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Friday, July 07, 2006

Perfume Review: Aesop Marrakech and Red Flower Hammam Cardamom Amber

Finally I managed to get my greedy hands on that elusive, we-won’t-ship-it-to-the-US-not-even-a-sample Marrakech by an Australian company, Aesop. With notes of cardamom, ylang ylang, patchouli, sandalwood, clove, jasmine, rose and neroli, it was touted as the cardamom scent to rule all cardamom scents. Being a big cardamom fan, I was naturally anxious to try this marvel. I am glad I finally satisfied my curiosity, because a) it is indeed good and b) it is not so good that I'd have to continue spending my days nagging and begging someone, anyone to ship it to me the high delivery cost nothwithstanding.

After an agreeably harsh, almost incense-like beginning, Marrakech settles into a soft, sweetly piquant cardamom fragrance and there is not much more to say about it. The cloves are somewhat evident there at times, and I believe the presence of jasmine is to thank for the soft floral undertone of the scent, however, all in all, Marrakech is quite simple; it has very few nuances and hardly undergoes any changes apart from getting increasingly softer and subtler. Which is not bad at all, it is just that this fragrance is not interesting enough, not “exotic” enough for me to be heartbroken about its unavailability in the US. If and when it arrives here, I will probably buy it; if it never graces our shores with its presence, I’ll easily do without.

This devil may care attitude about Marrakech is partly also due to the fact that there already exists in my life a cardamom scent that I love and that more or less satisfies my craving for this spice. I am talking about Hammam Cardamom Amber by Red Flower. This is an oil, and although I am not the biggest fan of oils, I make an exception in this case. With notes of cardamom, bergamot, rose, jasmine, litsea cubeba, ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, black pepper, sweet orange and apricot, it smells simply wonderful, perhaps a little warmer, a little sweeter and a little darker than Marrakech. As promised, the amber is there and is quite apparent, as is a pleasant earthy accord comprised of sandalwood, vetiver and patchouli. Having said that, this again is a cardamom “soliflore”, a not-too complex, linear scent. Also, to be fair, I must admit that, compared to Aesop’s creation, which lasted good 6-7 hours on my skin, Cardamom Amber is rather fleeting. Still, it costs $44.00 for 2.4oz and is available in the US, at Luckyscent or Beautyhabit, to be precise. Marrakech is sold on Aesop’s own website ($95.00-$140.00) as well as, I believe, in Liberty in the UK. The latter may or may not agree to ship it to the US, for some ridiculous shipping fee.

The first image is from Aesop, the second is from Luckyscent.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Ina said...

Love cardamom, and, sadly, hate both of these. Marrakech reminds me of that popular in Soviet times balsam "zvyozdochka", and I honestly don't even get much cardamom there, mostly cloves. Cardamom Amber smelled like dirty rotting flowers. I so wish I loved it.

11:23 PM EDT  
Anonymous Ina said...

OK, just tried Marrakech again, and I get cardamom now but it's still sort of dirty, with an almost minty effect. I don't see how it's worth the hefty price, honestly.

11:24 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Ina,
I so wish I got more cloves from Marrakech, I would have loved it much more. How unfair. Let's swap skin chemistries.
I actually know what you mean about something rotting in RF. I do get it a little too, but I love that aspect of it.

11:25 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

It is *not* worth the price and the effort to get, it really is not.

11:26 PM EDT  
Anonymous Elle said...

Excellent. I'm a huge cardamom fan, so this *is* good news. I have plenty of scents already that I'm heartbroken over their reticence to deliver to the US (raises lip and growls at Esteban, the latest to annoy me that way).

7:01 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

By coincidence (or the dark workings of fate), I received a sample of Marrakech in the mail yesterday. And I think it is. . . .OK. Didn't Luca Turin go batty raving over this? Oh, well. . .there's nothing wrong with it, it is OK. Haven't tested the other, and don't feel yet like running to do so.
I am wearing IUNX Splash Forte, which is making me very happy. I know you don't care for it (though I can't imagine why). I am telling you this partly because of our conversation about husbands and perfumes yesterday. My DH woke up and saw the bottle (which is tall, skinny, and filled with deep red juice) and said happily (if a bit sleepily), "Ooooooh, Sangria!"

