The Back Story
It should come as no surprise to Marni devotees that Consuelo Castiglioni, the creative force behind the brainy-chic fashion brand, gravitates to scents that smell like smoke and incense. But those aren't the notes of a bestseller, and it isn't likely that Estée Lauder, which owns the Marni fragrance licence, would have approved that direction. So now, after three years of development, we get to smell the brand's first namesake perfume – and find out whether Marni's much-loved offbeat spirit has been bottled successfully.
What It Smells Like
Call it an eccentric floral. A rose in full bloom has been buttressed by peppercorn and cardamom, bergamot and vetiver. Altogether, the effect is itchy, edible and enveloping – a potent mix. As Trudi Loren, Estée Lauder's vice president of corporate fragrance development, explains, the rose makes a more "confident statement" than "fruity petals" would have.
Castiglioni had been tossing ideas around with veteran perfumer Daniela Andrier years before this perfume became a reality. It's a perfect match. Andrier understands how to a tweak niche idea just enough to make it commercial. She trained at Chanel and built her CV before linking up with – and loyally composing scents for – fashion's other intellectual wonder woman: Miuccia Prada. Andrier was also responsible for Maison Martin Margiela's enigmatic Untitled in 2010.
The bottle's shape resembles a wine glass with the stem snipped off – or a stylized spinning top. Referencing the cotton tag that appears inside the clothing, the Marni label has been nicely inset within the glass. A pattern of translucent polka dots appears distorted through the clear bottle and introduces an arty element to the cuteness. The cap evokes Castiglioni's bold costume jewellery.
There are two, really: Model Raquel Zimmermann fronts the official campaign, plus a smiley-faced plush doll named Bambolina sporting a peppy polka-dot dress, who is yours with purchase of the purse spray.
Who It's For
The mature Marni customer likely wears a scent closer to Castiglioni's obscure olfactory style. This spicy floral will find its following among younger women who admire the brand positioning (and may have bought some of the H&M collaboration pieces last year).
Marni possesses the most enviable form of cachet: the kind that seems innate and effortless. Sure, the scent tries too hard to be liked, whereas a true Marni girl wouldn't care. Whether it's feisty enough to become what Loren calls a "word-of-mouth cult fragrance," time will tell.
Where To Buy It
$125 for 65 ml, $175 for 120 ml, $60 for 10 ml purse spray and Bambolina at Holt Renfrew (www.holtrenfrew.com).