Much of the criticism aimed at this somewhat maligned creation – a green, restrained, but equally stimulating scent made exclusively with all natural ingredients by the understated doyenne of deft, Olivia Giacobetti, is for its fleetingness. Gone in sixty seconds, people say. Cannot be considered a perfume, say others. Ridiculously short-lasting, the consensus.
And it is true: Nugreen, an original and rather odd composition of chlorophyllic freshness and light consisting solely of ‘crumpled mint leaves’; grass notes, tarragon, Indian botanical musk, and cedarwood, does disappear from the skin rather quickly.
This is not, then, a scent to be worn to the opera, a party, or a wedding (unless you are one of those people, like myself on occasion, who just yearns to find a place to get away from all of the shrieking and hubbub and hide behind some shrubbery in the garden) – but then, I don’t think that it was really intended to be.
The gentleness with which the accord initially bursts from the skin, in a refreshing, pale, bright cusp of green, coupled with a certain rigor of spirit – a thirst for the outdoors, for a pristine, herbaceous tranquillity – make the scent strangely appealing to me, when I am in the right mood, like a Zen Buddhist retreat in the woodlands of Shikoku.
Then again, from another angle, it is hard to say whether the perfume is in fact unresolved, if it needed to be more (I do understand the ‘this is not a perfume’ detractors, as Nugreen does feel almost terroristically anti-perfume, even avant-garde in its scything through the established formats of perfume construction with its single blade of grass.)
Nor, importantly, do I think it is especially beautiful. There is something peculiarly savoury and ‘unpretty’ about ‘Nu Green’: grossly obstinate and unyielding in its lightness. Psychologically, it possesses a deeply repressed passive-aggression, stemming possibly from the quietly rasping, dry and oxygenated cedarwood aphorisms at its heart that remind me of some ostensibly gentle, environmental, stylish, tasteful, but inwardly hostile individual who will not brook her meticulously kept, chemical-free, bogusly ‘spiritual’ wooden home being sullied with anything other than the hypocritical presence of her beloved cats; her organic condiments, and the occasional presence of her quietly obedient, and equally alternative lifestyle- following coterie of macro-biotic, Muji-clad, beard-stinking and garlic breathed vegans.
(It will go without saying that on the whole, I tend not to gel with such people. There is always a mutual clenching of teeth; fixed and glass-beady eyes, and a certain, you-and-me-both, repelled, murderous silence. They find me perfumed, decadent, aggressive: I find them smelly, boring, and overly rigid in their hair shirted self-hating puritanism).
Concurrently, though, anyway, I do have to say that in various ways this organically green perfume is a quiet, unusual, and quite intriguing scent that does gives you a momentary pause; a chance to breathe and stand back (and the knowledge that the formula’s ingredients comes 100% from the natural world certainly does nothing to detract from this). Nugreen creates, for a short time, a pastoral mirrorglass – a glimpse of a natural moment. Yes, it fades, and far too soon, but, then, so does everything.