Sunday, September 17, 2006

Etro Shaal Nur

The trees are getting tired. Everywhere around Atlanta they droop and yellow against a crisp blue sky. This past weekend was an odd mix of heat and cool breezes, the sort of weather that makes it apparent the air conditioning in most places is too strong, yet still necessary. Over the weekend I wore Fleurs d'Oranger, and while I love it, I didn't think it was striking the right chord. It's sweetness left me wanting something dry and woodsy, so I went into my little box that might as well be labeled "Fall Samples" and pulled out Shaal Nur.

According to Etro's web site, the notes in Shaal Nur are:
Top: Citrus floral (lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, tangerine, rosewood, coriander)
Heart: Aromatic floral (thyme, tarragon, rosemary, karo karoundé, rose, petit grain)
Base: Spicy, woody, amber (nutmeg, patchouli, vetiver, cedar wood, opoponax, incense, musk)

Karo karoundé is apparently a daffodil-like flower, similar to narcissus and jonquil in scent (facts I patched together from their site and the card that came with my sample--if you look at Aedes, they'll tell you the scent actually contains narcissus and jonquil, but don't be fooled). If you took Laura Tonatto Iss, mixed it with Etro Messe de Minuit, and then threw in some rose and a few herbs, you'd have something like this scent. If I had read the notes previously, I might not have tried it. Herbs in perfume frighten me a little--when the list of ingredients sounds like something I might want to rub on a chicken before roasting it,'s off-putting. Let's leave it at that.

But no worries. You won't want to spice your chicken with Shaal Nur. One thing I love about this scent is how different the sillage smells from the up-close and personal smell of it directly against the skin. At a distance, it's a dry woody floral, and the rose peeks through beautifully, uplifted gently by the herbs that surround it. Up close, the rose disappears somewhat behind the woody spiciness; the nutmeg, cedarwood, and patchouli hold court with the incense and musk. You get a bit of the citrus at the opening--not really a bright burst--but to me it was still much more woods and incense even at the top, although the vetiver comes right through and holds on until the end. I love a fragrance that has many dimensions at once, and to me this has the best of incense and vetiver and rose. It's a literal potpourri of a fragrance, and I mean that in the best sense: dry but intoxicating, a little tricky to the senses, and could easily be worn year-round by those who love incense-based fragrances. Etro lists this as a unisex fragrance, and I think it is, even with much rose in the sillage. Maybe think of it as the perfume for a man who loves roses. I think this one goes on the bottle-worthy list for me.

*photo from Aedes