Areej le Dore Malik Al Taif
I think I have a problem.
I’m considering taking myself off the market. I’ve never been able to answer that question people ask, “what’s your favourite scent?”, or “what’s your signature?” because there are have been too many to love and really, with so much new stuff to get your nose over, it seems silly to settle. But now I’m worried that everything I smell will be compared to this, one, fragrance.
It is to me, perfection (cue music).
OK background. Areej le Dore is small niche house based in Bangkok. To be honest, I had put it in the “bro code” category of ‘fumes: brands that appeal to guys who are all about the collection; looking to out-skank each other, using phrases like “panty-dropper”, and discussing the batch variations of Aventus in Facebook chats from their basements. I’m not completely against a panty-drop in the right circumstances I guess, but that’s a topic for another post.
Anyway, Areej le Dore’s perfumer, the curiously named Russian Adam, obviously did not have the same prejudices against The Accords because he kindly sent a sample set from his new collection. Intense ouds, rich and challenging blends, and there in a tiny vial, Malik al Taif.
A single spray and I saw stars.
You see, Russian Adam is kind of obsessed with the pure elements and techniques of perfumery. And he bases himself in Bangkok for a reason. In Thailand, there’s no limit to what you can put a stopper on and sell (for better or worse). And what’s contained in Malik al Taif is a whopping 40% pure Taif rose oil. Illegal if you’re Lancome but gladly, not if you’re my new mate Adam.
If you’re wondering what the Taif this rose oil is all about, well so did I, as I tried to diagnose my love-sickness. One of my first jobs in the beauty biz was writing press releases for a big beauty retailer. I had plenty of exposure to brand bullshit as I “Australianised” the media kits of hundreds and hundreds of beauty products. It got to the point where we’d joke in the office about rose petals picked at dawn by the hands of maidens, such was the hyperbole these press releases poured out. And then I read pretty much this exact account on Areej le Dore’s website, and mate Russian Adam backs it up and you know, I kind-of believe him. Taif has been growing roses for three centuries. This place takes flowers seriously. So I can stretch to the idea that you could pay a bunch of delicate fingered dames to pick petals in the dim light before the sun starts to evaporate the oils, petals plucked from their greenery with the gentlest touch so that none are bruised, and then immediately distilled in what sounds like a handshake deal between perfume obsessives.
So there’s rose-ish synthetics, and then there’s rose and then there’s THIS ROSE.
To my nose it’s intensely lemony at the opening of Malik al Taif, and you can almost smell the crisp snap of a thick petal as it slowly, magically transforms into something jammy and spicy and sweet on the skin, in a way that makes me wish to be brought back as a bee. It’s actually got so many facets that it takes 30 minutes or so for my brain to stop processing all the different components and settle on the smell association “rose”. And then it’s the most intensely hyper-realistic, narcotic rose I’ve ever smelled and deeply, deeply satisfying.
So what do you do with a substance like this? Something whacky and experimental right? Ah no. You go iconic, you go ancient, you dig into your handy supply of precious oud oils and you add just the right dose. Now, oud in its pure form can be a bit of an acquired smell and its synthetic proliferation doesn’t really give a great insight into its ability to knock you into an olfactory coma. Here, a careful blend of single origin ouds (so hip), creates just the right rich, sweet, slightly animalic backdrop on which to set this remarkable rose. It’s accessible to a novice like me, without sacrificing authenticity, and I guess it’s this easygoing oud that seems to make Malik al Taif melt into the skin.
And it is totally the kind of scent that seems to sink in rather than waft away, due to a Mysore sandalwood and benzoin cushion in the base that mellows the fragrance out – and even in this stage I find it completely lovely. It’s good manners for a scent to leave tenderly I think, rather than overstay its welcome and end up like morning breath on the sheets, and the very pure, warm finish of benzoin resin is so classy. It’s like a drug with no come-down.
So that’s where I’m at. I think my only hope at this stage is that after a hot, sultry summer of intense wear, something about this scent won’t work in the winter. Maybe its Arabian spirit will wither in the cold and I’ll have to put it away until next year. It’s OK to keep your lover in a locked box, right?