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June 2024


Lattafa: The Good, the Bad, and the Meh

10th June 2024


When you move to Africa after a whole life spent in Europe, you quickly begin to grasp the economies of scale (and lack of trade tariffs) that made your nine euro litre of olive oil or four euro bottle of Pantene conditioner possible.  In Africa, the rule of thumb is that everything that is imported is eye-wateringly expensive, while everything homegrown, like avocadoes, shea butter, and Uber drivers, can be had for pennies. 


Interestingly, however, Middle-Eastern perfume, though technically imported, is as cheap as a bag of mangoes.  This is because the import-export relationships set up by the large Saudi or Emirati-owned corporations catering to the significant Muslim population in East Africa (Carrefour is franchised, for example, by the Emirati firm Majid al Futtaim) allow Middle-Eastern perfumes to ride into this region on the same economies-of-scale train that travels the length and breadth of the European trade bloc. 


All this to say, while I ration my single block of Parmesan cheese for months at a time, shaving it off in razor-thin slices onto my pasta as if it were a Goddamn white truffle, I have not been so parsimonious with the ole Lattafas.  Now, fine perfume this is not.  It is big, it is bold, and it more often than not is knocking off something way more expensive.  But.  But.  There is something to be said for sinking your whole self into the sensory pleasure that is perfume for the price of one whole tube of CeraVe moisturizer. 


Let’s take a good, long look at everything I’ve smelled, what I’ve gifted to others, and what I decided to buy for myself over the past year, because not even cheapies should be immune to critical inspection.  I mean, sooner or later, three or four Lattafas add up to a whole bottle of olive oil, so one must draw a line somewhere.   


The Good

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Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash


Lattafa Nasheet


Ostensibly a dupe of Nishane’s Ani, I find that Nasheet to be the better scent experience.  It resolves several problems I have with Ani.  First, while I love the green, almost pungent pop of ginger root and citrus of Ani’s topnotes, I find it meanders into a brief but mawkish ‘designer store aroma’ phase that I don’t love, before eventually re-righting itself into a creamy, resinous amberilla (half amber, half vanilla).  Of course, that bit is as heavy as a brick wrapped in a duvet, so sometimes Ani’s drydown feels right-sized but sometimes it feels like trying to lift weights under water.


Nasheet’s innovation is that it feels like 60% of Ani on a good day.  I can breathe in and around it.  It carries the spice – more cardamom than ginger, meaning it is both fresher and less powdery – further into the amberilla accord, laying it out over the golden sweetness like a lace veil made of zesty black pepper.  A beautiful orange peel note haunts the structure, more the scent of an orange peeled three hours ago in a nearby room than the volatile juiciness of a fresh one. 


The glittery, sandy amberilla in the drydown is a spackling of mica on the skin, as diffuse as starlight.   People call Ani a vanilla, which I don’t quite understand – if you add enough hard, crunchy resin to vanilla, what you end up with is amber.  (I am conceding to the daub of vanilla that lurks within this amber accord by calling it an amberilla).


People also say that Nasheet is weak and disappears within two hours, but all that tells me is that a whole generation of noses have been permanently altered by over-exposure to brutish aromachemicals chosen for their extreme radiance, Amberwood, Norlimbanol, and Ambroxan among them.  I feel sad for them, but also honor bound to point out when their poor, deformed noses are simply wrong – Nasheet hangs around all day long.   It is discreet, yes, but present enough for colleagues to comment on my scent trail after an 11-hour day at the office.   For those of you old enough to remember when perfumes lived and died on their own merit rather than limp on for eons via the easy-won brutality of modern woody ambers, listen to what I am telling you.  Nasheet is endlessly pleasant without a trace of those modern poisons.  And at twenty odd euros, I consider that a win.  



