Areej Le Doré has followed up its debut collection with four new fragrances, one of which is called Flux de Fleur. Described as “a heavy, dark fruity, floral Oriental blend,” it immediately drew my eye with a tantalizing note list which included several white florals, honeysuckle (which I love), pink grapefruit (which I also love), coconut water, two types of frankincense, and even an Indian shamama (spice) amber attar, aged for more than two decades. Flux de Fleur seemed like a guaranteed sure-fire hit for someone with my tastes. Things did not turn out as I had anticipated, however.
Flux de Fleur is an extrait de parfum with attar-like richness and concentration, albeit in sprayable form. On his website, Russian Adam calls it “a heavy, dark fruity, floral Oriental blend,” and provides a long scent description, a portion of which is below:
Heavy rain of melted frankincense coating a garden of marvelous pink grapefruit. Resins covering citrus fruits, fixing and supporting their playful character. Liquid green frankincense releasing a tangy zing that is both juicy and resinous, while black frankincense delivers a dark, musky sensation.
Once rain passes, the garden reveals its blooming florals. Piercing, narcotic tuberose; sweet, sharp and stimulating jasmine sambac; and powdery, seductive yellow frangipani, watered with black frankincense rain, all begin to blossom with notes of unimaginable dark, dry fruits.
Slowly majestic, highly-matured, rare Cambodian oud unfurls and stretches its ancient wings. Dark, thick and dense, it reveals the notes of dry, oudy fruits, molasses resins and plummy tobacco, graciously overlaying antique shamama attar. [¶] Red, herbal, spicy amber notes pared with dark Indonesian oud, soaked in sweet coconut water take over, bring to life unmatchable olfactory pleasure.
Top notes: dissolved green and black frankincense; pink grapefruit
Heart notes: rooh of jasmine sambac [hydro/steam distilled Jasmine Otto] and yellow frangipani; tuberose absolute, Cambodian oud that is over 10 years old; dark Sumatran oud soaked in coconut water; and Indian amber shamama attar, aged for more than two decades
Base notes: legally obtained, wild Siberian deer musk; castoreum, blue lotus absolute, honeysuckle and henna infusion, vetiver, tolu balsam and benzoin.
Flux de Fleur opens on my skin with a complex, spicy, sticky, sweet, dark, and heavily ambered bouquet that is initially led by frankincense. It is a beautiful, aromatic, fragrant note that is piney, coniferous, foresty, resinous, and lightly sweetened with honeyed sap. A slew of other notes follow immediately on its heels, several of which add to the sweetness. There is: juicy, candied pink grapefruit; fruity, honeyed jasmine sambac; heady but delicate and also honeyed honeysuckle; fruity frangipani that skews towards the orange blossom side in aroma, just as it did in Ottoman Empire; Tolu balsam that briefly wafts a licorice aroma; labdanum that briefly wafts a root-beer tonality; and caramel-scented benzoin amber.
There is more. While the amber accord oozes its sticky sweetness onto the fruity floral bouquet, red-brown spices swirl all around like dervishes. They smell primarily of dusty, earthy henna and equally dusty saffron, the latter undoubtedly stemming from the Indian shamama attar. In the base, the oud ripples, smelling of milky sweet coconut water, muskiness, and, once in a blue moon, tobacco. A tiny pinch of earthy, dusky deer musk grains lurks in the base as well, although it doesn’t last for long in any distinct, visible form.
There are so many notes, broad accords, and layers happening all at once, but some things dominate more than others. In the first two minutes, Flux de Fleur’s main thrust is the fruitiness, both from the pink grapefruit and the florals, but it is rapidly swallowed up and engulfed by a sticky ambered sweetness that is generated by a combination of the shamama amber attar and the sticky caramel-scented benzoin.
