Naomi Goodsir Or du Sérail: Harems, Hookahs & Gold

Sir Frank Dicksee, "Leila," 1892. Source:

Sir Frank Dicksee, “Leila,” 1892. Source:

An alcoholic harem master lies drunk in a pool of Calvados brandy in a seraglio made of amber, tobacco, and gold. A hookah lies next to a vat of booze, and wafts a fragrant fruitiness that mixes with the smell of musky cedar from the swamp which circles the harem like a moat and fortress barricade. Within the palace’s high walls is a small apple orchard dotted with bales of hay that are lightly coated with honey. In the lush gardens, exotic Indian davana flowers emit a tiny apricot scent, next to the custardy richness of ylang-ylang. At the palace’s heart is a courtyard where nubile concubines lounge on aromatic woody divans, dressed in thin silks made from vanilla. They dust their bodies with a light sprinkling of cocoa, as they nibble on toasted nuts and puff on a hookah. The sultan’s favorite, Leila, watches with a smile, glowing like a jewel in red and gold fabrics that match the stream of fruited liqueur pouring from a nearby fountain. The air is indolent, warm, musky, sweet, and filled with the smell of decadence, but darkness lies just around the corner. Slowly, shadows of tobacco and dry woods sweep over the ambered gold, covering it like an eclipse does the sun, until night finally falls over the harem. And, still, no-one bothers to help the drunken man collapsed in their midst. They all know what happens when you overindulge in the delights of the seraglio, or l’Or du Sérail.

John Frederick Lewis, "Reception," 1873. Source: Wikipedia

John Frederick Lewis, “Reception,” 1873. Source: Wikipedia

Or du Sérail is a fragrance from Naomi Goodsir, the Australian milliner and designer, and was released a few months ago. It is an eau de parfum that was created by the prolific, legendary Bertrand Duchaufour, and it very much bears his signature. It’s a fantastic scent with a particularly stellar opening whose rich booziness I found to be compulsively sniffable and almost intoxicating. Later, Or du Sérail turns into a cozy, completely seamless, oriental blur of multi-faceted depth and sweetness that is very accurately summarized by Naomi Goodsir’s poetic description on her website:

Or du Sérail via Luckyscent.

Or du Sérail via Luckyscent.

citadel of MURMURS,
voleur de NUIT,
rêveries ORIENTALES.

by Bertrand DUCHAUFOUR

Oriental tobacco (2014)
A gourmand & textured perfume,
evocative of a golden tobacco.
An ambery, woody, musky & greedy

Or du Sérail has a long list of notes, roughly 20 in total. Peony Melbourne provides the following pyramid:

Head Notes – Cistus, Apple and red fruits, Mango, Rum, Sweet Orange, Davana, Sage
Heart Notes – Beeswax, Coco, Geranium, Ylang-ylang, Turkish Tobacco, Amber
Base Notes – Labdanum, Oak Tree, Cedar wood, Musk, Vanilla, Maté

Calvados apple brandy. Source: NYTimes.

Calvados apple brandy. Source: NYTimes.

Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time knows that I love boozy fragrances, and the boozier it is, the more I love it. I really, really love the opening of Or du Sérail…. It begins with a wonderful tidal wave of heavily liqueured, ambered sweetness. Brandy oak barrels bob along a vast ocean of Calvados, whose waves spread apple’d alcoholism out as far as the eye can see. A tiny suggestion of rum lurks at the edges, next to the liqueured apricot of the davana flower. A second wave of cognac hits you, but this one is infused with the aroma of bright red apples, as well as a sprinkling of tart red fruits, and a small slice of orange. None of them feel cooked, gooey, or saturated with sweetness. Rather, they are fresh fruits with a distinct nuance of tartness.

Hookah or narguile pipe tobacco. Source: the Hookah report.

Hookah or narguile pipe tobacco. Source: the Hookah report.

Hookah tobacco leaves lie like a blanket over it all. They are fruited and sweet, but not too sweet. In fact, there is no suggestion of any narguilé smoke in the air at all. This tobacco is unsmoked, fragrant, and a little dry. As if by some accident of mixture, the aromatic pile contains wisps of dry hay that sometimes feel coated by a light smear of honey. There are also a few leaves of dried maté or Yerba Mate which people in South America use as a tea and which has a herbal, leafy, or earthy aroma. Here, it merely seems to accentuate the hay undertones, as well as the tobacco.

