Not much is known about the ancient civilization of the Garamantes, the supposed ancestors of the Touareg people who live in the Sahara Desert. There are few sources about the Garamantes origin and their culture. They may or may not have crossed the desert in chariots, and may have ruled the seas. Their decline and disappearance are also shrouded in mystery. Few ruins of their cities have remained, such as the one in the photo above, hinting of a story about their glory days. This was the inspiration for Parfums MDCI Cuir Garamante.
In reality, Cuir Garamante is far less exotic and fierce than some of the descriptions I've read. It's a very civilized spicy rose-oud composition, exquisitely done- like everything by Parfums MDCI, but not very original. It's also not as leathery as the name suggests. In fact, I wouldn't call Cuir Garamante a leather perfume at all, despite the presence of a soft and smooth leather note somewhere in the background.
Tested both on my skin and on the husband's, the most dominant facet of this fragrance is rose. What starts as a sizzling bright rose becomes darker and spicier very quickly. The pairing of saffron and rose is a beloved classic, and I get fragments of familiar scents here: from Safran Troublant and Agent Provocateur to Black Cashmere and By Kilian Rose Oud. Not exactly, of course, just small reminders that this is something we've smelled before.
Cuir Garamante distinguishes itself by its smoothness. The soft leather gathers everything together, heats up the spices, and caresses the oud. There are no sharp edges, nothing particularly challenging or medicinal about the oud accord used here, and absolutely no barnyard. The rose is rounded, slightly fruity, almost voluptuous. Even I can't complain about it, because there's nothing fresh or green about this rose. It's sultry, actually, with just a dusting of desert grime to make it more interesting.
Cuir Garamante dries down into a semi-oriental. It's not quite sweet, but almost creamy, which goes well with the supple leather. There's supposed to be some vanilla there, but this should not be your reason to try (or ignore) this perfume-- it's not about vanilla or any other gourmand idea despite the spices. It's a rose. A very satisfying and elegant rose, for sure, but not something we haven't smelled many times before.
Notes: pink pepper, nutmeg, saffron, rose, oud accord, papyrus, leather, vanilla, labdanum, incense, sandalwood.
Parfums MDCI- Cuir Garamante ($250, 75ml EDP in the regular bottle without the bust cap) is available at Osswald and Luckyscent.
Photo via Howzit MSN.