Blog post by Gwen

Amara – warm and woody and uplifting

When my son announced that he was planning a trip to Cambodia with 'the boys,' we were very excited for him. We've never been to Cambodia, so I decided to learn about it by visiting Wikipedia. I learned about the people, landscapes, food, tuk-tuks and Angkor Wat.  

Angkor Wat is a Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia and is believed to be the largest religious monument in the world. It’s also the country's prime attraction for visitors. Initially built for the Khmer Empire as a Hindu temple devoted to Vishnu, it transitioned into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It is the best-preserved temple at the site and remains a significant religious centre.

A few weeks later, when the trip fell through, I gave my son a bottle of Amara from Brooklyn-based indie fragrance house MCMC Fragrances. "Why?" he asked.  Quoting the MCMC website, I said, "Because Amara, the ancient Hindi word for roots, was inspired by the mysterious spiritual nature of Angkor Wat and the amazing sight of trees overtaking ancient temples." He looked at me dubiously as he took the bottle from my hand. "Mom, he said, this is a perfume, not a ticket to Cambodia." "Yeah, I know. What did you expect? I'm a perfume blogger, not a travel agent." Kids. Amiright?

A few days later, he told me he liked wearing Amara. As well, he should as it's a beautiful fragrance with some good karma attached to it.

MCMC Fragrances, a small-batch, handmade fragrance line that leans toward natural perfumery, was founded in 2009 by sisters Katie and Anne McClain. Amara was created in 2012 by the Grasse Institute-trained Anne McClain after a volunteer trip to the Working For Children Rainbow Orphanage in rural Cambodia.  It was part of MCMC'S Humanity Fragrance Second Edition Collection done in collaboration with American clothing retailer Anthropologie, with a portion of the sales going to Rainbow Orphanage to build a new boy’s dormitory. As Anne McClain says on the MCMC website:
'The idea was to create a fragrance inspired by the feeling of compassion and see if that sentiment could be carried to the wearer.'

Amara opens with a zing of citrus followed by a warm, earthy note of organically grown Kampot pepper and sweet, spicy cinnamon. I get a whiff of coconut oil that smells like summer to me. Then aromatic, lemony spider lily ushers in a note of sweet, lush jasmine. The flowers smell fresh and bright, disciplined with a gentle note of smoky incense. The base is Kambodi Oud, less pungent and medicinal smelling than Indian and Indonesian oud; it's more accessible with a pleasant woody smell. I close my eyes and lean into it and I can smell those roots overtaking ancient temples.

Amara dries down to a beautiful, gentle skin scent. It smells more like walking through a temple than the smell of the temple itself and it lasts for hours on me.

Anne McClain studied aromatherapy and natural perfumery before moving to Grasse, and there is something almost calming and uplifting about Amara.

Could this gentle beauty be the smell of compassion?  It just might be.

Check out Amara in our Shop.