Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Varieties of Amber Experience 6: Parfumerie Générale L'Ombre Fauve and XerJoff Dhajala

(Editorial note: the below post is a reblog from Il Mondo di Odore, which is no longer publicly accessible. Please excuse irrelevant seasonal remarks!)

Parfumerie Générale

A roaring lion fresh from the hunt is transformed into a purring kitty as he licks the blood from his paws and prepares for a lengthy nap, his body fully extended under the golden sun slowly setting over the savanna. This wild cat casts a long, broad shadow.

This is L'Ombre Fauve, a rich amber perfume which opens with a decidedly animalic quality but is swiftly tamed into a lustrous, luscious labdanum amber which is still on the dark side but not at all sharp. As neither leather nor civet is listed among the notes, I'm wondering whether the musk employed here is one of the more realistic, animalic varieties.

On the other hand, since the drydown is not at all skanky (and I am very sensitive to musks), it could be that the dark woods are somehow conjuring this effect in my mind? Or perhaps this is authentic, straight-from-nature ambergris or one of the components of its reasonable facsimiles (ambreine). There is no question to my nose about the presence of labdanum amber, but perhaps ambergris is also here.

In any case, L'Ombre Fauve is a substantial amber perfume with a reasonable amount of patchouli but not enough for me to call this a patchouli perfume per se. No, this is an amber perfume leaning toward the woody-oriental side. There are no florals listed among the notes, but there is a fullness here which I have found in floral amber perfumes before.

This composition is also not very sweet, while still having the dense texture of caramel. I completely agree with the characterization of this perfume as unisex, given the relative dearth of florals and sweetness. L'Ombre Fauve is relatively simple but a very fine perfume worthy of testing by any amber aficionado.

Perfumer: Pierre Guillaume 
Salient notes: amber, woods, musk, patchouli, frankincense (from

XerJoff DHAJALA (2007)

A benevolent despot in flowing red robes rules over his subjects with the wisdom of Cicero and the ambition of Alexander to cast the net of his influence as far as possible. He is the Machiavellian Prince who accepts that his inspiration in others of fear and love will protect his domain, but he has no need ever to opt for the former because his shining example of virtue inspires even his enemies to comply with his decrees.

This is Dhajala, a truly regal creation. I have managed to squeeze five full wearings out of a tiny milliliter sample of this eau de parfum, which is no mean feat for someone whose skin appears to be made of sponge. There are many niche houses whose perfumes I have no difficulty emptying a 1.5 ml vial of in a single wear. In fact, I generally avoid sample services which provide volumes of less than 1 ml because I do not believe that I can give a perfume a fair wear with such a small amount.

Not so with XerJoff, which is producing liquids every bit as potent as I expect pure perfume to be. So although this line is expensive, I would say that you're really getting a lot more perfume than you do from some of the other niche houses, not to name any names, but everyone knows good examples of what I'm talking about...

So why is this creation so incredibly appealing and beautiful? It's really not the price. This is not a case of thinking that a perfume must be great for the simple reason that it costs so much. In fact, I'm such a contrarian, that the price might actually be a reason to dismiss it a priori as a “luxury perfume” produced for people ignorant of perfume. No, in reality, I don't care how much this costs. Dhajala simply smells splendid, and although its focus is amber, it does not smell like any of the other perfumes of this general type I've reviewed to date.

Although ambergris is listed among the notes, I do not find this composition very animalic. Instead it's slightly spicy and rich and woody. Above all, it's very complex, with a clear development trajectory that moves through several stages, all of which are gorgeous. This is one of those rare perfumes where during my wearing I find myself exclaiming out loud at regular intervals how wonderful I smell.

Dhajala is clearly an ambroriental perfume, but it does not smell like any other oriental or any other amber I've encountered before. The unique combination of balsams and galbanum along with orange blossom, rose, and jasmine creates a perfectly balanced and harmonic yet at the same time compelling olfactory experience.

I highly recommend this perfume to kings and queens alike!

Perfumer: Jacques Flori
Salient notes: Bergamot, galbanum, orange, orange blossom, jasmine, pink pepper, rose, ambergris, musk, Myroswelia balsam, Tonkiphora balsam, and vanilla (from 

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