Encens Satin is the latest fragrance from Armani Privé. It is an oriental eau de parfum that, contrary to its name, is as much about amber and woodiness as incense. It’s also simple, uncomplicated, and minimalistic. Frankly, it is a struggle not to summarize it in one small paragraph and then be on my way, because this is not a fragrance with a lot of depth or development. On the plus side, it’s enjoyable and smooth. On the negative side, you’re really paying for the Armani name more than anything distinctive or interesting.
Armani claims that Encens Satin “seduces with a softly carnal radiance.” That goes too far, in my opinion, but the fragrance has a number of appealing traits, thanks to its cozy, ambered warmth infused with spiciness, dry woodiness, and darkness. Encens Satin’s full description is available from Armani’s British website, which talks about the two types of incense aroma-chemicals used in the fragrance, as well as how Encens Satin compares to some other Armani creations:
Giorgio Armani unveils the enveloping radiance of ENCENS SATIN, the latest addition to Armani/Privé La Collection, celebrating a new vision of legendary, sensual, incense. ENCENS SATIN – a fragrance where each note is wrapped in a deep, luminous embrace – seduces with a softly carnal radiance.
The absolute attraction of incense illuminated with spices, then rounded with woods and resinous accents. Not one incense note but two: brightly solar Incense MD (Molecular Distillation for extraordinary clarity) and warmer, more ambery Incense Resinoid, for a truly vibrant incense from start to finish.
A woody ambery fragrance, ENCENS SATIN inhabits a luxuriously sophisticated olfactive territory between the spicy woodiness of Armani/Privé BOIS D’ENCENS and the opulence of ROSE D’ARABIE from “Les Milles et Une Nuits” fragrance collection. The composition is beautifully rounded, its modern refinement equally seductive for a man or for a woman.
Based on that description, and in conjunction with the notes given on Fragrantica, Encens Satin includes:
Incense MD, Incense Resinoid, woody notes, spices, and amber.
Encens Satin opens on my skin with amber infused with incense. It smells like a mix of ambergris and labdanum, joined together with incense that is musty, dusty, and a little bit earthy, then sprinkled with abstract, indeterminate spices. In the base, there is an aromachemical woodiness, along with what I would swear is patchouli.
The amber is chewy, and initially wafts ambergris’ caramel nuances, but that soon changes as the labdanum takes over. It imparts both a darker element and some honeyed overtones which are very appealing, evoking very distant, faint memories of other labdanum fragrances like Mitzah, Ambre Sultan, and the similarly incense-filled Sahara Noir. The difference, however, is that Encens Satin is much drier, woodier, mustier, and flecked with an earthy patchouli. The spices are very weak and amorphous here, while the amber as a whole feels much thinner or gauzier.
Encens Satin never takes any dramatic twists to alter from its original course, never once varies from start to finish. All that happens is that some of its notes occasionally fluctuate in terms of their strength, prominence, or nuances. For example, the musty and earthy aspects imparted by both the incense and the patchouli wax and wane, while the labdanum’s honeyed sweetness retreats to the sidelines after an hour. It generally stays there but, once in a while, pops back up in a more noticeable way.
As a whole, the amber varies in how much of a central role it plays. After 90 minutes, it lets the incense shine forth, yet returns in the perfume’s drydown to play a much larger role. In a nutshell, the amber and incense play off each other in a sort of tag-team relay, trailed by the patchouli, spices, and woodiness. Those last two notes never translate into any clearly delineated, individual notes, but always feel abstract. In its final hour, Encens Satin is a blur of amber that is simultaneously a little bit sweet, dry, smoky, and woody.
Encens Satin has generally discreet sillage and moderate longevity. Using 3 tiny spritzes from my atomizer or the equivalent of 2 very small sprays from an actual bottle, Encens Satin opened with about 3-4 inches of sillage. That number seemed to drop within minutes. In fact, the first time I tested the fragrance, I applied 2 squirts, and then felt I needed to add a 3rd one just minutes later. Encens Satin drops to about an inch above the skin by the end of the first hour, but tiny tendrils occasionally floated up into the air when I moved. Encens Satin turns into a skin scent on me at the start of the 3rd hour, though it didn’t require any great effort to detect the fragrance for a while. All in all, the perfume lasted just a hair under 8 hours on me.
I seem to be luckier than others in that regard. On Fragrantica, the votes for longevity are not outstanding: 1 for Poor (30 min-1 hr); 2 for Weak (1-2 h); 2 for Moderate (3-6 hr); and 1 for Very Long Lasting. In short, out of six votes, 50% experienced a scent that lasted under 2 hours. With regard to Sillage, the votes are: 1 for Soft; 1 for Moderate; and 2 for Heavy.
In terms of reviews, only one of the 3 comments on that Fragrantica page talk about the perfume’s actual smell. “Originaldeftom” writes, in relevant part:
Sampled it today and I can honestly say it is rather beautiful. It is somewhat sweeter and softer and most certainly more feminine than “Bois D’Incense”. [¶] I guess the older version was too masculine and is now dropping in sales, so they launch a new revised version. [¶] Very good indeed. If only the sillage and longevity was better.
I couldn’t find any blog reviews for Encens Satin to share with you, so I’ll talk about pricing instead. Encens Satin costs $260, €218, or £155 for 100 ml of eau de parfum. I always think Armani fragrances are over-priced due to the minimalistic simplicity of the actual scent in question, in conjunction with their discreet sillage and occasionally iffy longevity. Encens Satin is no exception; $260 seems a lot for such a basic, linear scent. However, price is always a very personal, subjective valuation, so it depends on you.
All I can say is that Encens Satin is the first Armani Privé that I’ve actually liked. It’s not earth-shattering, original, nuanced, or complex, but it’s a very nice, elegant scent with enjoyable smoothness and pleasant dryness. In short, I wouldn’t suggest that you rush out of your way to try it, but if you’re a fan of orientals or any of the notes in question and you happen to see Encens Satin in one of the handful of stores that carry it, then give it a sniff.