Indult Manakara, Isvaraya, & Tihota {Perfume Review & Musings} {New Perfumes}


Indult is a new high-end French perfume label that made its debut in January of 2007 and is currently exclusively sold at Sephora, France.

The name of the brand comes from Christian Latin "Indultum" meaning "concession, favor". Their name embodies their marketing approach which is typically one that is characterized by a new-luxury philosophy. As I commented previously, " buy one of the Indult perfumes amounts to being a king or a prince granted a privilege from the Pope, or feels like paying the King of Spain's tax on precious metals and products originating from America,. Only 999 copies of each will be marketed...."

Buying an Indult perfume in fact equates to buying a membership into a select club of perfume aficionados as only those who have purchased one of the fewer than 3000 flacons will be able to re-purchase in the future...

The three perfumes were composed by nose Francis Kurkdjian. Each one of the scents is said to be dedicated to the interpretation of an important note in perfumery: rose for Manakara, Patchouli for Isvaraya, and vanilla for Tihota.

The perfumes convey a sense of luxurious exoticism coupled with urban elegance and even edginess, the latter trait not being too overtly expressed. The complexity is more structural than narrative, that is, the perfumes do not offer very complex developments but the satisfactory olfactory experience one derives from them rests upon an inner, understated complexity. The fragrances are high-quality and elaborate. There seems to be a common thread running through them pointing to an interest for a sugar theme. Rather than feel infantile, it evokes the passionate quest for the raw material and the connoisseur's appreciation for its many nuances: Demerara, Muscovado, Turbinado, caster sugar etc. It explodes nowhere better than in Tihota.

Manakara is named after a town in Madagascar renowned for its lychees. Notes include Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, and lychees. It is a sophisticated fruity-floral scent with gourmand accents.

At first, it smells watery, honeyed, sweet, and floral. The characteristics of the lychee note are better felt when using a healthy dose of the perfume; it then can smell realistic enough to visually suggest their very red rinds and create an intense fruity experience coupled with the rose notes. The development is not dramatic.

The perfume gains in strength and then headiness. There are candied undertones that suggest a cotton candy spun and eaten at the fair. It might appear to those who are familiar with Pink Sugar as a more mature version of it. The fragrance turns into a creamier vanilla concoction with a little sharp edge to it. There are strawberry and amberey nuances.

In the end, one feels like one was led by the hand to enter a fantasy landscape made of sweets. Despite this seeming incursion into a children's wonderland, the perfume is sophisticated and elegant like a Chanel necklace would be if it were made, say, of rows and rows of colorful plastic fruits and flowers: lychees, roses, and strawberries. In fact, you probably need to be very adult to pull it off.

Isvaraya means "divine" in Hindi and has notes of patchouli, Indian plum tree, and jasmine sambac. It is the most obviously complex composition of the three perfumes.

When I first smelled it without having read about the notes I thought that it was a floral leather with violet, jasmine and with an unindentified undercurrent that felt nevertheless familiar. It actually makes you think of Cuir Ottoman in the beginning.

But then the perfume evoked very precisely a whole consistent olfactory world that is Thailand, including jasmine-scented desserts, bamboo shoots stuffed with sweet sticky rice and smoked over open fire, nuoc mam sauce ( a smell of salty decomposing fish), dry salty fish, in general a Thai food market with its religious altar where the incense is burning amidst the foody aromas, and finally even antique stores in Bangkok with their slightly camphoreous smells.

The undercurrent turns out to be Indian plum tree (oemleria cerasiformis) which is said to have an unusual smell ranging from almonds to watermelon rind mixed with cat urine. A heavier application allows one to discern some subtle pruney nuances. The jasmine is quite distinct, more than the patchouli which is very soft, and offers green juicy accents. The perfume is a little on the sweet-and-sour side and appears almost edible.

Tihota has a Polynesian name which means "sugar". It is, to me, an awe-inspiring vanilla and musk concoction. The quality of the blend is such that one ends up feeling like it is the best vanilla and the best musk scent combined you have ever worn. Its very simplicity of conception makes it be a powerful statement. At first, it may appear to be just another vanilla perfume, but then it qualitatively turns into something rarer. I must say that I feel a great admiration for this fragrance.

The scent starts with a vanilla and musk accord. The musk releases some sweaty nuances and then some flowers and a fruity note come in.The musk is very sophisticated. The sugar accord is very warm, dark, and dry, seemingly almost sandy in texture on the skin.

I was able to note that Tihota has great presence in a room despite the fact that it seems to be a skin scent. It actually develops a sort of aura rather than sillage and it smells significantly different away from you than it does up close.

Please refer yourself to the Indult website for more information about the line.

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14 Comments | Leave a comment

  1. Sweet and sour you said? Sign me up for Isvaraya, thankyouverymuch. Plum, jasmine and patchouli - hello, bespoke fragrance anyone? :-)
    Ok, I'd also love to catch a whiff of Tihota, which you might have guessed since you know I love Gaultier2. So, my question is: how does Tihota compare to G2?
    A sweet review, M-H! :-)

  2. 1 more thing: I shouldn't have reread your review of M7 because it whetted my appetite. Again! I've been trying to curb my perfume shopping impulses lately, but I'm weak it seems. So if I give in and buy a bottle, which will render me painfully broke, it'll be your fault! Just sayin' ;-)

  3. Dear M.H., oddly enough I was at the Champs Elysée Sephora the day after the launch and couldn't see the line anywhere. Tihota oddly tempts me though... I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea that I actually crave vanilla, chypre lover that I am. Comme quoi tout arrive!

