Sisley Soir d'Orient ≈ How to be Timeless yet New, Delicious yet Not Gourmand (2015) {Perfume Review & Musings}


The latest launch by Sisley, Soir d'Orient, is said to be inspired by a childhood memory of co-founder Isabelle d'Ornano treasured from a time when she was visiting the gardens of the Alcatraz in Sevilla. d'Ornano was then struck by the scent of the Seringas as it intensified at dusk; this is the magical hour for olfactory sensations, as we know officially since l'Heure Bleue: the sight diminishes while the sense of smell becomes more exclusively perceptive.

The new fragrance is also reportedly influenced by the notion of "Convivencia", a reference to the multicultural practice of sharing artistic and cultural traditions among cohabiting communities in Mauresque Spain...


Sisley Soir d'Orient in the City © 2015 CHANT WAGNER

How Does it Smell Like?

Soir d'Orient Eau de Parfum mixes the sparkling elegance of Eau du Soir (1990) with a new oud mood, - and while it could have lazily ended into a forced homage to the unavoidable king perfumery material of the day, it brushes past it, retaining some of its smoky trail while amping up its own delightful and delicious chypre personality (the latter psychological nuance is perhaps new: if the new scent is delicious, it is never gourmand).

In other words, it seems as if Soir d'Orient has borrowed some of the intensity and depth from the slow-burn sensation of agarwood but instead of losing itself in it, comes out brighter and more luminous from the cultural encounter. Or again, it is as if oakmoss has learnt something from oud but does not give up its own palette of foresty and aromatic sensations, which here is further typified by Iranian galbanum.

This is no voyage to the heart of darkness but rather a cruise on the Nile where you stop, muse and go back to the boat and your certainties, never losing your sea legs. It is a very stable reinterpretation of the original composition which feels at the same time deep enough and well-thought out enough to never come across as unnecessary or contrived. Quite to the contrary, a spark happens, a fruitful detour is taken and the original comes refreshed out of this new encounter, which is presented as a floriental chypre by the house.

The composition, originally by perfumer Jeannine Mongin, is a priori a quintessentially elegant chypre perfume, one to be worn at a soirée at the Opera but with no trace of egocentrism to it. By this we mean that if it alludes to the crystal chandeliers and golds of, say, Palais Garnier, it is no diva or attention-seeking entity itself. It is too well-balanced for that. This is no show-business stage diva, but rather the scent of those who go watch and listen to the spectable of divas.

To this reviewer, it seemed that Eau du Soir had lost some of its lustre when Soir de Lune arrived. The latter is such a perfect chypre that Eau du Soir looked a bit pale in comparison to it - and even less refined. Now, thanks to a very mature reworking of its formula, it smells a bit spicier showcasing a beautiful, noble Turkish rose but it also smells like its own self, ony richer and renewed. All the new nuances are subtle and very well dosed.

If you like a classic - even a timeless - truly qualitative and elegant chypré perfume, both dry and lush, this is one to put on top of your wish-list this fall.

Notes: Italian lemon, saffron accord, Iranian Galbanum / Madagascar black pepper, Egyptian geranium, Turkish rose / Somalian incense, sandalwood accord, Indonesian patchouli.

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