When Parfum d'Empire's Yuzu Fou and Aziyadé were released last year, I was excited. My excitement waned as soon as I wore the two perfumes. Yuzu Fou (with notes of yuzu, kumquat, orange/bigarade, mint, verbena, green bamboo, blond cedar, neroli, white musk) was my favorite — it provides a burst of bigarade (Seville orange) followed by a blast of cedar; all the ‘filigree’ I expected (mint, verbena, green bamboo) was missing in action. Yuzu Fou is pleasant but unthrilling (it reminds me of Frederic Malle Bigarade). Wearing Aziyadé, I felt as if my body had been dipped in milk and then dredged in cumin (I was ready for the frying pan). I felt attacked by, impregnated with CUMIN. Aziyadé’s cumin was downright hostile.
Parfum d’Empire’s latest release is Wazamba. I have no idea if a “wazamba” is a Bantu midwife, a Congo tribe, or, as Parfum d’Empire defines it: “a musical instrument often used in initiation ceremonies in Western Africa.” This being Parfum d’Empire, I’m just happy ‘Wazamba’ is not the name of a lost pirate empire whose members ate infants for breakfast and clubbed dodo birds into extinction.
Wazamba’s notes include aldehydes, incense, myrrh, sandalwood, opoponax, cypress, apple and fir balsam. Wazamba opens with sweet, fruity aldehydes, then releases a dry, “gray” smoke aroma. As the fragrance develops, I smell fir balsam and cypress (opoponax and myrrh don’t stand a chance between the extremes of smoke and resins). The scent of incense, at first “burning,” then powder-soft and ashy, runs through Wazamba, and it’s an interesting counterpoint to the fragrance’s rich, syrupy fruit note (smelling more like “quince” than “apple” on my skin).
If you’ve tried Wazamba by dabbing your wrist with the fragrance or spraying a card, Pshaw!, you have not experienced Wazamba; only when you ‘power-spray’ Wazamba does it come alive on skin (especially the smoky and “quince” notes). The tenacity and sillage of Wazamba are very good. This perfume does not provide delicate, mincing phases of development; Wazamba is like a chant comprised of just a few words (ALDE-QUIN-CENSE-FIR! ALDE-QUIN-CENSE-FIR!) and sung in a loud, forceful voice. Come to find out, Wazamba combines what I liked about Yuzu Fou and Aziyadé (resins, fruit and incense) into one bottle.
Parfum d'Empire Wazamba is available in 50 ($75) and 100 ($110) ml Eau de Parfum; for buying information, see the listing for Parfum d'Empire under Perfume Houses.
Note: top center image is African Mask by frankdouwes at flickr; some rights reserved; images of Boswellia scara Flueck, 1887, by Franz Eugen Köhler, in Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen via Wikimedia Commons.