It’s impossible to talk about Maria Candida Gentile’s Sideris without a smile. If Tinkerbell and the Archangel Gabriel got together to make a perfume, Sideris is what they would come up with.
Two things are important to mention here – radiance and scale. In terms of radiance, Maria Candida Gentile has somehow managed to take the heaviest and stickiest substances in perfumery – French labdanum, incense, myrrh, beeswax – and infuse the whole thing with light and air. This is a perfume that radiates. It glows. In fact, what hits you first, when you spray it on, is this incredible note of powdered sugar, the result of a very hazy, diffuse mix of incense and rose. This powdered sugar note coats the entire perfume from head to toe, a sort of fairy dust sifted over the heavier resins. A gentle shake of the spice jar – pepper and ginger – add to the sprightly, nose-tingling effect. The dust is finally anchored and settled at the base by creamy woods.
There is something about the texture that reminds me of the powdery, dry cedar-incense accord used so much by Andy Tauer, but whereas Andy is fond of a touch of Iso E Super to add radiance to his compositions, this perfumer takes the all-natural route. In other words, there is nothing synthetic in feel or reach of the incense here. And yet, Sideris achieves an unearthly sort of radiance that would normally only be possible with Iso E Super or another woody amber material.
Most important to me, however, is the fact that even in the crowded field of incense scents, Sideris manages to distinguish itself as a completely different beast. It is not one of those huge, soaring “church” incense perfumes you might have smelled before, such as Avignon by Comme des Garcons, Full Incense by Montale, or Cardinal by James Heeley. These scents take incense, blow it up into cathedral-sized places of worship, and instill a sense of gloom and awe into the wearer. Not so with this one. Sideris is an incense-based perfume that is scaled down to domestic proportions. It is a quiet moment of reflection over a cup of tea. It is the private rolling out of a prayer mat in your bedroom as dawn approaches. More than anything, it is a priest sweeping out the steps of the church as he opens up for the day, the mica from the dust glittering in the sun as he gives you a grin and a lusty “Buongiorno!” on your way to get an espresso.
In other words, you don’t have to be a Catholic or go to church to like this. I put this on, and no matter what kind of bad day I am having, I feel like I am floating around in my own personal cloud of magic fairy dust, protected by all the bad ju-ju around me. If this sounds appealing, then run, don’t walk to get yourself some. Maria Candida Gentile is one of the rare people in the perfume business who has sensibly decided to sell her perfumes in the I-don’t-want-to-commit size of 15ml, which is what I bought when my sample from Essenza Nobile ran out. But, seeing as how quickly I am running through my little bottle, I am already regretting not getting this in the bath-tub sized version of 100ml.
In conclusion: Sideris is for everyone who wants to tap into their inner fairy.