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Narciso Rodriguez’s NARCISO Eau de Parfum Exudes Effortless Sensuality


When developing his fourth scent with BeautĂ© Prestige International, the eponymous fragrance NARCISO, acclaimed fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez looked at the history behind his distinctive moniker, exploring the Greek myth surrounding Narcissus. You may be familiar with the abridged version of the myth, in which the gorgeous Narcissus saw his reflection in the waters of a spring and becomes so entranced by the unattainable image that, in a doomed attempt to gasp it, he fell in the water and drowned. The story has come to be seen as a cautionary tale about the dangers of vanity. There are many variations of this myth, including Ovid’s version, in which Narcissus spurned the advances of the nymph Echo, leading Nemesis, the Goddess of Revenge, to punish Narcissus by exposing him to his reflection for the first time, facilitating his death. In some variants of the myth, Narcissus didn’t drown but, rather, died of sorrow when he realized he would never attain the object of his affection. The romantic elements of the myth were particularly appealing to Rodriguez: the notions of unrequited love, of unattainable beauty, of something so seductive it could prove positively bewitching.  With these themes in mind, he sought to create a perfume that would capture the enigmatic and elusive elements of passion, romance, and sensuality — and he succeeded admirably.

Developed alongside master perfumer AurĂ©lien Guichard of Givaudan, the NARCISO Eau de Parfum ($95 for 1.6 oz and $112 for 3.0 oz at Bloomingdale’s stores and Bloomingdales.com) opens with feminine, delicate, and subtle gardenia and Bulgarian rose top notes, surrounded by woody vetiver and amber notes. Quickly, then, the floral aspect of the fragrance starts to dissipate and lead the way to the intoxicating heart of the scent, one comprised by amber and musk. The base notes of vetiver and white and dark cedar give the scent its stunning sillage and create the illusion of an enchanted forest, one in which woodland nymphs would be likely to frolic (perhaps chasing their own Narcissus).

I’ve often thought of Narciso Rodiguez’s For Her as being the epitome of femininity, but NARCISO is an even more nuanced interpretation of womanhood. Its genius lies in its subtlety — it doesn’t do cartwheels with citrus notes that scream optimism, nor does it dance the cha-cha with flashy florals. It’s refreshingly unassuming and unobtrusive, and yet it’s irresistible — an olfactory narrative centered on effortless sensuousness. It’s the small of a woman’s back, the nape of her neck, the twinkle in her eye.

The combination of warm amber, musk, and smoky but woody vetiver all work to create that creamy, powdery, milky, slightly smoky aroma that seems to radiate from the skin. It’s the type of smell a man might long for when embracing the pillow on which his beloved slept. Sure, there’s a carnal quality to the scent, but it’s decidedly intimate and elegant. Moreover, the aroma lingers for quite some time, while retaining its distinctive subtleness.

On an aesthetic note, the NARCISO EDP is packaged inside a transparent glass cube featuring a soft sculpted half-oval made of stone-white lacquer. According to Narciso Rodriguez, that white hue was deliberately matched to a stone he found while visiting the island of Cypress, known in Greek mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. The top of the bottle, meanwhile, is a creamy matte nude, meant to provide a juxtaposition when paired with the reflective glass bottle.

The bottle’s design, then, compounds the sense of intrigue created by the fragrance by celebrating the duality between strong and soft, rigid and fluid, assertive and subdued — all parts of the push-and-pull that are inextricably linked to the art of seduction.

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