Perfume Review – Téo Cabanel Oha

When a small, relatively unknown perfume house makes one of your favorite fragrances in the world, you tend to root for it, and want to love all its creations. If the house comes with a fascinating history — complete with the notorious style icon, the Duchess of Windsor, as its most ardent fan — and if you’re a history fanatic, then you are even more compelled to want to like it. The reality, however, is that not all perfumes are created equal. And some fall short of the glory set by their siblings. That is the case with Oha, a lovely fragrance from the same house that created my beloved Alahine, but hardly a match for the latter’s spectacular, sophisticated, spicy, Oriental smolder.

The Duchess of Windsor

The Duchess of Windsor

Oha comes from the French perfume house, Téo Cabanel, founded in 1893 in Algeria by Théodore Cabanel. Upon moving to Paris, he developed over 150 different perfume formulae and soon came to the attention of high society. He was a favorite of the Duchess of Windsor — the woman for whom King Edward VIII famously gave up the English throne — and she refused to be without two of Cabanel’s fragrances (Julia and Yasmina), ordering bottles in massive quantities.

Unfortunately, over time, the house faded away, but it was essentially reborn in 2003 under the direction of Caroline Illacqua who had a distant connection to Cabanel’s daughter. Illacqua brought in the perfumer, Jean-Francois Lattya very famous perfumer who created YSL for Men, YSL‘s Jazz, Givenchy III, Van Cleef & Arpel‘s Tsar and, allegedly, Drakkar Noir as well. (If so, I assume he worked alongside Pierre Wargnye who is usually credited with that famous men’s cologne). Latty now works solely as the in-house perfumer for Téo Cabanel.

OhaIn 2005, the two released Oha, a floral chypre. According to the description on Téo Cabanel’s website, Oha’s notes include:

Bulgaria rose, Moroccan rose, tea notes, Egyptian jasmine, Guatemalan cardamom, vanilla, iris, tonka bean, woods, and white musk.

Some perfume sites have suggested other ingredients as well. The Sniffapalooza Magazine’s interview with Téo Cabanel’s new co-founder, Ms. Illacqua, states that there is bergamot as a top note. The perfume blog, I Smell Therefore I Am, thinks that there is patchouli as one of the base notes. I completely agree with both of them.

Téo Cabanel claims that the perfumes contain “100% pure and natural ingredients.” The company later clarified those remarks in the Sniffapalooza Magazine interview, stating that they “use between 85% and 95% of natural ingredients” to create their perfumes,” and that their musk and amber are synthetic by necessity due to animal cruelty issues. Ms. Illacqua elaborated further on the ingredients, as well as on the fact that the Cabanel signature is in using a duo of roses:

Téo Cabanel’s signature is to use 2 different types of roses: Bulgarian and Moroccan rose. We are one of the only brands to use two roses in a perfume. Natural ingredients are very expensive but give to the perfumes an incredible quality. Some of the ingredients we use:
  • Rose – approximately 8000€/kg – we need 5000 kg of petals to produce 1kg of essence.
  • Iris wax – the most expensive ingredient: between 10 000€ and 15 000€
  • Bezoin: 7000€/kg
  • Jasmine – one of the most delicate flower – only 5 to 6 tons of essence are produced per year which explains the price: between 6 000 € and 8 000 €/kg. [Formatting added.]

I quoted those figures to show, in part, the rich quality and non-synthetic feel of Oha. My other reason is that the vast quantities of rose and jasmine used by the company are the main, dominant feature of Oha.

Source: Basenotes.

Source: Basenotes.

In fact, at times, there doesn’t feel as though there is much more to the scent than rose and jasmine, atop a base of a mossy, green patchouli. There are a few subtle nuances (especially at the start), but, at the end of the day, Oha is just a very classique, elegant, increasingly abstract, generalized, amorphous “floral” in the chypre family.

It’s very pretty — but it doesn’t feel like anything special. It certainly didn’t bowl me over or become a slight obsession in the way that the glorious Alahine did. (I sometimes feel I should do another post dedicated solely to just how much I love Alahine, and how it surreptitiously and unexpectedly manages to sneak into your head after repeated wearings to become the most fascinating, obsession-inducing fragrance that you’ve encountered in a while.) But this is a post about Oha, so let’s get to it.

Purple rose at Warwick Castle, England. Photo provided with permission by CC from "Slightly Out of Sync" blog.

