It’s impossible to talk about Maria Candida Gentile’s Sideris without a smile. If Tinkerbell and the Archangel Gabriel got together to make a perfume, Sideris is what they would come up with.
Two things are important to mention here – radiance and scale. In terms of radiance, Maria Candida Gentile has somehow managed to take the heaviest and stickiest substances in perfumery – French labdanum, incense, myrrh, beeswax – and infuse the whole thing with light and air. This is a perfume that radiates. It glows. In fact, what hits you first, when you spray it on, is this incredible note of powdered sugar, the result of a very hazy, diffuse mix of incense and rose. This powdered sugar note coats the entire perfume from head to toe, a sort of fairy dust sifted over the heavier resins. A gentle shake of the spice jar – pepper and ginger – add to the sprightly, nose-tingling effect. The dust is finally anchored and settled at the base by creamy woods.
There is something about the texture that reminds me of the powdery, dry cedar-incense accord used so much by Andy Tauer, but whereas Andy is fond of a touch of Iso E Super to add radiance to his compositions, this perfumer takes the all-natural route. In other words, there is nothing synthetic in feel or reach of the incense here. And yet, Sideris achieves an unearthly sort of radiance that would normally only be possible with Iso E Super or another woody amber material.
Most important to me, however, is the fact that even in the crowded field of incense scents, Sideris manages to distinguish itself as a completely different beast. It is not one of those huge, soaring “church” incense perfumes you might have smelled before, such as Avignon by Comme des Garcons, Full Incense by Montale, or Cardinal by James Heeley. These scents take incense, blow it up into cathedral-sized places of worship, and instill a sense of gloom and awe into the wearer. Not so with this one. Sideris is an incense-based perfume that is scaled down to domestic proportions. It is a quiet moment of reflection over a cup of tea. It is the private rolling out of a prayer mat in your bedroom as dawn approaches. More than anything, it is a priest sweeping out the steps of the church as he opens up for the day, the mica from the dust glittering in the sun as he gives you a grin and a lusty “Buongiorno!” on your way to get an espresso.
In other words, you don’t have to be a Catholic or go to church to like this. I put this on, and no matter what kind of bad day I am having, I feel like I am floating around in my own personal cloud of magic fairy dust, protected by all the bad ju-ju around me. If this sounds appealing, then run, don’t walk to get yourself some. Maria Candida Gentile is one of the rare people in the perfume business who has sensibly decided to sell her perfumes in the I-don’t-want-to-commit size of 15ml, which is what I bought when my sample ran out. But, seeing as how quickly I am running through my little bottle, I am already regretting not getting this in the bath-tub sized version of 100ml. In conclusion: Sideris is for everyone who wants to tap into their inner fairy.
Sideris's first sniff partially reminded me of Exultat (always by Maria Candida Gentile), mostly because of the same sharp, sparkling, dusty, silky and breezy accord of tasty, bright initial notes, here a bit more spicy and rosey than in Exultat. The main notes I get are ginger, benzoin, pepper, a beautiful, luminous, graceful rose accord, a fruity-green warm heart (the balsamic tea note), and a nice aromatic and rich woody base. Really spicy, but with a playful and cozy personality, slightly aqueous and salty too at some points, at the same time animated by a silky, round, invigorating incense note which floats all over with its azure, mystical, heavenly pleasant and sophisticated allure (miles above the synthetic Iso E-driven incense notes you can smell in several other scents - this here is a proper, romantic, classy, mystical, resinous and organic incense note). Sideris is basically a sort of airy, silky, resinous and incense chypre with a rose heart, less animalic and more sweet, with an evolution tending towards a balsamic-medicinal drydown on a powdery and floral resinous base. All smells great, dense, clear and sharp. A bit linear (therefore, "boring alert"), but really beautiful!
Where Exultat was finally an incredibly soft and almost sinister candied olibanum with a brown/dahlia violet chinotto type of rhubarb/orange/violet main accord, Sideris is ethereal in a more properly rosey radiant way with this simply perfect creamy woods/saffron/rose accord far closer to a Titiana Terenzi Ecstasy/Gold Rose Oudh ideal olfactory encounter than to a further/previous Maria Candida Gentile's perfumed experiment. I detect in here several Perris Montecarlo Rose de Taif's nuances but while the previous was more austerely and sharply rosey (with its almost angular lemon/geranium supporting chord) Sideris is rosey in to a diverse holy incensey way. The olibanum is "invisible" and premonitory. Yes Sideris is a sort of miracle in perfumery, the inebriant and pacifying effluvium heralding a celestial Liberator's apparition, a spicy/creamy rose somewhat divine and perfect, royal and refined, restrained and diaphanous with its celestial spicy/opaque musky soapiness and a touch of really dusty-powdered sugar. The almost total lack of hesperides on the top carries by soon the aroma straight towards a wet spicy creaminess (with a wonderful narcotic damp saffron welcome) evolving in to final rosey/woodsy perfection due to an holy accord in which all is divinely (and secretly) incensey, magistrally balanced and dramatically casted as a galaxy ascending the skies till the Heaven's doors. Artistically crafted, lacteous and wisely unaffected this potion possesses in my opinion the chrism of the ethernal glory.
When I first tried Sideris I was really puzzled. It appeared to be so similar to Exultat that I wondered why there would be two fragrances which were so closely related in the Maria Candida Gentile collection. But there is something different in the heart of Sideris.
The (published) notes;
Incense, Cystus, Myrrh, White Pepper, Saffron
Turkish Rose, Ayrshire Rose Splendens
Sandalwood, Benzoin, Waxed Woods
What an incredible collection of materials.
There is a definate relationship between Sideris and Exultat, a definate signature. It is the dry steam, vapourous, ethereal quality. It seems to me that it is something to do with Maria Candida's treatment of the frankincense, which they are both built around. In each fragrance the frankincense is very present but transformed somehow. In Exultat by Violet Leaf and Vetiver. In Sideris by pepper (white pepper), rose, saffron and myrrh.
Where Sideris differs from Exultat is that the heart of Sideris is rose, a slightly spicy rose. White pepper also wields a powerful influence, and the rose and pepper accord, with the frankincense, safrron and myrrh, is stunning. The drydown impresses me as a creamy, not too sweet, vanilla and benzoin, which retains some spice. Sandalwood is listed too but it is not apparent to me.
Sideris wears well and has a beautiful trail. In short it is a beautiful peppery incense rose with a soft vanilla/benzoin drydown. Again, as with Exultat, Sideris strikes me as a very contemporary fragrance which may also suit those who prefer a more classical feel to their fragrance.
Sideris is that little glowing magic light in an animated film that floats down from the skies and lazily alights on the tip of an upturned nose. A joyous thing that doesn't use hesperidic boosters to get going but instead gets straight to the point with a kittenishly sweet Turkish rose in the starring role playing with deftly deployed and fairly sharp frankincense. The resin note of labdanum supports the incense, the burnt sugar of benzoin the rose, and the bitter sweetness of myrrh acts as bridge. Somewhat dusty and musty, but light and easy to wear, and with the exquisite balance of a rope-walker. There's little else that smells quite like it and it seems to please others, too, when I wear it. A miracle of natural perfumery.