Nobile 1942 is a line I’ve wanted to explore for a while, ever since I tried their boozy, whisky-wine, leather, immortelle fragrance, Rudis, in 2014. They have a rather intimidating number of fragrances, though, and I only managed to get through a few of them when I was sniffing in Rome last year, so when I saw Luckyscent had the latest release, Malia, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to test other things from the line. I was interested first and foremost in their Patchouli Nobile (or Patchouli Nobile Colonia Intense), but then I noticed Nobile had a new apple fragrance with cinnamon and vanilla, and I became strangely obsessed with trying it. So, today, we’ll explore a gourmand, a dark patchouli oriental, and a white floral oriental (with tangerine, neroli, and tobacco blossom).
LA DANZA DELLE LIBELLULE EXCEPTIONAL EDITION/SPECIAL PARFUM:
La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional Edition was released in 2015 and is the concentrated parfum or extrait version of a gourmand Nobile fragrance (La Danza delle Libellule Fragranza Suprema) that was originally issued in 2012 as an eau de parfum. According to Luckyscent, the new Exceptional Edition is 35% stronger than the Suprema and has richer apple, cinnamon, and vanilla notes. The complete note list is:
Bergamot, red apple, cedar, cinnamon, musk, vanilla, coconut.
La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional caught my eye for a few reasons. Fragrantica posters raved about the original as a perfect cinnamon, apple, vanilla and scent. I really like apple as an olfactory note when it is fresh, crunchy, bright, and crisp like a real Fuji or Braeburn, but I rarely encounter it in perfumery. La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional seemed like it might skew that way, especially since one person on Fragrantica insisted that the apple in the original Suprema was “CRISP,” a “REAL RED APPLE” in all-capital letters, but even the apples in cinnamon vanilla custard described by others sounded like something with potential as “cozy comfort” scent. I went back and forth on ordering a sample, finally decided to get other things instead, but the fragrance stuck in my mind. I pestered poor Franco at Luckyscent with question after question on just how sweet it was, the precise nature of the apple, and more. He kindly sent me a sample.
It turns out that the apple in La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional is indeed “crisp,” but not at all in the way that I had imagined or hoped. To my horror, it was a carnival or fairground apple instead, a crisp, crunchy, bright red apple encased in a hard, sticky toffee’d caramel coating. Yes, it’s a fresh, red-green apple inside that thick, sticky sheath, but the aroma is so heavily candied that it might as well not be a “fresh” or “real” apple at all. The vanilla isn’t creamy like a rich custard or flan, either. Instead, it’s been blanketed by so much white sugar that it’s turned into pure caramel. Where is the cinnamon? Or the coconut? Neither appeared in any clearly delineated, concrete fashion on my skin.
The scent doesn’t improve with time. In lieu of creamy vanillic softness, an artificial quality slowly emerges after two hours. It’s difficult to describe with precision, but it makes me think of those cheap, candied apples you find wrapped in plastic in a shop, the ones where preservatives have been used to ensure longevity. It’s not a chemical clamour, per se, but something else. A synthetic artificiality that I can only compare to preservative compounds. Around the same time, a strange green-red bitterness pops up in the background, reminding me of rhubarb and its taste when you bite into a raw piece. Still, it’s a minor note and one that is quickly killed off by a new arrival that appears about 4 hours into the fragrance’s development: white musk. La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional continues to smell of (preserved) toffee’d apples, but the bouquet is cleaner now and slowly taking on a patina of laundry freshness.
Roughly 6 hours in, La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional is a blur of apple, white sugar, and white musk. There is no sense of vanilla, not even caramel vanilla, only vanillic sugar. Had amber been used in the fragrance, perhaps there would have been a golden warmth that evoked apple pie (à la Ambre Narguilé), but there are only layers of sugar and laundry freshness. The latter is rapidly growing more intrusive, sharper, and heavier. At the start of the 7th hour, the fragrance essentially turns into Bounce drier sheers lightly laced with sugared apples. The Bounce laundry cleanness far outweighs the apple on my skin. I couldn’t take it and scrubbed the scent shortly thereafter.
I haven’t found any discussion for La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional to share with you. It doesn’t have a Fragrantica entry, but you can turn to the one for the original Suprema eau de parfum if you’re interested. Almost everyone seems to love it, calling the fragrance “pure bliss,” “an absolute winner,” “absolutely fantastic,” and a “fabulous” scent that was “an immediate LOVE at first sniff.” A number of people find it very similar to a Lostmarch fragrance called Lann-Ael. I haven’t tried the latter, so I can’t tell you how it might compare.
