So Nude is the latest fragrance from Costume National, the design house that previously issued the popular Scent, Scent Intense, Scent Gloss, and 21. So Nude is authored by none other than Dominique Ropion, creator for the epic Frédéric Malle Carnal Flower. Since both So Nude and Carnal Flower trade heavily on tuberose, I was curious to see how Ropion would interpret this white-floral note for Costume National.
According to marketing copy, So Nude has quite a big mission ahead of it. The model in the black-and-white ad is topless and has an almost confrontational gaze. The marketing copy explains: “The name of this new opus expresses quintessence, transparency and contours taken to their zenith, an absolute femininity. Infinitely passionate, the fragrance represents a woman who embodies total justness.” An interesting use of the word “justness,” and I sort of wish they had said “righteousness” instead, but I’ll let it slide. The copy goes on to say this woman is, “A modern icon, her allure is so timeless, so feminine, so natural, so chic…so nude. Nude is she, today and forever… timeless, direct, true. Her elegance and grace come from the inside.”
I’m not sure what nudity has to do with being chic, but this I will also let slide. So Nude is less like Carnal Flower than it is two other things: The first is that modern (and irritating to me) hairspray note that gets shellacked over all manner of modern fragrances. The second is a definite house signature sheerness that is carried over from Scent Gloss and Scent Cool Gloss. The idea behind So Nude is that of a skin scent, and once it dries down past this super-engineered tuberose and the hairspray reference, So Nude is a pleasantly acceptable, but not groundbreaking, second-skin slip of a perfume.
The notes of So Nude puzzle me. I really don’t get the spice (cardamom, cumin) or the woods of the base or the patchouli. There’s little of the real flower here, tuberose or rose or ylang-ylang or neroli. The tuberose in So Nude is that candy-sweet one that keeps popping up whenever tuberose is now used. Gone are the rich and fatty dimensions and the hint of camphor that mark something like Carnal Flower or L’Artisan Tubereuse.
Instead, the tuberose smells synthetic and white—there is no other way to describe it—like a representation of the flower in the Plastic Age and not the flower itself. In the end, I mostly get the high-pitched tuberose and something that might be patchouli or might not be patchouli at all but something engineered to smell somewhat like a “safe” (read: non-earthy) patchouli that has been dusted with a creamy-but-transparent white floral.
This is Costume National’s Beige, the modern, sheer white floral that smells like a great shampoo and that gets you all manner of compliments because it smells of nothing in particular all at once. In that ease of understanding, So Nude is a bit voiceless. That doesn’t mean you can’t notice it; it just has nothing much to say, and to be brutally honest it smells like another mass produced fragrance.
So Nude reminds me of Lady Stetson, a drugstore staple, and probably a few other things I can’t quite recall. I’ll wear up my generous sample unthinkingly and maybe even scent some tissue to perfume the hallway. It is an ideal scent for anyone who might be tired of scruffier, grungier scents, I’ll give it that.
Costume National So Nude includes notes of neroli, cardamom, cumin, rose, tuberose, ylang ylang, cedarwood, patchouli, and sandalwood. Available from Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and other major retailers.