Musamam White Intense


Of all my recent acquisitions – and this one I bought blind – Musamam White Intense is the most baffling.   I bought it because all the descriptions I could fine online were for a creamy but fresh coconut-sandalwood scent.   The only lactones I love are the ones that exist in nature, i.e., milky notes wrenched from peach skin, fig leaf sap, or sandalwood, rather than from an off-the-shelf aromachemical labelled ‘milk’ or ‘gelato’, so the naturally blond-on-blond idea of Musamam White Intense appealed greatly to me.   But smelled blind, I would have pegged this more as the lime peel and rubbery, peachy undertones common to some frangipani materials, over a tart, pale lumberyard-ish wood that might be sandalwood but that could also be hinoki or oak, given its vague, slightly featureless woodiness (I guess I was right about the blond).  While it’s true, technically, that there is a tiny bit of milkiness and a nuance one might conceivably define as coconutty if you squint hard enough, the character of this scent is mostly sour, silvery woods washed in a mineral stream with citrus rind.


Despite the gap between expectation and reality, I quite like Musamam White Intense and wear it the most out of all my recent acquisitions.  Or, maybe it’s not so much that I like it but that I have yet to figure out what it smells like to me.   It continuously evades my grasp, which frustrates me.   It might be the rare case of a Lattafa that is abstract and therefore complex, or it might be that what this scent is going for is something like the scent of driftwood on a winter’s beach, in which case it nails the brief.   Spun as a citrusy, woody ‘ambergris’ beachcomber scent, I get it.   I can see that.   Try to sell me Musamam White Intense as a creamy-milky-coconut thing, though, and I start to believe that most of the people reviewing it are either full of shit or are aping the review below them out of fear that what they are smelling must be ‘wrong’. 



Bade’e Al Oud Amethyst 


The neighborhood where I live is roughly 50% Muslim, 50% Christian, so I see my fair share of ladies wearing everything from the hijab and a relaxed niqab to the full-on burqa.   They all seem to be wearing either Yara or Amethyst, billowing regally from beneath their voluminous folds.   I was at a drag race rally (not sure if this is the right name for it) around Eid-al-Fitr in April, which I enjoyed intensely not because of the car racing but more for the deeply exotic scents mingling in the warm air – the hot rubber and asphalt from the screeching tires, the spicy, cuminy sweat of unwashed men’s shirts, and the intensely jammy rose and jasmine loudness of the combined perfumes steaming in thick roils off my niqabi ladies.   


Amethyst captures everything of this event – the smoky, rubbery petrol fumes, the rich roses, the Turkish delight rosewater flavour, the Arabian jasmine – and even if it does immediately smell a little synthetic, it smells so fabulously out there and regal that you can’t help you be wowed.  The thing that makes me pause – and the reason I haven’t bought a bottle yet – is that the drydown is a little sour and ashy, like me after a night in the pub.   Still thinking about it, though. 




Kalemat on steroids.  It smells exactly like warm treacle tart, which is made with Lyle’s Golden Syrup and breadcrumbs pressed gently into an all-butter, short-crust pie shell, but over a rubbery, slightly sour oud wood note that, although more joss stick than actual oud, is surprisingly effective at balancing out that syrupy sweetness.  At its heart, it’s an amber, but I always feel that it is much more than that, and that the best I can do is to say it is warm dry wood meets nag champa meets toasty resin and a syrup facet that might be fruit or grain derived, but it doesn’t matter because it is both homespun and slightly exotic in a generic manner.   I love it.  


Khamrah Qahwah  


People say that if you have Khamrah then owning Khamrah Qahwah is redundant – I strongly disagree. Khamrah Qahwah is a substantially better perfume.  The addition of the bitter coffee grounds and fresh, almost green-lemony cardamom notes turn a dull, date-heavy dessert into something far more aromatic and rich in contrast.


The synthetic sawcut drone of the Ambroxan and the cheap, greasy coconut hairspray nuance of the original is muffled under the thick layer of warm, messy ambers and spices, and only ever bothers me when I’ve been swimming and the pool chemicals have peeled all this back to reveal the ugly synthetic skeleton.  In general, though, this is smooth, rich, and a warm, nutty ‘brown’ scent on me, a sort of Lutensian-lite, easy listening shortcut to orientalia.  I like that it reminds me of living in Brcko, where older Bosnian Muslim ladies taught me how to suck down the thickly matted Turkish coffee through a single cardamom pod clasped between my upper and lower front teeth.  Khamrah Qahwah is similar in that it’s gently, not rudely, exotic. 