Purple rose at Warwick Castle, England. Photo provided with permission by CC from “Slightly Out of Sync” blog.

Oha opens as a mossy, bright, sparkling chypre. There is fresh, crisp lemon-tinged bergamot and light, green jasmine atop a lush rose base that is simultaneously jammy and fruity. It feels as though there is a light touch of the sweet tea rose to go with the main base of a rich, beefy, meaty, and very fleshy damask rose. You can almost see the thousands of kilos of blood-red petals that they must have used to create this. The richness of the rose base is undercut by the zesty citruses and a subtle undercurrent of light woodsy notes with a flicker of musk. And the whole thing is enveloped in a powerful embrace of oakmoss-like patchouli.

Image: Moody. Source: Canadian Govt. Website.

Image: Moody. Source: Canadian Govt. Website.

There is absolutely no question in my mind that Oha has patchouli in it. Téo Cabanel clearly used it in order to replicate the oakmoss that is usually the main foundational element for a chypre but which is now increasingly rare in perfumery due to IFRA/EU regulations. Here, the patchouli is not the dirty, dried, earthy, or black sort sometimes associated with the 1970s or hippies. Nor is it like modern patchouli that is purple-fruity in nature. Instead, it’s bright green, mossy, fresh and springy. It becomes significantly more pronounced at the thirty minute mark; and it remains for almost the entire duration of the scent, heavily intertwined with the floral notes to create the primary characteristic of the fragrance. At one point, it starts to feel a little dryer, but it never reaches the levels of true oakmoss with its often pungent, almost desiccated, arid, musty nature.

I never really detect any cardamon in Oha, but I sense its indirect effects as it lurks in the background. It helps to add a slight spiciness and fieriness to the main rose note, preventing it from being a simple fruity element. There is also a subtle tinge of muskiness underlying the scent. It never feels like cheap white musk, but a natural undertone to the flowers and patchouli.

An hour into Oha’s development, it is still primarily a rose-patchouli fragrance. There are strong citric undertones, but they can’t compete with the main duet. There are also flickers of something that feels like white woods but, like the musk, it is muted. The perfume which started out being quite strong in sillage drops in strength around this time, becoming significantly softer. By the 90 minute mark, it’s almost close to the skin, though Oha (which I keep writing as the Greek “Opa”) is quite strong when you bring your arm up to your nose. 

The perfume changes around 2.5 hours into its development. It becomes quite abstract — by that, I mean that it becomes quite vague, generalized, almost amorphous in nature. You just get a general sense of a “floral with patchouli,” but there are no hugely distinct parts that are easily pulled out and separated. In part, it’s because Téo Cabanel fragrances are well-blended; in larger part, it’s because there really isn’t a hell of a lot to the scent. There aren’t layers and layers of depth — which is something that Alahine has in excess, God bless its little heart. Instead, Oha becomes a general floral that gives you the sense of some rose with perhaps a tinge of jasmine and something that feels a lot like peony. But the whole thing is swirled together to just read as “floral with patchouli.”

On occasion, different notes may briefly come to the surface. About four hours in, Oha suddenly turns very jasmine-y in nature, almost drowning out the roses. The jasmine is slightly musky, but never indolic, heady, sour or plastic-y. Then, Oha goes back to being amorphous until the 7th hour when there are flickers of a rooty, non-powdery, slightly earthy iris. That, too, quickly vanishes. By the end, midway during the 10th hour, Oha’s final traces are just simple, vague, musky “floral.” It died essentially as it lived — abstract, well-blended, elegant, and not incredibly special. Its sillage was always soft and well-mannered, noticeable if you actually smelled your arm, but never powerful or bold. The longevity was very good, given just how voraciously my skin consumes perfume.

Oha seems generally well-liked on Fragrantica, judging by the voting numbers. (There are certainly a lot more “Likes” than “Loves.”) But all comments about “sophistication,” elegance and “very French” feel incredibly lukewarm in the politest way possible. One commentator, “kterhark,” summed it up best, in my opinion:

Have you ever sat and flipped through channels at night, stumbling upon PBS where Charlotte Church was on stage, singing a pitch perfect operatic song, afterwhich everyone clapped politely?

That’s Oha. 

But I prefer it when Mariah Carey or Celine Dion take the stage and belt it out. And this is my problem with Oha.

