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Amara – warm and woody and uplifting

Image - Wikimedia - Angkor Wat at Sunrise by Jpatokal, Dec. 2, 2006

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, but plenty of our friends have, and it sounds like a fascinating place to visit. When one of our dearest friends and godfather to our son, heard the news over dinner one evening, he lit right up. He's been to Cambodia a few times and says it's one of his favourite places to travel to. Over the course of dinner, he told us about his some of the things he did and saw there – friendly people, beautiful landscapes, wonderful food, tuk-tuks and the temples! At the end of the night, as he as preparing to leave, he offered to draw up a list of must-see places for our son. The next day the list dropped into my inbox, along with a 'Thank you' for dinner. At the top of the list was a visit to Angkor Wat.

Well, I wondered, why is Angkor Wat in the top spot? I decided to find out by visiting it via Wikipedia:

Angkor Wat is a Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia and is the largest religious monument in the world... Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.... As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation....  and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

A few weeks later, when the trip fell through, I gave my son a bottle of Amara EdP 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 – 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 I can smell those roots overtaking ancient temples.

Amara dries down to a beautiful, gentle unisex skin scent – more like walking through a temple than the smell of the temple itself - that 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.

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