Walimah is one of several brand-new, upcoming fragrances from Areej Le Doré and is intended to be a celebration of love and marriage. It was created by Russian Adam in tribute to “the beautiful union of two souls from different corners of the globe” and their wedding late last year, so it’s quite symbolic that the fragrance’s two versions — a parfum and an attar — act as yin and yang. Although they have the same notes and formula, they are surprisingly different on my skin: the spray is feminine, ethereally bridal and, later, sensuously creamy); the attar casts dark, masculine shadows upon its luminous, radiant, white florals, sometimes shrouding them almost entirely. The attar is not only more complex but it is also a shape-shifter. In addition, it is unisex-to-masculine in its character, veering between co-equal unisex elements and an elegantly rugged masculinity that has an occasional animalic growl. I’ve been told that the spray version will eventually age into something closer in scent and character to the attar but, even as they are right now, both versions are striking in their own way.
BACKGROUND, BOTTLES, OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION & NOTE LIST:
According to Wikipedia, Walima (Arabic: وليمة walīmah), is the name for the marriage banquet or wedding feast, the second of two traditional parts of an Islamic wedding. In addition, “Walima is used as a symbol to show domestic happiness in the household post-marriage” and the word is also “often used to describe a celebration of marriage.”
Walimah is one of several new fragrances which Russian Adam will release on January 31st, Asian time. If you count Walimah as a single composition which is merely being offered in two different concentrations or forms, there will be four new fragrances in total, one of which will be the new upgraded version of Siberian Musk. I will have a detailed post on the fragrances, their notes, their price, the quantity of bottles (it varies per scent, unlike the prior series), the sample situation, the upgraded packaging, and various other matters soon after their official website launch. I’m waiting until the 31st in order to provide you with direct website links and photos of all the bottles, but you can find Walimah’s specifics at the very end of this review in the Details section. I’ll update this post with shopping links later.
As mentioned earlier, Walimah comes in two formats and concentrations, but their notes and formula are identical. The Attar is a concentrated fragrance oil. Traditionally and technically, attars don’t usually contain perfumer’s alcohol but this one has roughly 5% to 7%. In truth, Russian Adam had planned to call it “Walimah Pure Parfum,” but I suggested that the name was confusing because it almost implied the other one wasn’t a parfum, when it was. Plus, I thought “Attar” provided a better sense or more accurate picture of what to expect. Russian Adam agreed.
The sprayable version is also a pure parfum or extrait. It simply has a much greater quantity of perfumer’s alcohol to dilute it. Somehow, that resulted in a completely different scent on my skin. Russian Adam says that can happen when an attar is diluted into an extrait, and that the spray will smell more and more like the attar when it is aged.
The two concentrations have a different stock supply and different packaging as well. Unlike past Areej fragrances, there are as many as 500 bottles of Walimah spray. The 50 ml bottle has received a few small upgrades in appearance from the second series. I’ll discuss that issue fully in the New Releases Announcement but one of the changes consists of a label which is no longer in paper (like fragrances in the first series), no longer in metal (second series), but now in embossed leather.
The Attar was produced in significantly fewer numbers than the spray version and, like all attars, the amount of juice is small as compared to sprayable alcohol-based scents. In this case, there are 100 bottles and they contain 3 ml of fragrance oil. The bottles are crystal and reflect the light, casting off rainbow hues. Each one is individually engraved with the brand and fragrance names, but also with the bottle’s unique number, 001 to 100. (But, if demand is very high, Russian Adam says that he might be able to produce more from the original/same batch at some point in the future.) The bottles come in a silk-lined, gold-coloured box. The attar is exclusive to Adam’s website, unlike the spray parfums which will be sold both there and, for the first time, at Luckyscent.
Walimah’s official description is long, but it gives you a good idea of what went into the fragrance, its notes, and the quality of the materials used:
Walimah is our tribute to the beautiful union of two souls from different corners of the globe. It is a celebration of a man and a woman who, by the grace of God Almighty, have found love, peace and joy in each other: Russian Adam and his Indonesian princess.
Rugged, harsh, sharp, wild and unapologetic character is infused and softened with a delicate, sweet and beautiful female wisdom.
