Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Arte di Profumi Harem Soiree: fragrance review

The ember glow of a dying fire shining through the window of the yalı, the iodine assault of intensely animalic ingredients brought in by the breeze, medicinal unguents resting atop a mahogany shelf at the darüşşifa, eroticism beyond coy or playful, an arrow heading straight to the heart, drama unfolded in one astounding act. The prelude of an unforgettable moment. Far too wild to be tamed and loaded with panache, its presence is unmistakeable. Its name? Harem Soirée.

Mala Fatra, Slovakia, 1963, Vilem Heckel. Czech (1918 - 1970)

Harem means the forbidden and beyond the feverished Western Europeans'* dreams of physical love conducted in exotic locales of Eastern promise, it signified the living quarters of the Sultan and his family during the Ottoman rule, a place where no access was granted to outsiders.
[*such as J.A.D.Ingres, Pierre Loti or Lord Byron]

Harem Soirée is tied to ambergris (all Arte di Profumi Roma fragrances have a "star" ingredient featured on the label) but that's clearly not the whole story. Besides being profoundly animalic, the daring scent is full of the concentrated essence of labdanum, with only a very distant hint of that other "amber" ingredient, vanilla. The treatment of this iconic oriental chord is pitch black, resinous smelling, dark as the cloth of the night, dangerous and medicinal as if stemming from prophylactic pharmacopeia, vaguely reminiscent in mood of Ambre Sultan, but even darker and denser with bittersweet myrrh; cuffs of lead rather than iron. Its very austere and dramatic character, with no concessions to the fruity bowl or the dessert trolley, make Harem Soirée a perfect backdrop for discerning gentlemen or women with the rush of adventure fanning their wings.

The name is referencing the shows put by women dancers as well as the 1999 Turkish film by the same name (Harem Suare).

The perfume along the rest of the Arte di Profumi Roma line is available from Jovoy Paris and Ausliebezumduft online.


  1. ohhhhhhhh. i want this. lots of labdanum, yes? ambergris? dark, resinous, unsweetened? yes, please...

  2. Miss Heliotrope00:15

    Interesting - the austere side is always more my kind of thing.

    Austere decdence is beautiful.

    (Adds to list to play with)

  3. Ellen15:02

    Oh it sounds marvelous. Any idea where one could obtain a sample?

  4. NFS,

    and some rose too, though it's not a "rose perfume" at all. ;-)

  5. MH,

    please do add it, it's very interesting!

  6. Ellen,

    I believe ausliebezumduft (first in fragrance) should be able to answer your need for a sample (they do samples of all their wares).


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