I don’t typically post about new or upcoming launches, but the fantastic debut collection from Areej Le Doré, the limited 100-bottle quantities for the trio, and the speed with which they sold out made me decide to make an exception to my usual rule. This is a brand where the particular circumstances make it worth having advance notice to order samples, having some time to spend getting to know the fragrances, and then deciding if one wants a bottle. Plus, I was once chastised for covering a fantastic Areej Le Doré fragrance soon after it sold out, albeit for completely understandable reasons because it’s frustrating to hear about great scents that come in limited quantities, but I’m not going to make that mistake again, so I’m telling all of you about their launch before I write even a word about them in an actual review.
Dedication to quality, an emphasis on olfactory authenticity, a passion for the materials, and a vision for how they can be presented in the very best, truest, and most beautiful fashion possible — these are some of the key traits common to the artisans who make the biggest splash in the fragrance world. These men and women put their products ahead of any price tag or marketing trends, desire for fame, or interest in the spotlight in the pages of glossy magazines. They do their own thing, by their own rules, following their own internal vision, and any plaudits which may ensue are merely a nice side recompense.
The world of luxury niche oud is a parallel but completely separate universe to the fragrance one and, while there are fewer artisan stars in its firmament, the same rules hold true for what makes them special. There are several names which stand out in this small niche world — Ensar Oud, Agar Aura, and Russian Adam of Feel Oud — but one seems to shine the brightest and is frequently spoken of in almost reverential tones: Ensar Oud.
Last time, in Part I, we looked at the issues and methods that Feel Oud used to make its high-end artisanal oils, so today there will be 9 reviews covering the actual scent profiles of a range of different ouds and sandalwoods. What surprised me in several cases were the amazing number of complex olfactory facets and nuances that a single piece of wood could manifest, resulting in a bouquet that was really more like a fine French perfume with evolving layers and stages, rather than a mere distilled oil. It’s due solely to the things we covered in Part I, the complicated, laborious way in which that one piece of wood was treated in order to extract the maximum number of scent molecules. When more than one type of wood was used or when a rich floral essence was added to the mix, the result could be quite mind-blowing indeed, and I say this as someone who doesn’t always have the greatest degree of comfort around oud.
Otherworldly, alien, haunting, captivating, and mesmerizing, Thebes G1 from Sultan Pasha Attars brings Guerlain‘s famed Djedi back to life in the most opulent fashion, resulting in a fragrance that turned my head from the first sniff.
There are actually two versions of Thebes, G1 and G2, and they’re extremely different, in my opinion. One I loved; one I actually loathed for its first two hours, recoiling until its surprising subsequent transformation led to a truce and appreciation. That said, much of my initial response to G2 stemmed from personal tastes. I think that it’s bound to be a huge hit with people who adore classic 1950s-1970s Chanel, Lanvin, Carven, and Balmain-style vintage fragrances, whether their cool green florals, their minimalistic, austere aldehydic chypres, or their animalic, floral vetiver-leathers.
I’ll cover both versions in this review, but I want to emphasize Thebes G1 because its first 6 hours are like nothing that I’ve encountered. The more I wore it, the more spellbound and obsessed I became. For those 6 hours, Thebes G1 exerts a strange power over me that grows each time I wear the fragrance, spreading its tentacles deep, binding me with its strangeness and its unearthly beauty, and transporting me to alien worlds. The rest of the fragrance is well done, a Bandit-style, musky, animalic, butch leather immersed in smoky vetiver, but, the first half of Thebes G1 truly blew me away. If one could confine a fragrance to certain stages and were I the sort to ever to limit myself to one modern fragrance as a signature, this one would be extremely high on the list, if not close to the top.