Today, quick reviews of two fragrances from Italian niche house Maria Candida Gentile: Sideris and Exultat. Both are in the brand's Classic Line.
Sideris was born during a walk along a Mediterranean beach in Liguria (Italy) at night. The moment was so beautiful that one could feel like floating in the air, between the sea and the stars in the sky. It is purely poetic fragrance.
With incense, cistus, myrrh, white pepper, saffron, rose, sandalwood, benzoin and waxed woods.
I first tried Sideris last summer, around the same time that I reviewed the brand's Hanbury, and I liked it right away, but I set it aside thinking I ought to try more Maria Candida Gentile fragrances before I reviewed it (especially Exultat, to which it is often compared). I'm happy to revisit it now, as it's a perfect fit with the oddly glorious and un-July-ish weather we're having this week: sunny and mild, not too hot, not too humid, with a lovely chill in the air in the early mornings. It's not quite that Liguria beach, perhaps, but it's likely the closest I'll get to it this summer, and the weather gives the airy spiced rose incense of Sideris room to soar.
Sideris starts peppery and bright, with touch of sharp aromatic greenery underneath a haze of soft incense. It sweetens quickly, and the base turns warmer, but only just so much: the overall feeling stays light and dreamy — and entirely unchurchy — even as the myrrh and amber notes join in, and a little later on, as the rose and saffron intensify. The base is a mildly vanillic honeyed woods, a bit milky, still rather airy but with just enough warmth that I think it would work equally well as a cold-weather comfort scent. The sillage, however, is subdued, even when applied heavily.
Verdict: Sideris is a charming, easy to wear rose incense, and my favorite from this brand so far (I still have not tried all of them). It would fit nicely into 5 perfumes: incense fragrances for spring, or maybe fall? If the summer weather where you are generally stays milder than it does here, it might be a 4 season scent for you. It's on my buy list, and since it's sold in small sizes at a reasonable price, I might even buy it some day.
The Exultat fragrance is inspired from the fragrance that the Italian families used to give during the wedding ceremonies. The white linen prepared for the ceremonies where purified with ash and lavender. The inspiration came from of a visit to the San Lorenzo church in Rome, where the sacred meets the profane, the spirit meets the material. In Exultat, the violet leaves and vetiver roots combine to the incense, and the rare violet leaf absolute brings the spirituality charisma of the formula.
With incense, orange, bitter orange, lime, violet and violet leaf, precious wood, vetiver and cedar.
As a number of commenters have mentioned, Exultat has much in common with Sideris, and this is especially true in the opening, which has a similar haze of incense, floating here over bright citrus notes with undertones of bitter peel. The citrus does not linger long; instead, the incense is joined by the violet (powdery and sweet, at least for a time) and violet leaf. I was expecting something transparent, similar to the rose in Sideris, but no, they're thick enough here to be almost chewy, and the incense becomes correspondingly less central. The base is a musky woods, rather dry, and it likewise takes backseat to the violet, which lingers for hours. The vetiver is quite noticeable when the violet leaf finally quiets, and likewise, the incense comes back into focus eventually.
Verdict: I wonder if I would have liked Exultat better if I'd tried it on its own? Or in colder weather? Worn next to Sideris, it feels plodding and heavy, and not at all like the soaring blend of violet and incense I'd imagined. It is going in my purgatory basket, and with any luck I'll remember to try it next winter, although I'm guessing that even then, there will be other violet perfumes I like better. Do bear in mind that nearly everyone else liked Exultat better than I did, so it's certainly worth trying.
Maria Candida Gentile Sideris and Exultat are available in 7 (€14), 15 ($45) or 100 ($185) ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Maria Candida Gentile under Perfume Houses.