One Out Of Three – Review: Acqua Di Parma Iris Nobile, Magnolia Nobile, Gelsomino Nobile

Acqua di Parma is a house with a beautiful and stylish appearance, whose colognes – the backbone and starting point of the line – I have always admired from afar, without actually smelling them. Since they introduced a sub-section specifically for women, starting in 2004 with Iris Nobile, my interest grew, but I never took the opportunity to try the perfumes, something else always came up and took precedence. On my visit to La Rinascente in Milan I found myself once more admiring the elegant bottles and finally made my way to the counter to sniff through the three EdP’s now forming the I Nobili line.

I ended up buying one and taking home samples of all of them. It turned out I bought the wrong one though. Recently a reader commented that I am seldom wrong, to prove the contrary here, please read on.

Gelsomino Nobile

Gelsomino Nobile is the latest addition to the line and was created by Michel Almairac in 2011. Gelsomino Nobile includes notes of mandarin, pink pepper, orange blossom, tuberose, jasmine, cedar and musk.

The starring ingredient is Calabrian jasmine.

I like the opening of this perfume, it is fresh and lively. I even quite like the soft, clean white treatment of the jasmine (which is essentially a treatment for jasmine wimps, of which I am one), but after half an hour, at most, this perfume derails into smelling very cheap and artificial. I get a super-synthetic, plastic-y pear note all of a sudden, which combined with the white musk base makes for an okay room spray, but not a fine fragrance base. I am disappointed that Gelsomino Nobile ends up smelling like approximately 10 000 of its colleagues on the shelves of department stores do, non-descript and synthetic, if inoffensive. But if being inoffensive is the only descriptor, that makes for a sad perfume indeed.

Magnolia Nobile

Magnolia Nobile was the second release in what is now called I Nobili. Created by Antoine Maisondieu in 2009, Magnolia Nobile includes notes of bergamot, lemon, citron, magnolia, jasmine, rose, tuberose, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver and vanilla.

This, I bought a small bottle of. It is perfectly nice, fresh, lovely, happy and unencumbered, but a bit too happy, too fresh, too relentlessly good natured. I quickly grow impatient with people who display nothing but a cheering, smiling facade at all times, and it is similar with perfumes. I always think, to be happy all the time, one has to be either a liar or an idiot.

Magnolia Nobile starts out as described above, happy and fresh citrus abounds, very uplifting and refreshing, and actually lovely in the heat of summer. I like that the first time, tolerate it the second time but begin to get wary and tired of it by wearing three. It develops into a fresh floral with an accord of magnolia and jasmine that proves to be very tenacious. The freshness is holding up for a long time, which makes me suspicious of it. I begin to think, how unrelenting is that? Why does it want to smell so fresh for so long? It is not normal, a perfume should stop being so chirpy sooner or later, but not Magnolia Nobile. It chirps on and on…

I am antropomorphizing this scent to an unusual extent. I find myself angry with it and getting snappy. There you are, occupying space in my perfume closet, sitting pretty in that lovely flacon of yours, looking great, but smelling FRESH ALL THE TIME. Snap out of it! Dry down already!

I think you get my drift… onto Number three then.

Iris Nobile

Iris Nobile was launched in 2004 in the Eau de Toilette version, and 2006 an Eau de Parfum was added. This review is of the EdP, which includes notes of  bergamot, tangerine, iris, star anise, ylang ylang, oakmoss, vanilla, amber crystals and patchouli and was created by Francis Kurkdjian and Francoise Caron.

I like Iris Nobile. A lot. This is what I should have bought, not its ever-cheery sister. Iris Nobile is an elegant floral with a chypre base. The iris here is not grey and rooty, but warm, floral and just a bit powdery. Upon spraying, a citrus accord laced with anise lies like a translucent veil over the floral arrangement already waiting to be discovered. Ylang-ylang is very present to my nose, and I love its sweet, languid smile. The base is full of things I love, amber, vanilla and a touch of dark chypre green-ness provided by oakmoss and patchouli.