It’s subtle. Pitch perfect, but subtle. And as a chypre floral it is competing with some grand divas in my boudoir, like Caron’s Or et Noir and Guerlain’s Mitsouko pure parfum; and they are outsinging this one.

Nevertheless, I like this fragrance, it is indeed beautiful [.]

The Duchess of Windsor wearing the famous "Lobster Dress," designed by Elsa Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali.

The Duchess of Windsor wearing the famous “Lobster Dress,” designed by Elsa Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali.

It pains me to write about how underwhelmed I was, because Oha actually is pretty. (I think “beautiful” may be pushing it a little.) It feels incredibly French and classique. It never evokes the supremely fashionable, trend-setting, iconic Duchess of Windsor, but, rather, a perfectly well-dressed, elegant French woman who doesn’t stand out from the crowd. She isn’t dripping with diamonds or furs; she isn’t even in a particularly sexy black dress or wearing the latest trend. She certainly isn’t making a scene or acting like a diva! She’s far from frumpy, she’d definitely not ugly or unattractive, and when you see her, you just know she’s French with impeccably well-bred bones and breeding. But, unless you were really, really looking at her, I’m not sure you’d notice her with her expertly cut, expensive, but completely innocuous dark suit, her expensive but unshowy handbag,her restrained chignon, her simple but expensive strand of pearls, and that quiet dab of muted lipstick. I passed by hundreds of such women in my years in Paris, and I’m sure they would wear Oha.

It’s not a negative thing in the slightest. But it’s not me. I’m not one for amorphous, abstract floral chypres without a particularly distinctive character — no matter how well-bred and classique they may be. That said, if you like floral chypres, I do think Oha is worth a sniff because it does have elegant bones and is an incredibly practical, versatile fragrance. This is something you could just spray on and go, without much thought; it would work pretty much everywhere and for all occasions, from an appointment at your child’s school, to a dinner with friends. Its discreet nature, while still being moderately strong on your actual skin, would also make it practical for the office. And you’d definitely feel feminine while wearing it. Plus, Téo Cabanel fragrances can be purchased for a relative steal on numerous discount sites (not to mention eBay).

I’m still disappointed, though. And I think the Duchess of Windsor would be, too. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put on some of my beloved Alahine. 

Cost & Availability: Oha comes in a variety of sizes and forms. On the Téo Cabanel website (which also has a French language version), Oha Eau de Parfum (which is what I reviewed) costs €82 for 1.7 oz, and €107 for 3.3 oz. There is also a solid perfume version which costs €65 for 2 x 2 g (2 x 0.07 oz), along with a Sample Set of 6 Cabanel fragrances for €6. (Down below, you will see that the Posh Peasant also offers the Pure Parfum version).
Discounts: You can frequently find Teo Cabanel fragrances deeply discounted at various online retailers, in addition to eBay. In the U.S., you can buy Oha Eau de Parfum in a 1.7 oz/50 ml size for $61.20 from LilyDirect, a reputable perfume retailer that a number of people I know have used without problem. (As a side note, I’ve heard that Lilydirect will start shipping to Canada in June.) 99Perfume sells the small 1.7 oz size for 64.99, while BeautyEncounter sells it for $75. (BeautyEncounter is the original retailer for the Amazon offering of Oha, if you were to check there but I think you get free shipping if you go through them directly.) The prices are even higher at FragranceX which sells the 1.7 oz size for $88.30 and the large 3.4 oz size for $118. I’ve read that the line is carried at Henry Bendel’s, but I don’t see any Cabanel perfumes listed on their website. The Posh Peasant does carry most of Teo Cabanel’s fragrances, but stock is limited and amounts may be sold out (as they currently are for the Oha), so I suggest you check the website later when additional stock is added. At the moment, they have the Pure Parfum version of Oha on sale for $154 instead of $220 for a 15 ml bottle.
Outside the US: In Canada, Cabanel’s website lists Fritsch Fragrances as its primary vendor. In London, I’ve read that Téo Cabanel is carried at Fortnum & Mason’s, but I don’t see it shown online. Liberty’s states that Téo Cabanel fragrances are available only in their actual store. As a whole, for European readers, I saw it online at Parfums MDP (which I think is in the UK?) for the same Euro rate as the company’s website. They say that there is “free worldwide postage” which I find to be stunning (and hard to believe)! I’ve also read  that the perfumes are available at: Galeries Lafayette, Douglas (France, Lithuania, Russia), Kadewe Berlin, Oberpollinger Munich, and Albrecht in Frankfurt. In Australia, I saw the large 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle of Oha on GetPrice for AUD$109.65. For all other countries, you can try to use the company’s Retailers guide on their website, but be aware that it doesn’t seem very up-to-date as some of the listed retailers don’t seem to carry the line. (Like Luckyscent.)
Samples: Surrender to Chance does not have Oha, but The Posh Peasant has a 5-Piece Sampler Set of 5 x 1ml vials for $15. I think that’s a great deal, especially as it will let you try one of my all-time favorite fragrances, the boozy Oriental “Alahine.”

