Sapphires have an interesting history. Mined from many different regions, they can be a variety of colors depending on the trace elements present in the stone. The most common color is blue, which is where my mind immediately went when I heard the name...but the stone can come in various reds, blues, and even orange...the rarest being the Padparadscha, which is an orange or orange-pink sapphire that comes by its color naturally and was originally mined in Sri Lanka. The sapphire was thought to bring blessings from the heavens in the middle ages, and has been used for purposes of protection, spiritual enlightenment, and peace as well as being conducive to clairvoyance and astral projection. A gem with such high power and expectation would have to have a scent that could reflect the strength of the stone.
Dark Saphir opens with a burst of violet leaf and citrus which gets quickly tempered by a filter of oud. This is the oud that is vaguely medicinal but not of the "band aid" variety. A plum note, brimming with juicy pulp, mixes with the citrus and violet giving the scent a purple feel. At this point, the scent gives the feel of warm sunlight in an exotic locale. Here is the fruit of the market, there are some trinkets made of wood, and in the distance you can smell the fragrant stall brimming with bowls of spice, waiting to be measured and weighed.
The scent sweetens somewhat, and now a slight leather peeks out as well as a light dose of incense. There are florals weaving their way through the composition as well. However, they are so well blended that at no point does this become a floral scent. It's as if you are surrounded by a floral-scented air that has become so much a part of the environment that you don't sense it until you walk back outside, where it hits you with a wave of light, ethereal sweetness. Although the fragrance sweetens at this stage, at no point does it become anything but unisex. With the appearance of leather and incense, this now becomes a scent that starts suggesting an ethnic market in modern, urban landscape. The smoke evokes a cooling effect while the plum continues to add a brightness....cold, but not unwelcoming. The whole effect, once again, is that of an indigo-purple rather than blue and I would almost refer to it as a meditative stage if not for the transparent overlay of fruit. It reminds me of a better balanced version of Indult Isvaraya, structured to be more attractive to a wider audience.
The scent does a beautiful gradual dip into its final stage. The scent becomes a sophisticated incense-like scent that never goes churchy or overly commercial. When I read the notes for this fragrance I quickly found my bottles of copaiba and labdanum, and tried to figure out what was so appealing to me. A veil of smoke, a smattering of herb, the sense of a blue evening right as the air cools....the lingering hint of sweetness from fruit and flowers. In investigating my bottles of copaiba, labdanum and peru balsam, I can safely say that the base of this fragrance holds elements of all....the smoke imbued leather holding them together must be the nagarmotha.
I love this scent for the personality it brings. Upon reading more about sapphires, I find this scent to be very representative of the stone itself. Like a beautiful silk sari in vibrant colors, this scent is a shapeshifter and gives the dual experience of warm color and cool fabric, rich and shimmering and somewhat tactile in its lush softness. This is a scent of strength in identity. It's the embodiment of this generation of cultures blending in cityscapes that when taken in terms of sections can be very unique, but when viewed as a whole creates a whole new environment in which the elements complement one another rather than any piece being greater than the others.
Agonist is a line that has rocketed to one of the top positions of my Favorite Perfume Houses list. The inital line, for me, had some hits and some misses, but each subsequent release has proven to be better than the previous. In the beginning, there seemed to be a period of both scorn and admiration for this house stemming from the the original highly priced releases, with people overlooking the fact that the initial releases were only available in one of a kind glass flacons which is what drove the prices so high..... yet when they were release in the regular bottles, people seemed less impressed with the juice; whether it was due to reformulation or the increased availability I could not tell you. I, however, had never tried the scents in the original bottles so i never could compare.....therefore my enjoyment of the scents was never potentially swayed by the price paid. Does perfume smell better when it comes encased in a work of art? Perhaps....we are always convinced that we are getting something special when we spend more.....but in this case, I say the art is in the scent rather than the bottle.