Sukhofrukty: Huitieme Art Parfums Fareb & Providence Perfume Co. Osmanthus Oolong
Russian cuisine is all about preserving, pickling, marinating, fermenting, smoking and drying. I grew up eating dried fruits (sukhofrukty, сухофрукты) and somehow have considered them to be a Russian phenomenon. I now know that it is, of course, not so (hello! Moroccan food, to name just one...or Uzbek, to name one in the former Soviet realm!). My subconscious knee-jerk reaction upon seeing, tasting and smelling prunes (chernosliv, чернослив) and dried apricots (kuraga, курага), my two favorite types of dried fruits, is still, however- it's home! I mentioned numerous times before that I love a prune note in perfume. One doesn't come by it too often. The prune-iest of them all is Histoires des Parfums 1740 Marquis de Sade. I also smell prunes in L'Artisan Al Oudh, Eau d'Italie Bois d'Ombrie, Serge Lutens Arabie and Chene and the old Sonya Rykiel scent, 7e Sense...that might be pretty much it. I was delighted to realize that Pierre Guillaume's new collection, Huitieme Art Parfums, will add another scent to that list.
Fareb is an acronym for Frais, Aromatique, Résineux, Epicé, Boisé (Fresh, Aromatic, Resinous, Spicy, Woody), which tells you right there to which olfactory territories its composition is going to lead. Apparently, in Hindi and Urdu, the word also means, delusion. Which might be appropriate in my case, since I have no idea whether there is in fact a prune-like accord in Fareb, whether the mix of the star notes, bois d'immortelle and ginseng extract, creates that effect or whether I am imagining it. Smell it and let me know. In any case, the fragrance starts with a somewhat sweet smell of prunes, with immortelle and a hint of leather in the background. As it develops, the prunes become spicier, even saltier, in other words savory rather than sweet, and the blend as a whole acquires what I will rather primitively call a "curry" smell. Which might not be a far-fetched comparison, since curry powder blends often include fenugreek, and everlasting has a fenugreek-like aroma...(I also detect cumin in the drydown.) The image I see when smelling Fareb is that of curried prunes, served on a leather plate...I don't know about you, but I find that idea irresistible. By the way, while googling bits and pieces for this review, I came upon a recipe of spiced pickled prunes and could not think of anything else ever since...
While it is possible to once in a while come upon a chernosliv note in perfume, I haven't smelled a kuraga one until I tried Charna Ethier's Osmanthus Oolong. Now, though kuraga is dried apricots, the smell of the two is not nearly identical. Kuraga smells much more ripe and simultaneously drier (obviously), with an almost leathery undertone. And that is exactly what Osmanthus Oolong smells like, to my nose. Osmathus famously has an apricot-like quality, and the tea note brings a certain smoky leatheriness to the blend. There must be additional fruity and leathery accords that add intensity to the blend, and overall the effect is oddly delicious. The two do not smell alike per se, but the only comparison I can come up with is Daim Blond. Imagine the latter with a more pronounced apricot note, with a smokier, darker leather instead of suede; imagine the composition stripped off any trace of heliotrope, iris and pretense...and you could sort of imagine Osmanthus Oolong....but not really. It is rather unique and a must try for fans of unconventional, non-sparkly fruity fragrances, leather and tea notes, osmanthus and especially for fellow lovers of sukhofrukty in perfume. Surely there are some. Raise your hand!
On this culinary note, I would like to invite you to the first post in PST's Foodie Sunday series, which will be curated by Beth and Tom. Please, stop by this Sunday to find out from Beth, Why Sunday Dinner? Tomorrow, Birgit will be discussing reed diffusers. Have a fragrant and delicious weekend, everybody!
(Fareb is currently sold at Huitieme Art Parfums website, First in Fragrance, The Perfume Shoppe, €95.00 or CAD$110.00 for 50ml, and will probably be available at Luckyscent along with the rest of Pierre Guillaume's creations. There is also a discovery sample kit for €19.00 or CAD$40.00. Osmanthus Oolong can be found at Providence Perfume Co.'s online shop, $25.00-$112.00, with samples also available.)