One Thousand Scents

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One: Montale Attar

I figure if you're going to name a scent after a perfumery note, it had damned well better smell like that thing. If your scent is called Lavender, it should smell mostly of lavender, and Jasmine et Cigarette should smell like those two things. Usually, this rule holds, unless you are unnecessarily perverse; Serge Lutens already had a cedar scent, Feminite du Bois, so when he launched a scent called Cèdre, it seemed like it might be a rehash, but no; it smells mostly of tuberose.

If you are going to call a scent Attar, then, it ought to smell like roses, mostly. ("Attar" can be used to describe any essential oil extracted from a flower, but the word is most closely associated with roses--in the West, anyway--and without any further description, it's fair to assume it refers to the rose.)

I have not been completely enamoured of any Montale scents that I've tried: some are nice enough but not worth the money, some are neither here nor there, and some of them I outright hated. But Attar is glorious; quite possibly the perfect soliflore rose scent.

At the top is a huge, lemony rose, fresh and dewy, and a clean polished sandalwood in equal measure. As time goes on, the rose gradually darkens; Attar cleverly avoids linearity by having the rose become darker, thicker, and eventually sweeter (but not too much) as the sandalwood remains the same throughout, as sandalwood will do.

Some sources list saffron as an ingredient; I don't smell it. Others say that there's oud, or agarwood; if so, it's extremely subtle. What I get is a panoply of roses, the rose in its various incarnations, in a sandalwood vase. There is nothing of the fusty or prim about this rose, no powder, no forced prettiness: it's forthrightly unisex, and not only could a man wear Attar, he should. If you love rose scents, you owe it to yourself to try this; it's up there with such excellent rose-heavy fragrances as Joy, Sa Majesté La Rose, and Rossy de Palma. If you hate rose scents--surprisingly many do--then you also ought to try this; it might be the one that changes your mind.

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