However, after 10 minutes, Flux de Fleur changes focus. The grapefruit and the fruity, honeyed florals (which are quickly turning indolic) fall to third place in this horse race, while the amber and spice accords fuse together and take the lead. The shamama’s saffron and the henna are conjoined, adding a powerful dusty, dusky, powdery, and earthy quality to the scent, while the various types of amber resin — labdanum, Tolu balsam, and benzoin — coat everything with an immensely sticky golden sweetness.
I have to be honest, I personally find that both main accords are a little heavy-handed and overwhelming in their intensity on my skin. The amber was seriously hardcore for the first 50 minutes, even for an amber junkie like myself, but my greatest struggle was with the saffron-henna-spice mix because its earthen powderiness and dustiness were domineering elements on my skin for Flux de Fleur’s first six hours. I’ll talk about that much more when I get to the later stages of the scent but, even at the 15-minute mark, the effect of the spices felt like a bulldozer on my skin. [Update: after thinking about it at length, I think the two types of frankincense must also be responsible for the dustiness.]
In addition, the other notes have now merged into broad swathes in the background where they ripple out with varying degrees of prominence. The clearest and most discernible out of the lot on my skin is the coconut water. Unlike so many artificial “coconut” notes in mainstream perfumery, this is not a plastic, screechy, gooey, or heavy coconut, but it does impart a slightly beachy, suntan, tropical feel to the scent as it develops. Everything else operates in broad brush strokes: honeyed, musky florals; fruitiness; woodiness; and a quiet smokiness that alternates between smelling like incense, oud-ish wood smoke, or smoke from indoles. After 30 minutes, “greenness” is added to the background mix, and it’s as difficult to pin down as the rest. One minute, it smells like mossy vetiver; a few minutes later, like the tuberose mossy greenness in fragrances like MAAI; and moments after that, it smells like green frankincense or green, vaguely oud-ish woodiness.
What’s interesting to me is how different Flux de Fleur smells in the second half of its first hour if I smell it up close versus on the scent trail in the air around me. Up close, Flux de Fleur is turning into an increasingly creamy white floral dominated by frangipani, then jasmine, honeysuckle, and tuberose (in that order), dappled by honeyed and surprisingly peachy fruits, then encased in a soft, sheer cloud of lightly spiced, quietly musky amber. From a distance, however, Flux de Fleur is a predominantly a spiced amber with intensely sticky, dusty, earthy, and powdery qualities to it. The fruity florals are abstract, heavily muffled, and secondary — merely an under-layer at best — and there is only a passing, fleeting suggestion of woods, incense, or smoke.
The version that appears up close at the 40-45-minute mark is lovely. I love how the pink grapefruit interacts with the other notes to create a strong impression of peaches. Only in the first ten minutes did the grapefruit smell like an actual citrus but, even then, it was a very sweet, candied aroma rather than an acidic, sour, thin, or brisk note. Now, however, by some alchemy, Flux de Fleur radiates a soft, honeyed, nectared peach note that works beautifully with the amber and, in particular, with the increasingly creamy white florals. The coconut milk may not always be a concrete, visible, and powerful note, but it works its magic indirectly on the flowers.
That magic is particularly evident as the first hour draws to a close when Flux de Fleur briefly shifts direction. Roughly 55 minutes in, the flower bloom, coated in coconut cream, giving Flux de Fleur a strong beachy, tropical vibe. The amber hangs like a golden haze at sunset, sometimes smelling of caramel, occasionally taking on almost a rum-like booziness. The spices are fully layered within. For my tastes, they are still too strong, powdery, and intensive. But, if I put them aside, everything else is gorgeous. I feel as though I’m back on a beach in Maui, Turquoise, or the Maldives at sunset: the air is thick, musky, golden, and sweet; the last vestiges of coconut suntan oil cling to my skin; I’m sipping a fruity rum cocktail; there is a lei of island flowers around my neck wafting a heady floralcy; but, this time, the towel around my body is made of interwoven saffron and henna.
