Puredistance‘s newest fragrance is called Sheiduna, a spicy, woody oriental that was created by Cécile Zarokian in collaboration with the company’s founder, Jan Ewoud Vos. It is a pure parfum or extrait with a 27% concentration, and it will launch worldwide at the end of October. I’m afraid this won’t be a proper or full review for the fragrance, because my experience with it was a difficult one.
Ajmal is a Middle Eastern brand with a long history. Founded in 1951 in India and now apparently based in the United Arab Emirates or GCC (Gulf countries), Ajmal has over 300 fragrances in its portfolio. The quality seems to vary across the range which consists of low-end mall fragrances at one end, some Euro-Arab eau de parfums in the middle, and some “Dahn Al Oudh” attars that I’ve heard great praise for at the other end. Unfortunately, the latter were not what I was given for review. I seem to have gotten the low to middle end of the stick, alas.
There is a long story behind this post that I think you must understand in order to make sense of what is to follow. Ajmal was at Esxence Milan earlier this year to show off its wares. A friend stopped by and asked for samples for me to review. From his account, I have the sense that the Ajmal’s assistants were harried and also didn’t understand the whole blogging issue, either. They seemed confused, so they quickly handed over a big armful of samples, and that was that. No time was expended to provide the best of the best in a carefully curated selection, although my friend did try to ask for a few attars. They disgorged a heaping pile of 20 carded manufacturers samples, and moved on.
“What fresh hell is this?!” That question repeatedly crossed my mind as I smelt the new Jeroboam fragrances, and it wasn’t solely because some of them were indeed “fresh” (and excessively clean). The question really arose because I physically recoiled from the very first sniff of the sample wand for fragrance after fragrance, one after another, like a falling domino. When a scent wafts a brash, often brutish amount of chemicals merely from the wand and far before the liquid has even developed on my skin, then I know I’m in trouble.
There wasn’t even the promise or potential of something different and interesting in the synthetic cocktail to make the effort of wearing the fragrance seem worthwhile. For some of the Jeroboam fragrances, the molecules wafting from the wand and, later, on my skin were the most generic of bouquets whose quality and distinctiveness veered between being worse than a Montale, on par with a Montale, or like something you’d find in an Arab bazaar. For others in the line, the scent was all too familiar, evoking a richer or stronger aroma of things like Terre d’Hermes or one of the thousands of creme brulée caramelized vanillas on the market. At least two of the fragrances could be summed up flatly as “Bro Juice” on chemical steroids, with the added benefit or catnip of “Beast Mode” projection. If you like that genre of perfumery, great, all the more power to you, but it’s not my thing.
Sometimes, things don’t work no matter how much you try. That was the case for me with the fragrance that Stephane Humbert Lucas as a Harrods’ exclusive. It is simply called “Harrods,” and it was the second release last year in his new Snake Collection.
This review will be slightly different from my usual ones because I fear I have to start with more explanations than concrete, official details about the scent. One reason is because the background to the fragrance is a bit confusing in the context of names. Another is because there isn’t much information about the scent out there. And, lastly, there is the issue of friendship. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first a brief explanation is needed about how the Harrods exclusive fits into the wider context of Monsieur Lucas’ brand.