Prada Luna Rossa Ocean (2021) is shaping up to be the new black sheep of the Prada Luna Rossa (2012) family, taking over for Luna Rossa Black (2018), which was the previous entry that seemingly had the least to do with the Luna Rossa DNA. Here in Luna Rossa Ocean, we see the first fragrance made for Prada that isn’t done by Daniela Andrier, as that long working relationship with Miuccia Prada had to be severed when the label sold the cosmetics and perfume division to L’Oréal. As it goes, Andrier is with Givaudan, and L’Oréal exclusively contracts out to IFF for their fragrances, so her role as unofficial house perfumer and keeper of the house accords (amber and iris), is over. This bodes poorly in the long run unless L’Oréal decides to buy the formulas made by Givaudan, because it means the clean powdery soapy feel Prada masculines are known for will come to an end as everything prior to 2021 becomes discontinued over time when contracts expire. Whether or not that has happened (and hopefully it does not) by the time you read this, Luna Rossa Ocean is still an interesting fragrance despite being a bird of a different feather from its siblings. Ann Flipo and veteran Carlos Benaim envision Luna Rossa Ocean not as an aquatic as you may think, but as an aromatic fougère with blue touches.
The opening of Luna Rossa Ocean comes across a bit like a “blue” fragrance in the beginning, with the usual sweet citruses, clean floral notes, and pink pepper. There’s a bit of bitter artemisia here to make things a little different, before the heart heads into a sweet rounded lavender. This lavender is built up with some clary sage (from sclarene), and a bit of orris that I guess is supposed to tie in to other Prada scents. For me, the patchouli and tonka mostly take over from here, paired with the sweet fougère heart, ending in some actually pretty high-quality musks that aren’t the usual laundry stuff. There are bits of reference to Polo Sport (1994) here in the handling of the patchouli, but this is still very much a fougère, just a blue one. Late in the game, some saffron and leather emerges, bringing in a bit of link to modern suederal leathers like those being pumped out by Coach. For a common “parts bin” IFF fragrance, this isn’t bad at all, but also isn’t super interesting. Wear time will be about eight hours, with decent sillage and projection. I’d use this more as a late summer/early fall kind of dumb reach casual thing, but not a work scent myself. The overall makeup of Luna Rossa Ocean is just a tad too playful for anything serious, and this is the antithesis of Luna Rossa Carbon (2017) 100%. Still, it has some versatility for those “one cologne” kind of guys.
Luna Rossa Ocean exists in that nether realm where Versace pour Homme Dylan Blue (2017) and Parfums de Marly Percival (2018) exists, where it doesn’t know exactly if it wants to be a post-squatic “blue” scent or a fougère, so it tries to be both, while referencing the 90’s in the process. I guess we’ve reached the point by 2021 where the 90’s is safe to reference as a nod to “classic” design anyway (sad to see time march that far forward), so things like Luna Rossa Ocean may actually become more common as time goes on. If Luna Rossa is for summer, Luna Rossa Carbon for the suit-and-tie work crowd, Luna Rossa Black for evenings, and Luna Rossa Sport (2015) for the simple clean vibe, I don’t know exactly where Luna Rossa Ocean fits into all that. What Prada have done with their first masculine since leaving Puig is made something of a chimera that mixes elements unsuited for a specific context, likely to make a mass-market wonder drug in the perfume aisles they’ve been desperately seeking since making the Luna Rossa line, meaning it won’t deliver on the promise it makes. Right up there with Ralph Lauren’s Ralph’s Club (2021), this is another nü-gère that tries to reinvent the wheel, and in so doing creates for an entertaining fragrance, just not a memorable one anyone is going to talk about after a year or so on the market. Thumbs up