A fragrance obsessive’s guide: Part 2
Alrighty! I’ve had some amazing comments and reaction to my various posts on perfumes with a number of requests to post more. So today I will cover more perfumes I think are worth a sniff, if not worthy of purchase. If you’ve missed out on earlier posts, go here for Part 1 of my guide and here for my rant against celebrity and brand name perfumes. Make sure to read the comments as some readers have suggested favourite scents. I’m off this week to sniff Tom Ford’s fragrances because Woody3D left a comment about how good they are (particularly Arabian Wood).
Now remember: I’m no perfumer. Just a girl who’s had a lifelong love affair with perfumes courtesy of my grandmother (who had a perfume shop) and my mother, who would not have dreamt of getting out of bed without a spray of her beloved Zibelene (by Weil before it was reformulated and turned into a shadow of its former self). In this post, I’m going to include some perfumes I’ve discovered from independent perfumers (ie not the DREADED brands or celebrity perfumes, blah) and some Arabian or Middle Eastern perfume oils. I’ve been toying with these for a year or so now.
More posts will follow but today in no particular order:
- L’air du désert marocain by Tauer Perfumes (Switzerland). You can read my full review here. This is a unisex perfume if you ask me. One whiff of this scent and you’re swept off to the sands of Morocco and the heady smells of the spice souk. It’s an intense, sensual oriental with wonderful smokey notes and tinged with coriander, petitgrain, lemon, bergamot, jasmin, geranium, cedarwood, vetiver, vanille, patchouli and ambergris. All working together in perfect harmony in a cedar and vetiver base and with an amber background. This is a brilliant perfume IMHO.
- Visa by Robert Piguet. I don’t like the name of this perfume but once you move past that, you end up with a velvety, fruity chypre that has hints of peach and pear. Visa was originally created by Germaine Cellier in 1945 (an amazing French perfumer who also created other wonderful scents like my beloved Fracas; Coeur-Joie by Nina Ricci; and Jolie Madame by Pierre Balmain. These perfumes are classics from the 1940s and 1950s). But back to Visa, which is a modern recreation. It is slightly sweet for me but it’s flirty and vivacious. When I first sprayed it, I thought bleh, it’s just like all the modern “I want to smell like a fruit bowl” type perfumes. But once it settles, interesting notes emerge with immortelle being prominent. It’s really quite a seductive perfume.
- Ahebbak by Ajmal (a Middle Eastern fragrance house). Ahebbak apparently means “I love you” and this oriental perfume oil is indeed a very romantic, opulent scent. I had to go all the way to Abu Dhabi to get this (well, I was on my way to Morocco to run a workshop so I went via Abu Dhabi). With oriental perfume oils, you just need a dab, then wait 5 minutes for the dry-down. This concentrated oil is full of musky, floral and citrus notes. The citrus is the top note and then you experience the warm, spicy middle note and finally the lingering, soft musky sandalwood base note. Although I love this perfume, I think it’s been created more for the young, spirited woman (which does not imply I’m some old goat – rather someone who prefers a more confident, punchy fragrance).
- Ubar by Amouage (a fragrance house established by a member of the Omani royal family in 1983). I discovered this perfume about 7 years ago before, quelle horreur, it was discontinued. I bombarded Amouage with emails as I’m sure many other lovers of this gorgeous scent did. Ubar has now been relaunched (thank goodness, I don’t have to get on yet another plane to Abu Dhabi to get my hands on it). Ubar is named after the long lost ancient Arabian frankincense trading city of Ubar, so you get the idea: exotic, spicy, heady, seductive, playful, evocative, mysterious, warm desert nights under a silvery moon – okay getting carried away. I’m not quite sure how to describe this beauty because I have not whiffed the re-launched version. I have an unopened bottle of the original 1995 Ubar (I’ve been through about 4 bottles to date) – the first notes you experience are honey, rose, jasmine and vanilla followed closely by lily of the valley. What I loved about the original Ubar was the power and sensuousness of the civet base. I am hoping that the new version is not some watered-down muck but reviews give me confidence. It apparently opens with top notes of bergamot, lemon and lily-of-the-valley (I’m guessing less rose) before revealing the middle or heart notes of damascene rose and jasmine and then finishing with a civet and vanilla base.
- Rumba by Balenciaga. I pull this out of my perfume wardrobe every so often; it’s an old stand-by for me. It’s luxurious and elegant. I believe it was created in the 1980s so is full of sassiness and power (and probably shoulder-pads!). This is not a perfume for shrinking violets because its golden plum base swirls with the sweetness of orange blossom, tuberose, heliotrope, gardenia, vanilla and magnolia. There’s a smokiness to this rich scent, probably from the amber and musk, which temper Rumba’s sweetness. It could have turned into a disastrous, cloying, sickly sweet perfume without the darker, sensual base. When I wear it, this is one of the perfumes I’m often asked about.
- Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez. Created in 1962, I think this was one of the first perfumes I hounded my mother to buy for me when I was a teenager. And I think it’s a very overlooked perfume. This is a lush, woody oriental scent that causes you to ponder what it must have been like at the Palace of Versailles when Louis XIV reigned supreme – it’s aristocratic, elegant, flirtatious. I can imagine powdered and wigged women of the time before the French Revolution, engaging in some romantic court liaison with a Count or Prince, wearing Bal à Versailles. It’s a lavish concoction of roses and Grasse jasmine, with orange blossom, vanilla, sandalwood, musk, vetiver and patchouli (but don’t panic: it’s not that horrid patchouli oil that hippies wore in the 70s and God forbid I smelt on someone the other day as she wafted by. Nearly knocked me over). This perfume is for the sophisticated woman but I actually think a confident guy could pull off wearing this perfume: just a dab mind you. Because of its musky, dark leathery accords, just a little could be quite stunning on a guy.
So keep talking to me – what are your favourite scents?
Entry filed under: Useful resources. Tags: Ahebbak, Bal à Versailles, Balenciaga, Jean Desprez, L’air du désert marocain, Middle Eastern perfume oils, perfume oils, Perfumes, Robert Piguet, Rumba, Ubar, Visa.