"In the Harem," Moritz Stifter, 1890. Source:

“In the Harem,” Moritz Stifter, 1890. Source:

For the most part, Or du Sérail’s opening bouquet is primarily a delicious cocktail of rich, alcoholic delights and drunken fruits, dusted lightly by a veil of fruited hookah tobacco. It is lush, decadent, and intoxicating — though not literally, no matter how drunk I occasionally feel on a mental level. It is a heady brew which is a hedonistic sybarite’s joy, and a complete 180 from Naomi Goodsir’s earlier Bois d’Ascece which was far too ascetic, austere, and dry for my personal tastes.

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

As I’ll discuss in further detail a bit later, this new Goodsir fragrance very much feels like a Bertrand Duchaufour creation. His signature first becomes apparent is Or du Sérail’s airy strength. A reader of the blog, Tim, coined the term “heavy weightlessness” to describe the perfumer’s style, and that description holds true for Or du Sérail as well. Three big smears amounting to 2 small spritzes from an actual bottle results in a very strong bouquet of great richness. It feels as though it bears great depth; yet, it is simultaneously very airy in body, and as light as cotton fluff. The heady, intoxicating cloud initially projects maybe 3 inches at most, though I have the strong suspicion that spraying from an actual bottle would create a much bigger cloud whose tendrils would waft about you with some tenacity.

Later, Or du Sérail grows deeper in body, but a hair softer in sillage. The interesting thing is that the perfume doesn’t drastically drop or change in the way that many fragrances do after a while. Instead of having a huge opening burst that soon softens, Or du Sérail stays pretty consistent. At the 90-minute mark, the perfume hovers about 1.5 inches above the skin, but it remains there for an incredibly long time without change. Well over 7 hours, in fact.

Like many Duchaufour fragrances, Or du Sérail changes slowly, sometimes just by fractional degrees. Some of the changes are so subtle that you’d be hard-pressed to notice them at the time unless you concentrated deeply. Yet, before you know it, they’ve all added up, and the perfume has turned into something different than it was at the start. That pattern holds true for Or du Sérail where some of the secondary notes shift by micro-degrees, while the main essence continues to be sweet, boozy, tobacco amber with fruitiness for a good portion of the perfume’s first five hours.

Photo: Christopher Martin. Source:

Photo: Christopher Martin. Source:

If you pay attention, however, you will notice that Or du Sérail slowly — very slowly — turns much woodier and drier. The long journey first starts 15 minutes into the perfume’s development, when the cedar and a woody-amber accord begin to stir in the shadow, while the tobacco grows much stronger. Not long after that, all three notes become almost as dominant as the boozy Calvados brandy with its infusion of fruits, though it takes hours from Or du Sérail to turn completely dark.

Art by: LordmOth on Deviant Art. (Click on photo for website link embedded within.)

Art by: LordmOth on Deviant Art. (Click on photo for website link embedded within.)

I have to say, the woody tonalities are my least favorite part of Or du Sérail. First, there is a definite woody-amber element that occasionally smells like cypriol, and is mixed with an aromachemical. Cypriol or nargamotha is a type of dry grass with a peppery, woody aroma and whose oil is often used as a base for agarwood by perfume companies who don’t want to spend the money on actual or substantial doses of oud. As a result, I’ve noticed a tendency for some people to smell cypriol, and think they’re detecting “oud.” It’s all about mental associations, and I make it here too as there is a very infrequent suggestion of “oud.” It is slight, however, and overshadowed by another note, a woody-amber aromachemical which feels slightly peppered in nature. (AmberMax?) It’s not my favorite part of the scent, but given that some people can’t detect aromachemicals and the majority don’t mind when they do, let’s move on.

"Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp" by Jason Howell at  (Website link embedded within.)

“Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp” by Jason Howell at (Website link embedded within.)

Much more dominant is the cedar which is extremely musky in nature. In fact, it smells flat-out marshy at times, evoking images of a slightly damp, wet cedar trunk that is somewhat rotting away and has a vague earthy, meatiness about it. It is a note which fluctuates in strength. It also weaves in and out. Sometimes, it is a big part of the top notes. At other times, it lurks at the edges, though never fully out of sight. The woody-amber aromachemical does the same. I wish both of them would stay far in the periphery, but Naomi Goodsir specifically mentions “woody” and “musky” in her description for Or du Sérail, so they are clearly intended to be significant elements. I appreciate how the notes are meant to cut through the boozy liqueur, amber and fruits, and to thereby keep the perfume’s sweetness in check. I simply wish the cedar didn’t smell quite so fetid, and that a slightly peppered aromachemical had not been used (at all).

