Rain by Royal Crown (2011)

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Royal Crown sets out to be among the ultra-luxury perfume brands attempting to “out-Creed the almighty Creed” in sheer exorbitance, but unlike Xerjoff or Fragrance du Bois, doesn’t try to rely on false decorum or the exoticism of a single “precious” ingredient to feel “luxurious”. Instead Royal Crown uses bits of the claimed aristocratic heritage found in perfumer/owner Antonio Visconti, mixing them with bobs of ingredient-speak a la “maceration” to give a similar Creed-like feel, then drops in a huge dollop of inspired-perfumer puffery that comes across like Mr. Visconti is trying to poorly imitate the muse of Roja Dove. The end result is something to the effect of “I too am a refined perfumer of noble blood with the heart of a true artist-genius that only uses the finest blah-blah and time-honored who-ha to…” deliver an experience just like many other ultra-luxury perfume brands that seemingly spring from nowhere with the sole purpose to fleece the rich. Royal Crown trumps all but the most-exclusive Roja Dove and Clive Christian editions in price as well, with $475 often being just the starting point to the brand, with the saving grace (if you consider it as such) being that all fragrances made by the house are of extrait de parfum concentration. Rain (2011) is the most-known of all Royal Crown creations, because men with something to prove and the cash to prove it are more likely to fall head-over-heels for the posturing labels like Royal Crown allow them if they offer something familiar, and Rain sits intentionally close in style to one of Creed’s biggest masculine-market fragrances: Green Irish Tweed (1985). It can be said that Rain is a clone that’s paradoxically priced higher than what it’s cloning, but there’s a bit more to the story than that, since Royal Crown Rain positions itself to be a smoother, stronger, more-refined, longer-lasting, and unspoken upgrade from Green Irish Tweed, being a notable difference in light of the usual clone modus operandi. To be fair, most Royal Crown scents are doing their own thing and don’t directly copy anything in particular, but since Rain is simultaneously the most-famous from the house and the “elephant in the room” from them, it’s the one that demands the closest examination for anyone interested in what the house does or could potentially do.

The overall vibe of Rain sits evenly between Green Irish Tweed and its downmarket designer cousin, the father-of-aquatics Davidoff Cool Water (1988), but is more like a lovechild of them. For this reason, I’d venture a guess that perfumer Antonio Visconti enjoys Green Irish Tweed personally, but is not happy with the way the scent has progressed batch-wise over the years or has always liked the smoother facets of the Davidoff scent and couldn’t find it in himself to “stoop down” and wear a common designer. Hence, he grafted the two siblings together, making something of a “whole” fragrance from the halves he sutured into one. Verbena, galbanum, and bergamot from GIT show up as expected, but mint and calone borrowed from Cool Water do as well. There are some unique twists and turns like mandarin leaf, coriander, and pink pepper to make Rain stand out, but they add body and depth more than spice. The heart has geranium, jasmine, and lavender also lifted from Cool Water, grafted to GIT’s violet leaf and a slug of dihydromyrcenol bigger than both of them combined. The base is another equal grafting of GIT’s sandalwood and ambergris (ambroxan) with the oakmoss and musk of Cool Water. Sweet heliotrope does more smoothing in this instance and the overall combination is successful at coming across more refined than Green Irish Tweed. The problem with Rain isn’t in the apparent quality of the blend or the performance, because longevity and projection are almost psychotic in power, but in the purpose of even making something that goes through the trouble of getting a luxury niche scent profile (Green Irish Tweed) to perform more like its “inferior” counterpart (Cool Water), since there’s a chance guys with the gall stones to drop cash on this at retail are gonna have too big an ego to “smell like Cool Water”. Most ultra-luxury perfumes have the propriety in design to know the pretensions of their target audience, but this one seemingly doesn’t. I’d use Rain the same way I’d use anything I’ve compared it to, in warmer climates and office, formal, or “business casual” environments where the unique combination of refreshing and classy are needed.

Beyond the lack of social awareness in the design of the perfume itself, Royal Crown Rain is excellent, combining arguably the best elements of both Green Irish Tweed and Cool Water into an evolved super-fragrance version of the style that wears longer and more-satisfying than Green Irish Tweed even in its finest hour. Problem is, Green Irish Tweed is already a great all-day performer, and the raw life-like nature of its green floral elements are exactly why most people are willing to pay more for it than its cheaper but culturally-significant cousin. That’s why I suspect this is more of a pet project sold to the public for Antonio Visconti than something meant to separate Royal Crown from the pack like the rest of the line, or maybe in merely existing Rain draws controversy and brings buzz to his other more-unique releases, since nothing gets “FragBros” talking faster than something that looks like it’s trying to outdo a “G.O.A.T.” they already love incessantly. I guess copying Creed Aventus (2010) was too risky a prospect for a relatively-young Royal Crown, or something like Rain is a dry run for an eventual stab at the style, if an Aventus proxy doesn’t already exist in the lineup by the time you read this review. I’m not sure what else to think about Rain beside the fact that it’s a stretched Maybach to Green Irish Tweed’s Mercedes S-Class, and you remember what happened to Maybach after Mercedes revived the brand right? People didn’t seem to see a point to those cars, and I almost don’t see a point to this. However, that doesn’t stop me from thinking Rain is the most refined, people-pleasing, and longest-lasting take on the GIT/Cool Water DNA that I’ve ever experienced; if only Rain wasn’t half a grand and didn’t have a stupid cubic zirconium-incrusted crown cap reminding me of a Rap video, I might feel less embarassed about liking it. Samples can be hard to come by with perfume houses like this, but if you ever get to drop into boutiques that stock it (like Beverly Hills Perfumery or Parfumerie Nasreen) and get your nose on it, or find someone selling decants, you tell me if this cybernetically-enhanced Tweedinator is worth it, or just more hubris in a bottle. Thumbs up.

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