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.