Smelling Isfarkand for the first time gave me one of those “oh-my-god!” moments in perfume discoveries, when you know, already from the first sniff, that this is an exceptional fragrance indeed. I quickly sprayed it on the wrist of my partner too and we both spent the rest of the evening with our noses glued to our wrists. My immediate reaction was “Wood!”, his was “Citrus!”... We are both right in a way of course, although we do seem to home in on different aspects of the fragrance when we first smell it. For me, Isfarkand begins with smoke, not tobacco smoke, but rather the smoke of burning aromatic grasses. Behind these hypnotizing, gray tendrils of smoke, there is the most addictive resin to be discovered. And then suddenly, a blast of citrus finally hits me - lime and mandarin, slightly sweet as well as fresh and green all at the same time. This freshness is atypical of most male scents out there: there is no synthetic undertone. This smells so beautiful and natural, that I feel like I am momentarily transported to the side of a pool on a bright sunny day, coctail in hand (Cabana boys optional). At this stage, there is something almost edible about Isfarkand’s peppery freshness. As the scent develops on the skin, the citrus oils become sheer and light, revealing a heart of pure darkness within. It is almost impossible to describe how intriguing this change is. This heart of darkness is made of resin and wood, laced with the darkest vetiver I’ve smelled. I also smell juniper berry and pine resin. I find myself reminded of Encre Noir’s own dark heart, only this is far more summery. Now, I realize using the word dark repeatedly might seem incongruent with saying that this is a sunny, summer scent, but believe me, it is this amazing contradiction that makes Isfarkand such an exceptional, deeply intriguing scent. It is extremely attractive and addictive: I simply can’t inhale this scent deep enough.
Tolu starts with a beautiful caramelized bitter note and then quickly sparkles and shines with orange-rind freshness. There is a lot going on there – it seems like the scent goes under dramatic changes in the space of a few minutes – but once it settles down it reveals incredible depth that feels like the olfactory equivalent of taking a languid dive into a pool of gold. It literally invites you to close your eyes and let yourself be carried into its exotic depths blindly, depths as tactile as crepe silk folds and acres of velvet. It is indeed after the scent has settled and the sparkling, citrusy nuances have subsided, that the true character of this glorious fragrance emerges. It is all about amber and balsamic resins, whose deep sweetness is at once atramentous and golden. The clary sage pops up now and then, its pungent, aromatic scent beautifully complimenting the tolu balsam. I am left admiring the insight of the perfumer for this composition, which allows both accords to enhance each other, fitting together as perfectly as puzzle pieces. Unorthodoxly perhaps, after being allowed to enjoy the full richness of the base notes, Tolu’s skies suddenly clear, to allow a lone ray of light to fall on the most gorgeous, contradictory rose, both musty and ancient and vibrantly intoxicating at the same time. The drydown is cozy and sexy, a return to Tolu’s balsamic base accord, with slight hints of clove and a sprinkling of powder which softens the composition and calms the spirit. Simply put, it is purr inducing. Absolutely unique and intriguing, this warm scent is meant for cold weather. Even though it is not as unisex as Ambre Précieux by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier or Artisan’s Ambre Extreme, I feel that men can make this scent work too, provided that they are prepared to venture into something sweeter than usual. The longevity of this rounded, ambery oriental is simply amazing, lasting through the night to the next morning... I need a bottle! Better yet, I’d love for this to come into one of Ormonde Jayne’s Parfum d’Or pots! I’d love to appy this already luxurious scent to my chest and my neck with my fingers, leaving a trail of golden flecks behind...
Images: www.ormondejayne.com, commons.wikimedia.org, botanical.com