While we're on the subject of Serge Lutens Arabie's extended family (see yesterday's review of El Attarine), it's worth considering Parfum d'Empire's newish Aziyadé, a kissing cousin at the very least. Aziyadé is named for the main character — a harem girl — of the novel of the same name, and unless I've lost count, is the second fragrance from Parfum d'Empire to take inspiration from the Ottoman Empire (the first being Cuir Ottoman). Those of you who are familiar with the various olfactory portraits of this region will recognize the usual suspects in the notes: pomegranate, dates, almonds, orange, prune, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, carob, frankincense, vanilla, patchouli, musk and cistus.
Yes, Aziyadé is another specimen of the stewed fruits + curry spices genre, although the stewed fruits are mostly in the top notes, and they're given some lift and tartness here by the pomegranate. Once the top notes fade, for a time it's nearly a straight-up spice fest. The dry down is woody and only slightly vanillic (it's more dry than sweet), with mild incense and amber.
It could be a pared down Arabie, but it's pared down in a very different way than El Attarine. Aziyadé is closer to spicy-foody than El Attarine, and the woods aren't as velvety-smooth. It's lighter and drier than Arabie, and possibly more wearable: that all depends on how you feel about cumin. I'm hard pressed to say which fragrance has more cumin — one day it seemed to be Arabie, the next, Aziyadé. I will say that because Aziyadé is a less foody-rich scent than Arabie, the cumin seems to stand out more, and it deepens considerably as it dries down.
Aziyadé has had mixed reviews so far:
The richness of Ottoman Turkey turns out to be this - supermarket brand cola spilled on an old leather jacket. I like it enough, but it’s sub-Arabie (probably sub-Dinner by Bobo, but I’ve never smelled that) and didn’t excite me.
That's Lee over at Perfume Posse. As it turns out, I'm in about the same boat as Lee. I like it well enough, but I'm not even close to enchanted, and the only reason I'm not firmly in the "no" camp is that the first couple hours are so enjoyable. After that, it's mostly cumin-infused pencil shavings on me. Those of you who read here regularly know I love pencil shavings; cumin, not so much.
Parfum d'Empire Aziyadé is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Parfum d'Empire under Perfume Houses.