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Ursa – Patchouli, leather, incense and rum, an Oriental beauty


A couple of weeks ago I was outside in the middle of the night in the front garden with our new pup, waiting impatiently while he tried to figure out why he was there. I wondered why I had thought that having a puppy again was going to be so much fun. Turning my head toward the house, l glanced up and was shocked by the size of the full moon. It looked so incredibly close, so white and bright, like a spotlight directed right on me as I stood there in my pyjamas, wonderstruck. The puppy peed, we went back to our beds, he right to sleep, but I lay there thinking that I need to do more things like get up in the middle of the night and rediscover the unearthly beauty of a full moon. 

End of story, almost. 

A couple of nights ago I had a similar experience with a fragrance I had bought and put away until the time was right to wear it. I unexpectedly rediscovered the startling beauty of a big, full, complex Oriental extrait de parfum. Ursa, a 2015 fragrance by niche Italian candle and perfume house Tiziana Terenzi, hits all my favourite note buttons and made me realize why I love perfume so much. Named after the Ursa Major constellation, it was inspired by the night sky reflected on Lake Como in northern Italy.

At the top is a big smooth patchouli, followed by soft leather notes sprinkled with rum, followed by dried fruit notes and spices, nutmeg and elemi, with its spicy piney citrus facets. But the fruits are subtle, the main star through the drydown is a slightly boozy leathery patchouli, which at times goes woody and smoky as oud (agarwood) sneaks in the heart, then resinous and slightly balsamic green and woody spicy from vetiver and olibanum (frankincense). Tobacco lends a grassy sweet herbal balance to the patchouli, vanilla is used with a light sweet touch in the base to round out the resins. More fine leather plus agarwood appear in the base, creating symphonic waves of the most delicious smoky resinous waft you can dream of.

Created by perfumer Paolo Terenzi and conceived by his sister, artist Tiziana Terenzi, Ursa is an Oriental in the classic sense, extremely well balanced and blended with high quality materials - the patchouli is as close to patchouli perfection as one can get - with a beautiful unique bottle designed by Tiziana. The scent is not animalic or funky but is smooth, resinous and tenacious, and it must be worn on skin to be truly appreciated. Ursa has been compared to Straight to Heaven by Kilian, which is a lighter patchouli, but Ursa is in another perfume class altogether.

Classic, potent, an extrait de parfum as are all Tiziana Terenzi fragrances, Ursa is patchouli, leather, incense, rum, smoky resins from top to bottom, a scent that works magic on both women and men, and one of my fragrance dreams come true.

Ursa is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.