A harmonious balance of heavy, masculine, smoky and wild animalic notes of Russian deer musk, castoreum and royal Bengali oud, enriched with lush, feminine Indonesian magnolia flowers, tuberose and mouth-watering cocoa, sprinkled with bits of luxurious, fragrant saffron and warm cinnamon.
The top notes of Walimah explode with blooming Indonesian florals. One thousand fresh, yellow champaka flowers, distilled by Russian Adam himself, add unmatchable quality to the aroma, resulting in some of the most realistic flowerfalls one could possibly imagine. The combination of rare, steam-distilled magnolia otto and magnolia absolute flashes from the top of this love elixir, adding a feeling of pure, raw and captivating love. A touch of unique, fruity Indonesian tuberose and narcotic ylang ylang form an olfactory bridge that takes us to the heart notes of this composition.
A high dose of precious tobacco leaf absolute is a main player here. Dry, warm and sensual, it represents the sensation of comfort and relaxation. It graciously embraces royal oud from the Bengal mountains… extraordinary agarwood oil distilled from the highest quality, organic Bengal, incense-grade wood. This oud is multilayered, deep and regal, containing spicy nuances, and is of a quality that has most likely never been used in mass perfume making. It is then coated in Indonesian cocoa, exotic saffron and soothing cinnamon, further increasing its depth.
The base is built of one-of-a kind Java vetiver absolute extracted in 2010. This is a rare material with a thick, smooth aroma that is unusually deeper than any vetiver I have had the pleasure of experiencing thus far. It is heavy, with a velvet touch of earthy chocolate, dry tobacco leaf nuances and a rich, resinous, slightly smoky feel. It is further boosted and fixed with tolu balsam and the finest labdanum absolute from India.
Wild Siberian deer musk maceration pervades this thick oriental blend. Legally harvested from a huge, highly-matured deer, this musk displays a raw and wild scent with distinct, sweet, dark chocolaty qualities that perfectly match the personality of this composition.
This blend falls into the same category as our previous oriental star called Ottoman Empire and is the current personal favorite perfume of Russian Adam.
The official note list is:
Top notes: yellow champaka distilled by Russian Adam, magnolia otto and magnolia absolute [+ touches of tuberose and ylang-ylang];
Heart notes: Royal Bengal oud, tobacco absolute, Indonesian cocoa extract, saffron and cinnamon;
Base notes: Indonesian vetiver absolute, aged from 2010; Indian labdanum absolute and Peru balsam.
As you will soon see, my scent experience with the spray differed from the official scent description. In fact, the parfum spray version was dramatically different on my skin and had none of the darkness or heavy masculinity which was mentioned.
On my skin, Walimah spray is, in an overly simplified nutshell, a green-white floral bridal scent which transitions into vetiver-infused floralcy before eventually turning into fully unisex, floral-laced, vetiver velvet, enveloped in plush muskiness.
Having said that, Waliwah’s specifics, nuances, and development depend completely on how much scent I apply. Areej has lovely new black atomizers but the Waliwah one that I was sent was wonky for this particular scent and, no matter how hard I tried, it did not actually spray. So I eventually gave up and smeared the juice on my skin. In my first test, I used a small amount roughly equal to 1 good spray from an actual bottle. The second time, I applied roughly double that amount or a little bit more, so let’s say that it was somewhere between 2 and 2.5 sprays from an actual bottle.
When I apply a 1-spray equivalent, Walimah’s bridal bouquet is a fresh, clean, and diaphanous scent that focused almost entirely on magnolia for the first 2.25 hours. Russian Adam told me that he used heaping amounts of magnolia and that there is relatively “little” champaca in comparison. The magnolia “overdose” shows because, on my skin, I’d estimate that the magnolia makes up roughly 90% of the scent in the early stage. The flower feels translucent and petal-soft, and wafts a lemony floralcy. It is also quietly soapy and aldehydic, much in the vein of expensive, white-floral soap that you find at some luxury hotels.
