a strong, fizzy lemon note, whilst on the other it has the thick, creamy headiness that is evocative of tropical white florals. Some fragrances celebrate the freshness (see Eau de Magnolia by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle), whilst others focus on that heady, creamy quality (see Zelda by En Voyage Perfumes) but Magnolia Sensuel wants to have its cake and eat it too, so it sits somewhere squarely in the middle of the magnolia spectrum, presenting a fresh, yet fully floral magnolia note. The best of both worlds, essentially.
It’s fair to say that development-wise, Magnolia Sensuel is not much of a mover or shaker. It largely smells the same from start to finish with strong themes throughout however, it’s not entirely linear either. In the base, Magnolia Sensuel retains much of the floral heart, but it moves away from the mandarin and neroli, shaking them off in favour of soft vanilla. The vanilla here is not gourmand, instead it smells as if someone has soaked vanilla pods and magnolia petals in a bowl of water for a few days, leaving behind a tropical eau that is as heavenly as it is transparent. It’s the perfect curtain call for a fragrance that smells beautiful from start to finish.
Magnolia Sensuel is a worthy addition to the BVLGARI Splendida collection. It sits in the floral crown as a ruby red, magnolia jewel that plays to the seductive, enveloping and warm aspects of this most vibrant smelling of flowers. Where magnolia is often fresh and zingy, the presentation here is warmer and more erotic. It’s not a filth bomb by any means – in fact, one does not read it as dirty at all, but there is an intimate creamy quality that flits between romantic and sexy. Magnolia Sensuel is not a decadent fragrance (unlike Jasmin Noir from the Splendida collection, which is full of va va voom), instead it is softly seductive and I can see many falling for its ruby red charms. I for one, could not resist.
Splendida Magnolia Sensual is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £97.
Sample, notes and quotes via BVLGARI. Images are my own.