The Orientals. This article is second in our exploration of the Fragrance Wheel by Michael Edwards, as introduced to you in my post “The Florals“. The Oriental fragrance Group is divided into three families: soft-oriental, oriental and woody oriental. We will look today at what makes their oriental nature and what distinguishes them from other groups and families.
The Orient has always been a subject of fascination for Westerners. The word Orient itself comes from Latin language meaning “the direction of rising sun”, another word for the East. For the Romans, the Orient started with what is known today as the Near-East but later this concept extended far beyond, to the extreme boundaries of Asia. For Westerners, the Orient is synonymous with gold palaces, intrigues and mysteries, and of course spices. Cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, ginger, pepper and cassia were already traded between India and the Middle-East in the antique times and reached the European shores by the Incense Route. Along with myrrh and frankincense, spices were used for their fragrant and medicinal properties. After the rise of Islam, Arab traders started to monopolize the spice routes and in the fifteenth century, the Ottoman Empire cut the trade with Europe, urging the raising Western powers to use their latest scientific discoveries to venture themselves to the Orient and seek for spices and other treasures.
The Oriental fragrance group is thus characterized by sensual or heavy spice notes, opulent flowers, sweet vanilla and musk, and tropical woods. Citrus, green or fruity top notes are used to perfect the accord and give the fragrance its true identity. Many cult fragrances are classified as orientals, and Shalimar by Guerlain, created in 1925 by Jacques Guerlain himself, is perhaps the most famous ambassador of this family. The name of this jewel comes from the Shalimar Gardens, in Lahore India, commissioned by the same Moghul emperor who built the Taj Mahal for his beloved wife. Shalimar is still selling well today in various concentrations and in a special edition with a stronger vanilla note called Shalimar Ode à la Vanille.
Another classic is Obsession by Calvin Klein, launched in 1985, in a women’s and men’s version, with similar notes in different proportions. I truly love this fragrance which can really become obsessive when “pulsing” on your body for long hours. Spices and vanilla topped by a fruity and green cocktail make Obsession a long-lasting pleasure.
Yesterday, I had the chance to wear Fève Délicieuse from Dior: La Collection Privée (private collection). Wow, what a beautiful sweet and sophisticated oriental unisex fragrance. “Fève” means “bean” in french and that stands for tonka bean, the root of coumarin. The beans already so sweet are reinforced by a gourmand accord of vanilla, caramel, cherry and chocolate, on woody, spicy and herbal notes. This is a very nice oriental fragrance that will please many, if not your wallet, as the price tag of this collection is very high.
To finish with the Orientals, I would like to forward you a special recommendation from my son Remy for Laudano Nero, from Tiziana Terenzi. This is an “extrait de parfum”, thus a highly concentrated juice, for a very decent price. The fragrance opens in an aromatic way but evolves into a smokey oud with a hint of sweetness brought by a cognac note. Laudano Nero is very long-lasting and declines its notes very nicely to end up with a camphor and incense base with a hint of patchouli. This is really a great pick for this winter, order your samples soon!
I wish you a beautiful week and send you my oriental greetings from Shanghai, aka the Pearl of the Orient. Cheers my friends!
Cheers my friends!