You may know The Merchant of Venice as a famous Shakespearean play and if you do, you’ll be very pleased to know that the perfume house of the same name does not require a pound of flesh as payment. This is an artisanal house that celebrates the history of Italian perfumery through blends that are both classic and modern – respecting tradition but also looking to the future. What’s more, The Merchant of Venice pays homage to the ancient traditions of Murano glass with some of the most eye-catching and beautiful flacons. They range from the classically beautiful to the colourfully bizarre, but are always gorgeous to look at, just in the same way that the fragrances are.
The Merchant of Venice is a house of fusion, where the East meets the West. It takes its inspiration from the maritime trade routes from Africa and Asia that wound their way through the city of Venice. It’s also a brand that celebrates Venetian culture, utilising materials, both for the fragrances and glass bottles, that Venice has been an integral part of producing or exporting. At Escentual we have two of the brand’s collections on show; the feminine Murano Collection and the masculine Nobil Homo collection. Whilst the scents in each series may be different, one thing that is entirely consistent is exceptional quality and a fastidious dedication to flawless olfactory and visual aesthetics. This is The Merchant of Venice.
The Murano Collection
The Merchant of Venice offer six fragrances within their feminine Murano Collection. A quick glance of the bottles reveals designs that range from wispy violet stripes to bold colour blocking and vibrant swirling patterns. It would be fair to say that the eclectic nature of these designs encapsulates the theme of the collection, which is a mixed bunch of olfactory styles, presentations and notes. On one hand you have the floral and citrus creations, those that are lighter and more ethereal, whilst on the other there is a section of intoxicating orientals that can only be described as being altogether more full-bodied.
Mandarin Carnival is the most sparkling fragrance in the collection. It’s a festival of vivacious citrus fruits, all tart and mouthwatering, with a wonderful, underlying bitterness that is intensely green and spiky. For those that fancy something more floral, The Merchant of Venice offers Suave Petals and Flower Fusion, two fragrances that take the beauty of flowers and accent them with fruits, musks and spices. Suave Petals is a sticky fruity floral with notes of musk and vanilla, and Flower Fusion merges rose and violet with delicious waves of freesia-flavoured vanilla.
On the the more opulent side we have the orientals, kicking off with the gorgeous Asian Inspirations – a wonderfully airy and feminine take on the salty, earthy note of vetiver that is lightened up with a dab of sparkling grapefruit. Things get warmer still with Noble Potion, a spicy woody fragrance that pairs sweaty cedar with the sharpness of plum, taking cues from Serge Lutens’ remarkable Féminité du Bois, albeit in a much softer and less confrontational manner. Finally, at the most oriental point in the Murano Collection, The Merchant of Venice offers Byzantium Saffron, a dry leather so smoky it’s almost impolite. It’s a vast-ranging collection and with bottles as gorgeous as these, you’ll be glad to know that there is something for everyone within.
The Nobil Homo Collection
If you thought the flacons for the Murano Collection were pretty, then prepare yourself for ultimate handsomeness with The Merchant of Venice’s Nobil Homo Collection for men. These bottles are as suave and sophisticated as they come, boasting geometric patterns of different shapes and shades, with each capturing the spirit of the juice housed within rather aptly. The scents themselves are classically masculine and lead one to think of an effortlessly fashionable man whose hair is as well-tailored as his suit.
Much like the Murano Collection, the masculine Nobil Homo Collection feels as if it has been split in half with a mixture of lighter and more heady fragrances. The lightest of the bunch is Esperidi Water which takes its cues from classic eau de colognes. Esperidi Water is a fresh and punchy cologne that pairs bright citrus and aromatic notes with aquatic musks, but it’s somehow not as refreshing as Dalmatian Sage, which is a mouthwatering vetiver that begs to be paired with an unbuttoned shirt. Both are paired back, lovely and completely suave.
The interesting thing about this collection is that, even when they get bold with the likes of Sultan Leather and Ottoman Amber, the masculine scents are still more paired back than the feminines, creating a sense of a more refined elegance. Take Sultan Leather, for example. This delicate take on leather feels more blond than the dry, smokiness of Byzantium Saffron and evokes the feeling of aged suede that is still soft to the touch. Ottoman Amber however, is something much more present – a delicious amber that is rich and resinous, and entirely resplendent with images of the orient. To wear Ottoman Amber is to be transported across the globe to a hectic spice market filled to the brim with odours, sounds and colours – it’s one heck of an experience.
You could be forgiven for looking at The Merchant of Venice’s fragrance collection and thinking, oh look just another load of pretty bottles, but you would be wrong. This collection of fragrances is served with both style and substance, presenting 11 fragrances that smell good from top to bottom. Sure, the compositions aren’t particularly innovative or challenging but they are elegant and enjoyable. The Merchant of Venice fragrances look and smell good, what more could you want?!
Over to You!
What’s your favourite fragrance from The Merchant of Venice? Let me know in the comments box below!