A few additional elements accompany the magnolia. The first is a small, soft cloud of deer musk which is given a quietly chocolate-y undertone from a few pinches of hot chocolate powder. The deer musk is neither animalic nor furry on my skin. It’s merely a sheer, muted earthiness that feels as though a sepia-tinted filter had passed momentarily over the flowers. It lasts maybe 5 minutes, at most, before it dissipates into the background and then, with surprising rapidity, ends up disappearing completely.
The magnolia’s second companion is the champaca which, oddly enough, I could detect only when I applied this low dose of Walimah and not when I applied the larger 2-2.5 spray amount. At the low dose, the champaca is clearest in the first 8-10 minutes and smells as petal-soft as the magnolia, but it has a slightly boozy, fruity, and syrupy sweetness which is faintly tropical in character and which visually skews yellow. Once it is swallowed up by the magnolia, the only lingering trace of its presence is a deeply buried hint of fruity-floral sweetness that pops up from time to time in the second hour.
The magnolia’s main companion on my skin is the vetiver. During the first 2.25 hours, it presents itself as a soft greenness that is largely amorphous and abstract, like green foliage which might be added to a bridal bouquet as passing adornment, or like a thin ribbon wrapping the flowers together. After 2.25 hours, however, it coalesces into the unmistakable aroma of vetiver, wafting varying degrees of mossiness, leafiness, and mintiness.
When taken as a whole, it’s a very simple bouquet, but a bigger scent application gives Walimah greater depth, nuance, and richness during the same stage. If I apply the equivalent of 2 to 2.5 sprays, the opening deer musk note is stronger and clearer, and it also smells truer to the material: whiffs of soft, warm fur and a few grains of deer musk pellets. The musk drapes itself closely around the magnolia which is, once again, the star of the show, but it only lasts about 30 minutes. After that, it’s more like a subconscious suggestion, a mere shadow which gives shading and an indirect velvety texture to the petals.
Another difference is that the champaca doesn’t appear this time in any distinct, clear way, not even briefly. It’s buried, and I have to stick my nose into my arm to find hints of its presence. The signs are amorphous and minor: a petal-like floral yellowness; and microscopic whiffs of syrupy, almost honeyed sweetness and fruitiness that resemble floral nectar.
The most significant difference during the first 2.25 hours is the magnolia itself, how it smells, and the many nuances which it develops. Initially, the citrusy freshness is not as pronounced as it was at the low dose; there is some lemoniness, but not much. Instead, the magnolia gradually develops a surprising floral liquidity which, to my delight, strongly resembles tuberose. Even more than that, though, the magnolia gradually begins to waft a strong gardenia-like aroma. It is simply gorgeous: creamy, dewy, but also ripe., lush and, occasionally, even a wee bit mushroomy like real gardenias.
As Walimah develops, so do its flowers. The gardenia effect becomes even stronger, so much so that, roughly 45 minutes in, the bridal bouquet has transformed to smell like a co-equal partnership of gardenia and magnolia, with sprigs of tuberose tossed in and just a pinch of sweet, honeyed, vaguely tropical yellowness. The bouquet is surrounded by the same fringe of abstract greenness that appears in the 1-spray version and the same suggestion of expensive white-floral soap appears at its edges after 40 minutes, but the difference is that these flowers are starting to turn richer, heavier, sweeter, less green, and less sheer. I suspect the champaca is indirectly responsible, because I get a few occasional pops of something like floral booziness and syrupness from time to time.
At the higher dosage, the magnolia continues to morph as it develops. 1.5 to 1.75 hours in, the “floral soap” temporarily disappears and, by some sort of alchemy, strains of jasmine and green neroli appear, joining the “gardenia.” There is even a passing whiff of a fruity tropical floral aroma which resembles frangipani. I must say, the uncanny impersonations — gardenia (above all else), tuberose, jasmine, and, to a much lesser extent, neroli — are so pronounced on my skin at this point that they overshadow the magnolia itself. Russian Adam attributes it to the complexity of the types of magnolia used here: distilled Otto and, in particular, the magnolia absolute.
The effect is a magical transmogrification into something which is significantly more nuanced and complex than mere magnolia. It’s a cascade of white flowers which feel like a whole host of simultaneous paradoxes: petal-soft, delicate, and radiantly ethereal, but somehow also rich and full; fresh, dewy, crisp, and budding, but also ripe, lush, and blooming; virginal but also quietly sensual; white-green in colour but also speckled with hints of soft gold and that almost subliminal touch of sepia-tinted deer musk in the background.