  4. Dusan,

    Kurkdjian said in an interview that he loved vanilla so it seems that there is quite a bit if himself that went into these fragrances. I would say that Tihota is a more elaborate and advanced version of the vanilla theme one finds in JPG2. He is taking it a step further in terms of experience, reflection, and perhaps freedom of expression.

  5. Dusan,

    Be strong:)

  6. Dear D,

    Hmmmmm, and they didn't know when it was going to arrive?

    I also do not seek out vanilla personally but I think that you might be swept off your feet by Kurkdjian's passion for it.

  7. Hello Marie Hélène,
    I'm sorry to say that the 3 scents are rather disappointing. I went to smell them at the Sephora Champs Elysées. First, it did not give me the feeling of very luxury scents, as they were in a sort of carton display case like the discount area in a Carrefour store. For the scents, the chypré one is not so bad. The vanilla is not very interesting (almost monolithic) and the rose-litchi, let's forget. As I said to the salesperson, it seems that the scents were created very quickly. Décevant!
    - ambroxan -

  8. Salut Ambroxan,

    Well, I thought the same thing about the vanilla one at first, but then it developed in a much more interesting way although I agree that it is not a complex scent in appearance. But if you compare it with a cheap vanilla scent - to which it may resemble quite a bit on a superficial approach - the qualitative difference is like day and night (that was my 2nd impression). To me it is powerfully simple rather than monolithic.

    Isvaraya, to me, is more classically structured although the notes are more obviously original.

    Manakara can be déroutant in its brand of a mix of uber-youthfulness and sophistication.

    Did you get samples of them? I think it's worth trying them at length.

  9. Hello again... I finally found the Indult "column" -- as Ambroxan writes, it's very discreet. I am now somewhat obsessed with Tihota. I agree with your observation that is has an aura rather than sillage. Strangely, I could sometimes hardly smell it on my wrist but it wafted up to me sitting in the bus! I am amazed at the complexity derived from such a simple formula. And very tempted to buy a bottle... The price alone gives me pause. But it's definitely the best vanilla I've ever smelled. It still lingers on the scent strip after 48 hours!

  10. This scent is extraordinary and yes, it is disconcerting to say that because, as you pointed out, the perfume seems simple, is simple, yet it must be very complex also at another level because otherwise it would smell just like any other vanilla perfume.

    I completely understand your obsession and I am of a good mind myself to cave in, in fact I should cave in. I agree, it's the best vanilla composition I've ever come across.

    This Indult collection really gives me the impression that Kurkdjian was given free reign to create what he had always wanted to do.

    I thought Tihota smelled woodier from afar, but would need to renew the experience. I was in a bank with a certain spatial configuration and the scent wafted around me and seemed to be a different perfume, yet when I checked it traced back to Tihota.

    And btw, I need to do a more practical index of the reviews, something I've been meaning to do for a (long) while.

  11. Just purchased the Manakara love it as I am a fragrance freak however I wish I had gone to the site as I paid 225 at luckyscent and the Indult site sells for 160 Also has anyone tried The heart is decietful above all things by Yosh I love it although it too is pricy

  12. I have to admit to being somewhat mystified about the furor over Tihota. I have a sample and have tested it multiple times in an attempt to see what it is that everyone else is finding in this scent that I'm missing, smells exactly like the old discontinued L'Occitane Vanille (Bourbon) that I used to wear occasionally when I was in college. Exactly. And you could buy a solid or extract of that one for under $20.

    (The old L'Occitane Vanille bears no similarity to the current L'Occitane vanilla fragrance, incidentally.)

    I must admit that I'm not much of one for vanilla fragrances generally, so my biases may be showing.

  13. Well, I would be certainly curious to try that old L'Occitane to see the similarities.

    At that point, it gave me the impression that it was the best vanilla perfume I had ever tried.

  14. I came across the INDULT scents by accident a few weeks ago on my last trip to Paris. They were displayed on a smudged mirror-topped table featuring French national perfumes in the Sephora on the Champs-Elysees. But oh my, what a treat for the senses. I do not agree with Ambroxan that they were developed in a hurry at all. In fact I have not come across such multi-layered and complex perfumes in 25 years! They clearly appeal to a select audience of women, which - from what I have read in these reviews - is their intended audience anyways. Why create mass hysteria when only a few will be chosen! Not normally a fan of rose-based scents, I am bewitched and smitten by MANAKARA. I took home a sample, but yet returned twice more in my week-long visit to reapply. Of course I am putting this perfume on my Christmas list. If you secretly harbor a desire to find unique scents, I urge you to try on these perfumes, let them develop with your body chemistry, and become hypnotized, like I have. Mmmm, I am inhaling it now!


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