Tart Honeycrisp apples. Source:

Tart Honeycrisp apples. Source:

On the plus side, the apple note is lovely. It skews so red visually, with a touch of greenness. Best of all, there is a crisp feel to it, as if you just sliced into a hard, fresh Braeburn or Honeycrisp apple, and its juices squirted out to drip into the apple Calvados. I haven’t found a lot of fragrances that include a fresh apple note, and it’s a lot more substantial here than what I’ve previously encountered, so it’s quite a happy delight.

In contrast, I have to say that I don’t detect most of the other fruits in any clearly delineated or substantial way. Apart from the apple, everything really subsumes itself into a general, indeterminate “fruitiness.” The mango never really appears on my skin, though I thought for one moment there might be a small hint of it. The orange is only a momentary flicker at the start, and the red fruits are merely an abstract suggestion a lot of the time. To my regret, the lovely dash of rich apricot (one of my favorite fruit notes in perfumery) also fades away quite quickly, and drops into the general sinkhole of something “fruited and boozy.”

Photo: Hawkea. Source:

Photo: Hawkea. Source:

As time passes, Or du Sérail continues to display an interesting juxtaposition of contrasts between boozy sweetness, fruited darkness, dark tobacco, dryness, woodiness, and muskiness. None of them really dominate in the first hour, except the Calvados apple brandy. Even so, Duchaufour brings in other elements to undercut any potential sugared excess. Roughly 20 minutes into Or du Sérail’s development, the geranium briefly pops up at the edges, adding a piquant, slightly bitter touch of greenness. Yerba Mate herbal leaves join in as well, though both are extremely muted elements that rarely display themselves in any distinct, clearly defined manner. And, throughout it all, the tobacco, musky cedar, and dry woody aromachemical continue to grow more and more noticeable.

Or du Sérail’s development feels as though it were timed and balanced by a master. The dark, dry touches become stronger at the exact moment that the vanilla starts to creep out of the base. It’s lovely, creamy, and rich like an eggy creme anglaise sauce. Yet, it’s only a thin layer; and it is silky and delicate, not gooey, heavy, or unctuous. It doesn’t feel really “foody” at all, thanks to the counterbalance provided by all the drier elements. It’s also not a hugely powerful presence, as it tends to dart in and out of the sidelines during the first two stages of the perfume, working from afar to indirectly provide an additional layer of depth to the fragrance.

By the start of the second hour, Or du Sérail is primarily a mix of boozy Calvados amber with hookah tobacco and dark woods, lightly infused with tart, fresh fruits and resting atop more woods that are coated with the thinnest sliver of silky vanilla. And it is after this point that the rest of the perfume’s development becomes very hard to explain. The notes increasingly merge one into the other, overlapping, losing shape, and resulting in seamless, rich blend that can’t be really teased apart. There are fluctuating levels of woodiness, especially the “oud”-like touch and the peppered woody-amber aromachemical. The tobacco feels thicker, deeper, and chewier, but it’s also become fused into every atom of the alcoholic ambered haze, instead of a clearly separate note. In the same way, all the fruits except for the apple have melded into one.

"Luminous," by Jaison Cianelli at

“Luminous,” by Jaison Cianelli at

Or du Sérail comes close to being “prismatic,” a term I use to describe a scent that throws off different notes like light reflecting off a chandelier, changing each time you wear it. Yet, something about Or du Sérail doesn’t really qualify because there is a clear progression of darkness taking over, and of the tobacco triumphing over the boozy amber. In addition, there are rather major shifts which occur late into the perfume’s development and which render the term “prismatic” somewhat inapposite.

Nevertheless, from the start of the 2nd hour until well into the 9th one, Or du Sérail definitely has notes which weave in and out, fluctuate in prominence, or disappear altogether before they suddenly pop up again at the periphery. For example, at the start of the 4th hour, the vanilla feels much stronger and is infused with toasted nuttiness, as well as hints of semi-sweet cocoa powder. A momentary flicker of caramel seems to pop up as well. Then, they all seem to sink back into the base, as if swallowed up by an increasingly dark quicksand made of tobacco, amber, dryness, and musky woods.

Painting by Hultberg Artworks. (Website link embedded within.)

Painting by Hultberg Artworks. (Website link embedded within.)