I found a sample of Iris Nobile EdT in my stash as well and it is a different scent altogether, a lovely one, but different none the less. Much lighter, fresher and more in the vein of her younger sisters, Iris Nobile Eau de Toilette is a much more short lived, light, citrus-centered iris with orange blossom, all very delicate and understated. It is nice, but I prefer the EdP nonetheless for its darker, richer, more substantial presence.

I got the wrong sister. That teaches me to never buy after only one wearing.

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55 Responses to One Out Of Three – Review: Acqua Di Parma Iris Nobile, Magnolia Nobile, Gelsomino Nobile

  1. “I always think, to be happy all the time, one has to be either a liar or an idiot.”

    Lines like that are why I love reading your blog. I genuinely LOL’d when I read this, and It is so true, there is a falseness to people who are ALWAYS happy!

    You make Iris Nobile sound very tempting, I should try it. I’ve walked past these millions of times but never stopped to smell them. I will have to now! :D

  2. Tara says:

    Too bad about Magnolia Nobile – “Dry down already” lol!

    It’s tricky buying perfume on holiday as you don’t get to road test it the way you do at home.

    I was never that interested in Acqua di Parma for a long time because it just seemed chic in a very traditional, unexciting way (despite the lovely packaging). I thought Profumo would be the best of the bunch bcause of its chypre credentials but it was just too “grown-up” for me.

  3. Marie says:

    “I always think, to be happy all the time, one has to be either a liar or an idiot.” Haha, that made me laugh!
    I tried the EdP of Iris Nobile and wasn’t prepared for the strong ylang-ylang note. It was far too heavy for my taste, maybe because I expected a softer green Iris. In the end I liked the EdT version better for it’s still very elegant but fresh and light.
    I have not tested the other Acqua di Parma fragrances yet. Too bad that your buying turns out to be something that bothers you.

  4. masha7 says:

    I worked with a person who, no matter what was going on in her life (plague, death, destruction), would always answer the question, “How’s it going?” with “Fantabulous!” and a huge smile. I wanted to smack her on the back of her head….
    I had a same reaction to the jasmine, it turned into plastic yuck. Never tried the iris, I will if I get the chance!

  5. Sandra says:

    I also loved the Iris Nobile. I went through a bottle one summer but did not repurchase. I bought the Gelsomino Nobile on a whim because I like the opening so much. It stays nice and fresh for 2-3 hours but then just fades away on me. I either have to reapply or just move onto the next scent of the day. But it has been a fun morning wake up perfume for me the past few weeks. Have wanted to look into the rest of the line but I find the sales assistants not very helpful and only pushing the new release.

    • Olfactoria says:

      The opening of Gelsomino is nice, but I can’t help but be disappointed and let down by the rest of the fragrance. But I’m glad it fills its purpose for you! Sometimes it’s nice when a perfume is gone soon – it leaves space for more! :)

  6. vanessa says:

    Oh, this post was so interesting, because I too feel I bought the wrong one, but a different one!!

    I own Iris Nobile EDT, you see, and I do like it (though agree with Marie that the EDP is too cloying). The EDT I find more orange and gardenia than iris to be honest, and quite “perfumey” and strong in its overall vibe. It is my second favourite after Gelsomino Nobile, which I love and which doesn’t do that cheap and artificial stunt at any point. It was stunningly pretty and fresh and feminine, and a real contender for a wedding scent (though probably not mine : – ) ).

    Magnolia Nobile, on the other hand, of which I own a decant, starts out promising (I adore magnolia and keep banging on about how good Kenzo Eau de Fleur de Magnolia is for summer, also here!), but quickly morphs into soapy shampoo, so that is my least favourite. Boo!

    So I need to hook up with a person who bought GN and wishes they bought IN…..And you want to swap your MN with someone who regrets buying IN.

