Costume National So Nude : Perfume Review


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.



  • marsi: Hola, Suzanna! Your review is better than the perfume. The marketing is too funny. “the fragrance represents a woman who embodies total justness.” Huh??? October 12, 2012 at 9:02am Reply

    • Suzanna: Marsi, it is dreadful marketing, isn’t it? Huh indeed!

      This scent is just like so many others out there driven by the bottom line. The trend today is for that ultra-sweetness. October 12, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

  • Austenfan: Thanks for a great review! I will not have to try this which I am grateful for. October 12, 2012 at 9:32am Reply

    • Suzanna: Austenfan, you can skip this one. Will try to find other things for you to try! October 12, 2012 at 10:53am Reply

      • Austenfan: Well especially since I am wearing Goutal’s Sables today; plenty of character there! October 12, 2012 at 11:41am Reply

        • Suzanna: Sables is amazing! One of the best Goutals, if not the best. October 12, 2012 at 1:02pm Reply

    • Jacky De: You do’t have to, but with scents I would always go for the own experience. And sometimes you also have to ignore the commercial brain-washing and simply smell and interpret by yourself. I like So Nude very much. Right, it is not an outstanding fragrance, but it gave me, what i was looking for: smelling wonderful by giving me the feeling not to wear any perfume at all. Nude in the meaning of “without perfume”, without those recognisable nose attacking scents. The spices are really not very present, but they give the warmth and make the floral notes less flowerish. I like it, that florals are a bit suppressed. Exactly this achives the effect, that I dont have a feeling to smell like a flower. It is more like as if my skin smells naturally tender. I think it is a wonderful perfume for every day, it is not the one to attract from far. December 18, 2012 at 7:54am Reply

      • Suzanna: Thanks for your thoughts. I’m glad Nude works so well for you. Perhaps others will be encouraged to try and enjoy it! December 18, 2012 at 8:47am Reply

  • Heather: I agree with Marsi. Great review, painful marketing. Pass. October 12, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

    • Suzanna: Heather, I suppose if someone were looking for something sweet and plastic, this would work nicely. There are so many others in this genre. I don’t even call them florals. I am not sure what they are; they are the perfume equivalent of super-engineered wheat. October 12, 2012 at 10:54am Reply

  • Mary: I was really excited to try this because I love Scent Intense and I already have and love Portrait of a Lady. What a shame they went down that synthetic sheer route, also the PR blurb makes no sense to me. I think I’ll pass on hunting down a sample. October 12, 2012 at 11:11am Reply

    • Suzanna: It might be worthy of mention for that copy, if not the scent. I have no idea what they are trying to say, either, other than that nude is the new chic. Or the new justness. October 12, 2012 at 12:56pm Reply

  • Andrea: Thanks for the review! I purchased Scent Gloss as a blind buy. I find that it also seems “shampoo-y”, but I do like it for casual days what I want a hint of fresh sweetness. I spray it in my hair and get compliments when friends hug me. What do you think of Scent Gloss? October 12, 2012 at 1:02pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Andrea, Scent Gloss is another that would be good for casual days. I think the issue with these scents, for me, is that they are just not distinctive. October 13, 2012 at 7:01am Reply

  • allgirlmafia: Suzanna, thank you for the review. This fragrance sounds terribly under-whelming, but according to your tastes what are some ‘nude’ fragrances that were actually done well? Im am trying to build a wardrobe including a few choice nudes. October 12, 2012 at 2:14pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Allgirl, this isn’t a category that I enjoy, so perhaps others can weigh in with recommendations. October 13, 2012 at 7:01am Reply

    • Victoria: As far as second skin fragrances go, I like Love Chloe, which to me is a similar idea as So Nude (powdery, white floral), but so much better done. Also, I like a clean musk like Gendarme, Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier, Kiehl’s Original Musk. Or Chanel Beige, a very similar idea too. October 13, 2012 at 7:11am Reply

  • Vanessa: I usually perk up at the name “nude” in a perfume, but following your review, I think I will let this one slide…past me altogether. October 12, 2012 at 6:39pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Vanessa, if you see it, try it. Since the name might have interested you if not for my review, by all means give it a sniff. October 13, 2012 at 7:02am Reply

  • Daisy: Oh that ad copy is atrocious! The person who wrote that must be disabused of the thought that they can write well enough for an international campaign!

    It sounds like the fragrance is a total wash too. I’m not sure where this trend in naming perfumes with in-your-face references to nudity started. Isn’t the new Madonna flanker called Naked or something? Kind of miss the days when the names were more poetic.

    However, I do have to say that I love Nasomatto’s Nuda — which is the only “nude” for me! October 13, 2012 at 2:49pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Daisy, I’m with you! Nuda is a favorite of mine (and it is far from nude, unless it is nude jasmine in an erotic form).

      One could make some ad copy simply from stringing together certain unrelated words, as has been done here or so it seems with “nude” and “justness.” October 13, 2012 at 5:54pm Reply

  • Lera: Interesting! I smelled spices, cardamom, to be precise. October 24, 2012 at 2:45pm Reply

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