Alfa by Mendittorosa

His velvet wing sweeps through the night:
With magic of his wondrous sight
He oversees his vast domain,
And king supreme of night doth reign.
~ Elizabeth Sears Bates

This scent will have you reigning king supreme of the night for sure.

Listed notes

Ravensara, white thyme, clove, nutmeg, jasmine, saffron, carnation, sandalwood, frankincense, precious woods, white musk, oud.

The brand

Oh Mendittorosa! One of the most evocative brands out there. This luxury Italian brand will intrigue and beguile in equal measure. Their scents are complex, not for everyone, and sometimes not the easiest to understand, but persevere, get to know them, and you’ll fall in love like we have. Mendittorosa are like that charming rogue, that slightly off beat character that you’re a bit wary of, but once you get to know them you realise that you’re connected in many and more ways than you could have ever imagined. You’ll wonder how you managed to stay away so long.

We’ve previously reviewed Sogno Reale from the Talismans collection (for which we were a finalist in the Jasmine Awards 2019), South, Sirio, Nettuno, and Le Mat. We were also lucky enough to interview brand founder Stefania.

Top notes

Imagine yourself on the edge of a wood in Autumn. The sun is dipping towards the horizon and the shadows grow long. The chill air of the evening creeps around you, and your thoughts turn to the cheery fire you left crackling in the hearth of the old stone cottage. You can feel the night start to press at your back, promising fear, but for now the warm golden light of evening is all around you and you are unafraid, safe in it’s hazy embrace as the sun slowly sets and the path takes you deeper into the woods.

Alfa is, for us at least, a perfume about a harmony with nature and especially a harmony with the woodlands which would have covered this green and pleasant land in the past. It opens with a herbal breath, hints of greenery set against woody stems. The thyme comes in savoury smelling and delicious, before the whole scent seems to languidly roll towards the more medicinal ravensara. There’s a beautiful phase where the perfume smells like a salve, a potion, a tincture; something compounded by Medieval peasants to chase away a fever. It smells of damp twigs, leathery, bitter leaves, cool evening air sweeping from the hills and the dampness of the forest. It smells like old wisdom, the wisdom of the trees, folk wisdom and if you connect with that sort of thing then it will send a shiver up your spine.

Heart notes

Imagine then, as you wend your way on the forest path towards the comforts of your cottage, that you are watched. High in the branches of an old oak tree, nestled in the crook between trunk and limb, an owl sits. Slow, unblinking eyes regard you as you make your way on clumsy feet. The owl knows more than you can ever imagine. The owl has seen the world turn whilst you have frittered away your day. The owl watches and understands.

The heart of Alfa is woodier, warmer, denser and drier than the top. The leaves of the trees become more leathery and dried. The fragrance begins to hum with the delicate vibration of the air stirring the downy feathers on the owl’s breast. Nutmeg comes through, warm and woody, and is accompanied by the luscious tones of jasmine. Working together these facets make us feel as if we are cuddled up beside the owl, watching from his vantage point, the animal notes of his body and feathers becoming our own tones. There’s something wild here, and it speaks to the last vestiges of wildness that we humans possess. A feather sprouts along the length of an arm which is gradually becoming a wing, eyes widen, neck rotates, lips purse into the curve of a beak, hands grip the tree and form into claws and talons. The night becomes the day, becomes our hunting ground, illuminated by eyes able to discern details in the tones of the darkness. The perfume takes over the body and turns it into something wilder, something feathered, something old.

Base notes

In the base of the scent we are deeper into the heart of the tree, nestled inside a hole in the trunk, warm and safe, feathers fluffed up. The nutmeg continues, it’s woody tones hovering on the borderline between sweet and bitter. It fills the air with an electric buzz. This is bolstered by other woody facets, the smoothness of sandalwood, an oaky roughness, a more resinous frankincense. The chorus of timber is joined by a magnificent oud which sneaks in without fanfare. This is so deftly handled. Oud can often overpower a scent becoming thick, tepid and headachey. But not here. Here it is handled lightly, adding so much and yet never becoming selfish or stealing the limelight. The resulting experience is like the whole forest begins to vibrate, trees humming, musky feathers spreading, quivering as the air gets under them, you can smell the tremble of anticipation in the scent as it reaches an almost feverish pitch. And then you spread your owlish wings, and take flight into the world.

In Alfa, Mendittorosa have managed to do something which it is so hard to do: they leave us wanting more and rather than being unfulfilling, this is the most satisfying thing about an already excellent fragrance.

There’s definitely something bewitching about Alfa. If you like fragrances with musky, dry woods, the vibration of oud, and a whiff of magic about them, then prepare to be beguiled. The true testament to how good this scent is is the fact that none of the notes particularly appealed to us before we started testing: on notes alone this isn’t one we’d necessarily rush for. But, it is so beautifully composed, so expertly blended that we’ve become entranced by it, spellbound by it’s beauty.

The other stuff

The longevity of Alfa is excellent. It lasts well into the evening from an early morning application. This really pleased us because it is the sort of scent that you definitely want to catch hints of all day.

The projection of the scent was to around handshake distance or less. It was a strange one in that it felt like it should project more than it did, but actually, like the owl’s feathers, it didn’t move very far from the body at all.

In terms of the gender of who should wear this fragrance it does sit more towards the stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum. That said, our Editor is female and totally loves it so you should go with your gut on this one whoever you are.

Alfa wears beautifully on cool air, so save it for autumn and winter when you can really feel the coziness of the nutmeg and oud enveloping you in their protective warmth.

Buy it

Alfa is available from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £135 for 100ml EdP. You can also buy Alfa from the Mendittorosa web boutique where it is priced at €150 for the same size bottle.

Bloom Perfumery very kindly supplied us with a no strings attached sample of Alfa. Thank you to them for their generosity.

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