    The day is young – it may only be a question of time… ; – )

    • Olfactoria says:

      It looks like getting an Acqua di Parma right the first time is more difficult than we think.
      My excuse is that I was buying the MagNob while under pressure to hurry up from the NagMob (i.e. my family).

      It makes me very haopy though, that you are enjoying GelsoNob so much! I hope you get to swap for it.

    • annemariec says:

      I adore the Kenzo Magnolia too. I mention it on any blog when magnolia comes up for discussion. The magnolia gives depth and creaminess to the citrus, in this perfume, and the combination is an absolute winner. I have a full bottle. I tested the other Kenzo ‘Fleurs’ and my nose told me that the others are okay, but the magnolia is by far the best. I was rather proud of myself to discover later that this is the general opinion among others who have tried them too. It was at that point that I began to have faith in my own nose!

  7. andrea says:

    I was laughing a little bit about your experiences with this perfume house, a: because I know I have commented before that you are usually right, I will now eat my words. b: because I got a small bottle and body lotion of the Gelsomino Nobile as a birthday gift from space nk (who knew they were so generous) and it ended up on ebay as I could not sit with myslf when I had the perfume on, I could not even bear a second try of it.
    The last time I tried this perfume house was at an airport, stupidly before boarding our plane, it is bad enough trying scrubbers but imagine sitting in a confined place for a bear minimum of 30 mins with a scrubber on your arm making you feel ill.
    Paris was fantastic but I only ventured into the Guerlain shop as I had a sinus infection and could not smell properly anyway (was totally gutted about this) I could not justify one of their exclusives knowing that there was a good chance I would not like it when I got home.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi, good to see you are back from Paris safely! Too bad about your nose not being up to speed in Paris, of all places! On the other hand, think of all the money you saved… :)
      As for Acqua di Parma – at least I seem to be right about Gelsomino! ;)

  8. James Dennard says:

    Iris Nobile sounds wonderful. ADP is a line I have admired from afar for a while, too. I need to hurry up and try some of them- Colonia is the one that is calling me the loudest.

  9. deeHowe says:

    I have a sample of Iris Nobile, but my complaint against it is that it is too light and floral— so I’m guessing it’s the EDT! It came into my possession via a very sweet lady at a mini-sniff event, otherwise, I never would have tried the line.

    They just don’t appeal to me. The notes, the packaging, the whole aesthetic just doesn’t jive with my vibe. Wish I had a better reason, but, money saved!! Probably, had I liked INob better, my prejudice would be irrelevant ;)

  10. Iris Nobile (EdT I’m pretty sure) was one of my pre-perfumista choices. The others left me cold, but particularly Magnolia. The magnolia flower and magnolia trees are favorites with me, and that they could take such a beautiful, but strong, exotic flower and turn it into a plastic toy made me very confused. Your description of it as relentlessly good natured and “chirpy” is dead on. Unfortunately!

  11. Suzanne says:

    Birgit, of the three I’ve only tried Magnolia Nobile, and I found it absolutley annoying with its lemon cedrat note that wouldn’t go away. But you know, it has its fans, so don’t despair — you can probably swap that sister away — maybe not for Iris Nobile, but for some other scent that will take up the role of soul sister in your perfume cabinet! :)

    • Olfactoria says:

      It is annoying alright! Can you recommend a good place to swap?

      • Suzanne says:

        I believe they do quite a bit of swapping on MakeUpAlley.

        Here’s another idea: If you have other things besides Magnolia Nobile you no longer want, you could set up a page on your blog where you list things for swap or for sale. (You’d need to write down a list of the kinds of fragrances you would be willing to consider as a trade.) This might be too much of a bother, though; don’t know, it was just a thought.

