The website says, "Evokes a magic forest, bois de rose and sandalwood, with a hint of rose and violet, bergamot and patchouli." and yet the pamphlet I picked up at the shop says "Deceptively fresh notes of Orange and Bergamot yield to sensual depths of precious woods and spices." I was confused. So is Xanadu a woody floral or a woody citrus? Sweet and powdery with a hint of spice, or bright and green with a dash of incense? The truth is, it's neither. It's darker, it's dirtier, and it's fantastic. Trust me.
Now, I just bought a bottle of Xanadu at the Angela Flanders shop in London. I had visited a few years earlier when Angela herself (who works her magic in a lab just above the shop) stood behind the counter and had regaled us with stories about her perfume creation. This one, I remember, she had said was born when she'd been commissioned to create a signature perfume for a very lavish party with a "Magic Forest" theme. She had been driving in her car, in Dorset I think she said, listening to Radio Four, when a voice reading from Coleridge's "Xanadu" poem ("In Xanadu did Kublai Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree...") began winding from her speakers. She was inspired, thus, to name the scent she'd been creating "Xanadu".
I think I ended up buying "Topaz" on that trip, but I couldn't stop thinking about "Xanadu"... and now that I have a bottle, I think I can give it a proper review.
Firstly, I should say that the sandalwood and patchouli in this scent are quite strong and curl themselves through every piece of the composition. The top notes are very green and maybe even a bit astringent - I smell bitter bergamot and the scent of stems and crushed leaves swirling in and out of the patchouli, sandalwood, and what seems like clove. Once the greens fade, the sweeter florals are easier to detect - a bit of powdered violet and rose. These, however, fade quickly and the base seems to have a slightly dirty, cumin-like note. The patchouli and sandalwood, however, are still there - this scent has monster sillage and staying power, so if you like the woods and spices, that's great. Because they'll be with you all day.
This is NOT a pretty, clean floral scent. It's an incense-heavy, spicy, dirty, sexy little number. Maybe a slightly fresher, softer, more patchouli-driven Diptyque L'autre (L'autre goes to Catholic Church?) or a non-musk incense-y Muscs Koublai Khan. Perhaps "Xanadu" is his smoky palace, laden with violets, roses, and fresh green plants, and yet still baking in the smell of the Khan himself. I do wonder what these two smells would be like side by side...
Anyway, I love this scent. But I may give it to my boyfriend because with that sexy cumin-note at the end (which I didn't detect in the shop!) I may love it on him more.
In Angela's mind this one may be a magic forest, but in mine it's a magic Eastern jungle! A temple ruin, full of strange gods, dark secrets, and ritualistic taboos....