Ana Abyedh Poudrée  


Ana Abyedh Poudrée is a creamy, fluffy musk with enough rose and other florals to make it feel chewy, like a soft, white nougat wrapped in edible sugar paper.  Loaded with what feels like cashmeran as well as several type of white musk molecules, it achieves a doughy cream-on-cream effect that I personally find irresistible.  It is somewhat similar to Teint de Neige by Lorenzo Villoresi, but a little sharper and without the overwhelming density of powder that the Villoresi scent famously brings.  The powder aspect of Ana Abyedh Poudrée is at first milky, like a doughnut soaked in tres leches, then super dry – almost tinder box dry – like the trail left by an incense stick or ash in the air after burning Palo Santo.  It is this shifting contract between sharp and soft, doughy and dry, milky and powdery, that I find so appealing.  It may not be everyone’s idea of an ideal white musk, but it comes close to mine. 



Liam Grey


Though famously a dupe of Gris Charnel, I love this as a perfume in its own right – it is a bright, citrusy green fig leaf brewed in rubbery black tea, with the masculine prickle of cardamom and a cooling veil of icy iris milk straight from the fridge.  Both aromatic and creamy, I feel like a lighter version of myself when I wear it.  Slightly woodier than the original Gris Charnel and sweeter than Gris Charnel Extrait, it straddles a happy middle ground that is not so one or the other than you feel guilty for wearing a dupe. 


Further, unlike Gris Charnel Extrait, which unspools into a messy, synthy woodsy affair upon reaching the four hour mark, Liam Grey holds on to its smooth quality until the bitter end.  It smells like the milky masala chai I drink from a local coffee house.   Perfumes like Liam Grey make me think someone at Lattafa has realized that not everything they turn out have to have that rubbery synth edge for a perfume to be beautiful and long-lasting.   I would never spend BDK prices of a bottle of Gris Charnel, partially because I already own a scent in the same genre (Remember Me by Jovoy) and partially because I think only Caron has the right to charge over 300 euros for a genuine extrait (though I wouldn’t pay Caron prices for the state of Caron output these days).  But I was and am happy to take a 25 euro gamble on a bottle of Liam.  For me, it is a ridiculously high return on investment for a scent that gives me everything that the original does.  



Ishq Al Shuyukh Gold


Ishq Al Shuyukh Gold is a thick welterweight of a perfume – a doorstopper actually – featuring a meaty, red, drippingly iodic saffron leather boot left to fester and ooze and impregnate a bowl of the heaviest vanilla cream imaginable.  The pungency of the saffron is immense, with its burnt tire and bitter, metallic medicine aspects out on full display, all adding up to a rich, rubbery leather note that seems too raw and bloody to be put in the front window, but you feel the economic pressure to rush it out anyway. 


The thick, custardy vanilla lapping at its raw, meaty edges is a dopamine rush that you can hear thundering at you a mile away, like the hot oatmeal pouring down the hill towards the villagers in The Girl and the Porridge Pot story.  It is so dairy rich.  Though a bit rough and scary at the start, the beauty of this scent is in the drydown, when everything smells like soft, buttery, but still a bit leathery, like a vanilla pod removed from its bath of cream and split open easily with the merest touch of pressure from your fingernail. 


It is very similar to Vanagloria, without the fresh pineapple weirdness, which I guess makes it similar to YSL Babycat and Rosendo Mateu #5, but if I could get the 135 euros back that I spent on Vanagloria (Laboratorio Olfattivo), my favourite of this genre, and put 35 euros down on Ishq instead, then I would.  Since they all traverse the same basic trajectory from a thick, tight knot of sticky resins, leather, and saffron to a smoother, more relaxed ‘black vanilla cream’ suede aroma, there is not much point in owning more than one of these exemplars.  However, I am happy with keeping a bottle of Ishq in Africa and a bottle of Vanagloria in Europe.  Separated by continents and whole economic markets, they each occupy a different plane of existence, like similarly sized planets in solar systems millions of light years away from one another. 


