Big city life, Masque Times Square

The Big Apple, NYC, A City That Never Sleeps, Gotham, Metropolis, New Amsterdam, The Empire City… There are many ways to call New York City. It’s a place where cultures clash globally. Every corner you can notice people of different ethnicity and you can hear a huge number of different languages being spoken as the crowd is passing by.  Just like Frank Sinatra sang – it’s a city you “want to be a part of it”. I bet that if you’d ask local people they’d mention Times Square as one of the most iconic places in NYC. And that’s what Masque would like to convey in their new creation.

Times Square (I – IV; act I, scene four) begins with a delicious hazelnut aroma. It feels nutty, creamy & delightfuly sweet. There’s something very smooth about it, as if someone just transformed these nuts into a sweet paste that could be used in most sophisticated pastry sold in a trendy patisserie. It then transforms into a glossy lipstick accord. This one smells of candied violets. It’s a combination of boudoir powdery notes with crisp aroma of purple flowers of violet. It’s delicious and feminine – smelling really like a lipstick. It’s funky, an in press release we read “…The cherry of the whore’s bloody-red lipstick melts with the strawberry of her chewing-gum…”

Later on Times Square develops a gently fruity floral facet. It’s given by osmanthus which first gives more of a flowery vibe but then it seamlessly transforms into a fruity smel of ripe apricots. There’s some powdery freshness to it as well. Tuberose which at some point joins osmanthus is really well-behaved. I find it gentle and sophisticated as it blends together with other notes to create this cosmetic, fruity-floral concoction. Personally I still consider candied violet as the leading theme here. But there comes a moment when this new Masque fragrance starts to shift.


It develops this strange, urbanistic smell that it hard to mistake for anything else. The smell of warm asphalt starts to emerge from Masque Times Square. It’s a thrilling sensation to smell something like that. Absolutely no repulsive feelings were involved. I think it’s a tricky way of combining styrax and gaiac wood. They’ve been mixed together to recreate the smell of city streets by effusing a balsamic, resinous, somehow dirty vibe. It’s a very interesting manipulation of notes.

At later stage of development I get a hint of rose that in the context of previous things that I smelled, instantly provided me with association that I’m smelling a bubble gum. There’s also a bit of popcorn-like feeling to Times Square. Base of the perfume is creamy thanks to sandalwood. It adds substantivity and stronger body to the scent. What I especially liked about this perfume is that at Esxence, Riccardo and Alessandro – two brand founders, deconstructed the scent letting people smell singular accords. There was a separate vial for asphalt, lipstick etc.

Do I look at Times Square by Masque as a perfume? Yes and no. There is a part of it that really is perfumistic, with an idea to a perfume and well-organized construction of it. On the other hand I perceive it as a project to some extend. As a conceptual creation meant to be smelled at exhibitions dedicated to New York City, but not necessarily something you’d like to wear. It’s a fun fragrance anyway. It’s been created by IFF perfumer Bruno Jovanovic. This eau de parfum comes in 35 ml bottle in same new design that was initiated by the launch of L’Attesa in 2016.

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14 thoughts on “Big city life, Masque Times Square

  1. Jillie says:

    Very intriguing and some notes appeal to me, but possibly not the perfume as a whole. It amuses me to think that a location in New York inspired this as candied violets and rose would not be what come to my mind when I think of it! Nor do the similar ingredients in Stilettos on Lex ……. I really must visit New York one day and find out how it smells for myself!

    • lucasai says:

      It’s a pretty unusual interpretation, I agree. If you saw full press release it tells a short story of a woman (whore?), so in that context it’s more OK.

      Stilettox on Lex… ah, my least favorite Jul et Mad that smells of pears

      • Jillie says:

        I quite like Stilettos on Lex and don’t get the pear note! It’s so strange how perception can vary from one nose to another. SoL reminds me a little of Misia, and I remember you didn’t care too much for that either ….. I think it could be the dreaded “old lady” vibe of powdery rose/violet, like the inside of a handbag?? I grew up with fragrances like YSL’s Paris – I guess I am in fact an old lady! But I do like that combo.

        • lucasai says:

          That’s what makes perfume so interesting – everyone smells it slightly differently 🙂

          I probably wouldn’t compare Stilettos and Misia as similar, but maybe they are

  2. Sounds intriguing with some interesting notes! and the name alone has piqued my interest!

  3. shelly says:

    I am not sure I could get past the smell of hot asphalt. But if I had ever been to NY maybe it would speak to me.

  4. Holly says:

    Oh boy, this sounds intriguing! I can understand that people might be ambivalent regarding whether or not this is a perfume to be worn versus a scented project. I’m on the fence myself, but I’ll give it a sniff for sure. Thanks for the great review!

    I think Times Square is iconic for tourists, but for the most part New Yorkers avoid it like the plague. Its only appeal is for going to the theatre district for shows, otherwise it’s crowded with tourists and hawkers and over-priced and usually crummy restaurants. The interesting thing about this perfume is it is based on the Times Square of an earlier era – up until the mid 1990’s it was grimy and had a big porno business going on – I guess that referring to a “whore’s” lipstick and some of the notes like bubble gum and asphalt reflect that. I have to admit I was a little taken aback reading that part of their press release, as it sounds cheap and tawdry and similar to something ELdO might say. It’s quite likely that whoever wrote it is not aware that the word “whore” has a very negative connotation and is not used in the same way that “prostitute” or the more familiar “hooker” is. Anyway, today’s Times Square has been cleaned up and Disneyfied and probably the only part of this perfume that might be reflective of that in 2017 is asphalt, which I happen to like!

    • lucasai says:

      Glad I’m not the only one having mixed feelings regarding perfume versus art project.

      I appreciate your explanation as this is something I didn’t know. Perhaps “whore” now makes more sense. And I agree that Times Square press release sounds more like ELdO scent.

      I’ll be curious to hear your opinion about this Masque

      • Holly says:

        Yeah, and there’s good weird and just plain weird. Some perfumes can be interesting to smell, but I wouldn’t want to wear them. I can admire certain features of an artistic endeavor without wanting it to be part of my life on a consistent basis. I’ll let you know my impressions once I’ve tried Times Square!

  5. Undina says:

    It’s a perfect review: it gives enough information, describes perfume’s character but leaves space for imagination. I like NY (one of my 3 most favorite cities in the World), so I will give this perfume a try if I come across it but that ELDO-style copy doesn’t speak to me (at that price point they should have hired a native speaker copy editor!) and it has at least 2 notes that almost never work for me – tuberose and apricot. And I started suspecting recently that osmanthus doesn’t play nicely on my skin either.

    • lucasai says:

      Thank you, glad you look at it this way. Times Square is a fun perfume but I think that everyone might smell it differently.
      I’ve never been to NYC so I had to use my imagination.

      That would be a shame if osmanthus didn’t work well on your skin 😦

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