Coco Chanel famously said " Elegance is refusal". It can be applied to many things, including the idea of nobility that AbdesSalaam Attar, the perfumer behind Italian line La Via del Profumo wrote about when describing Sharif:
Sharif, a 2011 release, is an incredibly complex wood/animalic fragrance. The aromatic opening is a bit deceiving-- you almost think that you're getting an old school balsamic camphoric men's cologne when it captures you and pulls you into its world: leather, amber, and the unmistakable touch of civet. Sharif, like other La Via del Profumo fragrances aims to take you away from the world of perfume as you know it. This time the journey is to an imaginary desert. The landscape is stark and the sandstorm blurs reality. There are tall figures approaching, their silhouettes appear in the dusty air. Are they friends or foes? There's a smell of danger in the air."It is said of a person that he is noble even though not of noble descent. Nobility, for the fierce people of the desert, is a quality of the soul. Sharif is a fragrance that attracts attention to the person who wears it, like the radiant light of a noble person’s character attracts the attention of all those present, an attraction of the soul. Sharif is the fragrance of a noble sheikh of Arabia who has chosen supreme elegance over flamboyance, gentleness over arrogance and seduction over haughtiness."
Sharif's desert scene is stark and only marginally sweet. It's as far from what we call an "oriental" perfume as the artwork above is different from the opulence and decadence of Orientalist art. The solitary figure of the scholar and the graphic shapes are the opposite of lush harem pictures with their plush textures and elaborate interiors. In Sharif perfumer AbdesSalaam Attar created this striking figure, aloof at first but not intimidating, attractive in his (or hers) elegance and quiet demeanor.
The perfumer's description of Sharif makes it sound like a very masculine perfume. Obviously I'm not the right person to comment on that-- I wear whatever smells good to me. I do think that it's quite gender neutral and women who find the notes and ideas expressed in this fragrance should give it a try (must love civet). The sillage of Sharif is polite, but it's incredibly long-lasting on mys skin as well as on the husband (10 hours easily); it also clings to fabric until after a second washing. Sharif is an all-natural perfume, meaning no synthetic ingredients, but it's decidedly not vegan. The civet you smell here is the real thing, and I'm pretty sure I don't want to know where and how AbdesSalaam Attar acquired it.
Notes: almond, amber, leather, balsam, woods, civet.
Have a look at other reviews of Sharif by Lucy on IndiePerfumes and Kevin on NST.
La Via del Profumo- Sharif (€45, 15.5ml ) is available from profumo.it, where you can also purchase samples. Samples for this review were sent by the perfumer.
Art: The Scholar by Osman Hamdy Bey, oil on canvas, 1878.