7:11 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

*shakes fist at Esteban together with Elle* To tease us like that with a wonderful-sounding new scent and to be so...uncooperative...UGH!

You will like Marrakech, I am sure, but there is nothing there to be heartbroken about, really there isn't it.

8:47 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
That is so funny! Sangria! :-)
My memory of Forte is that of a very dense, rich, potpourri-like scent, am I right? Somewhat similar to Diptyque' L'eau?

8:49 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

I have actually never smelled Diptyque L'Eau, so I'm not sure; could be, although I thought the Diptyque had roses, and this doesn't. Spicy "hot" cedarwood with musc, nutmeg, other spices. . . sounds like your description, though I'm not sure I find it "dense" (but I may just not be understanding you properly). I find it warming in the winter and strangely refreshing in the summer (well, it is a splash:)

10:56 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
That's the one...Dense as in "thick" and intense. I'd die if I wore it in summer! I envy your skin chemistry so much! (actually, I dont envy it in this case, since IUNX is now defunct, but still...)

11:05 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

And besides, you would have to give up your beloved Reglisse and Hadrien (scents that work on almost everyone else) to avoid smelling like the Lemon Pledge Lady:)

11:31 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Good point. Can't give up those too, I love them so :-)

12:36 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Ina and I smelled Red Flower together, and both had the same reaction. As for Aesop, it smelled exactly like herbal ointment, and it was not exactly what I wanted to experience. Did you receive a card with your sample? It was the most hilarious thing I have ever read. You can find it on their website.

12:40 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Vika,
Oh, they refused to send me even a teeny tiny sample! Pfui! I finally swapped for one :-) What was in the card? Something about drinking chai tea under a starry sky?

12:43 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

Pfui on them indeed! :) I do not remember it verbatum now, but this is what I wrote at one point:

"The booklet that accompanies Marrakech provides information on the creation of the fragrance as well as a thorough instruction on how to enjoy and apply it, which I would take to be tongue in cheek, since in that light it is rather entertaining. For one thing, one is recommended to apply Marrakech “eleven minutes before expected encounters,” which certainly is out of a question given my level of time management. Then, one is told to “reapply at every opportunity,” which is a doubtful advice, given the strength and the tenacity of the fragrance. Expected encounters might not materialize at this rate. Moreover, the booklet encourages having assistance during the application, with the Eau de Toilette “caressed over the skin concentrating on the nape of the neck, temples and arms.” Now, that was clearly an oversight on my part. "

2:02 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Oh that is funny! I do hope that, as you say, this is tongue in cheek. If they are serious, however, I would love to know why 11 mins is the ideal time, as opposed to, say, 10 or 12. :-D

2:16 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Eleven minutes? My, my. What if my encounter is running late? So much pressure!

If I had "assistance" to "caress.. (my fragrances) over the skin" I would be a much happier person. Or at least one who wouldn't have to wait eleven minutes...

:-)

2:26 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
For the price they are asking for this scent, it should come with an Assistant Caresser to smear the stuff all over AND to keep an eye on the time. Tee hee.

2:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Anya said...

Not sure of the reason for their shipping policy/no policy, but it may be due to the Aussie shipping regs. They're very stringent, and very expensive for anything the least bit volatile, including essential oils. A friend in Hawaii is starting a company selling such products from the Pacific area, and she has to pay for Fed Ex for everything with a huge hazmat fee. No shipping by boat allowed.

Even on a few sample bottles of EOs she needed to evaluate had something like a $50 fee slapped on them.

7:46 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Anya,
That's a good point. Well, they could have started to export their perfume to the US. I think some other of their stuff is sold here, hopefully they will bring Marrakech here too at some point.

8:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Malena said...

I hope to test Marrakech at the Colette store in Paris when I´ll go there. I don´t have high hopes that I´ll like it (actually I don´t know if they still carry it at all...), but...who knows?
I know so well what you´re talking about: I´m desperate because I´m searching for Apothia samples - this is hard work, believe me...I´ve almost given up *big sigh*.
Why the heck do they make it so coplicated to ship oversea - actually it isn´t difficult or expensive at all. I just want some samples, I don´t want to buy their whole perfumery...It´s so unfair & sad!

7:44 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Malena,
I know exactly what you mean. It is very frustrating.
Well, I hope Colette still cariies Marrakech. I would love to hear what you think about the scent.

9:56 AM EDT  

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