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Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Fragrances from La Via del Profumo: An Artist's Palette of Choices

By Donna

In my previous reviews of fragrances by AbdesSalaam Attar (Dominique Dubrana), the mysterious perfumer behind the Italian house of La Via del Profumo, I described a number of different styles that I had tested; from the fierce beauty of Tcharas to the tenderness of Tasneem and the fresh delight of African Night, I was impressed with the range of perfumes that one person can compose, and I was eager to delve into even more of them. I decided that I wanted to sample as diverse a palette as possible, including some that I would not ordinarily choose for myself, in order to find out just how talented a perfumer this man is. I was not disappointed.

Beginning with a style to which I do not normally gravitate, the amber gourmand Oriental, Chocolate Amber does not smell anything like the hair-raising concoctions of sugary overload that one might find in the department stores. Of course it's sweet with a name like this, but it's also interesting, which is more than I can say about the kind of things sold at Victoria's Secret stores. It's just not fair to compare them; Chocolate Amber is sexy and truly adult, deepened with Tonka bean and vanilla. Wearing this is a total commitment, a full immersion in sensuality and made me completely rethink my attitude toward ambery scents. For those afraid of chocolate in perfume, it's not that dusty weirdness that some chocolate scents can have; this is a luscious chocolate marriage made in aphrodisiac heaven, conjuring up the intimate connection between the sense of smell, food and sex. Wear it with someone you love and let nature take its delicious course.

Do you think you don't like fruity scents? It's can be a difficult style to appreciate these days, with so many fruity florals crowding the market, most of them cheaply made and inferior. What makes a fruit note in perfume is almost always synthetic; all those berries, lychees, mangoes, peaches and even apples are made of complex aroma chemicals that grew in laboratories, not on trees. The challenge that faces a natural perfumer is creating the smell of fruit with a very limited selection of available materials, other than citrus oils, there is not much actual fruit from which to choose. Well here is something truly impressive, a fruity perfume constructed from apricot-scented osmanthus flowers, blended with jasmine, vanilla and blackcurrant resin absolute, called Frutti Paradisi. All I can think of to describe this gem of a scent is that it made me think of old paintings of fruit in still life; darkened by age and varnish, still they glisten with life and tempting plumpness, surrounded by luxuriant flowers, spilling over in abundance from ornate bowls and emerging from deep background shadows to tempt the observer to reach out and pluck them out. This is a fruit perfume like no other, soft and understated and the polar opposite of all those “fresh” fruity fragrances that last five minutes before devolving into dull, plasticky dry downs and seem to be aimed at people who don't even like fragrance. Frutti Paradisi reclaims the genre for perfume lovers everywhere.

On the opposite end of the style spectrum is Hindu Kush, which combines the ferocious impact and adventurous spirit of Tcharas with a green intensity that is nothing short of mesmerizing. I simply cannot stop smelling this! It is definitely meant for men to wear, and indeed it is as bold a fragrance as I have ever experienced, redolent of dense pine forests, far Eastern spice bazaars and blazing bonfires. I adore smelling it straight from the bottle or on my own skin, but I think I would follow a man who wore this anywhere, just to be in the wake of his scent trail. At its heart this is a dry incense perfume, and it just gets better with every passing hour. With less of an “animal” character than Tcharas, I think it would be easier to wear for most people, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to every man out there. (Of course, this is for purely selfish reasons; I am just hoping I will be walking down the street someday and smell it on you.)

Samurai is an elegant surprise, being a spare composition of oakmoss, woods and a hefty amount of the best vetiver you ever smelled. Vetiver and oakmoss lovers, this is a must-try. It's a cologne style with linear development but there is nothing lightweight about it because of the profound base so rich in oakmoss, one of my favorite perfume notes. (He also included in the samples, at my request, a tiny vial of pure oakmoss absolute, and it's unbelievable. Now I really know why I love chypres so much!) A green so profound that it approaches the aroma of lime basil emanates from this wonderful perfume. Summers will seem cooler and life in general will just seem to make more sense when your day is grounded by Samurai. It's sophisticated enough for the boardroom and easy enough for casual wear. In fact, I can't think of any occasion that would be wrong for wearing it.

To obtain your own collection of samples or buy full size bottles, please visit the La Via del Profumo Web site. I dare you to make up your mind.

Image credit: Still Life with Fuit, A Glass Of Wine and a Bronze Vessel On A Ledge, by French artist Blaise Alexandre DeGoff (1830-1901), via

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Blogger Cerise said...

I'm a life-long lover of fragrances and so admire and enjoy all of your voluptuous writing and deep appreciation of scent. Thank you for indulging us!

My grandmother was an Avon distributor, and I still remember, as a little girl, looking through the boxes in her guest bedroom, cartons full of scents and soaps shaped like shells or animals. To this day, I'd spend my last $5 on something that smelled great because it transforms me.

Thank you, Donna, for your great review of Profumo. I'm curious how much a sample pack costs in dollars - I'm not finding anywhere that explains that. Can you help?

Best greetings to all!

11:20 AM EST  
Anonymous Flora said...

Hi Cerise, thank you so much!

As far as prices go, you will have to do a Euro-to-dollar conversion, and that seems to fluctuate a lot. The good news is that if you live outside the EU it's cheaper to have it shipped because the dreaded VAT does not apply.

1:09 PM EST  
Anonymous Buy Discounted Perfumes said...

This is a great post. It's quite rare to find a post like this. The product is perfectly reviewed and assessed. Making great perfumes really takes time. That's why its high quality perfumes are somehow more expensive than others. But you can buy discounted perfumes online now and I'm sure you would buy more than one bottle if you find sites with great discounts!

1:20 AM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

I'm so glad you're reviewing more of Profumo's scents, Donna. A long time ago I tried one and it contained a ton of cinnamon. Since that's not a note I particularly like I gave my bottle away and forgot about the line. You have now reawakened my interest. Thanks!

9:41 AM EST  
Blogger Tammy said...

Oooh, Hindu Kush is calling my name! The campfire not sounds sooooo good. As does Tcharas, I remember your review of it so well.

You should write a novel, dear lady!

2:31 PM EST  
Anonymous RusticDove said...

Such wonderful reviews for what seem to be exceptional fragrances from a true artisan. I've only tried Balsama della Mecca so far [I have a bottle of that one] and I hope to try more from the line at some point. Thanks for your insight and beautifully written assessment.

5:26 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Marian, the range here is so great you could try a couple of dozen of his perfumes and never run into cinnamon. Things like Tcharas and Hindu Kush are so away from what anyone else in natural perfumery are doing (that I am aware of) that they really must be tried to be believed!

12:46 AM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Tammy, thanks so much! These scents are so otherworldly and inspiring I am forced to stretch my descriptive powers. Maybe I should write a book while wearing one of those 2 perfumes the whole time. :-)

12:48 AM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

RusticDove, thank you. They really are exceptional. I know Mecca Balsam is very popular, and deservedly so, but it's not even close to being my favorite in the line, there are so many good ones.

12:50 AM EST  

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