Scent Critic’s Guide to Plum by Mary Greenwell

Who is Mary Greenwell?

Mary Greenwell is one of the world’s most sought-after makeup artists, with a resume that’s literally a who’s-who of the fashion and cultural elite: from Princess Diana to Uma Thurman, Jessica Chastain, Cate Blanchett and literally dozens more, Greenwell’s influence is as vast as any modern artist. So when she turned her considerable talents to the world of fragrance in 2010, the world waited in rapt anticipation. Would she play it safe, given her lack of experience in the olfactory medium, or would she go for the gusto in the same manner she’s known for in makeup? Well, before we can answer that question, we have to discuss the team behind Greenwell’s first foray.

Who designed this scent?

She smartly attached herself to a perfumer whose resume nearly mirrors her own: the highly accomplished fourth-generation artist Francois Robert. His resume includes a sterling run for Les Parfums de Rosine as well as Londoner, Friedemodin and the captivating, generational Scent of a Dream (Charlotte Tilbury). With a name like Robert onboard, expectations were rightly sky-high for Greenwell’s debut scent.

What does Plum by Mary Greenwell smell like?

It’s classified as a chypre, and we think it qualifies, but just barely. It follows the expected citrus-floral opening with an absolute roundhouse-kick-to-the-nostrils of peach, plum, lemon, gardenia, rose and more. It’s truly a spectacular fruit/floral cocktail that will take your breath away. But the true test of a chypre is the base, where woody and amber and earthy notes should ground the opening fireworks display, rounding the scent out the way a bass section gives a foundation that helps the trumpets and violins soar even higher. In Plum’s case, the notes are there—but they’re barely there. There’s a woodsy, mossy base to be had there, but only for those adventurers willing to plumb its depths in search of treasure.

The Verdict: Nostrils Open or Closed?

All told, we give Plum by Mary Greenwell one nostril fully open and inhaling heavily, the other open but disengaged. It’s a great scent, worthy of its namesake, and a fantastic debut, but its lacking low end disqualifies it from consideration as a truly elite, generational scent. You won’t go wrong with it if you like fruit and floral, in fact, we think you’ll have a lot of fun wearing it. You’re just unlikely to reserve a spot on your Mount Smellmore for it.

Who is Plum by Mary Greenwell for?

Women looking for a safe, powerful choice that can follow them from the art museum to a charity auction without getting in the way.

Where can you buy it?

Plum was noted for its ridiculous, manufactured scarcity upon its debut in 2010. More than a decade later, it’s nearly impossible to find. If you can put your hands on it, buy it.