The Bad

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Photo by Niklas Kickl on Unsplash




I bought Qaa’ed for my husband in 2021 and all four of us have rued the day I did ever since.  Taken in (and not for the last time, I bet) by all the mentions on Fragrantica of warm gingerbread or cardamom cookies, and conveniently ignoring all the reviews that mentioned how it smelled like a loud men’s aftershave, I imported it at some expense from Indian eBay, from whence it was dispatched – it seemed to me, given the seven weeks it took to arrive – on the back of manatees and elephants. 


Exotic back story and all, you might say my expectations were high.  One spray was enough to reveal the gravity of my mistake.  Give it some time to ‘macerate’ they said, and that synthetic-smelling roar will die down to reveal the glories of a highly spiced, leathery, caramelized woody scent.  Reader, it’s been three full years since this thing got shoved to the back of the sock drawer, and having pulled it out again just now, it is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Qaa’ed needs a full 36 months of aging to smell a mere 10% better than it did when you first opened the bottle. 


Rather than tell you what’s ok about this scent (a short list indeed, and includes the bottle), I am going to tell you about what’s wrong with it.   First of all, the combination of treacly, syrupy sweet notes over those brash ‘burnt wood’ aromachemicals make it smell like any generic designer scent that markets itself as ‘smoky’ or ‘oriental’ these days – anything that comes in a black bottle, basically – and is unfortunately close to the chemical marshmallow BBQ stench of By the Fireplace.   The cardamom and other spice notes barely register against the burnt but radiant woody amber, so the gingerbread cookies remain trapped in your hopes and dreams rather than making it out there on your arm.   Lastly, its spicy masculine leather notes take it beyond the outer limits of my personal gender stretchiness – I would no more wear this than I would Brut or Old Spice (but obviously, I am not you, so you do you). 


Lastly – and yes, I know I already promised that the last point was ‘lastly’ but since my hatred of this knows no bounds, I shall continue – it contains a sulfurous chemical that smells like boiled cabbage or broccoli farts, which means it’s giving a little Hard Leather, another monstrosity, this time of the Norlimbanol sort.  



Bade’e Al Oud Honor and Glory


A garish, synthetic-smelling nightmare of a fragrance that pairs a strung-out pineapple note over a depressingly Ambroxinated amber for a result that would be obnoxious in an Axe spray, let alone a personal fragrance.  It brays sporty blue masculine in big neon letters, even though the billing is all crème brulée and lush, tropical, juicy pineapple. 


And you know, I am not sure what it was about that description that made it sound so attractive to me in the first place. Possibly the worst thing you could find at the bottom of a bowl of crème brulée are chunks of pineapple. I mean, have you seen what too much pineapple does to your tongue?  Just imagine what it will do to the soft, wobbly custard.  Curdle city, baby, 


Anyway, all I can smell is the dreadful screech of whatever woody amber they have stuffed into this thing, but I am sure that the people who hate this scent will blame it for being ‘too spicy’.  Spicy, my ass.  Spice is pleasantly nose-tickling, even at its most aromatic or fiery (chili, black pepper) and cannot be held responsible for the almost physically painful nostril sand-blasting effect of nasty, loud aromachemicals. 


