When I first heard this was about to be released, I was overjoyed. Marni, one of my favourite brands known for their intelligent and quirky approach was to release a fragrance. What it would be like would be anyone’s guess but with the focused and left-field approach of Marni’s founder, Consuelo Castiglioni, it was bound to be one to grab you and make you take notice.
The fact that Ms Castiglioni had garnered the services of intelligentsia perfumer (and I say that as this lady is not only a perfumer but a graduate of philosophy), Daniela Andrier, made me nod appreciatively. Daniela’s not only married to the CEO of Givaudan Fragrances but has created some of the most memorable releases of recent years including Gucci ‘Rush’ for Men, Margiela’s ‘Untitled’ and the catalogue of stand-out Prada fragrances including ‘Prada Candy’ and ‘Infusion d’Iris’. She’d nailed it for Miuccia, merging fashion idealism and brand vision with fragrance, now could she take on one of her rivals in the same vein?
We always knew it was going to be complex. That’s the nature of Marni. A label aimed at the discerning woman who chooses pieces ad hoc and merges them with other Marni seasons and vintage finds, a little eccentric and a lot Bohemian. Style builds but remains individual. So, the fragrance had to to define the Marni brand essence of an idiosyncratic complexity and sophistication but also a lightness of being, if not exactly a humour.
It didn’t disappoint on arrival. The perfume package contained an odd little mini Marni doll as well as copious notes. We were informed, “Any sterotypical rendition of sterotypical femininity – sweet, sugary or even flowery – is avoided. Marni is averse to standardized depictions of womanhood.” So far, so agreed. I avidly emptied the contents in a rush to try.
First reactions where a bit, ‘oh!’. I hasten to add, I tried this while a friend was visiting (another bona fide Marni devotee) and we both were surprised by it rather than enlivened and heart-stoppingly, instantly addicted. What we couldn’t quite get our heads around was ‘did it fit the brand and its customer?’. Now, Marni is expensive, different and requires an understanding. I say this with authority as I look at a wardrobe of past seasons’ buys. Was this perfume the one to turn-on a discerning and fashion-led, middle-youth legion of Marni’ites or was this baby aimed more at a mass market buying into the Marni aesthetic? And, I have to say, it’s the latter.
The cute white-spotted bottle reeks of a vintage find brought up to date and with it’s pretty red cap, it’s both stand-out noticeable yet doesn’t take itself too seriously. Much like the Marni consumer, indeed. The juice, though, surprised. It does grow with constant usage but the first blast is spicy yet fruity and all too youthful (bergamot, pepper, pink peppercorn, ginger) while it’s back-up middle of rose, cardamom and cinnamon bark takes it down to a deeper notch and a more serious, intelligent stance. The patchouli, incense, cedarwood and vetiver base is the gutsy roots of this perfume and it’s only when this kicks in that I can see Andrier’s vision for Marni. Now she’s finally getting to the consumer. Marni women are gutsy and bold who take the lead and aren’t scared to try the new, so why did it take so long to get down to it?
The perfume grows rounded and rich with wear but, hand on heart, I expected more distinction, quirkiness and, dammit, downright oddity. This seems toe-in-the water bold, not full on clashing textures and layered to perfection sophistication with big bakelite jewellery.
Yes, Andrier has managed to clash and layer competing ingredients much like Consuela does in her collections, but, and the big but, is that the all too covetable element of extreme, artful sophistication is missing. Marni’s controlled, couture-like volume seems bottled down to youth-led fragrance which will no doubt capture the imaginations of many who seek acceptable acquired good taste but may not exactly cut the (contrasting) mustard, teale and plum of the Marni legion of wearers.
Catwalk images from www.style.com featuring Marni’s S/S’13 collection
Marni is available exclusively at Harrods and Harrods.com from February 2013 priced at £48 (30ml), £68 (65ml) and £95 (120ml). The range also has body lotion, shower gel and body creme to complete the offer.