The same thing happens to other notes. Sometimes, the hay is quite noticeable, sometimes, it’s the touch of honey that coats it. The geranium, yerba maté, and apricot have long since vanished, but the ylang-ylang suddenly shows up at the end of the 5th hour to add a hint of velvety, custardy floralcy to the mix. Then, it vanishes, seemingly forever, until it pops up many, many hours later to briefly wave a languid, creamy arm. These are all small touches though, and they do little to counter the growing wave of tobacco and dry, musky woods that slowly sweep over Or du Sérail like nightfall. Interestingly, the tobacco has transformed from fragrant, unsmoked hookah leaves into something darker and chewier, almost like wet tobacco that has been concentrated down a little.

As for the “oud”, cypriol, or whatever the blasted aromachemical note may be, it is the most temperamental ghost around, annoying me for hours with its constant “peek-a-boo” games, until it suddenly decides to sit down, chat, have tea, and move in forever at the start of the 7th hour. I would rather it packed up its bags and left entirely, but Or du Sérail is now almost fully tobacco’d and woody at this point. Even the Calvados cognac amber has gotten tired, and slinks off to sit on the sidelines, watching while the tobacco and woods wrestle in a fully fused merger of arms and legs for supremacy.

"Javascapes 3" by Photographer Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

“Javascapes 3” by Photographer Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

Everything turns into a dark oriental blur, until the vanilla decides to pop up like a long line of prancing cheerleaders at the end of the 10th hour. Now, Or du Sérail is starting to display a distinct similarity to a combination of Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille with Oud Wood, as well as to his recent Tobacco Oud flanker which was rather like a mixed-tape compilation of several Private Blends in one.

There are differences, however. Or du Sérail lacks the strong Christmas Plum Pudding note that is such a big part of Tobacco Vanille’s foundation, not to mention its sticky, saturated sweetness that can sometimes feel cloying. As a whole, Or du Sérail is significantly boozier than the Tom Ford in its opening, and later turns much drier and darker. It also lacks Oud Wood’s strong mix of spices. However, if you take those fragrances’ tobacco, vanilla, oud-cypriol, dry woods, muskiness, sweetness, booziness, and dark amber, mixed them all together, you would get something extremely close to Or du Sérail’s final drydown. The essence of the two main Tom Fords, especially in their later periods, is present in such a way that I feel like Yoda: “the force is strong in this one.”

Or du Sérail remains that way until its very end when, in the last two hours, it finally turns into simple tobacco darkness. It is a very long end at that, if I might add. The perfume lasted just under 16.5 hours on me. It didn’t even turn into a skin scent on me until the 7.5 hour mark. Up to that point, Or du Sérail chugged away roughly 1.5 inches above the skin, but even at the 11th hour (literally), it wasn’t hard to detect the perfume up close. I certainly didn’t have to snuffle away at my arm until well after the 13th hour had passed.

"Luminous," by Jaison Cianelli at

“Luminous,” by Jaison Cianelli at

Or du Sérail is a super fragrance, even if it isn’t hugely original, distinctive, or unique. I’ve already talked about the fragrances which it resembles in its drydown phase, so let me briefly discuss ones which it may appear to resemble during its first 8 hours when it is golden haze of alcoholic, sweet, oriental delights. You would think there would be a lot of close similarities, but I think Or du Sérail actually differs from some of its (many) compatriots in the boozy amber genre. I may not like the musky cedar or the dry woody-amber aromachemical, but they ensure that Or du Sérail is drier, less gourmand, and less heavily foody than some of its colleagues. For example, Or du Sérail may have boozy sweetness, but there is none of drunken gourmandise excess of Duchaufour’s ridiculously over-the-top, kitchen-sink fragrance, Fusion Sacrée for Majda Bekkali. (No, I will never, ever get over Fusion Sacrée.)



By the same token, the tart crispness of Or du Sérail’s fresh apples ensures that it is different from Hermès‘ Ambre Narguilé‘s stewed rum raisins and apple-cinnamon pastries. The alcohol is different here, too, as it’s not rum but something much less sugary that has also been soaked in oak-barrels. Finally, unlike the Hermès scent, Or du Sérail is substantially woodier, darker, muskier, and more heavily tobacco’d. Those things — as well as Or du Sérail’s focus on apples, body, potency, and huge longevity — also distinguish it from Frapin‘s orange cognac amber, 1270. Plus, there is the fact that the orange in Or du Sérail is quite different. It is a very minor element, and it’s not cooked, caramelized, or dipped in chocolate, either.



