Perfume Directory

Perfume Calligraphy (2012)
by Aramis


Perfume Calligraphy information

Year of Launch2012
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 31 votes)

People and companies

Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies > Aramis and Designer Fragrances

About Perfume Calligraphy

Perfume Calligraphy is a shared / unisex perfume by Aramis. The scent was launched in 2012

Perfume Calligraphy fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of Perfume Calligraphy

Estée Lauder wanted in on the Middle East perfume market, and with increasing interest in that sector for their Tom Ford subsidiary, they thought it keen to directly cater with a new series of fragrances called "Perfume Calligraphy" in 2012. There are a few inherent problems with a thoroughly-Western perfume and cosmetics company trying for Middle Eastern appeal, and coupling that with a few dubious choices on Lauder's part, and we end up getting a fragrance line met with mixed reactions. The first dubious choice was going the blatantly-synthetic route with oud for a market used to the real thing, or at least a more virile and authentic dupe, but part of this methinks is because of the success Tom Ford Private Blend selections have had in the Middle East, and they too can wear their chemistry on their sleeve. The second dubious choice was to use the Aramis brand for the line, since they're marketed as unisex (like most authentic Middle Eastern attars), despite the Western eau de parfum format and intentional association by Lauder of Aramis with men's fragrance. Lastly, Lauder made the puzzling decision to release this in American markets a year later but aimed at just men as part of the "Aramis Gentleman's Collection", in the same steel-capped bottle design borrowed from Tuscany Per Uomo (1984) as the rest of the collection. This last move wouldn't confuse anybody if the Internet didn't exist, as we'd all just get the bottle shapes we're used to, but folks buying online don't see things so clearly with such "localization". Many think one is a reformulation of the other, chasing after the one they think is vintage, or that one is a weaker concentration of the other. Some mistake them for his and hers versions, or even entirely different scents altogether, with hysteria resulting among perfumistas and colognoisseurs. To compound things further, there have also been flankers released with no American packaging adaptation, which is just lazy for a designer that wants to sell these at a niche/prestige price point of about $140 MSRP. Oh well, at least they got a good nose in the form of Clement Gavarry (son of Max Gavarry) to compose.

Aramis Perfume Calligraphy (2012) is primarily a rose and oud fragrance rounded out by saffron, patchouli, amber, and leather. The big giveaway that this is Western besides it being a perfume with synthetic components in the first place, is the proportions of rose and oud in relation to the rest. A lot of Middle Eastern or at least Middle Eastern-themed fragrances in the style have a fierce Turkish rose or more-virile "barnyard" oud note which hangs its ass out, with saffron serving a role similar to labdanum, and use supporting players to shore them up, not blend them down. With Perfume Calligraphy, Lauder deals a conservative hand, the Americanized "casual dining" interpretation of this kind of scent, slathering the rose and oud in a slick layer of it's supporting cast rather letting the notes actually support the star players. The opening begins with lemon, cinnamon, cardamom, and a sweet Damask rose which instantly recalls Azzaro Acteur (1989) for me, but while Acteur's sweet rose plays with leather, Perfume Calligraphy's rose is quickly saddled with a pasty saffron and myrrh accord, diminishing into a larger whole of candied spice. The synthetic oud in the base is also fairly medicinal as expected from a Western perfumer, but is dulled further with amber, patchouli, and musk, rounded to the point of disappearing once the slight petrol leather note emerges, once again recalling Acteur in my mind, just not nearly as resolute in it's intention like that older composition. Longevity is impressive but sillage is a quiet skin glow, another hallmark of Western tastes. There is also really no appropriate context to wear this, so just wear it where you want and chance having some eyeballs on you. The drydown of Perfume Calligraphy is remarkably very chypre-like, and also draws comparisons to Aramis 900 (1973) or Clinique Aromatics Elixir (1971), particularly with the rose and patchouli, even if there's no galbanum or jasmine here. Estée Lauder is exceedingly good at chypres, and maybe part of that DNA bled into this, because I can smell it.

I like Aramis Perfume Calligraphy in spite of it's many compromises and flaws, because it's middle ground between Eastern exotica and Western diplomacy is uniquely endearing to me, but at the same time, I would neither recommended this to a fan of rose scents, nor oud. I wouldn't even recommended Aramis Perfume Calligraphy to a beginner looking to try this style, nor someone looking for a more subtle take, as in both cases, this is just too much it's own creature to be anything other than a happy accident of a cultural hybrid for fans of sweet, voluptuous blended fragrances which work for any gender. If this sounds interesting to you and you're going to buy it blind online, I implore you to choose based on list price, as both bottle designs have fallen into discounter and eBay seller hands, but some want closer to the original niche MSRP while others carry it closer to the $40 mark depending on what coupons and sales are offered. I'd say only go for the wood-capped version if you're trying to complete a set with the flankers, as they only exist in the tall wood-capped design (yay for inconsistency), but I'd honestly say not to even to buy the original Aramis Perfume Calligraphy in any bottle format if you're just looking to try one from the series, since the flankers to this are far superior. Aramis Perfume Calligraphy Rose (2013) switches out the old-timey Damask rose for a dark Turkish rose, and although also not very culturally-authentic, it ditches the leather and is positively riveting in it's own right as a rose scent. Aramis Perfume Calligraphy Saffron (2013) goes back to Damask rose and leather, but adds marigold, vetiver, and styrax to a more-prominent saffron for a drier, smokier, more animalic yellow ochre which ends up the least-oriental, but also most distinctive. Aramis Perfume Calligraphy gets a thumbs up from me for it's enjoyable weirdness, but this cultural Heinz 57 of a perfume is really only for the deep-interest folks who dig the strange and unusual, or house Aramis completists (if they exist). For everyone else, I suggest moving onto the rose or saffron entries, as they're far more focused on what they want to be without as much compromise, and have much more personality.
13th October, 2018
10is Show all reviews
United States
I sprayed this on my wrist and for the first couple of hours the rose was extremely cloying (for someone who likes rose fragrances). But the oud(?) and leather drydown managed to stick around on my watch band and definitely smelt like a niche a couple days later. Appreciation for the uniqueness, but cloying rose note gets a thumbs down overall.