If you love hardcore gourmands and candied apples with vanilla, you may want to try La Danza delle Libellule in either of its two concentrations for yourself. If you struggle with intense levels of either sugariness or clean musk, you should stay away.
Malia is an eau de parfum that was created by Antonio Alessandria, inspired by the vision of a white witch, and released last year in 2015. According to Luckyscent, the note list is:
Mandarin orange, fruit, pink pepper, marjoram, osmanthus, rose, tobacco blossom, black pepper, vetiver, patchouli, benzoin, oakmoss, musk.
Malia opens on my skin with citruses splattered on neroli-infused white flowers that smell like crisp, green, non-indolic orange blossoms growing straight on a tree. Moments later, they’re joined by tobacco flowers that smell equally green but also of tobacco at the same time. Hints of the osmanthus’ juicy apricots dart around the edges, but they’re quite overwhelmed by the citrus, neroli, and tobacco floralcy. All of it feels extremely fresh, crisp, and clean, thanks in part to the large waves of white musk that ripple over the green-white flowers.
It’s not the easiest opening bouquet for me. The citrusy note doesn’t smell like tangerine but like lemons on my skin, intensely bright, concentrated lemons. While they bear a certain sharpness, the real difficulty is how they merge with a certain waxy quality that struck me the two times I tested the fragrance. Something about Malia’s opening has an aldehydic quality, as if a ton of fat, waxy form of aldehydes were used. The effect is not only immensely soapy, particularly in conjunction with the clean musk, but waxy as well.
As the citrusy lemon grows louder, the cumulative effect is strongly reminiscent of luxury hotel soap: a very lemony, waxy, neroli soap that is lightly infused with white florals. I recall an actual soap at a famous hotel in Paris that was just like this, but the aroma is also very similar to Hermes‘ soap of vintage 1970s Caleche. The latter traumatized me at a very young age in both soap and fragrance formats, so I will never forget either one. Malia’s opening has the same sort of immensely waxy, glittering, sharp aldehydes mixed with citrusy crispness and clean white flowers. The addition of large amounts of musk gives it an added level of cleanness, as well as the razor sharpness of a heavily starched, white linen shirt. There is so much white musk that Malia’s opening consistently gave me a headache whenever I sniffed my arm up close for too long in the first 30 minutes. I’m also not keen on the profusion of lemon. The Italians seem to love intensely lemony, citrusy, clean fragrances and this certainly qualifies, at least in its debut which trumpets far more lemon and green neroli soap on my skin than anything truly floral.
It gets better, though. Roughly 30 minutes into its development, Malia begins to lose some of its waxiness and soapiness. The orange slowly emerges, turning the fragrance sweeter and juicier, muffling some of the lemon’s shrillness. Even better, at the end of the first hour, the tobacco blossom blooms, casting dark and dry shadows over the white flowers. It’s leafy, lightly honeyed, dark, dry, and aromatic, bearing a very aromatic, fresh tobacco aroma that works well with the new orange fruitiness which now coats the flowers. I’m less enthusiastic about the streak of synthetic woodiness in the base or the fact that the white musk is as strong as ever, but at least the soap and waxy aldehydes are weakening quite significantly. At the start of the 2nd hour, they turn merely into a sort of textural plush creaminess underneath the neroli blossoms.
On my skin, Malia never really smells of osmanthus but that didn’t surprise me. It’s a flower whose mild, demure aroma someone on Fragrantica once compared to tofu. I thought that was a wonderful analogy because few non-natural fragrances really manifest a solid, hefty, powerfully clear osmanthus aroma on my skin. In the case of Malia, there was a hint of apricots in the first 10 minutes, but then the fragrance consistently smelt of neroli on my skin, that greener, fruitier, less overtly floral, less sensual and less feminine version than orange blossom.
I should also add that I did not detect any vetiver, patchouli, marjoram, rose, pepper, or oakmoss on my skin at any point, and I’ve tested Malia twice. The fragrance definitely has a green side, particularly in its first 90 minutes, but none of that ever translated into a clearly delineated vetiver or oakmoss aroma on me. It was always a neroli greenness or something engulfed within it. What is weird to me is that I detected a distinct smoky woodiness in Malia, even though the note list doesn’t include any wood note at all. While patchouli can manifest a woody side, what I experienced distinctly resembled faux sandalwood instead. I can’t explain it.
