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March 01, 2006

Perfume Review: Sira des Indes Jean Patou


Aside from the siren call of novelty, Sira des Indes was to be eagerly anticipated, if only for the Jean Patou tradition. Jean Patou fragrances, from the breathtakingly perfect marriage of jasmine and rose de mai in Joy to the osmanthus bejeweled animalic richness of 1000, exhibit a kind of statuesque and confident beauty that is rarely encountered. Even En Joy, despite its compromises with the dominant fruity-floral trends and unfortunate powdery sweetness, delights with the delicate balance of its floral heart.

High expectations or not, I certainly could not have foreseen that Sira des Indes would be dominated by transparent and sweet pear notes before melting into the gourmand drydown of slightly balsamic vanilla, musk and amber. ...

It is definitely not a pink and sheer fruity-floral; however, like En Joy, it does not avoid falling under the spell of the trend for gourmand orientals. Whether following the trend is a good or a bad thing might depend on one's view. The loftier my impression of a perfume house, the more expectations I have that it will offer unusual and novel compositions rather than being influenced by what already exists on the market. Sira des Indes straddles the line between novelty and trendiness, with results that may satisfy neither those who seek daring nor those who crave the familiar. 

This is not to say that Sira des Indes lacks beautiful facets. Indeed, its assertive animalic leitmotif separates the composition from the rest of the gourmand perfumes popular at the moment. Sira des Indes weaves in a surprising cured tea leaf note of magnolia champaca into its sweet fruity accord, while the animalic notes heighten the sensual aspect, vividly evoking a tropical opulence where some flowers bloom while others decay. The voluptuous vanillic sweetness of the drydown recalls Julye, a fragrance made by the talented Jean Michel Duriez, the in-house Jean Patou nose, as an example of his bespoke perfumery. Yet, while in Julye, the rich vanilla is balanced by leather, Sira des Indes amplifies the sweetness with amber and musk. I feel that it is as close to a vision of India as the cinematic confections of Bollywood starring Aishwarya Rai are to a reflection of Indian social trends. In other words, not very, but both are highly appealing.  Sira des Indes is a remarkably crafted creation by Duriez, and even if I wished that it would have embarked upon a more daring and unpredictable course, its beauty cannot be denied.

Sira des Indes includes notes of magnolia champaca, banana accord, bergamot, pear, red berries, cardamom, musk, amber, vanilla and sandalwood. As I mentioned earlier, the name refers to the South Indian dessert of cream of wheat, butter and sugar, which is usually served with banana slices on the side. It is also a tribute to Sita, the loyal queen from the epic Ramayana and the Sari. It is already available at Saks5thAvenue, and soon Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Sephora will carry the fragrance.

Photo: Aishwarya Rai, Indian actress and model, still from "Devdas."



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