When it comes to Orientals one of the things I think gets missed from this Saharan milieu they evoke is the dryness of the source. If you spend any time in the desert you rapidly understand how dry it is. Every bit of moisture is removed from the air. Most Oriental perfumes will nod to this but will add in a figurative humidity along the way. Very few will stay desiccated throughout. The new Puredistance Sheiduna is one of those which does.
Jan Ewoud Vos and Cecile Zarokian
Jan Ewoud Vos is the owner and creative director behind Puredistance. He is a creative director who extensively works with visuals and inspiration. For Sheiduna he chose to work with Cecile Zarokian for the first time. In a blog post on the Puredistance website about their working relationship he reveals that during Mme Zarokian’s effort Mr. Vos was sending a weekly postcard with a visual and text meant to help refine the process.
The initial brief Mr. Vos provided was the name Sheiduna which he saw as a mixture of Sheika and dune. He wanted a perfume which would be a “sensual Oriental”. Mme Zarokian provided a first formulation which was seen as “too heavy and too Oriental”. As she went back to the drawing board she would go in a drier direction one that brings to life the sunset in the desert as the heat of the day begins to lose its grip.
Mme Zarokian uses a frame of Amber Xtreme to set the boundaries for which the rest of the fragrance will be encased in. Amber Xtreme is one of those woody synthetics that can dominate a perfume. In the case of Sheiduna it is the ingredient which imparts the dryness which sets the stage. It takes a particularly skilled perfumer to overcome the overwhelming nature it can have. Mme Zarokian is one of those who knows how to tune the effect to allow other notes to breathe within this very definitive boundary. In the early going she uses a set of aldehydes to mimic that hot desert breeze skirling sand off the top of the dunes. This leads to a heart of spicy Bulgarian rose made even more spicy by the addition of cumin and clove. The two spice notes keep the rose from becoming lush or dewy. They serve as a desiccating agent as if the rose was placed in a drying jar. The aridity persists into the base as vetiver sets itself in the middle of the frame. It then is joined by benzoin, labdanum, and frankincense. They provide that moment when the setting sun drops behind the dunes and the last rays of orange flash across the sandy horizon.
Sheiduna has 18-24 hour longevity and above average sillage.
I have been aware of Sheiduna throughout the year and had smelled it on a patch of skin a couple of times before receiving my sample. I liked it in those previews but it wasn’t until I wore it for the couple of days necessary for me to review it that it revealed itself to me. I must tip my hat to Mr. Vos and Mme Zarokian for taking this path for I found uncommon beauty within this arid Oriental.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Puredistance.