On the surface, and in the first few hours, Or du Sérail bears the closest kinship to Kilian‘s New York exclusive, Apple Brandy, which is another Calvados-centric fragrance. However, Or du Sérail has substantially more going on, with a plethora of notes that don’t exist in the singular, rather linear Apple Brandy. The latter has woodiness, but of a different sort to the kind here. More importantly, the Kilian fragrance has no heavy waves of tobacco, honeyed hay, flickers of green, tiny floral touches, or any truly dark oriental elements. Apple Brandy feels like a purely alcoholic amber, as opposed to a multi-faceted oriental. Plus, the few similarities that exist between the two fragrances fade away completely as Or du Sérail develops, turning even darker and woodier, with the tobacco finally triumphing over the Calvados apple brandy.

As a whole, I absolutely loved Or du Sérail’s opening, enjoyed the middle phase, but was unmoved by the finale. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong with it, but it wasn’t particularly interesting to me. Plus, I could have done without the aromachemical woods which I disliked from start to finish. Still, I think the perfume is very well done as a general matter, and much more complex than you’d think from a passing sniff. It would be easy to dismiss Or du Sérail as a mere fruity, tobacco, boozy amber, but this is a scent that rewards very close attention due to its prismatic nature, the subtlety of some of its notes, and their “hide and go seek” game. It shows the technical mastery for which Duchaufour is so praised, and thankfully avoids the excesses of the terrible, shudder-worthy Fusion Sacrée by keeping things in a nice balance.

Normally, I would give you comparative opinions and quotes from other sites or reviews, but I’ll have to skip that this time. My schedule is a bit insane this week. In addition, I’m expecting any day now the arrival of several, brand new releases which means that the next 7 or 8 days will quieter than usual as I give each of them a few tests. If you wish to read up further on Or du Sérail, Mark Behnke at Colognoisseur gave it a great review, calling the scent “kaleidoscopic” and “a multi-layered fragrance full of fascinating olfactory nooks and crannies which reward the wearer who explores every facet offered.” There is also a positive assessment at Australian Fragrance Junkies. Finally, you can turn to Fragrantica and Basenotes. The latter has a few mixed reviews. One person experiencing an “ashtray” note, while another found the opening to be far too much for his tastes and much preferred Bois d’Ascese.

I want to make a brief comment about cost and availability. Or du Sérail is priced a little higher than its other siblings in the Goodsir line. It retails for $185 or €125 for a 50 ml bottle, compared to $150 or €110 for the others. Or du Sérail feels like a much richer, more opulent fragrance than the lovely but stark Bois d’Ascese, so perhaps that is why, but I thought you should know. Given Or du Sérail’s notes, body, and massive longevity, I don’t the price is too bad for the scent in question. The weirder thing is availability. Outside of the usual big sites like Luckyscent, First in Fragrance and Premiere Avenue, I’ve had some trouble finding Or du Sérail at some of the smaller vendors which usually or previously carried Naomi Goodsir fragrances. A few don’t have any stock on their website for any of the fragrances in the line (almost as if they’ve stopped carrying Naomi Goodsir but don’t want to say it), one former retailer no longer lists the brand at all, while others only carry Or du Sérail’s two siblings. And, unfortunately, I don’t think Naomi Goodsir is carried in Canada or the U.K. at all. Still, it’s not impossible to find Or du Sérail or to get samples (including a 5 ml decant from Premiere Avenue), but your more local stores may not carry it.

Wallpaper by Njanj. Source:

Wallpaper by Njanj. Source:

The bottom line is that I really like Or du Sérail as a general whole — with the word “love” be wholly appropriate for that glorious opening — but I don’t think it is for everyone. People who struggle with really boozy fragrances should stay far away. Very far away. Plus, Or du Sérail also has some definite gourmand elements, so those of you who dislike sweetness of any kind would probably have issues, especially if your skin chemistry amplifies such notes. That said, I think the perfume is generally unisex, and its darker elements don’t make it skew very masculine, thanks to the overall complement of notes.

So, if you like dark, rich orientals centered on tobacco with some sweetness, you should give Or du Sérail a test sniff. If you absolutely adore any of the other fragrances mentioned here — from Kilian’s Apple Brandy to Frapin 1270, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, Tobacco Oud, or Oud Wood — then you should probably rush to put Or du Sérail high on your list of things to try. And, if you’re a brandy or Calvados lover, I would bet money that you’ll be intoxicated by the glorious opening and end up feeling like a hedonistic lush drunk in a Turkish harem.

