This is an interesting smell, so points there. Also points for uniqueness. It has a sharpness or a sourness to it. This almost smells like something I could eat at the top, but then it turns into more of a shaving cream, men's cologne smell, with the edible element in the background. I could almost give this a thumbs up based on the opening, but as it develops, it loses the early promise, and becomes increasingly cloying in the base.
*Note: This is a review of the current formula of Domenico Caraceni 1913.
Domenico Caraceni 1913 opens with a light, airy rose with a slight dull orange undertone. Moving to the early heart the rose remains, losing some of its initial airy nature and swapping in substantial powder, as the orange undertone grows into a co-starring role melding with a tobacco-like note, giving the composition a balmy overall texture. During the late dry-down the powdery rose-orange-tobacco accord gradually recedes, revealing a touch of radiant frankincense in the base coupling with woody cypress through the finish. Projection is excellent and longevity very good at 10-12 hours on skin.
The original release of Domenico Caraceni 1913 is extremely well sought after, so much so that bottles were selling on places like eBay for upwards of $400 a piece the last time I checked. Unfortunately for this writer that was far too much to risk for a blind buy, so I never got a chance to sniff the original release to my chagrin. It was great news when the composition was re-released, now giving folks like myself a chance to see what the legion of fans of the original were crowing about. Unfortunately, while I haven't smelled the vintage for comparison, the current release really isn't anything to write home about. The open starts off quite nice with a very natural smelling transparent airy rose. Unfortunately, that initial transparency is short lived, as a dull orange note starts out as support, gaining momentum while coupling with an odd tobacco-like substance as time passes to reach near-parity with the now powdery rose, spoiling the party. The overall heart accord really is unimpressive to say the least, and the combination of the powdery rose with the dull orange and pseudo tobacco really reminds me of a cross between lipstick and powdery makeup. On the positive side, the late dry-down salvages the downward spiral rather nicely, as once the powdery rose and dulled orange recede, the composition unveils a fine frankincense and woody finish that smells very good, making one wish they could have just skipped the middle section of the composition's development entirely, getting to it earlier. The bottom line is the $135 per 100ml Domenico Caraceni 1913 starts and finishes well, but its key middle is near-torturous to endure, earning it an "average" rating of 2.5 stars out of 5 overall and a neutral recommendation.
This is not a full review but a brief update to remark only on the 2015 re-release of Domenico Caraceni 1913. I performed a focused old versus new two-hand test for a several hours and, as is often the case with reformulations, the exercise sadly became the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of brutal facts. Honestly there is no contest. After a period of time the vintage seems like it has about twice the stuffing and projection. The base of the vintage is far richer and, unlike what you might expect with a vintage/new comparison, the vintage has a subtle but sustained top-note layer featuring a sort of clove-y menthol vibe that the new version completely lacks. This difference in the high notes is just one of the factors that suggest to me that the variances at issue are not merely a function of ingredient concentrations given the relative age of the juice.
Today I am wearing the vintage as my SOTD and the intensity and projection from two spays is almost uncomfortably strong for at least the first three to four hours. Perhaps the reformulation, therefore, is somehow easier to wear, but I do worry a bit that it lacks character. In particular, I wonder if it is as distinctive a rose-centered masculine fragrance as other options such as Lyric Man, Egoist, Déclaration d'Un Soir, or others – not that this is a large category. It may well be, however, that the new Caraceni looks puny only when placed next to the giant of the original. Alternative comparisons may well prove more felicitous.
06th October, 2015 (last edited: 05th July, 2016)
Oh, what an underrated gem. Possibly the best masculine rose scent ever for me (yes, taking into account Amouage, Czech & Speake and others). The opening of 1913 is surprisingly pleasant, with a bold barbershop/“antique grooming toilet” feel mostly centered on rose, carnation and tobacco, posed on a dark, camphorous, dusty and slightly indolic base (jasmine?) like in many old masculine chypres. The floral accord is dark and lascivious, quite more bold than usual for this kind of “traditional” masculine colognes, and gives 1913 a really peculiar and distinctive austere but irresistibly sophisticated grace; a sort of decadent, shady, vaguely “dandy” kind of refinement, mixed to an austere feel reminding me of classic Italian aftershaves – kind of more nutty and floral, no citrus-lavender-leather “Britishness”. Extremely classy, mature and pleasant, slightly “outdated” in a totally positive way; one of the very few Italian perfumes which indeed speaks Italian to me, meaning that it makes me think of the dusty, cozy, shady, kind of shabby and modest beauty of barber parlours and small tailors’ ateliers – the kind of places where our beloved Italian heritage of elegance was born and is still being kept alive (nothing fancy or luxurious, I rather think of understated, shabby boutiques). “Penhaligon’s Sartorial”? Meh... this is possibly the closest fragrance to my concept of “gentleman” I’ve ever tried - and that surprises me given that I usually tend to associate vintage scents to that idea. The drydown is just fantastic and irresistibly classy, rose and dry tobacco. Persistence is everlasting, just a bit cloying after a while, but really solid. Great (and obviously, discontinued).
EDIT (05/2015): If anyone's interested, they relaunched this scent recently. Different bottle, slightly different juice, but totally good the same for me. It is already available at some local Italian shops, I guess it will be available online as well at some point.
13th January, 2015 (last edited: 27th May, 2015)
There is a brief, pungent blast of sour citrus when I put on Domenico Caraceni, followed by a unique and mysterious blend of sweet rose, honey, and dark fruit. These elements blend into a rich accord that is at once familiar and elusive. It evokes some dim olfactory memory that slinks about the fringes of my memory without ever fully revealing itself. I don’t know if I’ll ever fully recognize it, but it keeps teasing and tugging at my nose.
The fruit begins to smell of plum to me, an as it merges with the rose I am reminded of the lush, sweet scent of passion fruit. Sweet spices, including perhaps cardamom and cinnamon, waft in as the scent develops, and I begin to perceive hints of creamy sandalwood, and perhaps even rosewood peeking up from the depths. Very warm musks make themselves evident as well, but the accord that results is so well blended that it soon becomes impossible to distinguish its components.
Domenico Caraceni’s deep, yet elusive heart beats on in a consistent rhythm for a matter of hours before the balance begins to alter. The sweet spices and honey notes fall away, leaving a clearer and cooler rose exposed over very delicately balanced woods and a guardedly animalic musk. The very gradual drydown descends through layers of smooth wood, warm musk and a few powdery notes before the whole scent fades away entirely. Sillage and projection are moderate, and longevity is better than most. This scent will surely be compared to Czech and Speake’s No. 88, which to me seems a darker, drier, and “craggier” scent than Domenico Caraceni. I also think that No. 88 is more hard edged and potent. Both scents strike me as extremely dignified and sophisticated, but the sweet, plumy note and the very warm musk in Domenico Cararceni leave me thinking of it as the gentler and more comforting of the two. If you’re looking for a masculine rose scent and find the Montale Aouds too harsh or assertive, you should try this excellent scent.