Luna Rossa (Prada)

Luna Rossa strikes me as being a "modern lavender" of some kind, and the lavender is intentionally embellished with a boatload of overtly synthetic notes. What surprises me a little is how abrasive the fougère accord is here. Prada is perfectly capable of producing smooth, complex, soapy fougèrientals like Amber Pour Homme, so I don't know what happened with Luna Rossa. There's no reason why it should smell harsh and cheap, but it does. Prada is a luxury brand, yet wearing Luna Rossa feels surprisingly utilitarian and underwhelmingly pragmatic, like the exasperation felt after erroneously purchasing a first-class plane ticket and finding that you've been bumped to coach because your plane doesn't have a first-class section. I thought Luna Rossa would transport me to an interestingly rich and crisp rendition of the postmodern fougère, and instead I got what Luca Turin would call "sneaker juice."

Loosely translated from Italian, "Luna Rossa" means "Red Moon." So essentially this fragrance is called Red Moon. Strange choice for a name. There's nothing about it that feels especially "red" or "lunar." It seems to smell the way its bottle looks - cold, metallic, surface-reflective. Its lavender note is herbal, bitter, and immersed in bitter orange, which is to say, screechy grey citrus. There's an odd sweetness that creeps in as the top notes dry down, and I imagine it's the supposed ambrette seed note, with its soft, musky quality causing these hints of warmth. Within two hours of application, Luna Rossa develops a detached powdery aura, almost iris-like, and not entirely dissimilar to the stuff in Prada's "Infusion" line. One of the shortcomings of the Infusion line's offerings is their weird treatment of musk - it always feels odd, a little stiff and overly sweet, like a blatantly synthetic musk molecule that the perfumer mistakenly thinks is close enough to the real thing, and therefore doesn't dose correctly. That happens in this fragrance. When it arrives at around the ninety minute point, the musk note wrestles the other notes into submission, arresting them with its falsely-sweet demeanor. At least in the Infusion frags, some of the materials smell of quality. Luna Rossa smells cheap from the first second of its drydown to the last.

Eventually some relatively unadorned Amboxan sends the failed herbal arrangement to a gauzy, laundry-like denouement, and mercifully the show is over at the five hour mark. Longevity with Luna Rossa is fair, but nothing spectacular, and it's so subpar that I don't really mind. In reviewing this fragrance, I have to maintain some perspective, and bear in mind that perfumes like this are aimed at the young adult market, the scores of teenagers and young twenty-somethings with their disposable income and inexperienced tastes. It comes across as surprisingly cheap and naff in the world of professional adults, but for a teenage guy to wear Luna Rossa suggests he's a little more refined than his peers, and it probably goes over well with the ladies. At least he's not wearing Axe, right? I broadly equate Luna Rossa to Chanel Allure Homme, in that I thought Allure was the be-all and end-all of masculine perfumery when I was in college, and it wouldn't surprise me if there are 20 year-old guys who feel the same way about this fragrance. I hope for their sake that it (a) works for them while they still enjoy it, and (b) it stops working at around the time for a perfume upgrade to business class.


  1. I think LUNA ROSSA is the name of Prada's racing yacht that takes part in international boat races. It still doesn't make it a good cologne though. Your analysis of "metallic, surface-reflective" was bang on however, for an aluminium boat!

    1. Hi Norman, I didn't know that about Prada's company yacht. If it's called "Luna Rossa," then their yacht, like their fragrance, has quite an odd name!


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