Cimabue (pronounced chim-a-boo-way, according to Dawn) had first come to my attention through a perfume enthusiast and online friend who sent me a sample some time ago. I recall I was favourably impressed and left it at that. But now that the Saffron Series has caught up with me, what better time to revisit and explore the intricasies that weave throughout its composition?
Cimabue materialized out of love: the love of a perfumer to her clients. When a lover of Safran Troublant sent a request to Dawn to make something comparable, Dawn set out to create Cimabue. Yet Cimabue is not a rip off Safran Troublant, but rather a spicier, richer, enigmatic interpretation that spans the spectrum from honeyed floral to bittersweet spicy to luscious oriental much like the colours of those frescoes take on different shades depending on the light cast.
Cimabue begins on complex citrus , immediately flanked by unctuous saffron with the feel of aromatized olive oil for a creamy, starchy Carnaroli risotto. Although there are flowers' essences in the composition, none emerges prominently, instead undulating into layers that are folded in the spice mix. The smell of clove, cardamom and nutmeg slither when Cimabue takes on the skin, then the sandalwood, vanilla and sweet powder combine in a classic milky gourmand drydown that accounts for a very warm and pleasantly sweet ambience with average lasting power.
Cimabue should please spice lovers as well as gourmand lovers and will bring a little warmth in the depths of winter.
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Cimabue notes:
Top: Bergamot, bitter orange, cardamom, clementine, Italian neroli, lemon, nutmeg
Middle: carnation absolute, cinnamon bark, clove bud, Egyptian Rose geranium, Grandiflorum jasmine, honey beeswax, Moroccan rose absolute, Mysore sandalwood, Saffron absolute, Tuberose absolute
Bottom: Ciste absolute, East Indian sandalwood, labdanum, oppopanax, Siam benzoin, Tahitian vanilla, Tamil Nadu sandalwood, vanilla absolute.
Cimabue is part of the more upscale collection Parfums des Beaux Arts (limited editions) and is available in various sizes: 0 .25 oz Eau de Parfum travel spray will set you back $27 while a limited edition flacon of extrait de parfum runs for $135 while a body butter and a foaming creame compliment the experience. Samples and sampler packs are also available on the DSH website.
Related reading on Perfume Shrine: the Saffron Series
Painting of Madonna enthroned with the child, St Francis, St.Domenico and two Angels by Cimabue displayed in Galleria Uffici Florence courtesy of Christus Rex