The fragrance itself opens with a slightly fruity accord which refuses to linger longer than a few fleeting moments. Then, a trio of magnificently complimentary notes is presented to the nose: cardamom, ginger root and angelica. Ginger acts like the balancing point, as though flanked on each side by the other two notes. On one side, the wonderfully resinous, bittersweet cardamom enhancing the scent of its familial ginger, while the ginger itself penetrates the depth of cardamom with its citrusy tendrils. On the other side, the bracing, acutely sharp scent of angelica, serves to enhance the herbaceous profile of ginger, making it stronger, fortifying the senses, penetrating the senses and jolting them into attention. I simply haven’t the words to describe better how beautifully these three notes compliment each other, and I am left simply deconstructing them, hoping that imagination can fill the gaps. I do love sharpness in a perfume, and it is most pleasing to me that in this particular scent, the sharp vein courses through its development for hours. For a while, I get the sense of something deeply earthy, imparting an impression of wet, rich soil, strewn with aromatic spices and herbs. As this image begins to disappear, the soft scent of May rose slowly rises to the top, its petals laced with nutmeg and its stems surrounded by cinnamon bark. The result is very well blended, with no spiky edges. The marriage of notes is subtle and I struggle to pick out any particular note overpowering the rest. Smelling close, there is perhaps a thin lemony vein, continuing the trail ginger had started earlier...Rosewood, perhaps? As mentioned earlier, the sharpness I so love is indeed present in the drydown and makes for a most interesting combination with the base notes of fragrant woods and resins. Beautiful, cinnamic, resinous myrrh is blended with a touch of patchouli and a generous amount of creamy sandalwood that is so wintry, so warm and lovely, it actually manages to make my heart pick up speed.
Is this the fragrance Maria Amalia preferred? Was it one of many, or was it perhaps her signature perfume? What does surprise me about this scent is how masculine it is. Is it possible instead, that the fragrance found in her hunting lodge was not hers, but one bought for one of her numerous lovers? Or even perhaps, for her younger husband? Despite the feminine flacon it is sold in, despite the feminine name, my immediate impression is one of quiet masculinity. Yet, it has none of the abused, common characteristics of mainstream masculine perfumes. By this I mean of course that one should not expect to find anything obviously masculine about it, or otherwise overtly citrusy-fresh or god forbid, marine. It is just an impression I speak of, but one strong enough to elicit the same response from a friend of mine too. This is not a fragrance that is traditionally feminine, and yes, it will be just perfect on male skin. (purrrrrrfect? oops, sorry...) I do have to add though, that its sharpness might put some people off. The first time I tried this on my skin I did get reminded of the sharpness of Vanille Exquise, which is not too surprising since they both contain angelica. A side-by-side comparison though, revealed that although they do share something common in the way they are sharp, Vanille Exquise is smoother and Maria Amalia fuller. The latter manages to disguise its sharpness better, embraced as it is with so much warmth from all the spices, woods and resins. I do hope this little comparison helps. I felt a warning was in order since sharpness is not always well received, and it is better to be forewarned. How do I feel about buying this? I love it, and I am glad to have it. However, I do feel a slight twinge of remorse. The Eau de Parfum Concentré is hideously expensive – perhaps due to the crystal flacon, perhaps due to the higher concentration, or both... The Eau de Parfum Spray which I originally rejected, has just as much tenacity, it can, occasionally, be found dirt-cheap online, and if my memory serves it happens to smell a tad different, a bit more feminine and soft. Dabbing perfume delicately is a sensual ritual though, and the high concentration does mean I am left with a lovely sheen on my skin. I don’t regret this, but I know what I will be buying next time if I manage to finish this one!
As always, I am going to be giving out a sample of this, since it is hard to find, so do leave a comment. I’ll announce the draw winner next Wednesday.
Images: commons.wikimedia.org and Author’s own.