What happens when Mumbai’s very own Grooming Guru is ushered into the chic portals of an upscale Italian boutique, for an exclusive olfactory experience? The results are nothing short of pure ecstasy. Recently, I was invited by Italian luxury giant Ermenegildo Zegna to spend an afternoon sniffing six fragrances from their new Essenze line. Stepping into the back room of the boutique at Mumbai’s Palladium Mall, where the six bottles were elegantly laid out on a glass table, waiting to be discovered, I could have sworn I was not in a crowded Mumbai mall but at a su misura salone at the heart of Rome, Milan or Florence. And if Ermenegildo Zegna’s unapologetic codes of timeless elegance and understated masculine style are anything to go by, I was practically transported to Italy that afternoon.
When it comes to suits and accessories, Ermenegildo Zegna is known for its clean cuts, refined lines and solid colours. If fragrances are to reflect a brand’s codes, then they must represent and stand for the very same things. I am not one to explicitly quote from press releases, but I was particularly drawn by Zegna’s press note to me, drawing a comparison between clothes and fragrances, and so I’d like to quote it here. “One is woven, the other is composed. One is disguised, the other id distilled. One underscores a man’s elegance and style, the other accentuates his masculine aura with its alluring essence.”
The six fragrances from the Essenze line each have a different signature ingredient, each chosen from the highest quality sources across the globe. However, there is one common ingredient that is present in all six: Italian bergamot from the Calabria region. For those who aren’t aware, Bergamot is an orange-like citrus fruit, which is the very same one that is used to make Earl Grey tea.
Read on to find out more about the six fragrances from the Essenze collection.
Sicilian Mandarin – Everything about this fruity fragrance made me think of summer. Its citrus flavour lends a certain tropical charm to the fragrance, in my opinion. Along with the mandarin notes, I found pronounced notes of musk, hints of bergamot and a soupcon of mint.
Javanese Patchouli – As a perfume enthusiast, the first think I could think of when I smelt this fragrance was Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic fragrance Opium, which released in the seventies but still hasn’t gone out of style. As the name suggests, the fragrance showcases the smoothness of patchouli, complemented by pink pepper, tonka beans and cedar. Would I wear it? Most certainly, but it seems to me more like an evening fragrance.
Indonesian Oud – This fragrance instantly transported me to the souks of the Middle East, with its exotic, Oriental character. Oud is a rare wood, which is frequently used in Arabian cultures, and known for its balsamic, heady character. The Oud notes are complemented with rose, amber and patchouli. I found this one too overpowering for my taste. But I see this going down pretty well with gentlemen who have a more flamboyant, overstated sense of style.
Florentine Iris – Delicate, sensual and exquisitely smooth, this fragrance combines three varieties of the iris flower resulting in an unforgettable concoction. The intoxicating combination of iris with jasmine, violet and musk make this an olfactory delight.For me, this fragrance was quite unusual as a men’s selection. I stood out by its undeniable feminine character. But I guess, with changing times, preferences and tastes continue to evolve, making this pretty popular among men.
Haitian Vetiver – One of the most prized ingredients in the world of perfumes, Vetiver wood (sourced by the house of Zegna from an exclusive grove in Haiti) is used generously in this fragrance, blended with neroli and carrot seeds. I remember being introduced to the pleasure of Vetiver way back in the ’90s with Guerlain’s iconic fragrance by the very same name. I have to say objectively that I prefer Zegna’s version. It’s fresher and more modern.
Italian Bergamot – As I sniffed this, I couldn’t help but think of Italian Begamot as modern 21st century interpretation of the classic eau de cologne. Zegna’s Italian Begamot is made with bergamot oil, blended with neroli, rosemary and vetiver. The bergamot, I was told, is grown in private orchards in Italy and plucked exclusively to be added to this concoction. Of all the six, Italian Begamot makes it to the top of my favourite list.
UrbanEye view: I see this collection as anything but a random ensemble of six fragrances, with ingredients sporadically chosen to reflect diversity. I see the Essenze line as a novel concept, where each ingredient is showcased with a sense of sophistication and elegance that, in turn, corresponds so well with Zegna’s house philosophy. The finished products are, needless to say, dolcissimo!
Essenze by Ermenegildo Zegna costs Rs. 14, 900 and retails exclusively at Ermenegildo Zegna boutiques in Mumbai and Delhi.