Someone, somewhere will bleat plaintively, but what about the turmeric?  To which I say, what about the turmeric?  Turmeric is the face flannel of Spices.  Sure, it can boast of its brilliant ochre dyeing properties and its anti-inflammatory effects, but let’s get real, sensory-wise, it smells like licking the surface of your child’s first attempt at an un-Kilned bowl at a pottery class.  It’s an off-brand saffron, or an even cheaper henna, with a dusty, astringent medicine feel.  It is not going to set your tongue or nose on fire.  No, that’ll be the Amberwood or whatever aromachemical accounts for Honor and Glory’s special flavor of screech.  I see this scent clearly, and unfortunately, it is ug-leeee



Bade’e Al Oud Oud for Glory


My father wears this, which surprises me, because his favorite perfumes are fresh, woody-citrusy vetivers – think Timbuktu, Terre d’Hermès, Eau Sauvage, and Quercus.  I asked him about it, and he said that he only wears it at night when watching TV, so that he is not disturbing anyone but himself.  ‘It’s a bit loud, alright,’ he admitted sheepishly.  A bit loud?  The Krakatoa Eruption was probably quieter.  It is one of those perfumes that I have difficulty perceiving individual notes, obscured as they are by a noxious cloud of greyish, fuzzy Cilit Bang-like chemicals that bloom suddenly and violently, like the blast wave of an atomic bomb.  People say they can smell leather, oud, and patchouli in this – I cannot.  All I smell is harsh.     


Khaltaat Al Arabia Royal Blends


This is another one of Lattafa’s super potent, Amberwood-powered spice bombs aimed squarely at being the loudest bish in the room.  The tech bros will love this one, because like Bade’e Al Oud Honor and Glory, Soleil de Jeddah Mango Kiss, and Erba Pura, it is yet another attempt to make fruit butch.  Now, I don’t know why fruit has to be turned inside out with woody ambers so strident they will strip sebum from your pores at a distance of five meters for them to be macho enough for the bros to wear, but pleasant they are not. 


I feel the same way about Royal Blends as I do Erba Pura, which is to say, puzzled at what the pear or apple ever did to anyone to deserve being dipped into Windex and rolled around in cigarette ash until there’s enough grit on it to pass as manly.   Men, why can’t your mangoes and apples just be soft, juicy, and sunny?  Let fruit be fruit, not a cigar, or a glass of whiskey, or the whole darned library, or whatever other masculine trope they are throwing at the genre these days.   I can smell Royal Blends on my clothes after two wash cycles, which is never a good sign, but God knows, maybe that’s what men want.  I don’t know.  



The Meh

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Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash




From the few glowing reviews I’d seen on YouTube for this, I gather that people are hyping this one to the rafters almost entirely because it is by a ‘name perfumer’ – Quentin Bisch in this case – rather than the usual anonymous perfumer toiling behind the curtains at Lattafa HQ.  I don’t have a problem with perfumers being named because the company shelled out big bucks to get them in, but I do have a problem with everyone assuming that the perfume is going to be amazing just because there is a ‘famous’ perfumer behind it.


The truth – and to be honest, this is something that most vloggers specializing in Middle Eastern cheapies or the pay-to-play, social influencer-paying brands like Parfums de Marley won’t realize – is that for every perfumer with one great perfume to their name, there will be fifty more perfumes in their portfolio that just keep the lights on for a brand somewhere or that came 4th or 5th in an in-house competition brief and were idling on a shelf (or notebook) for a few years until there was a chance to up-cycle it elsewhere.  Quentin Bisch is no exception – he did Angel Muse, which I love, and Ganymede, which many people rate highly, with perhaps the latter being his sole claim to an original, groundbreaking piece of work.  But on a day to day basis, what he is really good at is producing slightly generic-smelling, always syrupy sweet modern compositions that turn out to be commercial hit makers for companies like Gaultier and Parfums de Marley. 


My guess is that much of the praise for Teriaq, therefore, comes from the name recognition of a perfumer associated with some of the most rip-roaringly popular feminine perfumes of the last ten years, like Delina (Parfums de Marly), all of the Le Belle perfumes (Gaultier), Fleur Narcotique (Ex Nihilo), and so on.  The man turns everything he touches to gold, commercially speaking.  Teriaq itself is an example of a perfumer phoning it in for a brand where they think nobody will notice, least of all the genre’s rather uncritical audience, for whom a bottle of perfume need only cost 30 euros for it to be proclaimed a work of genius. 


