Friday, May 9, 2008

Scents of the Soul

It's not without precedent that Perfume Shrine occupies itself with all natural perfumes. We had done so in the past and we will do so in the future, hopefully, each and every time guided by the belief that as much as more commercial or more "modern" perfumes, artisanal lines that deal with delicate wonders of nature have a place in a perfume lover's heart when they sing melodiously and with conviction.
The difference is that today I have the distinct pleasure of introducing you, dear readers, to one of the most exquisite and informed lines of them all: the line by Abdes Salaam.

Although is the purveyor par excellence of wonderful, top quality raw materials for the amateur perfumer (in the Latin sense of the word of lover), as well as for educating oneself with the building blocks of perfumery, the creator himself is shrouded in mystery. Who is Abdes Salaam Attar?
This Sufi mystic who has such an esoteric approach to perfumery, who mingles the philosophical with the pious, calligraphy and didaches? Who knows how to instill awe and wonder while talking about the famed properties of musk deer (moscus moschiferous) on the psyche; and at the same time titillate the senses talking about a kit diffuser which emanates a scent purposely created in order to evoke feelings of satisfaction, well-being, and healthiness of good handmade ice cream for the customer shops of the “Fiordiriso & Sapa”?
His perfumes work as Ayurvedic medicine as well as exits to a word of reverie.

That man is French-born Dominique Dubrana and I was honoured to receive a mail from him a while back, stating he enjoyed my work on Perfume Shrine and consequently was lucky to receive samples of his wonderful fragrant creations for appraisal. I was quite impressed with what I smelled and so upon seeing that he was the one natural perfumer who was included in Perfumes The Guide with enthusiastic commentary by Luca Turin, I smiled an inward smile. I predict he will receive more attention very soon, as he so justly deserves.

The mignon bottles of 5.5ml are practical as well as cute, as they allow several wearings for anyone to fully appreciate the composition before proceeding into investing in a bigger bottle, usually available in either 16ml (about half oz), 30ml/1oz or 50ml/1.7oz. There are ready-made packages of 8 mignons, each allowing for a diversified experience.
The collection is comprised of several "Scents of the Soul" in different families, from floral to woody to resinous to fruity, even! Something for every taste and with the sonorous, intensely complex ring of natural ingredients.
Everything I tried was memorable in one way or another, but due to lack of space let me highlight those which made a particular impression.

Chocolate Amber blends Chocolate and Vanilla with Tonka, "the exotic fragrance of the famous Indian Amber" in a uniquely sensual fragrance. The endorphin rush experienced by nibbling on a carré of Valhrona is evoked in this fragrance which marries the hay and caramel aspect of tonka with the aphrodisiac and relaxing, soothing notes of vanilla and theobroma cacao. "Theobroma" is a Greek word, meaning "food of the Gods". It's not hard to see why...The fragrance is ambrosial in feeling and truly like melting real chocolate on yourself to the point that you will want to lick it off. Appetising and well balanced, never veering into too sweet territory, it immediately caught my attention.

16ml for 27.59 euros
50ml for 70.83 (now discounted: 54.17 euros)

Frutti Paradisi I approached with some hesitation, given both my natural aversion to fruit notes in perfumery (with the exception of the hesperide family) and the knowledge that most fruity notes apart from citrus are in fact synthesized in the lab, therefore what was the alternative for an all-natural line? Perhaps due to the curiosity piqued because of the latter reason, I was eager to see what Dominique could do with fruit, fruit tagged as "heavenly", no less. The result caught me by surprise: the exotic apricot fruity aroma of Osmanthus flower absolute served as an inspiration blended with jasmine flowers, vanilla and the absolute from blackcurrant, turning into a multifaceted liquid jewel which shines and sparkles with every twist. Although not my first choice in the line, it is however astonishingly realistic, pulsating with raw energy.

16ml 38.33 euros
30ml 104.17 euros

Grezzo d'eleganza is a dry masculine composition "for a man who in society does not like to pass unnoticed". The base of precious woods and aromatic herbs, assertive and a bit wild (due to the inclusion of natural castoreum from beavers), is tamed by the underlayed sweet sensuality of vanilla and fresh neroli, while a subliminal touch of mysterious incense and rose confers to the person who wears it a spiritual dimension that still does not overcome the elegance of the aura that emanates from him. The inspiration was a custom creation for an Italian designer and the style of the perfume reflects the approach to his fashion designs perfectly, Dominique confesses.
The composition can still be worn by self-assured women who enjoy an outré approach: I would love to smell it paired with a smoking-style pantsuit and deep claret hued lips. Thus, I very much liked Dominique's analogy of Grezzo d'eleganza to a "steel fist in a velvet glove".

16ml 38.33 euros
50ml 104.17 euros

Last but not least, Angelica Water is the type of slightly bitter, herbal composition with a tentatively wistful character which I enjoy a lot. Tagged as "the cologne of angels", it derives this fetching epithet from medieval pharmacopoeia, whenupon Angelica was held to attract the presence of angels and protect people from negative influences. The precious natural essence of angelica with its fine aromatic odour profile, a little like Juniper berries and with the bouquet that aromatizes Chartreuse, is evident in a sparse composition that lets it ring in the resonant frequency of translucent fine crystal of a high lead content under a wet finger. {click to listen to a sample of glass harmonica in action}
I personally love it!

16ml 25.17euros
50ml 68.33 euros

Prices: valid for USA, but 20% VAT added for ECC countries.
You can order online at

For another approach to Dominique Dubrana and his art, please visit Natural Perfumers' Guild Blog.

Pic of mignon bottles and leaf courtesy of
Chocolate bars courtesy of


  1. Anonymous19:34

    I had no idea such a line existed! This is a very interesting website, lots to explore and he seems like a very knowledgable person.

  2. You're welcome, it's a wonderful website to browse and learn :-)

  3. Anonymous01:17

    I actually discovered the Profumo site before I discovered Perfume Shrine, but never ordered. Now your beautifully descriptive reviews make me want to remedy that immediately! Great writing as always, Helg.

  4. Thank you Rappleya, it honors me to hear you say so.
    The Profumo site is chokefull of great info and great products: the didactical kits are especially valuable.


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