Nathan Branch blog – July 16, 2011

I received an email last week from AbdesSalaam Attar, the self-taught perfumer behind the Italian La Via del Profumo brand, announcing that he was getting ready to launch a new fragrance called “Sharif” (an adjective meaning “noble” or “highborn”) — the first in a planned series of seven Arabian-influenced perfumes.

I’ve written about Mr. Attar (aka Dominique Dubrana, a Frenchman living in Italy and a convert to Sufism) before, and I’ve been impressed with a good number of his wide-ranging natural perfumes, so much so that I even sent a coffret of samples to scent critic Donna Hathaway last year, convinced she’d be a fan.

She promptly fell in love with Attar’s deft style and wrote some glowing reviews to prove it:

1.) A Journey Into The Unknown;

2.) Tasneem, Night Blossom, Tabac and Mecca Balsam;

3.) Acqua Santa, African Night & Grezzo (d’ Eleganza);

4.) An Artist’s Palette of Choices


I can’t help but think that Donna would also appreciate Sharif — a warm, almond-infused oriental with a bit of real civet musk that nudges the composition into sophisticated leather territory, like helping yourself to a tin of almond biscotti in the plush back seat of a Rolls.

*NOTE 1: I mean, sure, I’ve ridden in the back seat of a Rolls, and I’ve eaten from a tin of biscotti, but I haven’t done the two together, so I’m extrapolating a bit here. Work with me.

AbdesSalaam mentioned that he began his Arabian series after a trip to the city of Salalah in the country of Oman, inspired by its hot desert sun, wandering herds of camels and groves of Frankincense trees.

“I was asked for the Series by a local customer who wishes to distribute my perfumes in the Gulf countries,” AbdesSalaam wrote, which means that Sharif is created to appeal to sensibilities outside the mainstream Western markets — though niche fragrance followers will already be keen on this particular curve, what with the last three-to-five year flood of oud, leather and incense scents.


In the BBC’s recent 3-Part Perfume series, the last segment, “The Smell of the Future“, addresses the swing of fragrance trends away from the U.S. and Europe to the Middle East, Asia and South America.“The Russians want rich and heavy,” the narrator states. “The Chinese crave light and airy, and the Brazilians go bananas for fruits.

In Arabia, they (choose) musky oriental scents that were the rage in Victorian England . . . the tastes of London, Paris and New York will soon count for little.”So AbdesSalaam Attar’s planned Arabian Series is arriving right on cue, if not just for his Persian Gulf clients, but for the rest of us, too.


Sharif is an all-natural perfume, which is a signature of the entire La Via del Profumo line — and AbdesSalaam’s use of genuine animal musks in his formulations, such as civet, castoreum, ambergris and hyraceum, lend many of his natural perfumes a sense of depth and longevity that other animal-free all-natural brands sometimes lack.

*NOTE 2: Beach-harvested ambergris, a favored animal musk for its complex toasted aroma, is starting to crop up more often in independent DIY brands (Aftelier Parfum Prive and Soivohle Riverwalk, for example) due to the relaxing of bans on the use of ambergris; however, it’s still too rare and expensive a raw material for mainstream use.

Sharif would be considered a masculine scent according to Middle Eastern standards, but Western, niche-fan females might also find its leather-amber-musk trio appealing.

Personally, I like it a lot — it hits all my “Say Yes” buttons: a smartly leathered opening (but not overly so, because I think I’ve made it very clear how I’m not of fan of the “overly so” when it comes to leather), a spoonful of sugared almond to help the musk go down, and a rich dry down trailing subdued wisps of incense smoke in its wake.


Sillage is medium. The scent has presence and a lingering touch, but like the majority of all-natural perfumes, it wears softly, so it’s unlikely that you’ll overdo it and clear out a room unless you go all WWE with the nozzle and dump half the bottle on yourself.

*NOTE 3: In other words, you’re getting elegance, not a foghorn-leghorn.

I’m not certain of the exact date when Sharif will be released — I checked the website today and it isn’t yet listed — but since Mr. Attar is currently sending out samples to bloggers, I would assume the release is imminent.

I’ll post an update when I get more details.

UPDATE: And it’s now up and running on the site. You can find it here: Sharif

*By the way: Orders from La Via del Profumo can be shipped internationally, so don’t despair that AbdesSalaam is in Italy and you’re . . . wherever you are.

I’ve ordered LVdP fragrances to be delivered both to the U.S. and New Zealand — the packages arrived quickly (within a week’s time) and I didn’t experience a hitch with customs either way.

***The bottle pictured is the 32 ml. size, and was supplied by La Via del Profumo for photos and review.