Besos by Carner Barcelona

Roses are red, violets are blue, if you want to snog hotties, this perfume’s for you.

(Not a genuine line from their marketing campaign, but it could have been.)

Picture the scene: a beautiful young man dressed in a cashmere jumper that he artfully tossed on embraces a beautiful young woman in a Parisian street, her braid just unfurling enough to look sexy and disheveled, his jaw just sprinkled lightly with stubble. Is this a luxury fragrance or the latest offering from a high street chain? You can’t tell, right? Because this is a trope  that has been used so many times.

When we first saw the advertising for it, we feared that Besos (which is Spanish for kisses – of course it is) was in danger of ticking every cliche in the book. One couldn’t help but feel that this was ground which had been trodden before, time and time again. We approached with a cautiously open mind to find something which is rather more interesting than just a cliche.

Listed notes

Italian mandarin, Madagascan black pepper, Jasmine sambac absolute from India, iris absolute, Benzoin from Laos, vanilla, musk.

The brand

Carner Barcelona is a classical and sophisticated fragrance house, that oozes a quiet elegance and luxurious aura. In aiming to capture the spirit and essence of the magnificent city of Barcelona in their scents they have brought us some really solid perfumes such as Palo Santo and Tardes which we have previously reviewed. Carner’s fragrances are conceived by well known experts from around the world, but manufactured entirely in Barcelona.
In recent months they have released three new fragrances: Besos, Sweet William and Latin Lover (reviews on the remaining two coming up in the future). These new fragrances form their Floral Collection, which now accompanies their Woody Collection and the Black Collection.

Top notes

So, diving into the scent… The immediate impression that you get from this perfume is something sweet but with a purity about it. There is the sense of the fruit sugars from the mandarin, but it’s more like the remembrance of a candy you ate a couple of hours ago and there is only the faintest trace left on your breath now – that sort of level of intensity. Instead of being distinctly citrusy, the mandarin adds this gentle warmth and sweetness which is undercut by a stronger solventy, chemically punch.

I realise that sounds potentially rather negative, but it’s actually not unpleasant at all. It’s reminiscent of strongly varnished wood, perhaps, or even something like WD40. It feels like we would be retrofitting the listed notes to the scent if we said it was the pepper coming through because it doesn’t smell very distinctly like pepper when it’s on, but it has that fragrant, aromatic, heady nose to it that both pepper and WD40 have. (Please don’t go sniffing your garage solvents to check, however.) This phase also doesn’t last very long either, expending it’s energy fairly quickly as the perfume truly settles down.

Besos has a very intriguing start, it is tantalising and it will have you cocking your head to one side wondering where it is going and if it is going to work.

Heart notes

The heart of Besos rounds out nicely into a dry, powdery floral perfume. The iris comes through magnificently and this becomes a scent which is confident in its direction. The iris does sometimes have a scent similar to violet, but the iris in this perfume is slightly greener, slightly less sickly than violet can be. There is the hint of baby powder here, but definitely not Parma Violets.

There aren’t any surprises in the heart of Besos, pleasant or otherwise, so your enjoyment of this perfume may well hinge on how much you relish a fragrance that keeps you on  your toes or not.

Either way, the heart of Besos is delicately and pleasantly floral. It has shades of both carnation and strawberry milkshake at times but it is never overpowering or too sweet. As it opens fully it becomes dry, powdery and almost a little old-fashioned. One can imagine a beautifully coiffed Edwardian lady smelling like this.

There is comforting element to this perfume, it’s florals are quite big but because they are so powdery the scent has a close, comforting feel which makes it easy to wear and likely to appeal to a broad range of consumers.

Base notes

The base of Besos continues in a very similar vein to the heart. The musks and sweet vanilla become a little more apparent, but never stepping out of line or out of harmony with the powdery florals. The benzoin adds a pleasant smoothness to the finish of the scent, just rounding the corners off everything and giving the perfume the feel of being like freshly bathed and powdered skin towards the end.

One of the things we liked about this scent was the cleanliness vibe that it imparts. It isn’t a fresh and zesty cleanliness that citrus or green tea scents give off, it’s more a bathed, powdered and swaddled in a cashmere blanket type of cleanliness, which is really rather lovely.

The other stuff

The projection of this scent is reasonably light and it seems to stay fairly close to the body as you wear it. The longevity of the scent is good, however, with it lasting well into the afternoon.

The scent sits towards the stereotypically feminine end of the perfume spectrum, and from reading the listed notes you may well come to that same conclusion, however, there is something about this fragrance that made us feel that it would be an interesting wear on male skin. Something about the aromatics in the top note and then the slightly animalistic quality that the jasmine sambac brings made us think that this could really be quite a striking wear on a man. Let us know if you decide to try it out!

Buy it

Besos is available from Bloom Perfumery, London, who kindly provided us with a sample to review. It is priced at £85 for 50ml EDP. Besos is also available direct from Carner Barcelona although this does seem to vary from country to country and at the time of writing we weren’t able to access their store from the UK.

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