Rating: 5/10
02nd May, 2018
drseid Show all reviews
United States
Perfume Calligraphy goes on with a mild, amber sweetened cinnamon and vague sharp citrus, supported by traces of saffron spice and Oud. As the composition moves to its early heart the Oud takes its place as star, gaining a slight barnyard animalic facet as it grows in intensity to the point of dominating most of the other composition aspects. Joining the Oud in the background is the supporting hay-like saffron, the relatively sweet, smooth amber and barely detectable dulled rose. The composition remains highly linear through the late dry-down with the Oud taking center stage throughout, only allowing remnants of the saffron detectable with the smooth amber providing mild to moderate sweetness through the finish. Projection is excellent, and longevity outstanding at around 20 hours on skin.

Usually one samples the original composition its flankers are based off of before trying the flankers themselves. In the case of Perfume Calligraphy this was done in reverse. The Rose and Saffron flankers both proved excellent, so it would stand to reason the composition they were based off would impress as well, right? Enter Perfume Calligraphy... As soon as I sprayed the composition on skin disappointment immediately set-in. No, this was not the kind of disappointment from a terrible composition, but rather the kind where you go in with relatively high expectations only to find the composition more in the range of average, maybe even *just* good. The culprit here is the primary Oud note used in Perfume Calligraphy. Definitely the composition shows significant Oud-like qualities with its mild barnyard facet, but to those who have experienced the real thing this will quickly reveal itself as synthetic. Certainly Perfume Calligraphy is not alone in its reliance on synthetics to recreate super-expensive high quality real Oud as most of the "Oud" compositions on the market are equally guilty, but the amber-driven sweetness just doesn't mesh with it well at all. Also of little help, is the synthetic Oud is so dominant that excluding the previously mentioned sweetness, only the saffron spice can hang with it throughout the entire composition's "development". I put quotation marks around the word "development," because there really isn't any. It is the same overall accord throughout from near-start to finish, and the underlying sweetness mixed with the synthetic Oud can get annoying as time passes. In the end one has to appreciate the composition as being well-made with its outstanding performance metrics, but the real question is whether one would want to wear it? In the opinion of this writer the answer is a somewhat hesitant "no". The bottom line is the $120 per 100ml bottle Perfume Calligraphy shows off it performance chops in fine fashion, but its highly linear sweet synthetic Oud focus is tiresome, earning it an "above average" 2.5 to 3 stars out of 5. Having worn its great flankers that are both highly recommended, this one I feel completely indifferent. Word to the wise; buy the Rose and Saffron flankers and leave this one on the shelf, gathering dust.
20th February, 2015
Nice take on Oud which I really like. The light rose note make this a great unisex scent. I get the touch of lemon which balances things out. If you are a lover of bearable oud, this is for you. Out of the three in the calligraphy collection, this one projects the best. Pretty sweet fragrance though. A little too sweet for me. 6.5/10
24th November, 2014 (last edited: 13th December, 2014)
This is a fragrance which tries to display the oud note in a subtler kind of way more akin to western perfumery. The oud note is subdued and is underlying at the base. The saffron and other spices combined make this fragrance very pleasant and I really can't see how this would offend anyone. It's well blended in my opinion. Probably good for people who do not like their oud very strong or medicinal. Very good effort.

Edit: I've since discovered that it's the other way round. This is a Western-made perfume designed to appeal towards a Middle Eastern market! I would say that it that purpose it somewhat succeeds. But the problem is most Middle Easterners will prefer a stronger, more authentic Oud note, whilst most Westerners will find this a little strong for their tastes. It's almost like it "halfway" succeeds at both. But I like it! I think its good either way.
23rd October, 2014
This is powerful and challenging. I am drawn to it, I like the dry down yet my wife finds it repulsive. Her dislike has limited the times I wear it.
I sometimes try to sneak it past her, not easy because it is so distinctive. She asks "are you wearing Calligraphy?", I reply "You noticed, what do you think of it today?" she says "it still stinks." (she doesn't mean in a nice way)
It is strong, distinctive and it clearly divides opinions in my household.
She likes Tom Ford's Cafe Rose and Oud Wood, but not Calligraphy.
To me it is rose coupled with oud, but perhaps because of the formula's strength this could seem violent and harsh when initially applied. As time moves on it sort of calms down, it provides wafts of rose with a deep underpinning.
It's nice and I still like it, but not because of any particular subtlety. Part of me expects Mrs Phippsy to turn around one day and say "you really do smell nice today! Which one is it?".
If that day comes I might lie and tell her it's a tester By Kilian so she can confirm her appreciation without admitting a change of heart.
Thumbs up from me, thumbs down by her : - it has to be neutral......for now.
15th February, 2013

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