Just Plum Pretty: Natori by Josie Natori (2009)
It took me almost two years after it was launched that I finally tried the new version of Natori from 2009. There is no Neiman-Marcus in my city, and I must not have paid attention at the time if it was at Saks Fifth Avenue, but we lost that store in 2010 anyway and no other brick-and-mortar shops carried it. Marina’s take on it at the time got me revved up to try some but I never did until recently, and it was definitely worth the wait. I started with a mini bottle from EBay, graduated to a larger decant in a swap with another perfume fan, and now I realize that a full bottle will be necessary.
I recall the original Natori scent from 1980 with the stylized gold flower design on the bottle and I really loved it; however, it seemed to disappear very quickly from the market, and I could not figure out why because I thought it was very well done. Of course that was before discontinued perfumes could be hunted down on the Internet; I saw it on EBay not too long ago and put in a few bids, but somebody with deep pockets wanted it a lot more than I did. (I have never smelled the interim Avon Natori perfume so I can’t comment on that one.) The current Natori is an update of the original and has the same diffused softness, a languid boudoir type of fragrance, appropriately enough considering Josie Natori’s fame as a lingerie designer. Putting it on is like slipping into a slinky negligee after a warm bubble bath. The original was centered on peony but did not have any sharpness to it at all; just the rich, creamy scent of the best fragrant blossoms, and was a straight-up lush floral perfume. The new incarnation also features a prominent peony note but it is embellished with rich plum and a number of other soft, warm notes including something called “satin musk;” and is firmly located in the floral-Oriental zip code.
The many things I find so pleasing about this fragrance: As soft and comforting as it is, there is nothing overly sweet or powdery about it. The plum is delicious yet it’s not a sugary gourmand. It’s sexy and seductive but so darned user-friendly that Grandma could wear it too. It is retro but not dated, more like a timeless classic, and even though its gentle softness seems somehow familiar, it is a departure from so many of the syrupy feminine scents on the market today, as it does not have an overdose of the now all too familiar and often obtrusive woody-amber aroma chemicals or “clean” musks. It has great lasting power but the sillage is moderate; it is not loud or vulgar. It puts me in mind of how Samsara used to be before they cheapened the formula, though with much less projection. Some have called it an Angel descendant, but to me it’s not that way at all; definitely not a “fruitchouli” bomb, since the plum is well balanced with the other components and I frankly can’t even smell the patchouli. If anything, it’s closer in concept to easy-wearing yet distinctive perfumes like Lelong pour Femme or the original Mauboussin. It occupies its own little island in the perfume archipelago, and it’s one I want to visit over and over again.
Natori was composed by Caroline Sabas of Givaudan, and the listed notes via Fragrantica.com are rose petals, dark plum, ylang ylang, purple peony, night blooming jasmine, black patchouli and satin musk. (Adjust your sets for the presence of PR-speak.) It is now widely available at online discounters as well as the higher end department stores and can be had in a range of bath and body products – I understand that the body cream is especially good and, it comes in a big 5 ounce (150 ml) jar. The latter part of 2011 has brought a new Eau de Toilette version of Natori, but I have not tried it yet. I hope that the formula has not been altered in any significant way and that it is just a lighter concentration of this delightful fragrance that has quickly become one of my go-to standards.
Disclosure: The perfume I tested for this review was from my own collection.
Image credit: Photo collage by the author from various sources. I do not claim ownership of any of these images.