At the lower 1-spray dosage, however, Walimah is not only a simpler bouquet but it also undergoes no significant changes and no alchemy during the same time frame, and nothing particularly major thereafter, either. 2.25 hours in, the abstract greenness coalesces into a clear, distinct layer of vetiver. 3.75 hours in, the vetiver not only becomes as prominent and strong as the white florals but it’s also starting to overshadow them. Quite separate from all that, the vetiver now has a strong aroma of mint. (I think that is a personal quirk of my skin chemistry because it does that sometimes with the note, although it’s usually Haitian vetiver which turns minty, not the Indonesian sort.) After 4.75 hours, the base begins to quietly stir with tiny flickers of labdanum and woodiness, but the scent is still entirely green-white in feel and visuals. Much greener, sheerer, and cooler, if I might add, than the scent which I get with the larger dose.
I realize that this back-and-forth between versions is probably a little confusing, but I think it’s important to emphasize just what a difference quantity application makes with a fragrance like this. At the end of the day, the fundamental character of Walimah spray parfum is the same no matter how much or how little you apply: it’s a bridal white floral with varying degrees of greenness and background musk velvetiness which eventually turns, in its long heart stage, into a vetiver white floral or a floral-laced vetiver scent before ending up in its final hours as a soft, velvety plushness. The difference lies in the greater range of secondary elements or the alchemical transformations which occur at the higher dosage, as well as how the fragrance continues to develop after the 4th hour. With the low dose, very little happens after that, and the scent is extremely linear. So, from this point forth, I’ll focus primarily on the nuances which appear with the 2-2.5-spray amount, bringing up the 1-spray version only when or if it is relevant.
What stands out to me with the larger dosage is the utterly fantastic texture which the scent develops in its second stage which begins roughly from the middle of the 5th hour until the 10th. The fragrance continually veers back and forth in its focus between a vetiver-laced white floral and a floral-laced vetiver, but they both bear a thick, downy, suede-like quality that is practically tactile. It’s as though the notes (particularly the vetiver) had transformed into a pile of the plushest suede, the sort where pressing your fingers in it would leave imprints. Obviously, the deer musk plays some role in this, but I think the touch of ylang-ylang which Russian Adam mentioned in the description is equally responsible. So is the oud, because there are now vague hints of its presence buried within the vetiver, a ghostly nod to a different sort of muskiness than the deer musk variety and one which is faintly woody. Plus, some high-grade oud varietals can turn into mossy, vetiver-like velvet in their drydowns, so I suspect that is happening here as well, even if I can’t smell oud as actual oud oud on my skin. On an unrelated note, Walimah now feels completely unisex instead of being highly feminine.
Roughly 7.5 hours in, the floral-vetiver’s suede turns into utterly decadent buttered cream. More than just soft, more than mere suede, there is a genuine creaminess and butteriness to the duo. Some high-end gardenia absolutes have a clotted cream feel to them, so I suspect the combination of magnolia absolute with a touch of custardy ylang-ylang is creating the same effect, one which is thickened every further by the velvety impact of the deer musk. But whatever the reason or source, the net result is both palpable and extremely sensuous. I’m not one for vetiver-heavy fragrances in my personal tastes or personal use, but I find the almost emollient-like creaminess on display here to be genuinely striking. It never appeared when I tested Walimah with the small dosage, so this is yet one more area in which a large scent application shows off the spray fragrance’s more appealing or noteworthy attributes.
For the next few hours, Walimah remains a bouquet of finger-thick vetiver velvet lying in a large puddle of white floral cream and buttery petals, but it shifts when the drydown begins at the end of the 10th hour and the start of the 11th. In a nutshell, a few of the base notes begin to speckle the sky. Most of them consist of ambery goldenness, warmth, and a type of sweetness which is, for once, not floral in nature. A handful of the dots read as licorice (à la Tolu balsam), while a portion of others conjure up images of peppermint-chocolate, thanks to the minty vetiver mixing with the cocoa. But whether it’s amber, licorice, or peppermint chocolate, they are all just a microscopic portion of a bouquet which is now dominated by the vetiver. I would estimate that perhaps as much as 65% of the scent on my skin is comprised of vetiver velvet; 15% is equally velvety musk; 15% consists of silky floral cream; and the remaining 5% is everything else combined.