For hours, Malia is dominated by a blend of tartly green neroli fruit, sweet and juicy mandarin orange, neroli-style orange blossoms, tobacco flowers, clean musk, and a sliver of waxiness. At first, the bouquet lies atop a sandalwood base but, after 90 minutes, tendrils of woody smokiness seep upwards to smudge the flowers’ edges. By the start of the 3rd hour, the inexplicable “sandalwood” note joins the main players on center stage, wafting a noticeable (synthetic) smokiness. The tobacco blossoms turn into more of a pure tobacco aroma at the same time.
Malia is now darker, but it’s also sweeter and juicier as well. All the notes are in equal proportions, from the now-sticky mandarin to the green neroli flowers and the tobacco. By the end of the hour, though, the tobacco pulls out ahead as the front-runner, trailed closely by the other notes. When the 5th hour rolls around, Malia is centered primarily on tobacco and smoky “sandalwood,” the two core notes joined together by clean musk and a thin ribbon of syrupy orange. The green-white flowers are now abstract, forming a diffuse, shimmery, and gauzy backdrop.
At the end of the 6th hour, Malia turns into a blur of sweet, syrupy, dry, dark, smoky, and woody tonalities as the tobacco, “sandalwood,” and orange syrup coalesce into one. White musk and a hint of orange blossoms floralcy dance in the background, but they’re increasingly muted. If it weren’t for the sharpness of the smoky sandalwood synthetics and the musk’s cleanness, Malia would be a great scent but both those things ruin the fragrance for me whenever I sniff my arm up close. From afar, though, there is something quite appealing about mix of the dry, dark, tobacco-orange sweetness.
Malia remains that way for hours until roughly the 10th hour. At that point, the white musk re-emerges, while the tobacco and sandalwood weaken. The scent is now merely a haze of sweet cleanness with lingering vestiges of something darker and fruitier underneath. In its final moments, all that’s left is a sweet, soapy cleanness. All in all, it lasted just short of 12.5 hours with several smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, and about 10 hours with the equivalent of 1 spray. It became a skin scent after 4.25 hours, although the white musk made it easy to detect up close without much effort for a bit longer. The sillage was initially moderate, the projection was generally soft.
There isn’t a lot of talk about Malia at the time of this review. On Fragrantica, there is only one comment so far. “Q80” writes: “Wow this is just gorgous!! I never thought floral could make a sweet notes! To me this is love at first sight.” I think he’s a guy, so Malia seems to have some unisex appeal. I’m sure the tobacco blossoms help in that regard. On Luckyscent, the lone review there is from “Maya” who calls the fragrance “Magical.” She adds: “I love it! It’s a bit different which is a big plus for me. You have to experience for yourself how wonderfully the notes play with each other and the effect they create. I usually dislike sweet perfumes, a lot. Here the sweet is natural and – if it makes sense – subtle.”
On Colognoisseur, Mark Behnke seems to like Malia as well. He found it opened with fruits swathed in spices that felt “a bit like a spice cabinet.” Then,
Osmantus arises from out of this with the apricot nature of it matching with the fruits in the top notes. Rose bolsters the floral nature for a little while before tobacco flower starts to bring forward the transparent leathery aspect of osmanthus. This is where the osmanthus feels like the object of a spell as it transforms from fruit to floral to animalic as each supporting note pulls that out. Malia heads to a base of earthiness with patchouli, vetiver, and oakmoss feeling like we might be deep in the woods.
His experience sounds infinitely more interesting than mine, particularly at the debut. But we have such divergent accounts that I wish the two blurbs on Fragrantica and Luckyscent provided actual details and specifics in order for them to be some sort of consensus on what the fragrance might be like if you tried Malia for yourself. For me, parts were nice, but the opening consistently put me off with the strong similarity to luxury hotel soap. Things later improved, the tobacco element was enjoyable, but the scent as a whole was… eh, okay. I find it difficult to drum up much excitement about it Malia. It’s fine, it’s okay, it’s one of those wearable scents that is mildly pretty at times but not very interesting or compelling. There is a definite place and need for this kind of thing, but I found myself sighing with apathy most of the time and wishing I could put something on else.
Be that as it may, if the notes or any of the accounts given here by either Mark Behnke or myself intrigue you, then you should get a sample and try it for yourself.
Patchouli Nobile (sometimes called “Patchouli Nobile Colonia Intensa“) is an eau de toilette that was created by Marie Duchene and released in 2009. Luckyscent says the note list is:
Citrus, white pepper, frankincense, patchouli, gaic wood, cistus [labdanum amber], jasmine, Moroccan cedarwood, amber, oak moss, sandalwood, tonka.