Cost & Availability: Or du Sérail is an eau de parfum that is available only in a 50 ml/1.7 oz size that costs $185 or €125. The Naomi Goodsir website doesn’t have an e-boutique from which you can purchase the perfume directly. In the U.S.: You can purchase Or du Sérail from Luckyscent (which has priced it at $187), and MinNewYork. Both sites sell samples. Outside the U.S.: I don’t think Naomi Goodsir is carried in the U.K. or Canada. In Europe, you can purchase Or du Sérail for €125 from France’s Premiere Avenue, along with a 5 ml decant for €15. In Germany, you can find Or du Sérail at First in Fragrance. In Paris, it’s available at Nose boutique. In the Netherlands, ParfuMaria no longer lists the brand on their website. Skins carries Naomi Goodsir, but the new Or du Sérail is not listed on their website, so you may want to drop them a note to see if it’s a stocking issue. In Hungary, Neroli has the two earlier fragrances, but doesn’t show the new one on their website. In Denmark, Nagpeople no longer seems to have any Naomi Goodsir in stock. Same story for Italy’s Alla Violetta, but Sacre Cuore carries Or du Sérail for €130. In Belgium, you can find the scent at Kroonen & Brown. In Russia, Ry7 has the two earlier fragrances, but not the new Or du Sérail. In Australia, Peony Melbourne carries the Naomi Goodsir line, and sells Or du Sérail for AUD$201. In the UAE, Villa 515 in Dubai carries the line. For all other locations from Croatia to Riyadh, Korea, Kiev, and Romania, you can use the Naomi Goodsir Retailers list to find a vendor near you. Samples: I obtained my vial from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $4.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. You can also order from Luckyscent, MinNY, and several European retailers on this list.

40 thoughts on “Naomi Goodsir Or du Sérail: Harems, Hookahs & Gold

  1. Your opening paragraph was quite the piece of enjoyable fiction! Anyway, as a Duchaufour fangirl, I’m sure I’ll love this one. I love all the listed notes, though with a list this long, I rather expected it to be more of a mess a la Fusion Sacrée. Thank goodness you didn’t have to relive that!

    • Did you ever get around to trying the Fusion Sacrée? I know you were eager to, and that you like gourmands a lot more than I do. And thank you for the kind words on the intro. 🙂

      • No. I haven’t. If I had, I may not have referred to it as “a mess,” but after your review, which was memorable, my desire became a mere curiosity, especially after receiving a three decants of other Duchaufour scents which I downright dislike (so much for fangirl-ism). But this, well, sounds great to me!

        • Heh, I wonder if they were his Skin on Skin trio for L’Artisan. 😉 No need to divulge the culprits in question. In general, I haven’t always liked Duchaufour’s creations. I mean, it’s not something across the board for me. But he’s so damn prolific, there are always bound to be a few dud in the lot. To be honest, I’ve only liked a few of his scents (this one, Chypre Palatin, the Neela Vermeires), but the ones I’ve liked, I’ve really, REALLY liked! Chypre Palatin and Trayee remain my all-time favorites, and are huge loves.

  2. Hi Kafka,
    Thank you for the Link-Love.
    I love that an Aussie is curating such great frags for the world stage. It feels like we are part of the game.
    Naomi Goodsir and Tommi Sooni are our only two on such a scale I think.
    Portia x

    • You’re very welcome, Portia. 🙂 Like you, I hope Naomi Goodsir’s fragrances get a little bit more attention as they are well done in general. Something for each sort of taste. But I wish I could figure out what happened to the expected launch of her 4th one, Nuit de Bakelite. I had thought it was supposed to debut at the same time as Or du Serail, but I guess it has been postponed? It’s one I’m looking forward to trying.

      • Maybe she wants to give this release air before moving onto the next one. If so, very admirable. There seems to be less and less anticipation in the fragrance world. I like to be made to wait for special things.

  3. You had me at nubile concubines ;P

    But, seriously, this stuff sounds so, so good! The notes sound like they’re right up my alley and it sounds like this one would be perfect for autumn and winter. I adore colder weather scents; never been too fond of summer. Or su Sérail is definitely on my sample list!

    • ROFL. “You had me at nubile concubines.” Hilarious. 😀 Welcome to the blog, Dennis. I welcome you even more than usual because I love a dry sense of humour.

