Arabie by Serge Lutens

Year: 2000

Notes: candied mandarin peel, dates, dried figs, cumin, nutmeg, clove, myrrh, Siamese benzoin, tonka bean, cedar, balsamic resins, sandalwood

Comment: Vintage formulation review

When one first sampled Arabie, a few years ago as a niche fragrance novice, it wasn't very well-received. It was extremely tenacious, with a claustrophobic sweetness that was both overwhelming and over the top. But such qualities soon compelled one to revisit it by dabbing more on every so often.

After depleting half of the sample vial, it was unreluctantly given away as one still wasn't completely won over by its charms. However, as time went by, its memory continued to prevail within one's sub-consciousness. So, several months later, while investigating other fragrances in the stores, one unexpectedly felt the urge to give it another try. And then another. And then another...

The thing is, Arabie is a very tough nut to crack, and it requires more perseverance and patience than most of the challenging niche scents available on the market. As already mentioned, it wasn't easy falling in love with it – in fact it was almost a constant struggle. But now that perseverance has finally paid off, one is finally able to appreciate it for what it represents: a highly condensed and complex fruity-gourmand, comprising of spices and dried fruits stewed in a syrupy woody sweetness.

Although some may consider it to be too overbearing, one personally considers it to be just as versatile as any other revered scent, especially once that moment of revelation comes (if it ever does). Also, its resinous nature enables it to be worn effectively well during the warmer months – it may be very sweet but don't let that fool you into thinking it's strictly a cold weather scent.

Yes, it does smell like a spicy fruitcake and, yes, its pungent and dark fruitiness does strangely remind one of Christmas. However, if nothing else, its exotic demeanour is highly evocative of sweet North African and Middle Eastern delicacies. Arabie is brash, blatantly unapologetic and totally unconventional, and still remains Serge Lutens' best olfactory creation.