Monday, January 21, 2008

Sabi by Henry Dunay

Sabi by Henry Dunay was blended by the same nose who created one of my favorites from many years ago, Red by Giorgio Beverly Hills (1989). I loved that richly aromatic-powdery Aldehydic Floral-Oriental-Chypre blended with everything but the kitchen sink in it. I had a friend who rocked Giorgio (1982) in very minute amounts (all unkind stereotypes regarding Giorgio aside, she was a shy, very reserved but sophisticated friend who lived on the Upper West Side), and I, the girl from the boroughs, opted for Red, the "softer" fragrance, which wasn't so soft after all and catered well to my high-energy, intense personality. Sabi in comparison to Red is a much tamer blend but also a rich blend of over 250 oils. I'd say the quality of Sabi is better than that of Red, and if I were to choose between the two today, I'd take Sabi in a heartbeat. However, unless you liked a retro Green Floral scent, you might opt for the Red, or even Giorgio. You just don't know till you try.

It's been written Sabi was created in 1998 for the 40+ woman but I don't believe in age casting (and find it terribly sexist), so this Gen Xer is happy to wear it. Jan Moran's book, Fabulous Fragrances, lists many celebrities and their favorite perfumes; Sabi is supposedly a Diane Sawyer fave. Brainy and graceful--I think that's a nice association. Sabi is a Japanese word meaning "rust" but with a complex meaning; roughly, it's a poetic, classical aesthetic, philosophical term for beauty, refinement and serenity that comes with age--also appreciation of things that are old or transient, fleeting, leaving, changing form (read more about wabi-sabi here and on Wikipedia). Perhaps this is the kind of scent that fits an independent woman who's happy in and accepting of her own skin--a scent for a woman who has lived and seen enough to tell a meaningful tale or two.

Kiku no ka ya (scent of chrysanthemums)
Nara ni wa furuki (in Nara all the many)
Hotoketachi (Ancient Buddhas)
(Haiku of Basho 1644-94)

I'll tell you what Sabi reminds me of: a cross between 3 perfumes, all pretty far away from eachother but sharing a green aspect: Kenzo Ca Sent Beau (the original Kenzo, a gorgeous white floral blend with a touch of fruit), the original Armani pour Femme (so hard to find, a dazzling Green Floral with a pale Chypre aspect--fresh and rich but more floral than woody) and Sage Jade, a semi-spicy vanillic Green Oriental with a white floral heart. The overall impression Sabi has on me is a spicy jasmine on a woody-vanillic base, but the opening Chypratic Green quality, as fleeting as it may be, is well worth the experience. It's the kind of dazzle I've only smelled in one other perfume besides Armani, and that is the now discontinued Deneuve.

In fact, I find Sabi and Deneuve pretty similar now that I think about it: the bottle designed by Henry Dunay is also somewhat reminiscent of the Deneuve bottle with a crossover (cross-your-heart?) female torso shape (remember Ungaro Diva? Like that), except the Deneuve bottle design was more abstract. To compare Sabi with Deneuve one-on-one, I think Deneuve is the more Chypratic in the long run. The dry down of Sabi is still relatively Chypre but more Oriental, almost a sweet, musky sandalwood incense. Maybe Sabi's dry down is where the Japanese name makes a real connection. However, if I pay closer attention, Sabi reminds me of Estée Lauder Private Collection, a Green Chypre featuring a chrysanthemum heart.

If Givenchy III, Yves-Saint Laurent Y or Miss Dior were too heavy on the Chypre, and you can't find Armani or Deneuve to try anymore, Sabi could fill in as a wonderful new option with all those refreshing aspects but with emphasis on the big, round floral heart--complex but not too aloof, sometimes spicy and stimulating, then sweet and somewhat emotionally unrestrained, crisply professional when it wants to be, cool and collected or down-to-earth. Easy-going and flexible, even worldly, unbiased and all-encompassing, it is very zen in these respects. Multifaceted with many layers to reveal, Sabi is a conceptual statement sure to interest even those who've smelled them all and feel a bit olfactorily jaded.