      Given what you’ve described of your tastes and “colder weather scents,” Or du Serail is definitely one for you to sniff. Like you, I’m not really into the “summer scents” category. That said, I actually think orientals bloom beautifully in the heat. Fragrances like Coromandel actually are nicer and better, imo, in summer. Of course, it depends if one is out in the heat all day and non-stop. But anyone with air-conditioning shouldn’t hesitate to try a scent like Or du Serail in the summer. Those moments outside just make it better! In other words, don’t wait until December, and order a sample NOW. lol 😉

  4. I ordered a small decant posthaste, and then sat reflecting about why I cherish your reviews: they are beautiful, and I end up with a very strong and realistic idea about whether I will actually like the perfume. This one sounds as if it will suit me.

    • I should add that I don’t drink calvados or any sort of Brandy, but I love to sniff them. Good thing I’m married, because asking people one is not married to if one may sniff their after-dinner drink probably leads to talk. Not that I care much.

      • LOL. I can just imagine a scene where you go up to a stranger and ask to smell his snifter of Calvados. “Excuse me, Sir, can I smell your drink? I need to compare it to my perfume.” *grin*

        • My, that might make for quite an interesting pick-up line. Can’t use it myself, being an old married lady, but perhaps your single readers could give it some thought. And if you were to use it yourself, dear Kafkaesque, I imagine that an interesting post might result.

    • Awwww, thank you. Your words felt like a small hug. I appreciate it enormously, and please consider the hug returned back!

  5. Stunning pictures and masterful review. I have a sample of this and I will be luxuriating in it this weekend. I think this fragrance will require lounging in something diaphanous…

    • Ha, definitely something diaphanous! Don’t supposed you have anything made of vanilla, or some cocoa powder you can dust on yourself while you nibble on nuts and sniff the perfume? *grin* 😉

  6. Oh my goodness! I think that before I even finished the first paragraph, I was in love. Then you reconfirmed it over and over again. I did keep thinking of Apple Brandy, which I just recently tried, and was disappointed in, after reading all the hooplah. Gorgeous review.

    • I thought of you while testing this, my dear. As for Apple Brandy, I’m so curious as to your issues with it, as I am definitely in the minority concerning that one as well. (Plus, I could never wear it out of the house over here, where driving is everything, as God only knows what the cops would say if I was ever pulled over. “Officer, I swear I haven’t been drinking. It’s just my fragrance!” “Yeah right.” lol) So, what were your difficulties with the scent?

  7. As someone with a passion for Calvados, you had me at “pool of Calvados brandy.” LOL. I think I’m going to give this one a shot.

    • I hope you’ll let me know what you think if you try it, Aurora. Have a great weekend, sweetie.

  8. oh dear, it’s gonna be HARD to not buy any frags for a year (my resolution that is 3 whole weeks old 🙂 ) i should just stop reading your blog to avoid temptations but it’s just too compelling…. or du serail seems totally up my alley, esp since i really like bois d’ascese as you figured i would.

    • Plus, there is the fact that it’s made by your boy, Bertrand. 😉 Definitely one for you to try, Tim, but be aware that Bois d’Ascece may be more original. This one is much cozier, though. Are you near Skins to pop in for a passing sniff?

      • close enough, ill investigate. ya, i’m a bertrand fanboy but i fear his prodigious output has naturally affected his consistency. but when he’s on, he’s up there with the all-time greats. speaking of BD, have you ever tried havana vanille/vanille absolument? it’s such a great scent and not at all buttery-powdery-gourmand cliché; the vanilla is quite ‘dry’ and the booze & tobacco are on the marquee as well. groetjes van amsterdam x

        • No, I’ve never tried Havana Vanille/Vanille Absolument. I’ve thought about ordering a sample from STC, as another friend has mentioned it quite a bit, but the perfume is discontinued and very hard to find. It seems a bit pointless as a result, since I can neither review it nor buy it for myself if I end up really liking the scent.

          As for B. Duchaufour, you’re right about his consistency. I haven’t loved a ton of his fragrances, only a few. But those few, I’ve really loved a lot. 🙂

  9. Sounds yummy! I love Frapin 1270 and lots of the others you mentioned, and I like Calvados too. I bet I’m going to like it a lot (sample is waiting in the pile, natch).

  10. I have enjoyed reading your posts for several months. I’m truly thankful you don’t write about food, that I know of. I’d be vastly overweight by now! This one sounds mouth watering. I love the notes. Have you tried Frapin’s 1697? If so, how would you compare the two? In any event, must get a sample.