In contrast to Malia, I didn’t feel the least bit of apathy at Patchouli Nobile which I enjoyed immensely and right from the start. It is, in fact, one of the nicest patchouli fragrances that I’ve tried, a solid patchouli with enormous smoothness, fluidity and, for a mere eau de toilette, robust body as well. Fantastic!
Patchouli Nobile opens with a complex, rich, vibrant, and robust patchouli that is brimming with layers. It’s woody, spicy, slightly earthy, and with a hint of both tobacco and leafy greenness. The really appealing part for me is how that deep, nuanced combination is thoroughly coated with boozy, cognac-like ambered goldenness that is just perfectly balanced in its sweetness and caramel-ish undertones.
Other elements play a subtle role in the story as well. Flickers of cedar dance at the edges, underscoring the patchouli’s innate woodiness, but nothing about either note feels dusty. The patchouli-cedar combination can sometimes take on a quality like an ancient wooden box in an attic, but that is not the case here. The strong booziness of the amber keeps things in check. On my skin, there is no citrus, pepper, incense, jasmine, oakmoss, sandalwood, or tonka in the opening stage, but there is a muted, heavily muffled, and rather minor touch of smokiness in the background. It feels like something that is merely innate to the patchouli instead of actual frankincense, although that will change later on.
For now, Patchouli Nobile is centered almost entirely on the titular note. It feels like a cross between the boozier stylings of Oriza‘s Horizon and Jovoy‘s Psychedelique, and the woodier, earthier approach of traditional patchoulis like that of Lorenzo Villoresi and Reminiscence. The richness, depth, and quiet smokiness make the patchouli a little similar to Santa Maria Novella‘s lovely, much-adored Patchouli, but this one is significantly boozier and more balsamic in the opening and not at all camphorous. The two scents become more alike later on, though.
Patchouli Nobile changes only in the most incremental and microscopic ways as it develops. The amber’s cognac booziness weakens a lot after 25 minutes, though the ambered warmth remains like a thick haze covering the notes. Around the same time, the merest glimmer of something vaguely sandalwood-ish pops up on the periphery, but it’s so muffled, minor, and fleeting that I questioned its existence until the middle of the 2nd hour when it grew clearer. The patchouli’s main companion is really the cedar, though it ebbs and flows in its strength. Everything else happens in inches. After 30 minutes, Patchouli Nobile grows woodier and spicier. It’s not really smoky, earthy, or green, per se, but glimmers of all those things begin to flicker in the background. In that sense, this is a more refined, more seamless scent than the famous SMN patchouli.
In fact, everything about Patchouli Nobile’s accompanying notes are subtle, seamless, quiet, or refined to the max. At the end of the first hour and the start of the second, a whisper of incense appears. It’s a dry, dusty, but primarily woody sort that combines with the patchouli and the muted hint of sandalwood to create an effect that briefly reminded me a little of parts of Neela Vermeire‘s Trayee. Patchouli Nobile has nothing that clear, intense, overt, or strong on my skin, though. It’s just whisper.
So is the creaminess that shows up in the base at the start of the 3rd hour. It’s never a clear tonka, tonka, tonka note, but more of a sliver of supple softness, almost like a textural quality at times. That said, it softens, dilutes, and counterbalances what had been a growing woodiness to the scent. It also quietens the boozy accord even further. Patchouli Nobile is still a wee bit boozy, but barely so now. The patchouli’s woods, spice, smoke and creaminess are far more dominant characteristics. In short, it’s moving away from the Horizon/Psychedelique style of patchouli into the more traditional variety that is closer to Lorenzo Villoresi and SMN’s versions.
Around the 4th hour, Patchouli Nobile shifts a little again. A whisper of something that is almost floral occasionally floats about the periphery, but it’s so evanescent that I think I’m imagining it. The citrusy brightness is a wee bit clearer, but not by much. What is clear, though, is that the fragrance is gradually turning drier, darker, quietly smokier, and even woodier. As for the incense, Patchouli Nobile continues to have streaks of something dusty and smoky, but it’s become impossible to determine if it’s actual frankincense or merely another one of the patchouli’s innate facets.
The changes keep on coming, inch by inch. At the top of the 5th hour, the tonka creaminess vanishes, replaced by definite smudges of camphourous greenness that appear at the edges. It’s an extremely refined sort of camphorousness, rather than the more intense sort one frequently encounters with patchouli. In the base, the earthiness grows noticeable. There is no oakmoss on my skin. Something vaguely reminiscent of clean musk pops up once in a blue moon in the background around the 6th hour but it’s so fleeting, I wonder if I imagined it. For the most part, Patchouli Nobile is primarily woody patchouli with spicy, smoky, incense-y, camphorously green, and lightly ambered facets. It remains that way all the way through to its final hours when it’s a mere blur of spicy-sweet, golden, woody dryness.
