Are designer fragrance houses finally getting back to senses?

 I am rarely – if ever – enamoured by any of the fragrances created by designers, at least those created after the 1980s and the advent of EU regulations!

Usually, when I venture into sniffing designer fragrances, it takes me days to get rid of the awful synthetic smells lingering on my skin even after showering and I always feel sickened by the smell!

So when I was invited by a friend to discover the Collection Privee of Arabian scents by Giorgio Armani, I did not expect any thrill nor excitement. But as an Artisan perfumer, I confess I can sometimes be set in my mind and be too critical about designer’s fragrances.

My discovery of the Woody-Oriental Trio collection by Armani first introduced me to OUD ROYAL, a fragrance which -as its name clearly states – is composed mainly of Oud (or Agar wood) from Cambodia…

The Oud Royal composition is a classic one so it is not unique.  My own Arabian oud perfume, Escapade à Oman has very similar natural ingredients i.e. amber, rose, sandalwood, myrrh and incense but Armani has enriched his Oud Royal with saffron, his sandalwood is obviously an expensive Mysore one and he has added synthetic animal notes.  Oud Royal is designed to be unisex and it works. The whole scent is voluptuous, sensual, animalic and highly sexy. Its lasting power is incredibly powerful! Even after the shower, the oud is still lingering and the sexy smell still teases your nostrils but in a nice way. You want to revisit it again and again until it disappears completely and then, you want more!!  You will have to fork out a hefty £180 for the 100 ml Eau de Parfum though. Originally, the Armani Trio-Collection Privee was launched for the Middle East market which explains the Black and Gold bottles… and the price tag!

I then tried AMBRE D’ORIENT– a woody oriental perfume , that starts with a strong note of thyme, so strong that the first impression is that of a failed attempt of a natural perfume that smells medicinal. Oud is equally present in this one with a strong hint of vanilla. A bit too much for my Westerner sensitive nose,  definitely more Arabian. It did not do it for me but maybe it’s my skin that did not take it.

The last fragrance of this Trio Collection is ROSE D’ARABIE. Here the oud is accompanied by a beautiful Rose de Mai, classically blended with dark patchouli and a base of ambergris. The Rose is definitely powerful, topped by the spicy notes and wrapped by sandalwood. This is a nice Oriental Rose attempt and again, even though I believe many of the ingredients used are probably isolates rather than essential oils, I must recognise that Armani has raised my expectations that designer’s houses might actually come back to their senses and understand that creating perfumes according to traditional methods is -after all – what perfumery should be all about…



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