Perfume Review – Alahine by Téo Cabanel: Ambered Moroccan Palaces & Opulence

Alahine was meant to evoke opulent oriental palaces, and it certainly succeeded in that endeavor. I see a Moroccan palace, shimmering in the heat under a turquoise sky, and surrounded by gardens of roses and ylang-ylang, lined with large silver urns billowing out smoky amber and incense.Kasbah-Tamadot_1259269939

Alahine comes from the French perfume house, Téo Cabanel, founded in 1893 in Algeria by Théodore Cabanel. Upon moving to Paris, he developed over 150 different perfume formulae and soon came to the attention of high society. He was a favorite of the Duchess of Windsor — the woman for whom King Edward VIII gave up the English throne — and she would order enormous amounts of his fragrances (Julia and Yasmina). Unfortunately, over time, the house faded away, but it was essentially reborn in 2003 under the direction of Caroline Illacqua who had a distant connection to Cabanel’s daughter. Illacqua brought in the perfumer, Jean-Francois Latty (who had created fragrances for YSL and Givenchy), and together they launched Alahine in 2007.

Latty describes Alahine as a soft amber, but it is technically a floral oriental (or floriental).  Téo Cabanel’s website lists Alahine’s notes as follows:

bergamot, ylang ylang, jasmine, Bulgarian rose, orange tree, pepper plant, Morroccan rose, iris, cistus, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, sandalwood, and musk.

Some perfume sites have suggested other ingredients as well. Basenotes adds lavender to its list of top notes, but I’m a bit skeptical and believe it may be just how bergamot smells to some people. Luckyscent includes sandalwood as one of the base notes; that one, I can well imagine.

As the NST website noticed, Téo Cabanel claims that the perfumes contain “100% pure and natural ingredients.” Technically, that’s not really possible as musk (or civet) comes from animals and, as such, is off limits in its natural form.

In an interview with Sniffapalooza magazine, Ilacqua clarified that Téo Cabanel’s fragrances contain between 85% and 95% natural ingredients, and its amber and musk are synthetic.

For those who can’t immediately place some of the natural notes or what they smell like, here’s a brief nutshell description that may be useful later in explaining the depth and layers to Alahine. The smell of bergamot falls between orange and lemon, and is most closely associated with Earl Grey tea. It can turn a little woody and some people can occasionally smell hints of lavender lurking around. Ylang-ylang comes from a bright, banana-yellow flower and has a rich, heady, sweet, floral smell that is slightly fruity and custardy. One commentator called it “the eccentric sister to jasmine” but it’s also often compared to such flowers as tuberose, frangipani, and tiaré. Personally, I think it has a richer, fruitier and, definitely, spicier scent than any of those flowers. As a side note, the smell of ylang-ylang has long been considered to be both an aphrodisiac and soothing. Moroccan roses are a type of cabbage rose and, as such, have a sweet, honey-like scent. In contrast, Bulgarian roses belong to the damask rose category 4132690778_4a15f1c8d0which usually have a heady, richer, darker element to them. (To my nose, at least.) Benzoin is a type of resin and, as such, evokes the scent of amber. Depending on the type of resin, it can be both sweet and smoky, or just incense-y and slightly woody. “Cistus” really refers to Labdanum. The small cistus shrub is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East, and the distillation of its leaves produces a dry resinous, faintly woody smell that is called labdanum in perfume. Essentially, labdanum is another resin like amber, but it has more of a masculine toughness to amber’s sweetness. Labdanum can be dirty, animalic and almost reminiscent of sex at times, while other compositions can bring out a more leather-like smell.

