Group: Oriental woody
Arabie- Arabia in French - is one of the two miniatures I bought on eBay from the increasingly popular Parisian niche line, Serge Lutens signature of Christopher Sheldrake, perfumer of the house. Serge Lutens used to work for Shiseido for years before launching his own line of perfume.
The smaller, 50ml Serge Lutens perfumes come in sleek, tall, rectangular bottles that have a simple, practical, yet elegant and stylish look to them. The 100ml bell jar edition is definitely more decorative but more expensive too.
Top notes: mandarin orange, cumin, nutmeg
Arabie starts off rather sweet and foody first and it instantly reminds me of the smell of Christmas, pine needles, Christmas trees and the aromatic smell of cooking during the festivities. Allspice, or-ange marmalade and peach syrup come to mind backed up with a little bit of earthy saltiness.
It also has a boozy feel to it together with a woody one - hence the Christmas tree association. Yes, underneath all that peach and orange soaking in liqueur goodness there's pine to my nose as well suspended in lots of lots of satiny liquid musk.
Heart notes: tobacco, bay leaf
This impression lasts for a few minutes before the more intense elements kick in. The composition gets increasingly spicy and for some reason salty and slightly bitter. Then came the AHA moment: curry! Well, almost and a quite sweet one at that. It doesn't have the usual oily feel associated with the raw spice itself, but it is fairly obvious and tends to outshine all other notes listed which is a pity.
To sum up, I would described the middle accord as an almost pungent, spicy, peppery, nose-pricking cumin - curry note mixed with candied orange marmalade and a deeper, darker woody - earthy undercurrent. You have to be close-up to get the feel of it though. It does project fairly well and creates a sweet - spicy atmosphere where the pungency of cumin is diminished - it mostly appears as warmth and a fuzzy all-spice note.
Base notes: cedarwood, sandalwood, benzoin
Arabie's been sitting on my skin and clothes for a good 4 - 5 hours and the cumin, although still there and noticeable, have finally allowed the woods and amber to come out and play a little bit too. I can positively pinpoint a milky-woody sandalwood accord for about 2 hours which reminds me of the lovely drydown of Donna Karan's Chaos before the more vanillic aspects of am-ber take over.
Arabie is still sweet and it now has an apricot -- amber - vanillary feel to it with a touch of sweet and earthy spices - mostly cinnamon and nutmeg - and of course that pinch of cumin - to my nose. It's such a delightful aroma that I'm almost willing to forgive the aggressive cumin in the heart.
The longevity is great lasting up to 24 hours and even more on clothing. I caught a whiff of a smooth - apricot - cumin - sandalwood combo whilst being half-asleep in the early morning on my skin - that's how powerful it is. A gentle but persistent warm woody - vanilla sillage with a touch of powder and a hint of spice completed the sillage that stayed close to the skin.
Having said that, the cumin - that's a bit on the bitter side - tends to be in the center all the time despite the overall jammy - vanillic sweetness. All Lutens juices I've sampled so far have this extremely smooth, caressable texture which makes them so distinguishable.
Its name may remind one of a sort of 'Arabian Nights' perfume as it did me rather misleadingly. I expected something darker, more insense-like and yes, on the sexy side, packed full of every note ever used in eastern style perfumes for millennia. This cannot be further from the truth. Arabie is more of a showcase of an eastern spice store with spices ranging from the sweet, the peppery, the earthy and the bitter as it goes through its phases from being fruity at the start, pungent in the middle and mellowed out in the drydown.
As most niche fragrances this is also a unisex number. Of course raw materials don't have a gender (how could they?) it's a question of what a perfumer does with a given material or how they are all combined. Arabie is perfectly unisex as it represents a theme (that of an eastern market) so if you like well-worked, soft, quality spicy orientals it might be for you. However, watch out for the cumin that might bother you.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
On eBay, the hard to come buy miniatures can bid up to £10 - 15 / 5ml while with a bit of luck a 50ml full bottle will set you back around £40 - £45. The full RRP is around £65 / 50ml EDP in major department stores.
Thanks for reading.
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Contents: 50 ml