Violets and roses, lipsticks and leathery darkness, lip-puckering tart green apples and buttery sandalwood — these are some of the many strands, both classical and brightly modern, that Giovanni Sammarco weaves together in his latest fragrance, Naias.
Close your eyes and imagine, if you will, floating and being engulfed in a cloud that glows with pearlescent luster like opals mixed with mother-of-pearl. Unlike most clouds, this one hovers low on the ground, a few feet above the swaying tips of a field of lavender, some in bloom, some tightly budded and tipped with green. They ripple in the warm summer’s wind, a wind that carries the scent of the orchard mere inches away where orange and grapefruit trees grow like citrus sentinels watching over the aromatic field of purple. With every gust, the branches shake their flowers in a shower of white petals, their scent mingling in the air with that of the lavender. The trees hang heavy with fruits that are fresh, bright, and only recently ripened; the juices which seep out from time to time are sweet, but not sticky or jammy, and they, too, join the scented swirl within the opalescent cloud.
On the other side of the lavender is a river. Its banks are emerald with grassy vetiver, red with rose bushes, and white with jasmine that drips a golden honeyed nectar, but its waters are swirls of brown from malted beer and caramel from ambered resins. A small nook of cedar and spicy sandalwood trees lies just beyond, their roots growing amidst more grass, vetiver, and lavender.
Today, I’ll look at three of the new fragrances, Matière Noire, Turbulences, and Contre Moi. In the next post, I’ll cover Mille Feux and Dans La Peau. So, let’s get straight to it.
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.