It would be perfect if the spices and their powdery dustiness were merely a drop in the ocean but, on my skin and to my nose, they feel as rampant as all the grains of sand on that beach. As the 1st hour gives way to the 2nd, their earthy, dusky powderiness not only remains forceful but actually starts to muffle the beachy, fruity, coconut-y florals, even when I smell the scent up close. By the end of the 2nd hour and the start of the 3rd, the powdered spices run completely roughshod over the creamy, coconut-y, fruity florals, wiping them out — and the beach scene along with it.
On my skin, the spice mix’s earthy, powdery, and dusty qualities are too much for my personal tastes and it feels unbalanced vis-à-vis the other notes. Russian Adam used the shamama attar in his Oud Zen and I had no difficulty there, so I wonder if it is the addition of the henna infusion which has sent the spice levels soaring here. On me, it feels as though there is three times the amount of spices than there was in Oud Zen and maybe six or seven times as much earthy, powdery dustiness as in Ottoman Empire. It made me think of an account I read on the Basenotes Areej le Doré thread regarding Oud Zen where one person, Mike Perez, struggled with the saffron for what sounds like a similar sorts of reasons: powderiness. Again, on my skin, Oud Zen wasn’t at all powdery, but Flux de Fleur is; not in the sense of makeup powder or tonka, but in the sense of a heaping pile of spice powder in an old spice drawer blowing up in your face. [Clarification: since I fear I may be misinterpreted, it is NOT the spiciness of the scent or their aroma with which I struggle. It is the character and effect of the spices in terms of their powderiness, earthiness, and dustiness. Those qualities are overpowering and unbalanced on my skin. Also, after thinking about it at length, I’m sure the two frankincense additions contribute greatly to the dustiness and the powderiness. Frankincense typically has a very musty, earthen, woody dustiness in its finish, and even more so on my skin. I’m guessing the combination of two sorts of frankincense with henna powder and saffron powder are the reason why Flux de Fleur went so wrong on me.]
To be sure it wasn’t a quirk, fluke, or application issue, I tested Flux de Fleur twice, the second time with different fragrance amounts on different parts of my arms, some spritzed via the tiny sample atomizer, some dabbed lightly via its atomizer stick. Things were better when I swiped the atomizer stick lightly on my skin, amounting to less than even a single spray from an actual bottle, but it was relative. Regardless of the amount or method used, the spices became so dusty, grainy, musty, and powdery that I felt they overwhelmed many of the other elements, particularly the more delicate notes like the pretty incense or pink grapefruit in the opening and the beachy, fruity floral accord in the second hour. On me, the saffron-henna combination essentially acted like a Panzer unit that ran roughshod over them, flattening everything in its dusty, earthy, powdery wake. Again, to be clear, it’s not the spices, per se, as an aroma with which I have an issue, but their dusty, dusky, earthy, powdered character.
Initial reviews for Flux de Fleur haven’t described anything similar, so I think two factors are probably responsible for my experience: personal skin chemistry and the quantity of natural, rich raw materials here. In several of my past reviews for attars, I have tried to emphasize how both factors can result in scent variances, not only from one person to the next but also sometimes from one wearing to the next of the same fragrance on the same person. The reason is because natural essences and absolutes typically have a more complex molecular structure than aromachemicals. As a result, fragrances with large amounts of naturals will manifest a wider range of nuances and are more heavily impacted by individual skin chemistry. Sometimes, they will bloom in glorious ways on one person more than another; sometimes, they go south for the same reasons. Flux de Fleur fell into the second category for me because the spice accord simply didn’t work well with my skin. As you will see later, two people writing early reviews for Flux de Fleur did not have that problem. In fact, neither said a single word about the spices. But let’s return to the scent evolution as I experienced it.
A short time after the spices overtake the florals in the third hour, Flux de Fleur enters a new phase when the two ouds arrive on center stage. The cumulative effect turns the fragrance into a spiced saffron oud laced with smoky, musky, and leathery tonalities, then set against an ambered backdrop flecked with wisps of fruitiness, incense, and a drop of coconut.