    • Welcome to the blog, Ritar. I’m glad you stopped lurking. 🙂 I laughed at your comment regarding me writing about food. I have done so on rare occasions, mainly after my trip last year to France, and had lots of photos of what I ate or saw. (That’s in the Life section somewhere). Generally, though, I don’t write about food.

      What made me smile though is the fact that my childhood dream — a longstanding dream, in fact — was/is to be a restaurant food critic. Circumstances, media realities, and more make that out of reach, and I can’t really blog about restaurants, either, but I would absolutely love to write about food. Perfume has never actually been anywhere close to gastronomy in terms of my loves or passions, but it is easier to write about. Perfume is more global, people have access to what I cover (unlike, say, a particular restaurant), and I can order samples of almost everything. In contrast, I couldn’t go to every restaurant I’d want to visit or explore around the world, short of having a bottomless bank account, and I’m not the sort to photograph my own food/cooking for recipe posts. So, perfume it is.

      In terms of Frapin’s 1697, I’ve never tried it. I have samples of 3 or 4 other Frapins in my mountain of things to test, but not that particular one. I’m sorry I can’t be of more help, but I am happy that you wrote and that I could tempt you with Or du Sérail. In general, I hope you won’t hesitate to pop in from time to time, and not to lurk. 🙂

  11. My little decant came today. Love this stuff! I was afraid that it might smell too boozy, but no, it is honeyed and delicious and, on me, surprisingly subtle, in that It has a quality of sheerness. Voluptuous delicacy, indeed. Thanks so much, Kafkaesque, for putting its qualities in front of us.

    • Hurrah! I’m so glad, my dearest. Fingers crossed that your voracious skin doesn’t eat it up, and that it lasts for a decent amount of time at least. As for the sheer delicacy, but voluptuousness, I really think Tim’s description of “hefty weightlessness” for Duchaufour’s style nails it here as well. I’m just so glad that you’re enjoying it as much as I did.

  12. My experience with Or du Serail matched yours. I also had trouble with the “oud,” cypriol note which, to my amateur nose, smelled a little too rough & artificial. He should have dialed that note down from a 5 to a 3, maybe. I wonder if he did that just to shake things up a bit since he is so very, very prolific.
    I loved the other notes & sometimes smelled only them, sometimes that harsh little oud note, sometimes all notes together–prismatic is correct! I prefer Cuir Velours over this one, but Cuir Velours has very little longevity on my perfume retaining skin, unlike Or du Serail, which lasted a very long time.

    • How unfortunate that the fragrance you loved didn’t last on your skin, while the one you liked less endured for ages. It’s always that way, but your skin usually retains everything for ages and ages, so I’m surprised the Cuirs Velours had little longevity on you. How long did it last? As for the cypriol note, I agree with you that it would have been better dialed down. Still, something about the rest of the fragrance has stayed in my head and I think I’d like to get a decant of it nonetheless. I guess I’m a complete sucker for boozy notes. lol

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  14. i’ve been wearing this since september and have really come to love its over-the-top elements. possibly the grooviest tobacco note i’ve personally come across! the sweetness is almost overbearing for the first 10 min then everything settles marvelously. i find this a perfect ying to bois d’ascese’s yang. OdS really does embody the duchaufour ethic of weight perception contradictions, as the tobacco itself is arid while all those syrupy elements provide balance rather than weigh it down. this is what is believe tobacco vanille & back to black aspire to but can’t quite reach.

    ” it is the most temperamental ghost around, annoying me for hours with its constant “peek-a-boo” games, until it suddenly decides to sit down, chat, have tea, and move in forever at the start of the 7th hour. I would rather it packed up its bags and left entirely, but Or du Sérail is now almost fully tobacco’d and woody at this point..” one reason why i love your blogs 😉 x

    • I’m so glad I could point you towards a scent that works so well for you. Shall I say “I told you so!” and be a brat? lol 😉 As for the temperamental, ghostly but harsh cypriol finally sitting down to have tea, then moving in entirely, was the note at all evident on your skin? Not problematically pointed at all or synthetic? I know you don’t have my synthetic issues, but I’m curious if it was a factor at all on you. It was for a friend who actually doesn’t mind synthetics at all, but found the way the cypriol manifested itself in Or du Sérail to be a bit much for his tastes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cypriol was the reason why the tobacco was “arid” on your skin, though you thankfully found that to be “groovy” and wonderful. Cypriol can have a definite tobacco undertone. Regardless, I’m just glad the perfume worked out so well for you! 🙂

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