If you’re looking for something festive without being tacky, cosy without being cloying, wintery whilst retaining wearability, then look no further. Warm, spicy, candied fruits undercut by honeyed tobacco make up this delightful number from the fascinating Naomi Goodsir line – perfect for this time of year!
Apple, mango, candied orange, pink pepper, absinthe, coconut, mugwort, sage, artemisia, geranium, rum, ylang-ylang, amber, cedar, labdanum, oak, vanilla, beeswax, honey, musk and tobacco.
The Naomi Goodsir line is comprised of five scents (of which Or du Serail is one), all of which are beautifully formed around the company’s aesthetic. They’re all distinct in their own right and beautifully presented in a retro shaped bottle with an unfussy box. They’re classically elegant and understated in their charm.
We’ve previously reviewed the very smoky Bois d’Ascese from this line, and also the not-entirely-dissimilar-in-tone Erato by Brocard which was formulated by the same ‘nose’ as Or du Serail – Bertrand Duchaufour.
Given that we almost got a wrist strain typing out all the notes for this fragrance, let’s sweep all that aside and get down to what it is like to wear really.
The initial burst from this fragrance is a very dense sweetness. Although only the orange note purports to be candied, the fragrance we detect is all candied fruits. The start of Or du Serail smells like dried mango, candied peel, preserved apple all mixed up together. It’s heady, gooey, sweet. Is it sickly? Yes, we would say it is, but in the way that indolics add a beautiful resonant contrast to say, jasmine, here the sickly-sweetness adds an interesting counterpoint to the fruity tone that the perfume sets.
There is a sugared, decadent and festive tone about the start of the scent without a doubt. The feeling that it evokes is of a Victorian Christmas celebration; opening a giant box of Christmas sweets and staring at the amassed rows of candied fruit lying in their little compartments, the jewelled colours glinting in the light of the log fire.
Alright, we will admit that is a little bit hokey, but you get where we are going with this!
Once Or du Serail has had chance to fully open and warm on the skin, it becomes significantly less sugary and sickly and the beeswax note lifts beautifully. Throughout, the scent has a close, dense and dark feel, it is all candlelight and long Winter nights, but quite happily so – festive and cheerful instead of gloomy and cold.
Indulge us, if you will, in another simile for a moment. The heart of the scent is like a Cristingle and this was the memory that it very strongly conjured for us. The orange, pierced with a candle, the scent of the candle burning, the wax warming, and the sugary sweets pushed into the orange’s flesh on toothpicks. If you imagine that, inhale deeply, and transport yourself back to childhood memories (well, at least if you went to a C of E school) then you will be close to imagining what the heart of Or du Serail smells like.
Throughout the scent there is a vein of tobacco which intensifies towards the base. This is a tobacco which adds a rich, sweet and ever so slightly smokiness to the perfume. It’s an expensive unlit cigar type smell, that dry, leathery sweetness. The effect of the tobacco is to add a real element of sophistication to the overall perfume, it gives it that grown-up twist that stops the scent being all candies and holidays.
There are a lot of notes listed for this scent which might make it difficult to get a handle on to decide if it is worth you hunting it out for a proper sniff. The take home message for this perfume, if we were to sum it up, would be: sweet candied fruits bolstered by rich tobacco and woods. There, now you know!
The other stuff
The projection of this scent is low to moderate. It has a languid quality (probably from eating all that candied fruit) which means that it doesn’t leap off the skin, instead it stays relatively close. It does surround you in a honeyed, sugary hum though that people will notice if you spray enough of it, or they get close enough.
The longevity of the scent is good. When we tested the fragrance, each time it lasted well into the evening. The lingering note is the sweet tobacco, and it hangs around for a pleasantly long time.
We could imagine the scent working really well on male skin, it’s not that the scent is particularly masculine as such, it’s just that it has a sumptuous decadence which would work nicely with a side-helping of testosterone. We could definitely see it appealing to some women as well though, so don’t let us constrain your choices!
Or du Serail is a scent which will definitely work best in Winter, when the sweetness throughout will be tempered by the cool air, making it cosy and comfy rather than a bit sickly and unwelcome. It’s the sort of scent that it is really pleasant to get a waft of when you take off your scarf having just come in from the cold.
Or du Serail is available from the ever-excellent Bloom Perfumery, London (seriously, if you are just getting into niche or if you haven’t visited them yet you are in for such a treat). Bloom very kindly gifted us a sample of this scent.
Or du Serail is priced at £125 for 50ml EDP, so it is on the pricier end, but we can’t help but feel that if you like the Naomi Goodsir vibe then you’ll really fall in love with their interesting range.