Flux de Fleur shifts yet again when the 6th hour rolls around and, for all my issues with the earlier stage, this is when things start to get good. The spice dust mellows out, the ouds begin to waft a delicious dark chocolate aroma in addition to a gentle smokiness, and the ambers turn into soft caramel. Slivers of orange fruitiness and frankincense are dotted all about, while soft musks adds a velvety texture that runs throughout them all. I mean it quite sincerely when I say it’s a very enjoyable bouquet.
Flux de Fleur remains a lovely chocolate, saffron, amber oud for several hours but changes course again at the start of the 9th hour. Basically, the scent turns more floral, although the notes are too amorphous for me to pick out anything other than a lush white floralcy. A haze of sweet amber, soft spiciness, and muskiness hangs thickly over the flowers while smoky, chocolate-y oud brackets them on all sides. The net effect is a bouquet which very similar to that in Ottoman Empire’s later stages. It’s not identical, in part because of the oud’s chocolate, but there is definitely a genetic kinship between the two scents at this stage.
Flux de Fleur’s drydown begins roughly at the start of the 12th hour. The fragrance is now a spicy, woody, musky, sweet golden blur. There are no florals. Initially, the golden cloud is layered with frankincense which bears a quietly soapy, dusty, meditative quality to it. It lasts about 60 minutes, 75 at most, before it disappears as well, leaving only ambered velvet softness with some spiciness and muskiness buried within. Flux de Fleur remains that way until it finally dies away.
Flux de Fleur had low projection, average sillage, and very good longevity on my skin, but it was softer and quieter than the earlier Areej trio. When I used several spritzes from the atomizer amounting to two small sprays from an actual bottle, Flux de Fleur opened with 2-3 inches of projection and about 5-6 inches of sillage. The bouquet was strong in scent or aroma but, in its feel, weight, and trail, it felt quieter, softer, and more diffuse than its earlier compatriots. Flux de Fleur’s numbers also dropped more rapidly: 2.5 hours in, the projection was 0.5 to 1 inch above the skin, while the scent trail had shrunk to about 3 inches. About 6.25 hours in, Flux de Fleur hovered just a fraction above the skin, and I had to bring my nose close to my arm to detect its nuances. The fragrance remained that way until about the 8.75 to 9-hour mark when it became a true skin scent and I had put my nose on the skin to detect it. There, it clung tenaciously as a discreet, skin-coating whisper of ambered muskiness for hours. In total, Flux de Fleur lasted just a bit over 16.75 hours.
Flux de Fleur will be officially released on October 16th and is in pre-order status right now, but there are a few passing, early impressions on the Basenotes Official Areej Le Doré Discussion thread at the time of this post, starting at comment #509 on page 17. Two people have tried it thus far. The first is “Bangkok Hound” who wrote:
I’ve now tested them all and I’m very impressed! I hate that I want them all, but I do. Russian Adam gets a lot of attention for what he does with oud and musk, but I think florals is where he excels. First Ottoman Empire and now Flux de Fleur. Wow!
In a second comment (#539) on another page, he elaborated further while providing a comparison of Flux de Fleur and the new Inverno Russo:
They’re both florals, but very different. Flux de Fleur is jasmine and tuberose with incense. I was really picking up the incense while testing it last night. Inverno Russo is mostly rose and musk. It’s the same kind of musk from Siberian Musk to my nose. I ordered them both. I had no performance issues with IR. I’m just shocked at Russian Adam’s florals. Is this really what floral perfumes used to smell like in the past? If I were to take my last breath, I’d want to use it to inhale Flux de Fleur. That’s not hyperbole either.
As you can see, he doesn’t mention a single problem with the spices (or their dustiness) in that rave review, and neither did “DiamondFlame” who provided the second positive review for Flux de Fleur in Comment #527:
WOW! This is just flat out G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S. For jasmine lovers out there, this one is for you. Wears like a traditional attar. Full review only after a couple more full wears. But sillage is strong and quality is right up there, exceeding even the likes of Fragrance du Bois which retails upwards of $500 for 50 ml. $350 is a steal. I’m starting to sound like a broken record here but I’m so thankful this is not by Roja, lol.