        • Olfactoria says:

          You know, I was thinking about setting such a page for a while…
          You don’t think it is tacky? I will think about it in earnest now. I have quite a few albatrosses, as Vanessa calls them on my shelves. :)

          • Suzanne says:

            Well, to me it doesn’t seem tacky (honest open trade of any kind never seems tacky to me), but I’m probably the wrong person to ask. Maybe some of your other readers will weigh in…?

          • Julie says:

            I don’t think it’s tacky either. Museinwoodenshoes did that on her blog and I considered buying some from her. The page is gone now, so I assume she sold them all!

          • Olfactoria says:

            Good to hear that. I will try that, I think.

          • deeHowe says:

            I agree— not tacky at all! Like Julie pointed out, Mals has done it on her blog, which I thought was really cool. I’ll bet there are lots of people who would love to shop your rejects, and you could put the funds towards finding new loves! :)

          • Olfactoria says:

            I will do it then! Thanks for the encouragement! I’m looking for a good way to reduce my collection for a while. Let the great curating of my closet start! ;)

          • Undina says:

            I also think it’s a great idea!

      • Julie says:

        I swap on Makeupalley, but I’m not sure how many members are in Europe vs US/Canada, so you may have to deal with international shipping. I love Makeupalley and have gotten rid of lots of things and gotten lots of fun things I never would have bought.

  12. Lavanya says:

    LOL- loved your review, Birgit..”Drydown already”..:D
    I can see why an overly cheerful fragrance might annoy. I was trying to think of some cheerful perfumes that I enjoy wearing, and realized that I don’t have too many. Actually any. The happiest perfume I like is Love and Tears which has a touch of wistfulness to temper the happiness..:) (But I guess ‘happy’ and ‘cheerful’ are two different things, no?)

    • Olfactoria says:

      Happy is great, but cheerful is grating.
      Orange Blossom perfumes are mostly happy, citrus scents too of course, which is fine, but that relentless fake smile I get from MagNob irritates me a lot.
      Love and Tears is a whole other story, thank Goodness!

  13. civava says:

    I’m so glad I bought my mother Iris Nobile. She was very happy when she smelled it. I haven’t tried the other ones, luckilly. I get some of those reactions to some perfumes too and I’m glad you so fantastically described all that. Tnx.

  14. annemariec says:

    I bought a sample of MN from TPC by mistake. I wanted IN but added the wring thing to my basket. By the time I discovered my mistake it was too late. I have never got around to buying IN. MN is pretty. That is about all I can remember about it.

  15. Undina says:

    Birgit, I enjoyed your review very much. I always like the way you express your thoughts (I won’t cite again those phrases that others have mentioned already but they made me laugh); but this time it was a double-satisfaction. When I read about your MN purchase my reaction was: “Really?.. That was your best find on your trip?!!” but since we all are so different in our perfume tastes I decided that you could smell in it something I couldn’t and didn’t even comment on that. The way you described MN in this review is so much closer to how I smell it that I feel really pleased (though I’m sorry that you’ve ended up with a wrong perfume).
    I have a sample of IN (I don’t know what concentration – the same as Dee, I wasn’t moved by anything about the company so I wasn’t paying too much attention to the sample I was getting) but I haven’t found time for a skin test yet – I only smelled it in a store. I will try it eventually – now knowing that you liked it.

  16. Warum says:

    Just got to this one, a bit late to the party — have you ever set up a sale/swap page? I don’t think it’s tacky at all. I would probably be the one who won’t benefit from it because I’m in the US and it’s easier to swap/sell full bottles within continents.

    Anyway, back to the subject matter. I loved the opening notes of MN, but then, oh, it gets a little sharper and screechier. Sweeter. I decided to try again in a colder weather, will do.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I will set up such a page, when time allows. Thank you for chiming in, Warum.

      Maybe Magnolia Nobile is better to take on colder days… not sure I can stand another day of trying though. ;)

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  20. kate evans says:

    I was given a small sample of Iris Nobile in Singapore and have never gone back. Love the Toilet water…….will not switch now.

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