Blog post by Gwen

Pays Dogon – vegetal and woody and earthy

"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 scent memory, and I knew I wanted to smell that perfume before I reached the end of the paragraph.

The description of Pays Dogon attracted me in part because I know so little about the place, so I was delighted when I bought a bottle and found 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, I could enjoy the fragrance on a deeper level.

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 freshness 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 balances it all out beautifully.

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

Check out Pays Dogon in our Shop.