Walimah doesn’t change much beyond this point. It merely gets blurrier and simpler, turning more textural than olfactory. It coats the skin with a plush, velvety mix of vetiver and muskiness, sewn together with filaments of white floralcy and, every now and then, a touch of dark chocolate. The 1-spray version of Walimah has the same basic olfactory finale, minus the chocolate. In both cases, the very final hour or two consists of a simple green-skewing musk.
Walimah has enormous longevity, soft projection, and initially big sillage with a large scent application. With the 2-2.5 spray equivalent, the fragrance opens with roughly 2.5 inches of projection and sillage which is initially 4-5 inches before it expands after 30 minutes to 7 or 8 inches. The numbers begin to drop after 3 hours. Roughly 5.5 hours in, Walimah’s projection is roughly an inch above the skin, and the scent trail has shrunk to about 3 inches. However, it takes 10.25 hours in total for the fragrance to turn into a skin scent. Even then, it’s easily detectable up close without great effort until the 15th hour. From start to finish, Walimah lasts just short of 19 hours on me.
The numbers are lower when I apply a 1-spray equivalent. The scent is also sheerer and more diaphanous in feel in the first two hours. With the low dosage, Walimah opens with about 2 inches of projection and about 5 inches of sillage. The numbers begin to drop 2.5 hours in. Walimah becomes a skin scent after 7 hours and is almost gone from my skin at the 12.75-hour mark. I thought it was close to dying then, but traces linger on, even if I have to bury my nose into my arm to detect them. So the low-dose version ends up having a total longevity span of roughly 14 hours.
Walimah Attar is a chameleon and a shape-shifter, and it has a completely different scent and development than either version I’ve described up above. The attar opens with a duet of oud and vetiver, fused together and nestled within a multi-faceted dark, earthy accord, then licked at the corners by gossamer, shimmering white flowers. The oud is earthy, smoky, resinous, vetiver-ish, mossy, musky, and quietly chocolate-y. The vetiver is also earthy, mossy, and smoky. Sinuously twined together, they lie on a bed made out of loamy damp soil, deer musk pellets, dark chocolate crumble, earthy patchouli, and a saffron-amber-resinoid accord similar to the ones found in the earlier Areej ouds.
This time around, the florals are so far from being a central note in the opening that I might even classify them as a backdrop. Shimmering and rippling like white, gossamer curtains in a forceful oud-vetiver breeze, they don’t really smell of the listed flowers. Unlike the 2.5-spray version, there is not even the faintest whiff of champaca and only a little magnolia. Instead, right from the start, strains of tuberose and jasmine weave about a floral bouquet which is heavily redolent of gardenia. All of gardenia’s facets are on display here, from its clotted cream, dewiness, and lush headiness right down to its subtle mushroomy undertones. The magnolia is buried on my skin, detectable only occasionally from passing whiffs of its fresher, cleaner, faintly honeyed and softly lemony tonalities.
Waliwah Attar is a musky scent right from the start, but not in the same way as the spray. The deer musk’s presence is clearer and easier to detect than it was in the Waliwah spray but, at the same time, it is fully subsumed within the dark notes. On my skin, the primary source of muskiness comes not from the deer grains but from the oud. Unquestionably so. It’s not animalic, at least not at this point, but it’s definitely that sort of dark, musky heaviness which is so characteristic of Hindi agarwood. Let me say, though, that, unlike many Hindi or Bengali ouds, nothing about this one is remotely dirty, goaty, animal-oriented, cheesy, or redolent of steaming cow poo in the barnyard.