Anyway, for what it’s worth, Teriaq smells like a mixture of Le Belle (Gaultier) and Pink Sugar (Aquolina), all burnt sugar caramel thickness, but with a lingeringly bitter, green edge that makes me think of immortelle and specifically of Afternoon of a Faun (Etat Libre d’Orange).  There is also a prominent cis-jasmone-heavy material in here that smells like heady jasmine mixed with celery leaf, something that not everyone is going to like, but again, reminding me of the slight bitterness of the myrrh in perfumes like Alien Essence Absolue (Mugler) and indeed of La Belle Le Parfum (Gaultier), the latter penned by Bisch. 


I would describe all this as a rough, green-brown syrupy smell that can’t decide whether it’s the corduroy and pipe vibe of a men’s immortelle chypre along the lines of Afternoon of a Faun or a femme caramel/burnt sugar tonka bomb with a lot of DNA in common with the thick, musky floral sugars of most of the Gaultier and Mugler feminine line up.  For this reason, I think it borders on unwearable, which makes it interesting to see all of the reviews of people struggling to reconcile the lore of the famous perfumer with the over-sweetened, vegetal glop that is being served up here.  It is not a bad perfume, but it is not a good one either.   





The hint of red berry combining with the vanilla gives the topnotes a sweet, anisic character, but with a cheap edge, like those Licorice Allsorts sweets that are a clear anise gel inside and covered with tiny fruity pebbles on the outside.  What strikes me about Nebras from that point onwards is how nice but unremarkable it is.  A sugary vanilla with a faintly dusty edge that might be cocoa but might also be practically anything else, the fruit and anise accents leaving only a trace of a black licorice gumminess.  I almost admire its roundness and lack of edge, but even I  – having bought a whole bottle of it – cannot pretend it is anything but a banal little Vanilla Fields body spray type of thing. 


And actually, this is how I’m using Nebras, as a gentle layer of something vanilla-ish, set at the indoor voice levels of a scented body lotion, under sharper, bustier perfumes that need their edges smoothing out a little.  I realize, of course, that I could achieve the same objective with the Yves Rocher Bourbon Vanilla body lotion, but that is super expensive and hard to find in Africa, so Nebras it is.  



Ansaam Gold


I have never smelled Oriana by Parfums de Marly, after which this is supposedly modelled, but I can confirm that Ansaam Gold is in the same wheelhouse as Love, Don’t be Shy by Kilian, the OG of this particular scent DNA (very little being genuinely original in perfumery).   If you like that sweet, orange blossom-scented marshmallow fluff kind of scent, then Ansaam Gold is precisely that and there is no real need to buy a niche variant for $200-300 more.  I was going to add ‘unless you’re actively trying to avoid the garish-looking bottle of the Lattafa’ when I remembered that the Parfums de Marly bottles are equal in the eyesore stakes.


I don’t personally aspire to smelling like a fluffy, orange-y marshmallow but Ansaam Gold is not bad either.  It is just a little too cute and girlish for it to be something I reach for more than once a year.  I will say, however, that there is a powdery, woody nag champa note in here that is missing in the By Kilian scent, and that this is a marked improvement, as it tamps down the syrupy sweetness of that childish orange blossom note to a bearable degree.   



Art of Arabia I


A very simple, fresh citrus scent with a touch of astringent black tea.  The tannins and silvery, woody blast of bergamot lightly mark the scent out as masculine, though as there is nothing so particularly butch about it – no oakmoss, lavender, or coumarin – that a woman couldn’t pull it off.   It doesn’t feel overly synthetic, even though it hovers close to the functional category.  I just don’t find it very compelling.  I bought a 20ml bottle of it for my son and though he likes it well enough, I think its main attraction to him is as a quick sprucer-upper in lieu of a shower.    





I bought this for my son as part of his Christmas presents last year because he is 13 and gets all his perfume recommendations from Tik Tok (oh, the indignity).  Angel’s Share by Kilian is hugely hyped on that channel and people suggested this as a dupe.  Now, Khamrah is not a dupe of Angel’s Share and we were both smart enough to know it was the near identical bottle that created this impression rather than the scent itself, but ‘similar vibes’ was all he wanted.