The real reason that I took this detour into the notes is because the complexity of Alahine required me to take a refresher! The perfume is so expertly blended, and the scents fold so well into each other, that at times I struggled to figure out what ingredient was responsible for what! It was almost too much at times for me to distinguish what was going on. And a big part of that problem stemmed initially from a very big mistake I made: I sprayed on too much!

Do you want to know how much is “too much” for Alahine? Well, three spritzes where I just barely depressed the plunger! Three small spritzes of Alahine sent my nose into a tailspin because this is one seriously powerful perfume! I had to wait for the smell to fade on one arm before I could try again a few hours later with it on the other. This time, I gingerly and fearfully used one tiny spray, resulting in a few droplets. (And I never use one tiny spray! Ever. I always use 3 good spritzes spread out all along my arm and I do so for every perfume when testing it out, given how my body consumes perfume.) But trying Alahine in a small amount let me have a much better understanding of the notes. (Did I mention that this is powerful?!)

Alahine opens with a trumpeting blast of booziness, bergamot, orange, and what definitely smells like peach. After re-reading the definitions of some of the notes, I realise the peach (and some other lingering faintly fruity smells) have to be the ylang-ylang, though none of the ylang-ylang I’ve smelled (and loved) in the past ever evoked such a smell. In my first go round, I smelled such a sharply intense, screeching smell of smoky incense and black pepper that I was convinced there had to be frankincense in there as well. (There isn’t, but that is apparently what happens when you spray too much Alahine on your first try and sniff. It totally blows out your nose.)

In those opening minutes, the citrus and ylang-ylang fruits are joined by what smells like cloves, cinnamon and a fainty soapy muskiness. There is almost a medicinal note from the cloves, but also a heavy, (heavy!), thick viscous, gooey, treacly element that has to be the amber! It’s heavy and black enough at this stageA13-11-2010-22.01.49_0105 that I wonder if perhaps I’m really smelling the patchouli? It’s hard to know at this stage, but if that is really just the amber, colour me impressed.

Ten minutes in, the heady smell of roses and iris appears, followed a bit later by the jasmine. Alahine is softer now, less shrill, gentled perhaps due to the powder notes that are also there. And yet, there is also definite black pepper behind it all, pepper that is biting, faintly woody, almost balsam-like. I suspect this is from the pepper plant they used. And I still smell peach!

As Alahine develops over time, it turns more into a predominantly amber-y scent, combined with the rose, musk and powder. But this is like few amber fragrances that I have come across. There is a distinctly boozy nature to the element that brought to M1mind very aged bourbon and rum, almost cognac-brown in their richness and sweet thickness. (I wonder if it’s the labdanum that is responsible?)

I’m not the only one who thought of alcohol. The blog Perfume-Smellin Things noted: “[t]he intense, almost liqueur-like center of this perfume’s universe is Bulgarian and Moroccan rose essence of high quality that gives it a rounded and almost fruity quality overall.” She attributes it to the rose notes but I have to wonder. It seems more an attribute of the various resins at play here, particularly as the boozy accord is accompanied by perpetual smoky, incense-y notes with an almost bitter-chocolate earthiness. (Now, that’s definitely the labdanum!)

I should admit that I didn’t completely understand the enormous fuss over Alahine on my first try. (I’m going to blame that on using too much – illogical as it may be.) It was absolutely lovely, yes, but the incredible raves and almost crazed gushing?? I couldn’t see it. But my second try showed its real beauty. And that is something that has happened to others, too. The chap at the Nathan Branch blog was initially unimpressed, but repeated pleas from perfumistas he respects made him give it another shot:

At first, nothing struck me as extraordinary. The pieces all functioned properly, the mix was good, the scent pleasant, but I didn’t get a particularly noteworthy vibe. I’ve learned, however, that first impressions can be deceiving, which was the case with Alahine. What seemed initially a little lazy or derivative of its betters became much more than that with repeated wearings.

But after more than one wearing, his reaction was, “Yowza! How did I miss all this?” Perfume Posse said something similar:

I was charmed by Alahine´s transformation. It starts out with a ladylike floral note, a generalized citrus/jasmine/ylang, very classic and expensive smelling. […] From there Alahine only gets better as the pepper, iris and the naughty bits start to bloom, but it’s sexy in a subtle way, the woman in the corner of the room who catches your eye, and suddenly compared to her quiet chic everyone else looks a bit overdone.