Walimah Attar shifts at the end of the 1st hour and start of the 2nd. All the notes and accords coalesce into one dense, dark ball, although they are not all equal in prominence or strength. The white florals are now on center stage, hovering like ladies-in-waiting to the oud and vetiver overlords. The latter have changed and darkened at the same time. The oud turns immensely resinous and treacly, as well as smokier and muskier. For the first time, there are faintly leathery and animalic tonalities running through it, although they’re relatively mild at this point. The vetiver morphs to take on a burgeoning smokiness as well, one which overshadows its mossy facets. It’s also earthier and woodier in a way which sometimes reminds me of Chanel’s cult hit, Sycomore, although the vetiver in Walimah Attar is fifty times richer, deeper, and plusher.
There are other changes at the start of the second hour as well. All traces of deer musk vanish from my skin, entirely replaced by the oud’s musk. The damp soil impression fades away as well, but the saffron-amber accord in the base grows more prominent. The florals up top emit puffs of the expensive, creamy floral soap that I mentioned with regard to the sprayable perfume, but it’s a gentle, soft, and quiet aroma. Think of it, if you will, as an occasional puff of natural-smelling aldehydes with a smidgen of the creamy residue left on top of a bar of luxury soap after it’s been used. I’m not a particular fan of aldehydes, but the amount here is so little that it’s really of no consequence. If anything, it has a beneficial effect because it (along with the florals themselves) helps to keep in check the oud’s growing waves smokiness, muskiness, and leathery resinousness.
Over the next hour, the attar’s central accords ebb and flow, like waves hitting the shore, re-aligning themselves again and again, each one taking turns in the spotlight before making way for the next one. For example, 60 minutes in, Walimah’s focal point is primarily centered on the oud; the vetiver and florals are layered within and everything else is as a mere blip on the far horizon. However, just 15 minutes later, Walimah’s focus suddenly switches to the white florals which feel, once again, very bridal. Layers of mossy greenness run under it, while wisps of woodiness, muskiness, and aldehydic soapiness dance around its edges.
Then, at the 90-minute mark, the scent suddenly morphs into a co-equal triptych of oud, gardenia-infused florals, and vetiver, accompanied by varying and constantly fluctuating quantities of musk, smoke, resinousness, animalics, leather, and aldehydes. From the 90-minute mark until the end of the 3rd hour, this is the scent bouquet which typically wins the tug-of-war between the competing accords, although occasionally the florals scurry to the background and leave the spotlight shining squarely upon the oud, the vetiver, and their respective tonalities.
At the top of the 4th hour, Walimah pivots, turning darker and more masculine. The scent turns into a duet of oud and vetiver, set against a soft, muted backdrop of white florals. The latter are completely abstract on my skin, a singular cloud of bridal flowers with only an occasional suggestion of gardenia about them. The oud is now rugged, smoky, immensely resinous, strongly leathery and musky, and it bears a quiet animalic growl. The vetiver has gone back to being plush, mossy greenness, albeit now infused with vetiver smoke. There is no chocolate, deer musk, spice, patchouli, tobacco, or amber on my skin. However, there is a thin film of floral, aldehydic soapiness lying atop the oud.
In the middle of the 5th hour, about 4.5 hours in, Walimah shifts even further to the dark side. The oud is now the primary focus, smelling mostly of smoky, musky, blackened leather and trailing streams of muskiness whose once-quiet animalic growl has suddenly turned into a gusty bellow. This multi-faceted oud not only swallows up the vetiver and silences it, but it also shrouds the background florals, covering their light like an eclipse. The only thing left behind is a light touch of creamy gardenia soap and its aldehydes. In the base, a different form of darkness now appears: wide slashes of dark, smoldering tobacco, coated all over with a sticky, treacly resinoid-labdanum mix. The tobacco smells raw, like what you’d get if you chewed tobacco and spat out its juices.
The cumulative effect is extremely masculine and, yet, it’s not so testosterone-laden or aggressive as to lose its polish. On my skin, the masculine smolder and animalic bellow never tip over the edge into unbalanced territory or blustery bombast. This is not King Kong beating his chest to announce his presence and manliness. One reason why may be because a few of the potentially challenging notes are kept relatively in check, thanks to tight editing, restraint, the quality of the distillations, and/or some quietly mellowing notes. For example: to my surprise, the Bengali oud never turns fecal, dirty, or goaty on my skin (and Indian oud usually does). Another example: I had expected to experience a prodigious amount of tobacco front and center after reading the scent description, but I didn’t. The tobacco is only a temporary part of the scent on my skin and it always remained in the base, just noticeable enough to add to the smolder but never so much that it would turn the scent dirty or evoke one of those cowboy saloons in an old Western. In short, the notes have been handled in a way that somehow manages to make the leather, animalics, tobacco, oud musk, and spicy, ambered warmth virile, sophisticated, and debonair, but not butch or “Guido” flashy. On the right skin, I think this part of the fragrance would be dashingly sexy.
