One of the most creative noses in the world of perfumery today is Alessandro Gualtieri. He is associated most often with the niche perfume house of Nasomatto. No doubt Black Afgano, a Gualtieri creation, is quite well known in the fragrance community, a dark concoction brimming with a hashish accord, oud, coffee, among other things. But Mr. Gualtieri is also the mastermind behind the Italian niche perfume house of Orto Parisi. As is the case with Nasomatto, the fragrances of Orto Parisi never have any notes listed, thereby heightening the appreciation of the artistry behind each fragrance, forcing you to focus on other things besides just a listing of notes – colors, emotions, instincts, etc.
There are two fragrances within the Orto Parisi lineup featuring rather intriguing, if not provocative names in Latin. The first one is Seminalis, meaning semen or seed, but the one I want to focus on is Stercus, which means poop, feces.
I have seen photos of the presentation of Stercus which prominently features anal motifs in blatant fashion. Gualtieri never ceases to shock those who attempt to parse his creations. So, does Stercus smell like poop? Not at all!
To my nose, Stercus could be categorized as a floral woody composition, with a dark, warm, musky backbone. Most prominent to me are the perceived presences of oud, smokey, leathery labdanum, ambergris, patchouli, a touch of nagarmotha, and animalic musks, most likely rendered through hyraceum or castoreum. And indeed, there is something vaguely floral lurking in the depths of Stercus. At times I get just the slightest outline of rose, or perhaps jasmine, but due to the superior blending of the fragrance, deciphering which one it may be is quite a conundrum.
Stercus is quite surprising in the opening, when the dirty animalic components burst out upon your skin with a checked, but fervent intensity. When reading reviews of this fragrance, one person mentioned that the opening gives the suggestion of smelling like an anus, to put it succinctly. I can see where one might get such an impression, but it is in no way a fecal, disgusting odor. It is clean, yet engagingly carnal, sensual, even sexual. This is mostly due in part to the animalic musks.
After the first 10-15 minutes, the seemingly raunchy opening simmers down into alluring potion of musks, warm ambergris, and smokey woods, with that ever-enigmatic trace of something floral in the shadows. Throughout the wearing experience, Stercus is imbued with a certain sweet quality, it’s never cloying or gourmand, but is more like smelling human skin, quite alluring and sensual.
As the fragrance proceeds into the later stages of its life on skin, I sometimes perceive something akin to a smooth, cinnamon-like accord mixed in with the dark, shadowy woods and musks.
This wonderful, thought-provoking creation lasts all day and even into the next, surrounding you with a strong, assertive, yet intimate skin presence. I find it to be a perfect choice for those cold, grey, rainy days, but I could also see it working as an irresistible scent for a close, romantic, sensual occasion. If you are ever looking for something different in a fragrance, yet still being inherently quite a wearable work of art, Orto Parisi should be on your list.