Still, expectations properly tempered and all, we were both a little disappointed in Khamrah.  It is sweet to an unpleasant extreme, like dried fruit macerated in sugar syrup for three months and then poured over one of those potent, spiky ambers that have more to do with Amberwood or Iso E Super than actual resin.  The combination of sweet and synthy comes off as slightly cheapened – a feature emphasized by an ghostly coconut Glade note that haunts the drydown – and based on how little my son wears or talks about it,  I can tell he also doesn’t think it measures up to the hype.   


Perhaps I poisoned the well a little by giving him a travel bottle of Ambre Narguilé by Hermes while we were waiting for the Khamrah to arrive, because what else is Angel’s Share but a poor copy of Ambre Narguilé?  I knew when his pupils expanded as he took his first sniff that Khamrah never stood a chance.    




This is THE mall scent in East Africa.  Ladies of all ages from pre-teen to matron seem to be wearing it.  Having tried it multiple times, I can only guess that the desire to smell clean, fluffy, and feminine is universal among women who view perfume as an extension of their grooming ritual and not as the wild, yearning carpet ride into the belly of my imagination as I do.  Seen through this lens, one could do much worse than Yara.  It is a warm fruity-floral suffused with a rosy, marshmallowy musk that has no sharp corners to it at all and no delineation between one note and the next.


Some reviews say this smells like fluffy strawberry milk, the appeal of which I do understand, but this is very much a case of wishful thinking.  I think the general idea here is good – pillowy, soft, clean – but either spring for something that goes full hog on it, like Teint de Neige, or spend the Yara money on the equally cheap but far more beautiful and fluffier Ana Abjedh Poudrée.  



Oud Mood


Despite the name, this is not similar to Oud Satin Mood, nor is it supposed to be.  Rather, it is a jammy, synthy rose-oud that would be unbearable to me were it not for the odd little shifts in its trajectory that keep me entertained.  It starts out as a jammy rose with the regular Lattafa oud – a vile, rubbery synth that smells like tries covered in caramel and signed with a blowtorch – before suddenly shifting into a wet, sheepy labdanum that feels shockingly moldy. 


But before I can begin to pigeonhole this, it morphs again, this time into what I can only describe as a dollop of strawberry-flavored marshmallow fluff.  This odd accent, making its oddly late entry, develops into the most delicious scent of doll head I have ever smelled.  It is the kind of scent I follow strange women into crowds for, trying to find out what it is.  I don’t know why I love this incredibly sweet, dopey smell so much, the only explanation that makes sense to this Mitsouko-wearing, middle-aged woman being that it triggers a Proustian flashback to me playing with My Little Pony when I was a kid.  This accord acts like a sugar high, complete with post-ingestion self-loathing and shame. 


The last twist is that somewhere in the drydown it flips 180 degrees from a syrupy, dollhead-esque rose-oud into a gritty, benzoin-based amber that smells like speckles of brown sugar on a pie crust.  It takes me a few wears until I realize that they have shoehorned the dregs of Raghba into the bones of this scent, making everything else stand atop its sturdy legs. 


Listen, I don’t think Oud Mood is a particularly well-designed perfume. Neither is it objectively ‘good’ under any lens you might examine it under.  It is loud and scratchy and obnoxious as heck for a solid 70% of its development trajectory.  But I’m keeping it around on the off chance that some day, I myself am feeling loud and scratchy and obnoxious and need a fragrance that can stand shoulder to shoulder with me.   



Source of Samples:  I bought my bottles from various sources, among them Notino, eBay, Perfumes Wallet, Middle Eastern Perfumes Kenya, and the Arabic perfume stand in my local mall in Nairobi.  A few samples were included with my orders for free, and several more I smelled at the mall without buying.  I don’t receive PR from Lattafa. 


Cover Image:  Photo by Egor Myznik on Unsplash