But if one thing should be clear by now, it’s the fact that Walimah attar is constantly changing. A mere hour later, in the middle of the 6th hour, the scent goes back to being a co-equal and unisex blend of romantic white florals, musky oud, and quasi-vetiverish greenness with streaks of aldehydic freshness to tamp down on the animalics. Call me crazy if you will but something about the scent kept making me think, if vintage Diorissimo parfum were updated for oriental tastes and the modern era by having Bengali oud added in and gardenia-magnolia in lieu of muguet, then the result might be a little like this one part of Walimah Attar.
For the next several hours, the attar continuously veers back and forth between these two scent profiles. I mentioned at the top of this review how I thought the fragrance was not only yin and yang, but also very symbolic. This middle stage is a good example of why. The competing focal points are masculine then feminine, then sometimes a harmonizing duet of the two, much like a successful (heteronormative) marriage or romantic partnership.
Walimah Attar changes yet again at the start of the 10th hour when a new stage begins. It’s slightly similar to the drydown of the sprayable parfum except it skips the buttered cream stage and dives straight into the floral-tinged vetiver musk. Once again, there is great textural velvetiness to the scent and, once again, chocolate runs through the vetiver. This time, though, it is much more pronounced than it ever was in the sprayable version. In fact, at one point in the 11th hour, I summed it up as “choco-vetiver musk” in my notes.
Just when I think things are settled and I’m now about experience the drydown, the landscape completely changes in the 14th hour, and Walimah begins to waft prodigious amounts of lemony magnolia laden with so much crispness, cleanness, and freshness that it sometimes makes me think of white musk. Puddles of vetiver lie at its feet, but they’re small; I’d estimate that roughly 75% to 80% of the bouquet consists of fresh, clean, crisp, slightly aldehydic and very lemony magnolia. There is no musk, no velvetiness, no cream, no tobacco, no amber, no smoke, and most definitely, no oud. I can’t explain it. Somehow, the scent pyramid has flipped over in the 14th hour, and it remains flipped over for a while to come. For the next three hours, Walimah is simply a soft, amorphous, citrusy floral freshness with quiet, muted greenness running through it.
You might not believe it, but that actually isn’t the final stage because Walimah’s drydown begins around the 19th hour. Basically, it’s a brown-green mix of vetiver, and oud-ish woodiness, thinly veined with lemony floralcy and a quietly animalic, leathery muskiness. If I bury my nose deep into my arm, I can also detect a touch of spicy, ambered sweetness lurking about there as well. The scent is far too sheer, quiet, and muted at this point to be anything close to “plush” or “velvety.” As the hours pass, Waliwah constantly veers between two very different scent profiles: musky, slightly animalic vetiver and citrusy, fresh floralcy. In its final moments, all that’s left is a blurry, ambiguous aroma which a little sharp, a little floral, and a little green.
Walimah Attar had monster longevity, rather low projection, and initially big sillage that gradually turned discreet. I applied a few smears of oil across a 3-inch to 4-inch patch of skin; at a guess, I’ll say that amounts to about 2 large drops of scent or perhaps 3 small ones. With that amount, Walimah opened with about 2 to 2.5 inches of projection and about 7-8 inches of sillage. 4.25 hours in, the projection was one inch, while the sillage had shrunk to about 4 inches. In the 6th hour, the projection hovered just above skin and the sillage was close to the body. Walimah became a skin scent late in the 11th hour but remained easy to detect up close without any effort until the 19th hour. In total, the fragrance lasted more than 27 hours on my skin. At that point, I gave up and sought a shower, not only because I needed sleep afterwards but also, frankly, because the fragrance was still clinging on so tenaciously that it seemed likely to last another 5 or 6 hours. I think if you apply only a single drop, the longevity will be great but somewhat less super-charged.