[Update 4/14 — I have to add to this review because, in the 18 months since I wrote this review, I have noticed the same pattern mentioned by Nathan Branch and others happening again and again with readers who have tried Alahine on my recommendation. It’s happened so often that I wanted to raise the issue directly, and not just in the comment section where this is frequently discussed. It consistently seems to take 4 tries for people to fall for Alahine. I’ve actually lost track at this point of the number of people who were wholly unimpressed at first, only to subsequently become utterly obsessed. That includes men, as well as those who normally can’t stand fragrances with roses.

I’ve concluded that Alahine seems to involve some form of Stockholm Syndrome. It may also help to go easy on the application at first, since the intensity of the boozy spicebomb can be quite overwhelming if you spray with reckless abandon. But what matters most of all for Alahine is a little patience. You really need to try it four times before it suddenly seems to transform before your eyes into the most intoxicating brew you’ve encountered.]

So, what really is Alahine, beyond just a changeling? NST‘s review (linked up above) described Alahine, in part, as “ylang-ylang crème brulée lightened with rose and dusted with powder.” I think that is true, but far from the whole story. For me, Alahine is far more than the scent they describe:

Alahine is an oriental treatment of ylang ylang. Alahine takes the flower’s cold cream-like scent and spins it with amber, sandalwood, and vanilla. The result is a ylang ylang crème brûlée lightened with rose and dusted with powder. It’s warm, thick, sweet, and feminine — comforting without being maternal. Its sillage is moderate, and its lasting power is excellent.

Alahine isn’t edgy or surprising, but in some ways that’s an asset. Think of it as the camel coat fashion magazines are touting as a major trend for this fall. People have been wearing camel coats for a good long time, and they’ve always been appropriate and sometimes even stylish, even if they’re only sporadically fashionable. Alahine is like that. You’re always correct (and warm) in Alahine.

One of my disagreements with that summation is that it omits the incredibly smoky, boozy, incense-y, viscous nature of the perfume. Basically, Alahine is far too intense and powerful to be a mild camel coat — no matter how chic or expensive it may be.  And “comforting”? Please! I think it’s too seductive to be comforting (let alone maternal!). This is a fragrance to wear with a black dress. Not a revealing, little black dress, but a tailored one that is cut tantalisingly low, or perhaps with a very long slit up the side. Or it’s a fragrance to wear with a slinky, slightly revealing cashmere sweater over a short black skirt, with opulent jewelry and sky-high stilettos. (I have no idea what men feel is their ideal elegantly sexy attire when seeking to subtly and quietly seduce, so I will leave that up to my male readers to determine.) Alahine is not about the full-on reveal and Bada-boom, but about the most sophisticated, elegant seduction. It’s the scent of a Bond girl — but one of the quiet ones who lures James Bond into her web.  Camel coats…. bah!

I also disagree with NST’s assessment of its sillage. My body consumes perfume and this one well-nigh consumed me at first! (Did I mention those first 3 sprays were small?!) Yes, Alahine does become close to the skin…. but 6 hours later! (On me!) And the longevity? I can still smell it almost 12 hours later. On someone else, I suspect this perfume could easily go 16 hours or more. In fact, depending on amount used, a full 24 hours wouldn’t shock me at all.

One area where I actually do agree with NST is the issue of edginess. This is not an edgy perfume, particularly not in that occasionally disturbing, disorienting, or intentionally different way that some niche scents can be. There are some very classique elements to Alahine’s elegance and opulence. I’ve read some comparisons to the legendary Bal à Versailles; and the minute I saw them, I thought, “Ah, yes. They have a point.” This is like Bal à Versailles, but it’s much less soapy and powdery than my memories of BaV. Alahine is more resinous, spicy, smoky, fruity (the ylang-ylang) and incense-y. Other comparisons have been to Parfum d’Empire‘s Ambre Russe, though that is supposed to be boozier and more intense. I don’t have it (yet) to be able to assess that claim.

Alahine is marketed as a perfume for women but it is absolutely unisex, in my opinion. From the opening bergamot notes to the thick, resinous amber, patchouli, incense and faintly woody base, this is a scent that I think would be very sexy on a man. (And, according to his blog, Nathan Branch’s boyfriend thought so too.) I also have quite a number of male friends who wear Alahine, and don’t think it’s “feminine” at all.