Again, there isn’t a single word about the spices which underscores my earlier point that personal skin chemistry makes a critical difference. My skin simply didn’t interact well with Flux de Fleur, but your experience may well be different. Judging by the two early comments on Basenotes, you’re far, far more likely to experience a lush white floral with incense and amber than spiced dustiness and powderiness. Plus, remember, even on my skin, the spices didn’t last as a major central note throughout.
Even with the spice issue, I prefer Flux de Fleur to many fragrances that I’ve smelt lately from luxury niche brands. In fact, I would take it any day over the last 6 Roja Doves that I’ve tried, both new Masque Milanos, both new Mona di Orios, three recent Amouages, and also several Fragrance du Bois. Some of these fragrances are far more expensive than Areej Le Doré, by the way, despite having some iffy ingredients, overly intrusive synthetics, and/or a more basic scent.
What you have to understand is that I have heightened standards and expectations for Areej Le Doré after the impressive initial trio, and it is to them that I am comparing my experience with Flux de Fleur. As compared to them, what appeared on my skin with Flux de Fleur felt rougher, less finished or polished, but, as compared to the mundane, mediocre, and heavily aromachemical crap put out by so many niche or luxury niche brands, Flux de Fleur is in a different league, a much higher league. No, it’s not going to steal my heart away from Ottoman Empire, and I also enjoyed wearing Siberian Musk and Oud Zen more, but it’s not a bad fragrance by any definition. My skin simply didn’t play nice. That happens to all of us from time to time, but the quality of Flux de Fleur and its materials is unquestionable in my mind.
I think Flux de Fleur is the sort of composition that, in the broadest scent terms, would appeal to: fans of SP Attars‘ Reve Narcotique or his tropical fruity-floral oud, Cités des Anges; anyone seeking a white floral version of Roja Dove‘s Amber Aoud; people who like beachy, spicy, fruity, or heavy floral orientals; fans of resinous floral ouds; and fans of Areej’s own Ottoman Empire. If you fall within one of those groups, I would normally tell you to ignore my experience and to test Flux de Fleur for yourself, but I’m afraid the Areej sample set sold out within hours. However, the fragrance is available for purchase in full bottle form. (Details on that are provided at the end.)
If the note list tempts you, my suggestion is to read the Basenotes discussion thread a few times in the days and weeks ahead as people receive their sample/bottle and begin to post reviews. Do not take my account or experience as the only possible likelihood; there are no absolutes in perfumery, no one single truth, and no uniformity. So long as the quality is there (which it is with Flux de Fleur) and so long as you like the majority of notes in a fragrance, then the rest depends on one’s skin, one’s scent perceptions, and one’s individual tastes.
If you’re one of the people who managed to snag the sample set or who pre-ordered a bottle, my advice to you is to experiment with the amount of fragrance that you apply or even the method (dabbing versus spraying). That advice applies to all the Areej Le Doré fragrances, by the way, due to the richness, concentration, and density of their notes. They are like an attar in that sense and, just like an attar, the amount that you apply and possibly even the method by which you apply the fragrance will impact the prominence of certain notes, their nuances, the sillage, or the development of the scent. So, it’s best to play around with the quantity application and give the fragrance a few good wearings before you make up your mind.
I will be reviewing the three other new Areej releases over the course of the next two weeks. Have a lovely weekend in the meantime, and see you soon.
Shopping Details/Additional Links: $350 for 50 ml of pure extrait de parfum, limited-edition, 100 bottles only. Sample sets are sold out. The bottles are available exclusively at Areej Le Doré. Additional reviews at Basenotes starting on page 17 and, eventually, perhaps on Fragrantica. Samples at Surrender to Chance start at $6.99 for a 1/4 ml vial.
Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of Areej Le Doré. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.