The opening is old fashioned and rather severe, a true eau full of citrus. Along with lemon, the official notes list green mandarins and clementines which would have you expect something altogether juicier and perhaps sweet, however this is an exceptionally dry perfume. After this entirely neutral, unisex blast of clean freshness Royal Water takes a rather unexpected turn, slowly manifesting itself as a beautiful classic fougère, gentlemanly and proper. Undeniably green (yet never aggressively so), the fern theme is interpreted with astute perfection. The perfume’s cool, indifferent character is underscored by a peppermint note which adds superbly to its blasé attitude. I know peppermint is a make-or-break note for many but I will vouch for the fact that here it is rendered very carefully and only serves to add a frosty undercurrent, never once screaming for individual attention. I get not a single whiff of the resinous green warmth from the purported juniper berries in the heart notes: Royal Water continues to be aloof and cool as a cucumber even as it progressively has the completely opposite effect on me - cool and aloof it might be, but it keeps on intensifying, slowly changing and I find myself slightly breathless, awaiting the outcome… Which is mysterious in and of itself, for this is not my type of perfume at all! What is this perfume laced with, anyway?! Again, this strange scent takes me by surprise by suddenly gender-bending its way to femininity as it quiets down to a mysterious softness. From ferny green coolness, Royal Water has transformed to gentle ambers, spices and sexy musks, touched by a whisper of something that smells indistinctly floral and improbably feminine. Despite these warm notes the perfume still somehow manages to retain its exceptionally dry character - how, I don’t know. Regardless, it refuses to show even the slightest sign of sweetness or fullness. This in essence is the theme that ties all the changes Royal Water undergoes together: Despite how different it smells now, its beautiful, haughty dryness disallows it from succumbing to throwing away the mask of cool detachment, despite its obvious climactic arousal. In this respect I can imagine this perfume would be worn beautifully by a woman to compliment a provocative outfit or lustful curves, for it denotes an air of unavailability, thus making it a perfect balancing factor. Having said that, it can just as easily (and beautifully) be worn by a man. One word of warning however: don’t let this one be sprayed on clothes: the cumin note which remains rather quiet (and only apparent in the drydown) on the skin manifests itself fiercely on fabric and lingers, smelling rather sweaty and unpleasant as cumin often tends to do.
Note: I was sent this sample by Essenza Nobile, where it is sold for 125 E (75ml). To visit the Essenza Nobile webshop click here.
Images: Royal Water bottle via www.creedfragrances.co.uk and fern via Flickr by Nick Coombe