Italian niche house Maria Candida Gentile's latest release, Lankaran Forest, was originally developed as the "bespoke fragrance" for the 2nd Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Arts, held in London in 2015. For that event, set designer Francisco Rodriguez-Weil created a scene inside the Royal Academy of Arts (see above) recalling forests near the Azerbaijan city of Lankaran. Maria Candida Gentile based her fragrance on a tour of Azerbaijan, including those forests (known for their ironwood trees), as well as the Yanar Dag fire mountain, the Absheron peninsula, and the tea and citrus plantations near Lankaran. At the festival, the scent was diffused in the "forest", and was presented in two concentrations in Lalique bottles.
For the 2016 commercial release under the Maria Candida Gentile label, Lankaran Forest moved into the regular brand packaging (see below) — not Lalique, but presumably easier on the purse. If you were expecting the sort of heavy wood and earth notes often found in "forest" perfumes, you will need to rethink.* The opening is soft but bright, and will recall your favorite lemon tea fragrance more than anything else. A pale floral note — dewy verging on saltwatery — weaves through the middle. In the dry down, the tea turns mildly smoky, and joins with middling-pale woods, and dusky, ginger-y spices.
Verdict: Lankaran Forest is a sleeper sort of scent, and not likely to impress in the first five minutes on a blotter. I wore it several times before it really captured my affections, or maybe before I was able to slow down and really notice it. It has a contemplative feel, but there is also lots of movement: to my mind, it starts you off on a spring morning and takes you through an autumn evening. It is quiet enough that it would work for office wear, but I put it into the "quiet reading slash de-stressing" category. Very much worth a try.
Maria Candida Gentile Lankaran Forest is available in 15 or 100 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Maria Candida Gentile under Perfume Houses.
* I love forest perfumes too, this is just not that. If you want that, do try Sonoma Scent Studio Forest Walk (or please, add your own favorites in the comments).