The tacky name of this perfume belies a scent with rather more substance than the moniker would suggest. Don’t be put off, it smells classier and less high-street than it sounds!
Bergamot, ylang ylang, magnolia, violet, jasmine sambac, narcissus, lily of the valley, benzoin, patchouli, white musk.
Carner Barcelona are a brand who focus on quality. They’ve been around since 2010 and manufacture their scents in Barcelona, relying on the expertise and dedication of local artisans. We’ve previously reviewed Besos, Tardes, and Palo Santo by the brand, all of which have better names than this creation.
Latin Lover (urgh, even typing that name makes us feel a bit nauseated) is a powerful fragrance, and that much is obvious right from the first spray; powerful but not overpowering, at least not in the top notes.
But what about those notes? The top notes of the scent are strongly floral, heady and rather intoxicating. They give a very pink and powdery timbre to the scent which is cheerful and springlike. The sparkling and fuzzy florals are spiked through with a strong jasmine sambac note. This has a definite indolic seam running through it and brings an interesting sweet yet sour quality to the scent, it also really warms it up too so one can’t help but start to think of sunny, mediterranean days.
Let’s pause for a moment to mention indolic formulas. A quick Google will tell you that indolic molecules smell of faeces. This doesn’t mean your perfume will smell like poop, because who would actually buy that? In large quantities they might smell faecal, but they are usually used in small amounts in perfume so the indolic chemicals add a rounded and warm quality to the scent. Sometimes they evoke the scent of human skin to bring a sensuous tone to fragrances and sometimes they just spike things that are a bit boringly pretty so that their beauty is magnified by the scent of this animalic flaw. Indoles are a very clever little molecule and it takes a skilled perfumer to handle them deftly enough so they don’t tip a fragrance over into smelling like unwashed bodies. Here, in Latin Lover, they are handled well and add a pleasant rounding sourness to what could otherwise have run away into being just another heady floral scent.
The indolic notes of the jasmine sambac continue right through the heart of the scent, and as it wears you are frequently reminded of their presence, so bear that in mind. The scent deepens towards the heart with the floral notes becoming more languid somehow, less energetic but no quieter. From the floral cloud we detected a very discernible ribbon of lily of the valley in here which has that sort of heavy, lethargic, decadent sweetness. This chimed nicely alongside the indolic notes so that they both held each other in check. And maybe that is what this perfume is actually about? The sweet, heady florals being embraced by the indolic, earthier, jasmine notes backed up by the slightly herbaceous bergamot so that the resulting perfume is balanced beautifully. Could be marketing nonsense, or it could just be very accomplished perfumery.
The florals recede into a pretty, flowery fug in the base of the scent, still heady, still very flowery, sweet and powerful, but the notes become less discernible from one another. The warmth remains and, at times, this perfume just really smells like sunshine on naked skin. On a cold, drizzly Yorkshire day this is indeed a joyous thing!
We also noticed a very strong dollop of benzoin in the base too that gave a sweet, resinous thickness to the scent. There’s a lot of sweet things going on here and it would be easy to get a bit lost in them. The overall impression in the base is warm, sweet, and increasingly dry and powdery, especially if you sniff it close to your skin.
The other stuff
Latin Lover has one of the worst names we have come across in recent releases and sure, that doesn’t affect what it smells like (thank goodness) but it sounds like it’s come from the pound shop – not exactly what you want when you are spending a significant amount of cash on a niche buy. Thankfully it doesn’t smell as tacky as it sounds.
Latin Lover doesn’t appear particularly experimental or avant guard, but it is instead a proper, solid, even – dare we say it – traditional type of scent. Calling something traditional can seem like a bit of an insult in today’s market which is full of strange combinations and mimicry. Not in this case though. Latin Lover isn’t a simulacra of the first rain of November, or baby’s tears. No, this is a perfume that smells like a perfume and is made for people who like these combinations of notes in a perfume. It’s a return to simplicity, at least in premise if not in the notes themselves.
The longevity of the scent is excellent, it lasts throughout the day without the need to reapply. The projection of the scent is also excellent. It does come off the body a good amount whilst wearing, but it manages to just stay the right side of obtrusiveness. People will notice you are wearing it, but probably not be offended by it. At least that’s the hope. It’s powerful stuff though, so if you are spraying yourself with a significant amount each wear, you might want to take a little care with who you sit next to on the bus.
After wearing Latin Lover a few times, we were inclined to compare it to Honour by Amouage in several ways, however, Latin Lover is, to our mind, a more successful example of a scent of this genre and significantly cheaper to boot so before you splurge on a bottle of Honour, you might want to check this out and potentially save yourself some money.
Latin Lover is available from Bloom Perfumery London, who kindly supplied us with a sample of this scent. It is priced at £125 for 100ml EdP.
You can also buy this fragrance direct from the Carner Barcelona website in some countries, but when we tried we were denied access (we are UK based).