Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
In ballet, the dancer’s foot has the same delicacy and sensitivity that in other art forms is reserved for the hands. The light touch of a ballerina’s satin wrapped toes can express a wide range of emotions, and this effect, underscored by a remarkably steely strength, gives classical dance its unique flavor. When I first discovered Maison Martin Margiela’s debut fragrance, Untitled, its graceful treatment of woods and incense made me immediately draw the dance analogy. While traditionally one envisions these notes as dark and opulent counterpoints to the more evanescent floral and green touches, in Untitled the roles are reversed.
Created by perfumer Daniela Andrier, Untitled fits within her body of work (Prada Infusion d’Iris, Armani Privé Pierre de Lune, Guerlain Angélique Noire,) which is marked by refinement and luminosity. The initial bitter layer of galbanum provides an exuberant prelude, with the effect progressing from verdant and vegetal to leafy and spicy. As the composition dries down, a twist of orange lends a delicious brightness, softening the green explosion of galbanum to a shimmer. Built on an accord of woods and incense, Untitled nevertheless treats these notes as exquisitely radiant. Their polished transparency serves as a perfect counterpoint to the opulent green chords.
Such deconstruction and the resulting play of effects is appropriate for Maison Martin Margiela as it is renowned for its avant-garde approach to fashion. Yet, Untitled does not strike me as an overly cerebral and challenging composition. It has a sophisticated aura that would suit both men and women, especially those preferring woody compositions that eschew typical masculine/feminine rules. I love the fragrance through all of its stages: the vibrant green opening, the delicate pas de deux of cedarwood and incense and the silky caress of musk. Ultimately, I find wearing Untitled to give me the kind of pleasure I associate with a cool spring breeze tangling my hair or a dance movement leaving me slightly lightheaded.
Martin Margiela Untitled includes notes of galbanum, boxwood, jasmine, lentiscus resinoid, incense, bitter orange, cedar and Serenolide musk. Available from Saks5thAvenue, Neiman Marcus and other retailers; 30ml ($80), 50ml ($100) and 75ml ($140) of Eau de Parfum.
Sample: my own acquisition
Image credit: pointe shoes, wiki commons, some rights reserved.