ALL IN ALL:
I thought both fragrances were striking in their different ways. What struck me is just how much trying the Attar completed the overall Walimah picture in my head. When I had tested only the sprayable parfum, I had some mixed feelings about the scent. I thought it was a little too pretty, ethereal, and pure, and that it might have benefited from a streak of something dark to mess up its almost too-pristine radiance, something to give it a little oomph and to make it more of an unconventional, impactful beauty. On the other hand, radiant luminosity and purity are rather the point of a bridal fragrance and, arguably, of a scent intended to symbolize a wedding. Asking for dark shadows and a wee (wee!) bit of jolie laide character substance is to want a very different sort of fragrance. Plus, plenty of women (and some men) love glamorous bridal florals, so it really comes down to personal taste, doesn’t it?
My entire understanding of Walimah shifted 180 degrees when I tried the attar. This was not only what Russian Adam had clearly intended for the scent and described, but it was also the jolie-laide plethora of substance that I had sought — something striking, bold, and so filled with character that it becomes memorable. The best way to explain what I’m talking about is to think of models whose photos have been airbrushed to the point of unnatural purity and perfection. How many stand out to you and do you remember? Then, think about an unconventional beauty whose nose may be a little crooked, whose lips may be a little too full, and both of imperfections show, somehow making her even more striking and distinctive.
That’s what the Attar is like to me. Its various masculine, dark, and rugged notes add a jolie-laide quality to the bridal femininity, dark shadows to the flowers’ luminosity, and substantial heft which not only counterbalances the ethereal feel but also grounds it, bringing the scent back down to earth with character, body, and luxuriousness. It’s got a little grit, it’s got a little growl, it’s not perfect, it’s certainly not angelic, and I didn’t like all parts of the scents, but I won’t forget Walimah Attar. It has immense character (a little too much character at times, given its shape-shifting personality), and it’s memorable. That’s not to say that the spray parfum is an average scent, because it absolutely isn’t. I really enjoyed parts of it when I applied the large fragrance dose. (The small dose version was a total bore, though.) It’s just that I respond better to some personality types than others. We all do.
Having said all that, neither fragrance is a perfect fit for my personal tastes, although the attar is closer than the spray. The simple reason is that I’m just not a vetiver person. Every now and then, the attar’s oud skews too masculine, smoky, and leathery for my comfort, but it’s really the vetiver which rules out Walimah for my own use because it’s such a powerful, central part of the fragrance and it appears from beginning to end — in all versions.
Your personal tastes regarding notes, fragrance genres, overall style, and gender will similarly dictate how you feel about Walimah. On top of that, skin chemistry will be crucial in determining what notes and nuances come out on your skin, just as it is for any fragrance with an intense, hefty amount of naturals. So, perhaps the spray will be more unisex on you than it was on me and also have more nuances; or perhaps the attar won’t have stages where the oud is as leathery or butch as it was on me. Skin chemistry notwithstanding, when I told Russian Adam about my basic impressions, even he agreed that the attar “seems much more masculine.”
If you’re a man who loves any of the central notes or flowers that I’ve described here, my advice is to try BOTH versions, regardless of what I may have experienced or said about the gender profiles. The same advice goes to any woman who loves oud, vetiver ouds, or dark orientals with an occasionally animalic side: try them both, because who knows how the oud in the sprayable version will manifest itself on your skin? However, if you are a woman who dislikes oud, dark scents, animalic musk, or leathery orientals but who does love bridal florals, vetiver-florals, magnolia, or gardenia, it should go without saying that only the spray version may suit you. Keep in mind that Russian Adam feels that the parfum will eventually age into something closer to the attar’s scent and profile, but I figure that will take a couple of years, maybe even more.
Next time, I’ll have a New Releases announcement post with details on all the new Areej fragrances, including note lists, sample information, purchasing links, the number of bottles which are available for each scent (the quantities vary from scent to scent this time), and even a few mini reviews. See you then.
Disclosure: My samples were provided by Russian Adam. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.