Oh this is cute. Parfums de Marly decided to make a fresh fougère with Percival (2018), and instead of directly copying one or two popular designer examples, they decided to mix a few different styles together. I don’t want to like it, because it’s just another luxury redressing of a blue collar vibe with over-amped performance, but I actually do. In this instance, we are getting a note pyramid mostly similar to Montblanc Legend (2011), a fragrance known by many in the hobbyist community affectionately as “expensive Axe”, mixed with slightly more-recent developments found in fragrances like Versace Pour Homme Dylan Blue (2016). The base is fattened and rounded out with higher quality aromachems in the usual way Parfums de Marly does, but there isn’t anything particularly niche about the execution, and this is yet another example from the house of a scent meant for the rich STEM or medical professionals that have enough interest in perfume to watch the occasional YouTube reviewer rant about a brand like this. In an almost comical way, the matte blue finish of the bottle on this one is very reminiscent of the racing blue I see on some BMW cars, so it’s very fitting for the intended market segment. Unlike some past efforts such as Herod (2012) or Layton (2016), Percival also manages to not come across cloying despite obvious base note enhancements.
The opening here in Percival is almost the spitting image of the first ten minutes of Creed Himalaya (2002), with metallic aldehydes (eg: helonial), dry bergamot, and a sweet citrus like mandarin for counter-balance. I’d almost call this a lower-cost alternative to the Creed, since Percival is about $200 cheaper, but even at $300 MSRP you have to really love what is being offered, and because this is such a common idea being represented, the chance of such a love affair is unlikely. From this Himalaya-like opening, we switch into the “Montblanc phase”, with jasmine, lavender, geranium, coriander, and cinnamon creating a rather round, spicy, clean, and smooth “shower gel masculine” vibe. A tiny speck of violet infers some similarity to Creed Green Irish Tweed (1985) as other note, but it is gone is a hurry, as the final “Versace phase” of the base comes about. In this final turn, we get a healthy dose of norlimbanol and ambroxan, with some “generic blue 90’s thing” filling in the gaps, but a larger quantity of musk and evernyl than in the Versace, plus some tonka and fir balsam. Overall, this smells better than Versace Pour Homme Dylan Blue, but for three times the price, I don’t know if it’s better enough to justify the leap. Wear time is over 8 hours and sillage is good but not obnoxious. I’d stick to office or casual use with Percival if I was to buy it.
I commend Parfums de Marly for finally being able to make a niche-priced designer dupe that actually smells like more time and attention went into it than the designer it parrots (and not just more/stronger ingredients), but this is still far and away from anything a hobbyist would qualify as niche. Luckily for Parfums de Marly, they’re not trying to capture the same market as someone like Serge Lutens or Amouage, so they’re not so worried if the oakmoss-huffing and oud-licking segment of the market doesn’t get their fix of natural-smelling bases and is able to prattle off the chemicals they smell in a scent like Percival in the same way a kid reads the ingredients on a cereal box. The guy graduating from that aforementioned Montblanc and looking to “move up to the next level” after watching a few YouTube videos is the prime candidate for something like Percival, as it is friendly, clean, well-constructed, and smells “better” than whatever else such a person may have been using, and without sufficient knowledge in what other options exist, could easily be slipped a bottle by the right salesperson. Once again, I like Percival, but am hard pressed to recommend it to anyone unless a bottle comes across your path at a severe discount due to the glut of alternatives. Thumbs up