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Pays Dogon – vegetal and woody and earthy

Dogon cliff dwellings, Bandiagara escarpment, Mali

"Travel memories, like treasure troves of the mind, require very little to seep back into our lives; a rhythm, a colour, a smell, a taste, an emotion… I can see myself standing there, browsing the outdoor market at the base of the Cliff, admiring the beauty of the women wearing the striped indigo loincloths that tell of their marital status. I can taste the tart yet sweet red hibiscus flower beverage. I can smell the captive humidity of the arid soil, the exotic wood carvings of a sculpture, the stretched leather of a djembe drum… such are the olfactive memories that embody Pays Dogon: textured, raw and authentic."

This is presented by perfumer Isabelle Michaud, founder of niche line Monsillage, as the inspiration for her fragrance, Pays Dogon. It's a pretty enticing description of a memory, and I knew I wanted to smell that perfume before I reached the end of the paragraph.

I've always been drawn to fragrances inspired by travel, and those created by Ms. Michaud are among the best. All nine fragrances currently in the line are full bottle worthy. I'm not the only one who feels that way. In the six years since Monsillage was launched in 2014, two of the fragrances in the line have won Art and Olfactive awards. One of them is Pays Dogon.

The description of Pays Dogon attracted me in part because I know so little about the place. Some research was required.

Wikipedia says this: Dogon country (French: Pays Dogon) is a region of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger populated mainly by the Dogon people, a diverse ethnic group in West Africa with diverse languages.

There was more, but I lost interest when it got to the annual rainfall section. But my interest in Pays Dogon never waned. Finally, I blind bought a bottle (I know, I know…..) and low and behold; there was a surprise in it – something called a Perfume Tale:

"In Mali, amidst the vast Sahelian plains, lies an impressive escarpment named the Cliff of Bandiagara which extends for 90 miles. This surprising geological formation creates a microclimate where humidity and aridity coexist, allowing lush vegetation spurts in a quasi desert setting. The area surrounding the Cliff is called Dogon Country and is inhabited by the Dogon people who took refuge there many centuries ago. They built their traditional dwellings directly onto the rocky slope, making it an architectural gem and an unforgettable sight. The isolation and rough terrain of the area allowed the Dogons to keep their independence and preserve their unique ancestral traditions based on animist beliefs, which celebrate the sacredness of the soul".

Now that I had the complete picture of Dogon Country, all that was left for me was to smell Pays Dogon...

It opens with a note of green, something Ms. Michaud calls 'green oasis'. It's the lush vegetation mentioned in the Perfume Tale. A bracing note of black pepper adds a gentle warmth and earthiness to the oasis. Ginger adds a fresh and spiciness. As the top notes fade, I smell the soft floral note of hibiscus. So soft, it feels like it is being carried along on a breeze blowing over a woody, earthy base of Guaiac wood, earthy, woody, cypriol; aromatic, balsamy sandalwood, rich, dark patchouli and green, earthy Javanese vetiver. That's a lot of woodiness and earthiness, and a note of sweet date rounds it all out beautifully.

Pays Dogon dries down to a soft, woody skin scent that smells like you've been to place far away and exotic, off the beaten track yet familiar. I'm going to be buying and wearing a lot of Pays Dogon. And, I know my husband will too!

Pays Dogon is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.