It’s often interesting when a perfumer takes an imaginary accord for a spin, and in this new fragrance from Pierre Guillaume he has not only imagined a fantasy tree moss accord, but he has set it under the aurora borealis for that added dose of magic and escapism.
Blood orange, albizia blossom, hinoki sap, Assam moss, sage, dried fruit, blonde tobacco, ambergris.
Pierre Guillaume is not a perfumer who is afraid of a flight of fancy, and nor is he one who is afraid of a gourmand touch in a fragrance. In PG 30 Alphaora, he has combined both these things, uniting them in a strange, ethereally delicious perfume.
Alphaora opens with a lovely whoosh of something which is cool, a little bit pine-tree like but more floral, it’s breezy and outdoorsy like the fresh air around trees. The hinoki sap and albizia blossom both work together to create an aromatic forest-like accord. At the same time there is another current at play from the orange which is warmer, juicier, fruitier. These two facets balance the scent nicely, right from the opening, and give a playful tension to the fragrance.
Alphaora gives the impression that it is a carefree sort of fragrance, there is most definitely light and shadow here but they are balanced and swirl around each other in a way which is very easy to wear. The uplift of citrus is grounded by the feel of the forest, and conversely the density of the forest is lightened by the more floral and fruity hues. It’s this understated loveliness so evident in the scents of Pierre Guillaume which make him such an excellent perfumer and master of his craft.
The next phase of Alphaora’s wear twists us away from the fruity side of things, but keeps us on a track through the woods and at times it does feel as if we are wandering through a fairy tale. Imagine the gingerbread house from Hansel and Gretel, hidden away in the depths of the woods, but replace the spiciness of the ginger with a house made from hard caramel and studded with dried, and fresh, fruits. Now take away the deciduous trees around the house and replace them with pine or spruce. Instead of inland, set the cottage close to the seashore where a salty ambergris breeze wafts through an open window. The smooth, caramelly luminosity are the added atmospheric touch of the Northern lights swirling fleetingly overhead. That’s the sort of picture that the heart of Alphaora conjures.
A smooth caramel sweetness wafts into the fragrance, but that is swiftly chased by a saltier, minerally ribbon and flecks of candied peel and dried fruits. The effect is interestingly dry, astringent almost, but warmed by a sweetness that just takes the edge off. Sage sneaks into the picture and whilst it isn’t very loud in the composition it anchors it further, rooting it firmly in something true. The scent becomes more powdery the deeper into the wear you get with a leathery vegetal flick in the background as the tobacco starts to make its presence felt. Alphaora is halfway between sweet and savoury, halfway between serious and light hearted. It isn’t a particularly loud or obtrusive scent, just one which is quietly doing its own uniquely lovely thing over here all on its own.
The final stretch of Alphaora is a combination of the dry mossy tones with the salty ambergris and a little thickness and body from the tobacco. This combination of elements really works together and gives an overall impression of dryness, brightness, and something that hovers between luminosity and cosiness. A fruity tone hovers about unobtrusively in the background, just flirting around the edges not being too intrusive but giving a little lift and wearability to the scent.
Alphaora feels like an oddity, a collection of things which shouldn’t work, but somehow they do, the perfumer has pulled off the unification of an interesting collection of notes. The result of mixing this witch’s brew is greater than the sum of the individual parts, the result is ethereal and dreamy but with an edge of realism that roots it in the possible and keeps it flying away into the surreal. Alphaora is a perfume for dreamers who have a day job.
The other stuff
The longevity of Alphaora is decent, lasting about six to eight hours following an application. The scent projects to around handshake distance at its best, when newly applied, but this reduces and the latter phases of the wear stay very close to the skin.
Alphaora feels like it will be a really good, versatile scent for year-round wear, appropriate for a wide range of occasions. Day time and office wear would be the times when I would most reach for this scent.
The perfumer for Alphaora is Pierre Guillaume.
The overall impression of this fragrance is: classy but fun, dry and powdery, mossy.
If you’ve visited us at all previously then you will know that Pierre Guillaume are one of our firm favourites here at The Sniff and we have reviewed a vast array of his fragrances which combine interesting, modern compositions with a wide range and ease of accessibility. These aren’t the esoteric end of the spectrum, but they are wearable scents which fit into your daily life with ease, whilst giving you that slice of luxury and uniqueness you may have come to fragrance to find.
We’ve previously reviewed Morning in Tipasa, Animal Mondain, Lune d’Eau, Sunsuality, PG 9.1 Komorebi, PG 03 Cuir Venenum, PG 04 Musc Maori, PG 5.1 Suede Osmanthe, PG 16 Jardins de Kerylos and the exceptional Bois Naufrage. Also by Pierre Guillaume we’ve looked at Superlady, Sucre d’Ebene, Shermine, Aqaysos, Jangala, Tonkamande, Anti-Blues and Hapyang.
Alphaora is available to buy from Bloom Perfumery London where it is priced at £95 for 50ml EdT and £138 for 100ml. Bloom kindly supplied us with a sample of this fragrance with no strings attached, our thanks to them.
You can also purchase Alphaora from the Pierre Guillaume web boutique.