“Blame it on the black star, blame it on the falling sky.”
“If thou follow thy star, thou canst not fail of a glorious heaven.”
Rhubarb, apple, white musk, rose, peony, plum, guaiac, cashmeran, oud, vanilla, amber wood.
The Talismans line of perfumes are produced by the house of Mendittorosa Odori D’Anima, an Italian brand who are doing wonderful things with their artisan range. Sirio is the newest edition to this line of scents which also includes the fabulous Le Mat (a dark rose), Nettuno (a strangely nostalgic scent) and Sogno Reale (a scent that evokes the fable of a traveller, to us at least).
The Talisman scents are beautifully and painstakingly crafted. The Talismans name is about protecting the wearer from harm and, rather delightfully, the whole line does have a hint of old-fashioned magic about it.
You can watch the owner of the Mendittorosa house explain the concept behind the scent in this YouTube video from Bloom Perfumery, but basically, the idea is that Sirio is about not only where we have come from, but where we are going.
Sirio begins with an absolute stunner of a note: rhubarb. And it lifts off the skin is glorious spadefuls. There’s something quintessentially British about rhubarb; that glorious soft pink and vivacious green symbol of the English summer but here it is captured and beautifully interpreted by this Italian brand. It’s like they have reached into our childhoods and plucked out this scent-memory.
And what an interesting opening note rhubarb is. Here at The Sniff, a quick poll in the office could only come up with a scant handful of perfumes that even use a rhubarb note, and even fewer that use it in such a bold and uncompromising way. Right from the start you are being told in no uncertain terms that this scent is going to be something different to the norm. Definitely good if one of the reasons you wear niche perfumery is because you are sick of smelling like everyone else.
Another reason rhubarb is interesting is because of the trick it conjures in your brain. When you smell rhubarb, there is this element of danger to it, partly because fresh from the stem it is quite so astringent, and partly because its leaves are poisonous. There’s a moment when one’s lizard brain goes “Danger don’t go near that” until the over-ride of the modern side of the brain kicks in and responds with “Wait a minute, we know that’s safe, and delicious, go ahead”. It’s brilliant that Talismans have managed to capture this exciting duality in the scent.
But what is the experience of wearing a rhubarb note like? Well, there’s a delicious tartness to it that is refreshing and makes the mouth water. At the same time the scent is emboldened and opened by the white musk and sweetened by the rose so the tartness isn’t astringent, nor does it have the effect of closing down as an overly dry scent, like a very dry drink, can. Instead, in the opening of Sirio, there is a beautiful harmony of pleasant sourness, with a softening sweetness. It’s a refreshing drink taken on a day of sunshine and mild exertion.
We have to admit that we are fascinated with how the rhubarb in Sirio wears. At first, you really notice that it is rhubarb, but later, towards the heart of the scent, you forget and instead it wears like a crisp and sophisticated yet more traditional note. It eventually goes a little softer and more powdery in the heart too but always retains that mouthwatering appeal. Rhubarb isn’t entirely dissimilar to citrus in some of the feel that it brings to a perfume, but it doesn’t suffer from the overuse that citrus does and is different enough to feel invigorating and exciting.
There’s also this really weird thing that Sirio does, certainly to our brains at least, and that is to make us think of ice cream. Now we are perfectly open to the possibility that it might just be us that make this connection, but whilst wearing it this thought kept occurring. It might have been the tangy yet sweet nature of the rhubarb or perhaps the fact that rhubarb is often found alongside custard in our childhood memories (and custard smells a bit like ice cream and shares many of the same components), or indeed because we were picking up on the vanilla notes. Whatever the reason, it brought a joyful, playful facet to a scent which is sophisticated and classy, and we rather loved that about it.
Like the rest of the perfume, the base of Sirio does retain the beautiful rhubarb flavour. Gentle, dry woods support it in the base but they are handled deftly and never overpower the fruitiness, allowing it to shine throughout.
The base of the scent seems to split – and this was really interesting to observe – into two parallel lines that run together. These two strands could be categorised as sour and sweet, or juicy and powdery, or tangy and soft. At times, in the base, they seem to part slightly more than they did earlier on in the wear and it’s beautiful when on skin. You catch a whiff of the scent and think “sour” but a moment later it is definitely sweet. Both strands are gorgeous though and the presence of each enhances the beauty of the other. Very clever perfumery indeed and truly a delight to wear.
The other stuff
The longevity of the scent is excellent. We have been testing it in hot, sticky weather and even despite that it lasts all day. Very good longevity indeed.
The projection of the scent, or sillage, is also good. It isn’t a very shouty perfume and indeed we found it to be a little quieter than most of the other scents in the Talismans line but that isn’t to say that the sillage is poor, it really isn’t. We’d expect it to project to around handshake distance or further. We also got a real kick out of wearing it knowing that it was likely to puzzle people as to what it quite smelled of.
In terms of which genders this scent would suit the best, we felt that it was really one for everyone. Wear it and love it whoever you are.
Sirio is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £215 for 100ml of extrait. Yes it is a pricy one, but it is at extrait concentration and in a large, 100ml bottle – likely to last you for a really long time.
Sirio is also available online from the Mendittorosa web boutique where it is priced at €250 for the 100ml bottle of extrait.
Bloom Perfumery kindly supplied us with a sample of this scent.