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Bakir – More than just an exotic memory - February 24, 2012

Photo - Wikipedia - The Slave and the Lion, 19th C. by Georges Rochegrosse


Gwen, in her Monday post – “Venezia – The Five Stages of Discontinued or Reformulated Frag Grief“ starts with the comment:

 ....”The loss of a favourite frag can be devastating....fragrance is a small thing that can make a big difference in our lives. The loss of something that brought you a simple pleasure, that you looked forward to wearing, is a real drag.”

Read this very entertaining post all the way through, and you’ll find her very wise conclusion: “..... if you have an open heart, you may just find that the reformulation is FBW – it’s not the original, but worth having in its own right.”

She’s right, of course – absolutely right - and her post got me thinking about the reformulations or reproductions I own of favourite frags from my past.

Bakir comes to mind. You’ve likely never heard of it, because it wasn’t a huge seller by a big brand, but it was an exceptional woody Oriental from Germaine Monteil that I wore with passion in the mid-70’s, with crocheted shawls, bell-bottom jeans, and headscarves made from bright Indian silk. You get the picture.

It just disappeared from the shelves after a few years, so I never replaced my original bottle of Bakir. Too bad – life goes on when you’re young, in the moment, and not thinking thirty years into the future when you’ve become an obsessed perfume collector and would KILL to have even a few drops of that incredible scent. I moved on to another frag – I think it was Magie Noire, another sad story of lost love and reformulation, which I’ll leave for another day........back to Bakir. I now have a bottle of the new Bakir, made by Irma Shorell's Long Lost Perfume, and according to their website, it is the original formula.

Bakir is a HUGE Oriental. By huge, I mean that this scent is full, rich, colourful, layered, exotic, opulent, and deeply satisfying. And I don’t mean by “huge” that it falls into the all-encompassing suffocating sillage category, because it doesn’t, but rather I mean that it maintains its rich character through the dry-down, never slipping into a generic skin scent. Its name in Hebrew means The Chosen One, and believe me, when you choose to wear Bakir, you are wearing a PERFUME!

The top notes are citrus orange, spiced with nutmeg and pimento, rounded with a hint of tart raspberry so that first impressions are bright and juicy, and within a few seconds they shift into a slightly greener feel with the addition of galbanum. Sweetening over the next few minutes with labdanum and orange flower, Bakir moves into the heart of velvety florals – heliotrope, rose, jasmine, ylang - their power balanced by herbal lavender and musty geranium. And clove – there is a clove note which, when combined with the rose, is just stunning, and builds a little fire in the heart of Bakir.

Whe the basenotes start to rise, then Bakir comes into itself – darker, and much more exotic and Oriental-ish. Myrhh, amber, and smoky benzoin blend into a smooth rich incense note, like red glowing embers, but with a slight resinous undertone from green oakmoss and earthy patchouli to keep the smokiness really interesting. What’s next, you think, and then sandalwood and musk twist together into a sensual woody accord that wafts gently with the incense and spiced florals. They’re all there, right to the end, a palette of notes that weave together into an opulent, colourful, gorgeous scent. 

Does this reproduction of Bakir smell the same as the original? I don’t have a decant of the vintage, so I can’t compare. And you know what? I really don’t care. Bakir was from an era when perfume was expected to be opulent, or decadent, or larger than life, when it was part of dressing with style and preparing yourself for seduction by dabbing a bit of exotic mystery, rather than “fruit juice”, behind your ears or in your cleavage.

There's nothing like it anymore, and I would far rather have this bottle of the new Bakir to wear now, than let this wonderful perfume just remain a memory.

Bakir is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml..


Gwen’s conclusion is spot-on – “it’s not the original, but worth having in its own right.” - read her Venezia post here.