Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sharif - a new fragrance by la via del profumo and a bottle giveaway!

Anyone with an interest in natural perfume will be acquainted with Dominique Dubrana aka AbdesSalaam Attar and his perfume house La Via del Profumo located in Rimini, Italy, but known to most of us through the Internet. Apparently it was a Dubrana's perfumes that converted Luca Turin from thorough skepticism about natural perfumery to appreciating its possibilities - no mean feat. Since synthetics are what provides bone structure in modern (i.e. post 1880) perfumery to the natural oils' "flesh," natural perfumes often come across as spineless hodgepodges failing to bring any kind of artful arrangement to notes, that would transform them from at best smelling "pleasant" into works of true beauty and refinement. Dubrana's creations, however, are characterized by a crystalline clarity that reveals a meaningful order among the blended essences and generates images and ideas in the mind, as a great perfume should. At the same time they benefit from the aesthetic advantage of natural perfumes - the avoidance of the shrill redundancy which now characterizes far too many perfumes which wear their synthetic nature on their sleeve, all bones, like anorexic fashion models.  His last fragrance, Mecca Balsam already showed how well suited this approach is to the oriental genre, which can so easily decline into a brash affair of sticky florals, screaming amber and wood synthetics and nose-numbing Yankee-candle vanillin. The new release, Sharif, which initiates a series of oriental-themed fragrances aimed at Middle-Eastern tastes, confirms it.
"Sharif is the scent of a noble Arab Sheik who chose the supreme elegance instead of the show of wealth, kindness and seduction instead of arrogance. In the pure tradition of the Middle East, Sharif consists of intense notes of leather and aromatic woods with the delicious aroma of amber scents of the East, and sweet almond," the perfumer tells us. It is, first of all, a wonderfully pleasant perfume and an ideal entry into the world of natural perfumery, as it is much more accessible than the starkly meditative, distantly elegant Mecca Balsam. The latter requires study before you can deeply appreciate it, while Sharif provides pure pleasure even before you begin investigating its complexity. There is a perfect harmony of spice and sweetness, dryness and deftness, of clarity and density, the slender elegance of a minarett and the opulence of a plate of Arabian sweets. The dry craggy resins of Mecca Balsam's pilgrimage are here enveloped in smooth delicious amber. Imagine yourself being entertained in the golden tent of an Arab nobleman, the scent of fine resins rising from incense burners, eating honey and almond cakes while a pipe rests by your side and a distant smell of leather saddle and noble horses wafts over from the stables. You are at peace, but you feel energy brimming inside you. New deeds of your own choosing await, but for now, you enjoy the tranquil flow of life and its pleasures.

Since words will never do such a beautiful fragrance justice, here is your opportunity to smell Sharif for yourself. Courtesy of AbdesSalaam Attar, state of the [car]nation is giving away a 32ml bottle of Sharif which is not only worth over €100 but might also seriously transform your perceptions of the oriental genre of perfumes. All you have to do to enter this contest, is to write a commentary below this article in which you outline your vision of "your perfect 21st century oriental fragrance." The winner will be drawn at random from all such entries. Please make sure you leave a contact in your comment that will enable me to e-mail you in case of winning. The contest will close a week from now on Tuesday at 16.00 CET and the winner will be announced and notified a day or two later. Have fun!


Unknown said...

Thank you for the interesting review. Of course, I can not resist to take part in the giveaway option! My only problem is that my perfume knowledge is neither highly educated nor overly eloquent, so you will have to live with what I would call an outsider's view on scents.

I have been enthusiastic about orientals for as long as I am using perfume. What I experienced during the last year is that I am growing tired of all the overly loud, sweet and heavy notes and leaning toward something more slender instead. Just like with wines, I am beginning to really appreciate products which are not afraid to show more bone than flesh. So, transparency and lightness with a noticeably backbone would make up what I consider an elegant modern day oriental -- if only for a change of pace.

Gary W. Bourbonais said...

What has attracted me to what Dominique does, is his unique Essence Philosophy, combining the elements of AT with the Art of Natural Perfumery...
A visit to his blog, or site, may result in a treatise on Traditional AT one day, the effects of Pheromones on another, and Natural Perfumery actions on another...
Simply put, he is a Master, and a unique one, at that....

Liam Moore said...

What has attracted me to Dubrana's work - having never smelled it and can only appreciate on a word-of-mouth level, is the aspect of mysticism.

He is curious to me. The reasoning behind his work more-so.

I'd like to smell an oriental that is neither sweet or cloying, or full of vanilla or resins. Nothing wrong with them for me personally, but to use the word, "curious" again really describes why I'd like to win this competition lol

Michael said...

Thanks so much for the review and hosting the draw!

I love Mecca Balsam. It may just be the perfect Oriental for the 21st century.

That being said, it can be a little heavy during hot summer months, so maybe an oriental that is a little lighter in nature would allow me to relish in this scent category for the summer?

If Sharif is anywhere near as delicious as Mecca Balsam, I eagerly look forward to trying it soon!


Anonymous said...

