Sweet William? More like Amorous Andy. There’s a raw passion about this scent that overtakes the nice-guy name.
According to the Carner website in days-gone-by love-lorn young men would sit for a portrait holding a red carnation – a Sweet William – to signify their search for true love. This perfume references this charming cypher of yore. We’ll look out for the Instagram generation adopting it soon.
White pepper, cardamom, cinnamon bark, galangal, dianthus superbus scentrek tm, ylang ylang, rose water extract, night blooming tobacco flower, ambrarome, styrax, iris, vanilla absolute.
Carner Barcelona is a classical and sophisticated fragrance house that oozes a quiet elegance and luxurious aura. In aiming to capture the spirit and essence of the magnificent city of Barcelona in their scents they have brought us some really solid perfumes such as Palo Santo, Tardes, Latin Lover and Besos, which we have previously reviewed. Carner’s fragrances are conceived by well known experts from around the world, but manufactured entirely in Barcelona.
The Sweet William scent itself opens with a rich, powdery chorus of top notes. There’s a lemony citrus nuance in there, vast plumes of white pepper, and iris which gives the whole scent that beautiful, slightly nostalgic vibe. The iris and the pepper play off against each other beautifully. It’s almost as if the perfumer wanted to evoke that tension between raw passion and a more old-fashioned true love embodied in smell. It has to be said that at the start, the passion wins out. The perfume is full of spicy energy and va-va-voom.
The top notes of the perfume also reminded us of the scent of old make-up which seems to be so popular at the moment. It has that vibe of powder and rouge that cosmetics don’t smell of any more, but which we can recall from the scent of our mother’s and even grandmother’s face powders and lipsticks. It doesn’t last forever, so don’t be put off if that isn’t your thing, but it has a comforting feel about it under all that unbridled energy.
In the top of Sweet William, there is also something which we might describe as a gentle incense nuance. It’s not acrid and hard like incense can be, but instead offers a slightly smokey, slightly sweet feel to the perfume without it taking over. It’s that play between spicy and sweet, floral and woody that we are getting at here. The facets chime against each other and the balance of the scent is beautiful. You’re left wondering which facet will win out as the scent ages. It’s always a lovely experience when a scent keeps you guessing and doesn’t emerge in a predictable way. We found that this really was the case with Sweet William.
In the heart, Sweet William really reveals its spicy secrets. There is warm and robust cardamon and cinnamon here which work wonderfully alongside the pepper; the scent starts off almost itchy in the way it feels in the nose (like smelling pepper does) and then gently revolves into warm spices as the scent wears. It’s a beautiful transition that gives a sense of a story evolving as the perfume progresses – it’s the thread that is visible all the way through that ties one phase to the next perfectly.
On the back of the warm spices is a greener, fresher tone. Sometimes this smells a little like apple, but not always. Sometimes it smells like the green leaves on the stem of a carnation, vaguely floral but not totally so. Either way the perfume takes on a clean feel which was nicely juxtaposed with the warm spices. It’s not completely routine and keeps your nose guessing what will come next. It is in the heart that the unbridled passion starts to cool and temper into something more sedate and polished by age.
In the base, the perfume reminded us of leather covered in talcum powder. The tobacco flower makes it’s presence known with this really gentle rounding off of the scent. It is a little leathery, but never harshly so, and the whole perfume becomes more mellow as it settles into the base notes. There’s the powdery, dry yet clean vibe there from the iris still, and the scent evokes this sort of just-had-a-bath-and-powdered-my-toes feel which is lovely. It feels quite comforting and luxurious in the base, like you’re the heroine in a made for TV adaptation of a Jane Austin novel, and you can be certain it will all turn out alright in the end.
Thankfully, the scent never really loses its wilder edge, it’s less bridled, less buttoned up vibe, which will give those of you who still lust after Mr Darcy (or who long to be him) something to smile about.
The other stuff
The longevity of this scent is moderate to good. On average it lasted until late afternoon from a morning application, sometimes even longer.
The sillage, or projection, of Sweet William was also pleasant. It did definitely project from the body – probably to around handshake distance – and it is the sort of scent that you will catch whiffs of all day when you wear it.
In terms of the gender of the scent, although it contains a lot of notes that may be thought of as stereotypically feminine, we felt that this scent fell just into the more masculine end of the spectrum, but it’s a close run thing and as such we can see the appeal being quite wide, especially to those who love the clean, spicy iris vibes that it puts out all the way through.
Sweet William is available from Bloom Perfumery, London, where it is priced at £85 for 50ml EdP, or £125 for 100ml. Bloom very kindly supplied us with a sample of this fragrance.
Sweet William is also available from Carner Barcelona’s web boutique.