When I was at Esxence I encountered the large stand of Spirit of Dubai. The staff was very courteous, but shy in English. They handed me samples in an outrageously kitsch, and apparently award-winning, swag bag. Arab luxury has a 1950s Soviet chocolate-box feel to it that, try as I might, I cannot decide whether I love or hate. In the context of a niche fragrance fair, however, it is a wonderful palate-cleanser (-dirtier?) after acres of phobic sub-Chanel black and white.
The samples were individually packaged in gilt tubes wrapped in brocade with a little ribbon bow.I assumed they would contain a phalanx of heavy-duty florals, ouds and orientals in the classic manner. Few things are more pleasurable than to have one’s prejudices flatly disproved. This is a seriously inventive, pleasant and luminous line of fragrances made with a very convincing mix of good materials and most importantly, equally good ideas. I was given seven fragrances. Among them is Oud, a no-holds-barred composition based on a particularly skanky grade of that legendary material, which seems to reverse time by moving gradually from a smell of fermentation and decay to earthy, honeyed and later lofty woody ambery, even fresh notes.
My favorites in the line are Abraj, which I suppose is a masculine, a lovely, rich, refined woody-spicy-smoky accord that brought to mind the drydown of Guy Robert’s late and very much lamented Monsieur Rochas, no mean feat since MR was one of the greatest masculines of all time. Majalis is a euphoric, melodious saffron-coffee-rose accord that dries down gracefully. Finally, Rimaj is an interesting contrast between dry woody-papery notes and a vanillic Petit-Beurre biscuit base that works really well. These guys clearly know what they are doing.
Categories: niche houses