Nice idea to raffle of that perfume. I'm curious who will win it.

My vison for an oriental perfume is a sweet but spicy scent. A little bit of vanilla, cinnamon, francinscence...delicious.


WillC said...

I'd be interested in an "after-dinner" oriental, centred around hookah smoke and Arabic tea and/or coffee. I post at basenotes as WillC, so please message me there if I win anything.

Anonymous said...

An oriental for the twentieth century? An eastern perfume? Well the east is the new west, so east of there is the west.

Top notes: American whipped cream (from a can), Burned Green, English stagnant pond
Heart notes: inispid Spanish Orange, illusiory Greek Jasmine, wilted Italian rose,
Base Notes: German wood
The base notes should be initially powerful but become less sustainable as the perfume develops.
Duckfinder (please find me on basenotes if I win)

dacha said...

Lovely review, but how difficult a task you have left us. A modern 21st century Oriental? Deconstruct PdN's New York and Musc Ravageur and rework them to include some leather and the oak note from Chene. I have no idea if it would work but I'd love to find out.

dacha on basenotes

mikeperez23 said...

Oh I'm jealous that you've smelled this - it sounds fantastic!

My 'Perfect 21st Century Oriental' is one that allows me to enjoy all of the spices, resins, woods and yet simultaneously does not wear too thick and sweet so that I can wear it year round here in hot Southern Florida. It sounds simple but it is increasingly rare to find one like this.

mikeperez23 on Basenotes

Mark Evans said...

Now here's a draw I don't want to miss out on!

I would like to see modern orientals being influenced by the demands of the growing markets of the Far East as well as the Middle East.
These would possibly incorporate notes of tea, incense, lighter woods and aromatics as opposed to the heavier spices and ouds of the Middle Eastern oriental.


Anonymous said...

For my perfect oriental, I think it would have to be something along the lines of vintage Shalimar - resinous, smoky and a good touch of filthy vanilla with balanced sweetness.
Thanks for entering me into the draw!
Larimar (basenotes)

Anonymous said...

Something with hay, tobacco, and resinous notes, with light (smoky?) woods and musk underpinning it; without any powderiness or heavy (curry-like) spices.
Thanks for hosting this draw!
miguelca at basenotes

Anonymous said...

The perfect oriental would be composed of a little vanilla and a transparent incense.

inscents on basenotes

dukeofpallmall said...

I detect a pattern here...and I sense most of you would greatly enjoy Sharif. Keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

My Oriental would stink: I would want a resinous, cedar base. There is a cedar tree beside my house and the way it smells in the cold of winter-I would also like the smell of the snow,, falling on cedar. A touch of petroleum-like bunker. The sweetness of whatever makes L'Heure Bleue smell so good. A bit of tea. Let's see: I still need some citrus. SLice of bitter lemon.
I will forgo entering your draw. I had the great good fortune to win a bottle of Sharif on Suzanne's Perfune Journal blog, and it would be un-Sharif of me to enter another draw :)

Christof said...

Describing my perfect oriental fragrance? This is difficult after your excellent summary of what a oriental should not smell like.

I would like to smell resins, a hint of tobacco, some leather and flowers. Some incense or even fir balm to slightly brighten matters. Small hints of vanilla are permitted if it is real vanilla, slightly dark and smoky, not of the synthetic vanilla sugar variety.

Thank you for this outstanding draw!

Mikael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikael said...

So far my "perfect 21st century oriental" finds are Van Cleef & Arpels Midnight in Paris and SixScents Series 2 - End/Beginning. Love them both to bits, and the End/Beginning is also composed solely with natural materials by Yann Vasnier. It's the best natural perfume I've come across, a soft woody incense-oriental. I read the other comments and I agree with Mark that Tea as a note is something I'd love to see implemented in an oriental framework (instead of the usual "fresh tea drink" -compositions). L'artisan's Coeur de Vetiver Sacre was a step towards that, but it feels unbalanced. Reviews of Sharif sound wonderful so far, absolutely must try this. Big thanks to you and the perfumer for holding this kind of a draw!

Mikael on Basenotes

Anna Lybecker said...

I can't help but comment on this stunning fragrance! I just received a sample of this perfume and the minute I opened the falcon the encounter was sublime. I have a complete love affair with the Middle Eastern fragrances as they tend to be both deep and sublime and hit at the prime cords of the Soul. This fragrance takes it a step beyond to enlightened ascent. The warmth and seductiveness of the spice undertone keep a decent of pure reverie while at the same time uplifting the spirit. There is a pure comfort that envelopes and caresses. This is a very well grounded perfume that is destined to become a classic . I seems a perfect oriental and unique scent.

dukeofpallmall said...

Anna, I agree it's a marvelous fragrance and a reference what orientals should strive for. It should be a great success.

Anna Lybecker said...

Thanks for the agreement! I didn't mention that this perfume is fast becoming my signature fragrance. I'm totally addicted!!!!!
Anna Lybecker

Unknown said...

Cute perfume bottle, I like it. I was wondering if the perfume has pheromones. I'm just curious though.