Bahiana by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier is an absolute delight from beginning to end. Part of the delight comes from surprise – this is the rare tropical fruity floral that manages to side step all of the “flip-flops and pina colada” associations that usually go along with the genre. It opens on the most realistic note of freshly peeled mandarins that I have ever smelled. It is so good that I blinked in astonishment and then spent the next few hours spritzing it on again to play this part of the show back again.
Of course, the volatile citrus cannot be sustained, but it is a testament to the skill of perfumer Jeanne-Marie Faugier (who did Vespres Siciliennes for MDCI and Caravelle Epicee for Frapin) that what follows is as interesting and well-done as the start. It is basically a light rose and citrus duo resting on a bed of creamy guaiac wood and coconut. The coconut here is not the shouty, suntan oil type of coconut used in everything from Creed’s Virgin Island Water (which I quite enjoy) to Serge Lutens’ Un Bois Vanille (which I don’t). Rather, it is present in the perfume only as a sort of breezy, salty wood accent that calls to mind more the fibrous husk of the coconut rather than the flesh itself.
The dry down is remarkable for sustaining the essential character of the fruit and woods accord right to the end – in my experience, tropical fruity-florals usually verge off into sourness (Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, to give a prime example) or die a sudden death on my skin after a mere two hours (Virgin Island Water). Make no mistake about it – this is no heavy-hitter in the sillage or longevity stakes. You do need to reapply after four hours, which is the most I can get out of it. But the scent is so beautifully light, balanced, and natural-smelling, that reapplying it just makes me happy to be smelling it all over again. If you are looking for a tropical fruity floral that has brains, class, and lasts longer than a traditional eau de cologne, then this one should be in the running. Its genius lies in making you feel like you are relaxing on a beach without actually smelling like a beach. Perfect for people, like me, who work in an urban jungle and who need a shot of sunshine (but not a shot of tequila).
Thanks to Essenza Nobile for the sample! It can be obtained here.