Genre: Woody Oriental
Ouarzazate’s opening is redolent of dried fruit, sweet spices, and leather, with a mildly astringent frankincense emerging slowly over time. The incense and raisin accord that coalesces out of these is deep, dark, and compelling. As Ouarzazate continues to develop, its balance tips farther and farther toward the incense, and while the dried fruit subsides, a salty-sweet amber, rich in labdanum, rises to take its place.
The incense, dried fruit, and amber structure that nose Mark Buxton built for Ouarzazate foreshadows that of colleague Bertrand Duchaufour’s Jubilation XXV for Amouage, though leaner and cleaner in texture, and without the later scent’s baroque honeyed floral flourishes. It dries down into the smoky-woody territory explored since in kindred scents like Dzongkha and Timbuktu.
Ouarzazate assumes its own place in the Comme des Garçons incense series. If Avignon is liturgical incense, Kyoto Shinto temple incense, and Zagorsk incense burning in an icy fir grove, Ouarzazate is spiced fruit incense that flirts coyly with the culinary. It is the sweetest, densest, and thickest of these, but also the most rounded, sensuous, and approachable of the lot. No gothic austerity here, but instead a warm, enveloping, (if also decidedly exotic,) olfactory blanket. To wit, a fine recommendation for anyone first exploring the ever-expanding universe of incense-themed niche fragrances.
I love the opening of Ouarzazate, its bitter, dry herbal notes with hints of spices- I'd say cardamom and anise- and even a trace of sweetened tea, enveloping the smoky, yet luminous and light heart of incense.
Too bad the evolution is very swift and the drydown relies on molecules that, as someone previously stated, have become heavily widespread in mainistream fragrances, hence smell a bit common and banal, in the end, though not unplaesant at all.
Considering that I'm appreciating only a half of the fragrance I could have given "neutral", but the idea behind the Incense Series is so fascinating, and the whole series so coherent that I won't be fussing over!
I've been eager to review this one because I remember it being different enough from the other four to treat it like its own entity. The first time I tried it, it was like no other fragrance I'd ever experienced, like ethereal jasmine on top of wood. It's very tea-like and otherworldly right from the start...the top notes are a quiet, moderately sweet blend of flowery black tea and nicely grained wood, but not resinous, exotic wood. It's very simple, but in a comforting way, not a harsh or minimalist way. I see an image of plainly finished but contemporary furniture and sleek tableware in an elegant home, and they're made of solid conventional wood, with a non-edgy, semi-asian-inspired design. The scent has just a hint of something that reminds me of C. Howard's violet candies, but not enough to bother me like some violet notes. I only start to notice the jasmine (lotus?) in the residue on the tip of my nose after sniffing my sample. It's there, not as strong as I remember, but getting stronger throughout the mid notes. Oddly enough, the wood actually seems to fade out and the florals to fade in. I'm not sure if you could officially call it a masculine floral, but after trying so many of those that I didn't like, this is really something that I could get lost in and also wear comfortably in the real world. I kind of wish it were stronger for how expensive it is, but the translucency, balance and restraint are just outstanding; it can't possibly be so simple and yet so perfect.
Sage and peppery woods from start to (quick) finish, but that is not to say there is no evolution. It evolves, but the arc is difficult to describe. In short, it smolders and increases in sweetness, without ever becoming sweet. The smoldering effect is key to this fragrance’s very high appeal. I’m not aware of any other fragrance that so perfectly imparts this wonderful sense of dark warmth. There is an indelible, comforting aspect to it. Hinoki evokes a similar feeling, but while it is brazen, Ouarzazate is understated. Silage, at least while the juice is active, is lovely. I clearly notice it while walking around my office space. Longevity is rather challenged. Oh_hedgehog hit the nail on the head: “distinguished to extinguished in 3 hours flat.” It lingers, of course, as a skin scent (and a nice one, at that) but I’d prefer it to be wafting off of my person for a longer period of time.
I encountered Ouarzazate early in a recent sampling binge and have not been able to stop thinking about it, even among several revered fragrances from Lutens, Montale, Malle, and Nasomatto. Longevity is my only qualm, but with the juice so lovely and unique, a full bottle may be imminent.
I had a sample of this a year or two back and loved it. I used it nearly every day and used it up quickly! The only reason I haven't yet bought a bottle is that I'm too busy spending all my money on vintage and essential oils for my own blending.
Like a dry, resinous wind coming over the mountains and carrying the peppery spice of the bazaar, yet never cloying or overpowering. A scent that evokes your own, lonely wanderlust. Highly recommended for men or women who love incense.