The news of these new perfumes’ release (one for men and one for women) broke out a while ago, but perhaps a less known fact about them is that their release is a celebratory mark for the brand’s 10-year anniversary. The gorgeous identical bottles (black and silver for him and ivory and gold for her), so elegant and at the same time easy and restful on the eyes, are meant to be a modern interpretation of the inkpot and brush, thus paying homage to the brand’s Japanese identity by evoking the art of calligraphy. The boxes in turn, are meant to evoke fusuma, the sliding rectangular vertical panels that separate interior spaces in traditional Japanese houses. The name -Miyabi- on the other hand, is harder to decipher: often interpreted by westerners as “elegance” or “elegance in beauty”, miyabi is in fact a highly complex construct, heavily influenced by culture. As such, it is very difficult - if not impossible- to offer a satisfactory translation. Without diverging too much from the topic, I will attempt to offer a brief explanation. Miyabi refers most notably to perfection, as in perfection in color, beauty, form and balance. Inherent in this notion however, is always the concept of transience - the passage of time itself. When it comes to a person, miyabi refers to their refinement and specifically their refinement of taste, their ability to discern elegance in everyday objects and to subsequently derive pleasure from them.
Now on to the perfumes themselves. As with most of the masculine perfumes in the Annayake lineup, I have to report that Miyabi Man is, in my opinion subpar. With notes of sandalwood and tonka in the base and sumptuous spices in the heart I imagined this would be a beautiful oriental but unfortunately the experience was that of a generic fresh masculine. Perhaps it is the cucumber freshness of the violet leaves that so put me off in my brief test and perhaps I should give it another try, but reader, I had to scrub this one off fast. Hence my focus only on Miyabi Woman today in any case, which I’ve been testing for a week now and which I am quite enamored with.
In my impression, this is a rather strange perfume in the sense that it does not follow the classic pyramid structure. Top notes for example, seem to be entirely absent: Miyabi instantly plunges the senses in a deep, velvety cocoon of softness. But Miyabi does not fit the bill of a linear perfume either. Its changes, albeit incremental are certainly discernible. Let me diverge for a moment however in order to give you a really good picture of this perfume. When I last visited Paris and had my first encounter with Paris-Moscou, I felt like this was one of the most unique gourmand perfumes I’d ever smelt. I was completely taken (and taken aback) with this incredibly fluffy, soft-as-clouds note that instantly made me think of a marshmallow (click here for my original description). Yes, I am still desperately in love with Paris-Moscou, I still think it is one of the best soft gourmands out there. But… it is not quite as unique as I thought it was. I’d never smelled a Britney Spears perfume till this summer, but something possessed me this past July while waiting at an airport terminal somewhere and I gave her Fantasy a try. Lo and behold, the beautiful marshmallow note, fluffy and sweet. Not nearly as refined as the Guerlain, definitely the drugstore version, but the note was there. Apparently, Guerlain didn’t quite get there first. Fast forward to yet another airport where I smelled Kenzo’s airport exclusive, 5:40 PM In Madagascar. That note again! Please be aware that I am not claiming all these fragrances are twins, just that they all contain this extremely compelling, beautiful new note that suddenly seems to be proliferating and that they all seem to be focused in highlighting it significantly. You obviously see by now where I am going with this… Yes, Miyabi is built around this note. This beautiful, mysterious note that smells of gorgeous whipped vanilla and fluffy, soft marshmallows. For the first hour or so of the development, it is beautifully supported by fragrant peach and an indistinct flowery mélange which is in turn hardened (read: balanced) by smoky cedar. As time goes by, the fragrance mellows as the tonka and ambery base notes come through more distinctively. The volume of the fragrance also drops considerably, radiating more quietly from the skin. Slowly, it transforms to a sweet woody aura, hugging the skin with sandalwood and musk. When considered as part of the lineup, it has to be said that Miyabi diverges considerably from the house style. The rest of the fragrances seem to have a clarity and translucency (even when the type of perfume would not lead you to expect such, e.g. a lactonic gourmand) that this one lacks. However the fact that it incorporates one of my favorite new notes (almost certainly a new aromachemical which produces this mysterious fluffy, vanilla-marshmallow effect) and that it does so elegantly, makes me enamored with it. The end result is a comforting yet peculiar, in other words interesting and delightful at once, at least if you are a gourmand lover. Lovers of Kenzo’s Amour and 5:40 PM In Madagascar and fans of Guerlain’s Paris-Moscou should definitely give this one a try.
Annayake has a rather limited distribution and never even makes it to certain countries such as the US, so I am offering a sample draw. If you are interested, simply leave a comment and you’ll be automatically included. Winner to be announced in a week’s time, next Wednesday.
Images: Fusama screens via Wikipedia and marshmallows via Flickr by John-Morgan