Patchouli Nobile had good longevity for a mere eau de toilette, decent sillage, and soft projection. Using several smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, it opened with about 3 inches of projection and about 4 inches of scent trail. The SMN fragrance is also an eau de toilette and I think it may be a hair louder or stronger initially, but the two fragrances soon become quite comparable or equal in this regard. In general, Patchouli Nobile’s numbers dropped at the end of the 2nd hour, then hovered above the skin at the start of the 5th hour, but it only became a true skin scent about 6.25 hours into its development. All in all, it lasted just under 11 hours.
Patchouli Nobile gets rave reviews on Fragrantica. One person called it “STUNNING FABULOUS” (in all-caps), another calls it a “gem,” and several said it was either their favourite patchouli fragrance or the patchouli that they’d been searching for. “Deadidol” wrote that it stands out from others in the genre “just by the fact that it’s a damn good patchouli fragrance.” He adds:
It opens with an earthy patchouli tallied by a labdanum that’s sweetened by trace amounts of maltol. It’s rich and substantive, coming across as both boozy and balsamic but with a refined edge to keep it from going too Woodstock. Within thirty minutes, it becomes deliciously dank and the earthy quality is cranked up into a way that nods toward vintage chypres while hitting some melancholic forest floor strides.
As contemplative as it is crabby, Patchouli Nobile is darker, moody take on the genre. It flagrantly merges poignancy with refinement, and the result is a scent that’s tense yet transitional. While the volume is civilized, nobody would doubt that you’re wearing a patchouli fragrance, so an affinity for the note is essential. This is a remarkable, highly resinous patchouli that deserves more credit than it gets.
“Colin Mallard” describes Patchouli Nobile as “splendid,” “superb” and with “understated elegance” from “top quality natural materials.” His reviews reads as follows:
Splendid natural scent, with an uncompromisingly dark, earthy and raw opening based on a really balanced, clear, simple and powerful accord of high-quality patchouli and oak moss. Oak moss is used quite often in perfumery, but you rarely smell it “as it should” with a more prominent role, either because of quality or concentration (it is often replaced by evernyl, which smells more like a plain “idea” of oakmoss’ drydown purified from its initial barn-like smell): here however it is just superb – the darker, feral, herbal, barn-like note enhancing the wilder side of patchouli. A powerful, archaic feel of wet hay, resins, dark aromatic woods – an abandoned stable, again. At the same time, despite the overall “gloominess” and meditative mood, it is highly wearable, discreet and elegant – the Italian heritage at its best: top quality natural materials, understated elegance, a touch of relax, and a touch of decadence.
I didn’t find Patchouli Nobile to be as green, gloomy, or dark as either of those two gentlemen, but I share in their enthusiasm for the scent. More than anything, the word that came to mind again and again was “smooth.” This is an ineffably smooooooooth patchouli fragrance, more so than the SMN in fact. I think the latter may be bolder at first, but the Nobile is generally more nuanced and bears a greater range of undertones and glimmers. It’s milder in some ways, namely in its dank and “gloomy” sides, although that was clearly not the case for other people who wore Patchouli Nobile. Regardless of darkness, I agree completely with posters like Colin Mallard who talk about the quality of the materials and how natural the fragrance smells. In fact, I think it’s better quality than the Lorenzo Villoresi fragrance to which Patchouli Nobile is sometimes compared on Fragrantica.
For me, the fragrance has perfect balance in never being too much of one thing: too resinous, too ambery sweet, too dark, too dry, too earthy, or too green. (I can never have too much booze, so I personally don’t care about balance in that regard, but I’m sure others do and there is never too much of that either.) All of it feels richly solid, but with streamlined simplicity, clean lines, and fluidity. It reminded me a car in that sense, an unpretentious, mid-range luxury sedan like a Lexus with unfussy lines and solidity, but with yet elegance as well. Even better, Patchouli Nobile is priced very reasonably at $135 or €85 for a 100 ml bottle, and samples are easy to obtain.
I’m strongly considering buying a bottle but, in the meantime, I also strongly recommend Patchouli Nobile to other “Patch Heads.” You really have to try this.
Disclosure: I purchased my sample of Patchouli Nobile. My samples of Malia and La Danza delle Libellule Exceptional/Special Edition were kindly provided by Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.