For me, this is a perfume that I would well consider buying as a full bottle. In all honesty, if I could, I would do so right now. This minute. There is just something about Alahine that makes me feel happy and sunny. I think it’s too opulent to be “cozy” and “comfy,” but it makes me feel like purring. It brings to mind visions of Morocco, turquoise and roses, smoke and mirrors, spice and life. Try it. You’ll see.

[IMPORTANT UPDATE March 2017: This fragrance has been reformulated, and very badly at that, too, in my opinion. I bought a back-up bottle which smelled completely different. The roses were clearly synthetic, and smelled like very cheap, low quality versions to my nose with a very shrill and thin character. In addition, there was now a massive amount of very synthetic cedar front and center, and it, too, was very shrill. Finally, the jasmine, spice, and amber levels were completely altered and slashed. To make certain that the changes were not limited to my new bottle, I later purchased a cheap set of 15 manufacturer samples on eBay, and they all had the exact same, new, reformulated composition, so it is clearly not an anomalous situation. The changes are so immense, in my opinion, the scent is so different from the original one talked about in this review (in Alahine’s original bottle design), and the new reformulated version is so unpleasant to my nose that I refuse to wear it and have given away my new second bottle. I don’t know when precisely and exactly the changes took place, because companies never give official statements admitting reformulation, but I would advise caution before buying the current Alahine. Test it first to see if it suits your tastes.]

General Cost & Discount Prices: Alahine comes in Eau de Parfum form (which is what I reviewed), but also in Extrait de Parfum. For the EDP, it costs $130 or €95 for 1.7 oz/50 ml as of 11/12/2013. The price for the larger size used to be $145 for 3.3 oz, but I’m not sure as to is current cost as of this November 2013 date. The parfum extract version was $220 for 0.5 oz/15 ml, but it may have increased from the original time this review was posted. However, Alahine is also available at huge discounts from a variety of online retailers: LilyDirect sells a large 3.4 oz bottle for $82, and they are a very reliable, reputable perfume retailer. EvePerfumeStore sells it for $102. Small 1.7 oz bottles can be found on eBay for about $50, while large 3.4 oz bottles are easily found for around $70 (instead of about $145).
U.S. Vendors: Luckyscent now carries the whole Teo Cabanel line. It sells Alahine for $130 for a 50 ml bottle. You’d do better to order the large 100 ml bottle for $82 from LilyDirect. The Posh Peasant also carries Alahine, but the bottles sell out quickly so you will have to check.
Teo Cabanel: The Teo Cabanel website (in English and French) also has a separate e-shop boutique. They show a list of retailers who carry their products by country, so whether you live in the Netherlands or say, Japan, you should be able to find someone who sells their perfume. I don’t know their shipping prices, however, and I could not find any information on it.) Prices are €95 and €120, depending on the size of the bottle. A 7-Piece Sample Set is also sold of the complete range for €8.5.
Overseas: In London, you can find Alahine at Bloom Perfumery which sells Alahine in two sizes: 50 ml/1.7 oz for £89.00, and 100 ml/3.4 oz for £113.00, along with a 2 oz sample vial for £2.00. Elsewhere in London, I’ve read that Téo Cabanel is carried at Fortnum & Mason’s, but I don’t see it shown online. Liberty’s states that Téo Cabanel fragrances are available only in their actual store. As a whole, for European readers, I saw it online at Parfums MDP (which I think is in the UK?) for the same €82 and €101 price as the company’s website. They say that there is “free worldwide postage” which I find to be stunning (and hard to believe)! For Canada, the Cabanel’s website lists Fritsch Fragrances as a vendor but I cannot find a website for the store. Elsewhere, I’ve also that Teo Cabanel perfumes are available at: Galeries Lafayette, Douglas (France, Lithuania, Russia), Kadewe Berlin, Oberpollinger Munich, and Albrecht in Frankfurt. In Australia, I saw the large 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle of Oha on GetPrice for AUD$109.65. For all other countries, you can try to use the company’s Retailers guide on their website.
Samples: Samples are available at Luckyscent for $4 for a 0.7 ml vial. Surrender to Chance sells Alahine starting at $3.99 for 1 ml vial, and going up in size to 15 ml/0.50 oz for  $51.87. Shipping costs around $2.95 within the U.S. (no matter how small or large the order), and approximately $12.75 for overseas.