April 29, 2013
Untitled by Thomas P. Hall
In my family home hangs a shawl that has a wondrous and complex pattern in deep hues of red and gold against black. It is a Paisley shawl, made of very fine wool, with intricate teardrop patterns around the perimeter. I can stare at it for hours. Originating in Persia or India, the iconic teardrop shape (boteh) made its way to the Scottish textile town of Paisley in the 19thth century when imported Kashmiri shawls became all the rage. The Scottish shawls became the town’s signature product for many years, and the pattern came to be identified as Paisley no matter how it was used.
The fashion house of Etro has a long history of using the paisley pattern in its line, and in 2011 launched Paisley, a perfume in homage to the legendary pattern. In 2013, to complement Paisley and continue the theme, Rajasthan was launched. With gorgeous bottles and notes lists that sounded like my cup of tea, I was anxious to try these fragrances, which were recently introduced in my local Barney’s. A trip downtown yielded samples, and I was good to go.
First, I tried Paisley, which has a beautiful crisp opening redolent of cardamom and spicy pink pepper. This perfume has used the pink pepper in the best way; not as just a sparkle up top, but as a real heart note. The general effect is warming, but not oppressive in any way. I would be happy to wear this in the spring as much as in cooler weather. The vanilla-laced base is soft and creamy, but with definite personality and a real Middle Eastern flair. As the scent dries down farther, the ambergris yields its salty bounty, blending splendidly with the hints of flowers and spices. The Spicy Oriental category is a favorite of mine, and this perfume is a welcome entrant. It is familiar and comfortable, yet unusual enough to warrant a desire to add it to the collection.
Notes: bergamot, cardamom, blackcurrant, ylang ylang, jasmine sambac, pink pepper, vanilla, patchouli and grey ambergris.
Rajasthan is similar to Paisley in that it is also rather creamy and spicy, but it has a different feel altogether. There is a lemon note that is like smelling your fingers after squeezing lemons, with a taste of sugar to make it sweet rather than bracing. It’s not juicy or tangy, but sunny. Rajasthan was released this spring, and the timing is perfect. I can almost hear the cicadas singing in the shade trees when I have this on. It is gloomy outside, but the scent of this perfume is lifting my spirits. Mimosa is one of my favorite floral notes, and the pollen-filled sweetness is nicely contrasted with the crack of the pink pepper. Amber tags along to create a warm cloud throughout the smooth drydown.
Notes: winter lemon, damask rose, mimosa, amber, white musk, pink pepper, labdanum and acacia.
Etro is a house I hear about quite a bit but have explored very little. These two fragrances have made me want to be a bit more proactive about seeking them out and giving them serious consideration. Both of these have great sillage and longevity, and are unisex. I got my samples from Barney’s NY.
–Tama Blough, Senior Editor