Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima’s Sogno Reale (2015)

Mendittorosa's Sogno Reale (100ml)
Mendittorosa’s Sogno Reale © Victor Wong

This year I had a “gift exchange” with a friend. We sent each other a bottle of perfume, and the one I received was Sogno Reale. I had acquired a sample of it a few months ago, and I must apologize, I didn’t pay much attention to it after dabbing some on my skin. (I also did not enjoy testing samples from little vials.) I had just received too many samples that month, and not many perfumes grabbed my attention for they didn’t have a distinct voice or a “catchy” top note.

Now that I have a full bottle with a sprayer, I have changed my view on this perfume completely. Smelling it develop on my skin was very interesting – the first few seconds (yes, the first few seconds, and it is quite enough for most people to lose interest if it isn’t attractive enough) gives me the impression that it’s a weak perfume. But as it develops, it has a slow fizzy effect, almost like you are watching an effervescent tablet dance and dissolve in a glass of water. Or like watching a “tea bomb” blossom in a glass teapot, but with a caveat – I have no idea what’s in the tea bomb and the flavour is like nothing I have smelled before.

That’s because I didn’t check Fragrantica. I didn’t do any research on this perfume because it’s a gift. I just sprayed some on with no pre-conceived idea what kind of story it was supposed to tell me, and also I didn’t understand the Italian title of the perfume. I had been guessing what notes were in the perfume the whole day and I was clueless. It smelled a little powdery, a little uplifting (aldehyde, maybe?), a little sweet, maybe a little floral, a little ancient, like there’s some mysterious mild-smelling herbs or resins stored in a jar an archaeologist had dug up from a tomb and decided it’s quite safe to consume. In other words, it’s very well blended, completely mysterious and alluring.

I gave up, it’s a puzzle I could’t solve, and I looked it up in Fragrantica. (Spoiler Alert) it has hyrax, styrax, olibanum, rum, tuberose and sea notes, if they are important to you.

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Santa Maria Novella’s Melograno (1965)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

I got this bottle of Santa Maria Novella’s “Melograno” (1965) through Kijiji. It’s like eBay, but you meet the seller locally and pay cash for the goods. The seller was doing errands for his girlfriends, who has decided to sell most of her perfumes.

“James Bond wears this perfume”, he said. “Pardon?” “Yeah, James Bond wears this perfume in his movie and now everyone is interested. By the way, I am a carpenter, if you need any wood work done, send me an email.” “Sure…” I guess the movie doesn’t show James Bond selling his perfume on Kijiji when he isn’t car chasing.

I often wonder if anyone can tell whether a perfume is made in Italy vs. made in France. Strangely, when I first applied this powdery pomegranate based cologne, I could tell it’s an Italian perfume. Also, it smells very old, almost in the same category of Caron’s Le 3’ Homme and Pour Un Homme – it doesn’t smell like a masculine cologne of nowadays. And it It’s like I have jumped into a time machine going back in time and the destination is an Italian monastery. I can see monks who have nothing to do and decide to make some cologne to pass their time, “Hanno alcune di queste, che vi farà odore sexy, fratello!” (Have some of this, it will make you smell sexy, brother!) (Thank you, Google Translate.)

Pino Silverstre’s Pino Original (1955)

Pino Silverstre Original, 125ml, EDT
© Victor Wong

I am not going to lie to you, there have been great struggles in my head trying to decide if I can wear Pino Silvestre (1955) without others feeling that I am wearing an air freshener. Imagine I bump into a coworker in a washroom and he smells me, would he think that I have just made some big business or helped the company mop the bathroom floor?

The cologne itself doesn’t smell simple at all – lavender, carnation, caraway seeds, oakmoss, tonka beans, etc, a perfect footprint for a niche perfume. And the dry down? Smells very manly and not simple. Luca Turin briefly mentioned this perfume in his book and called it a very Italian perfume. Le Labo, has a home scent called Pin 12, doesn’t smell as good as Pino Silvestre and it costs $120 a bottle.

At $25, this perfume is fun to own and wear. I can’t imagine someone wearing it consecutively for days because it can be boring (but I have seen an eBay listing of 10 empty bottles of Penhaligon’s English Fern, which means that there are people that boring). I can wear it on Christmas, on a hot summer day, totally nostalgic, appropriate and strange.

Marni, Marni Il Profumo Luxury Edition (2012)

© Victor Wong
© Victor Wong

Awesome Toothpaste EDP

Well, that’s my first impression of Marni’s debut perfume. Fresh, light, a bit citrusy, a bit floral, a bit peppery. But checking its Fragrantica’s profile, I don’t see any mentioning of mint and ginger.

The scent is very light, but to my surprise, it stays. It smells whimsy and like eternal summer to me.