I wish I understood why designers have to have collections which are overly difficult to obtain. I can add another one to the list with the Elie Saab La Collection des Essences. It took a completely chance encounter followed by a set of samples to be sent to me for me to become clued in. In 2014 fashion designer Elie Saab working with the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian began a new numbered series of perfumes. The first set of releases numbered one through four were rose, gardenia, amber, and oud. All of these were really good. I especially enjoyed the No. 4 Oud. It was a simple construction of pepper, benzoin, and oud but it carried itself with a real presence for that simplicity. The two new releases for 2015 are No. 6 Vetiver and No. 7 Neroli. I was drawn to the more simply constructed No. 7 Neroli as I was to No. 4 Oud.
The press release mentions that neroli is the scent of Mr. Saab’s native Lebanon. It evidently took M. Kurkdjian some time to find a Lebanese source of neroli with which he could attempt to evoke the air which Mr. Saab breathes while designing in his workshop.
M. Kurkdjian keeps the composition very streamlined with only four notes. One thing that struck me with these simpler entries within the La Collection des Essences is how M. Kurkdjian looks for a subtle lynchpin note to hold everything together. In No. 7 Neroli that note is clove.
It should be no surprise that the opening moments is the neroli M. Kurkdjian sourced. One of the things which is apparent when the neroli is on its own in the early going is that this is a white flower. We tend to think of the more boisterous members of the family which have a real presence. Neroli is a white flower, indolic and sweet, but less assuming. In No. 7 Neroli M. Kurkdjian allows neroli to strut her stuff a bit. As a result it carries a bit more swagger. The clove slowly reveals itself around the edges of the indoles. It surprises but provides a differing contrast to the sweeter character than the natural indolic contrast. The clove then ties together the basenotes of cedar and musk. This is that clean white musky woody finish which often seems common. In this simple composition it seems the appropriate way to end.
No. 7 Neroli has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
As of right now these only seem to be available at select Elie Saab boutiques in Europe, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. The limited availability I think is keeping some of M. Kurkdjian’s most precise work out of the hands of many who would appreciate it. I know I have spent the last couple months thoroughly enjoying all six of the Elie Saab Le Collection des Essences. No. 7 Neroli is the best of the six and deserves a wider audience.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Elie Saab.