Do you yearn to be at the seaside in winter, cold sea breeze caressing your face, seaweed popping under your feet? Do you wish you were a tiny silver fish sliding between waves and making the vast, empty sea your home? If so, you should try this marine scent with an enormous personality.
Dew, seaspray, raindrops, seaweed.
UNUM are achingly cool. Their website is slick and gorgeous, their marketing is esoteric and intriguing and the presentation of their scents is just so damn pretty (we’ll come back to this in a moment). UNUM ooze a modern, black and white glamour that makes you want to go out and buy a new monochromatic wardrobe, move to a European capital city and drink nothing but civet coffee. Seriously, check out their website, its glorious.
An Italian brand, UNUM have Filippo Sorcinelli at their helm. Incidentally, we would love to see some sort hipster off between Sorcinelli and Ben Gorham of Byredo to see who was the most hipster of them all.
If you’re trying to get a feel for what this brand are like, definitely think that one weird kid at school who was so cool he was ahead of his time. Only now he is all grown up, and has the chops to back up his reputation. Multiply trendy by ten and you may be close.
Nebbia Spessa is part of a trio of fragrances in the Nebbia (fog) range from UNUM. They have their very own, very beautiful website.
So, to the scent itself. Spessa starts with a blast of damp, salty sea air. It’s bracing, fresh; a cold, deserted beach after a high tide when the waves have washed ribbons of kelp on to the shore. You can practically smell the colours of this scent: muted blues, grays and the darker, oily greens of the seaweed.
Spessa is the sort of scent that it would be easy to describe as invigorating, like a walk on a blustery beach would be, but it’s also more complex than that. There’s a darkness to the scent too, something that yes, is invigorating, but which is also has a more melancholy side.
But it really, really does smell like the seaside.
There is no ‘warming up’ in this scent at all. It remains a very cool fragrance throughout its wear. What happens instead is an intensification of the notes as the scent hits its stride. The heart becomes very salty, very ozonic, whilst remaining cold and damp. It becomes apparent that this is a brooding, masculine scent and you start to wonder what is lurking in the sea fret that is obscuring the shoreline. There’s an aloofness here and whilst wearing it you don’t feel like the scent is mingling with the scent of your skin at all, instead it’s like wearing someone else’s shadow as a cloak. Really fascinating stuff.
The base of Spessa is reminiscent of a fresh oyster. Several people said this to us when we tested it. It’s not fishy, but it is briny, incredibly salty and fresh smelling but almost repulsive at the same time. This could be because its a very metallic smelling fragrance, and the effect is almost like your brain goes “ah the sea…no, wait, is that blood?”. It’s disconcerting and at times we felt really discombobulated by testing it.
After we tested Spessa though, we read their website and this seems to be exactly the effect that Sorcinelli was going for. They write: “mixing instant fear and convulsive pleasure, between salt revulsion and pleasure”, which was an interesting insight into the scent itself.
There are cold, stoney rock pools in the base of the scent, along with metals, salts and a vague sense of unease. This has to be one of the most forcefully powerful scents that we have reviewed so far. Yes, you might have to file it on the ‘challenging’ shelf, but at the same time it oozes this sense of personality and sureness in itself. It is very unapologetic for what it is, and that’s something that it is easy to respond to.
The other stuff
The longevity of this scent is insane. It lasts and lasts and lasts. We tested it from first thing in the morning, and on one occasion, it was still possible to smell it 24 hours later. Wow.
The sillage, or projection, of the scent is significant, people will definitely be able to tell that you are wearing it. We would caution against putting too much on – especially at first – because it is so strong and so loud that you really could turn into an olfactive slap to the face if you aren’t careful. And nobody likes an olfactive slap to the face.
In terms of gender, we really felt that this would sit far closer to the stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum. It feels like a very manly scent indeed and is chock full of cool and powerful notes. We could see this working on people who run a bit hot, as it would be a nice counterpoint to toasty skin.
No review of this scent would be complete without a nod to the presentation which is whimsical and rather fantastic! Nebbia Spessa is presented in a clear bottle, but has particles that swirl around it, suspended and catching the light. The cap is in the form of a fluffy white cloud. No really, it honestly is. It looks a bit like they stuck a blob of cotton wool to a lid, but the overall impression is really rather charming and totally different to anything else we have seen lately. Definitely one for bottle collectors and presentation aficionados to seek out.
Nebbia Spessa is available from Bloom Perfumery London. It is priced at £140 for 50ml of extrait. This may seem like a lot of money for a small bottle, but trust us, you need so little of this that we would warrant that a bottle of that size will last you as long as a 100ml bottle of something less punchy.
If you like this, you may also want to check out Every Storm a Serenade by Imaginary Authors which has a similar, albeit less powerful (although still a force to be reckoned with) marine vibe.