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Timbuktu - Beauty and power - April 30, 2010

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Yesterday was not what I call “a great day at the office” - in fact, it was exhausting – started early, and finished late with a meeting. What was to be a brief  review turned into a long meeting with a demanding client, so I was glad when the discussions came to a close and we said goodbye.

As she grabbed the door, she said “By the way, what’s that perfume you’re wearing? I think it’s absolutely beautiful!”.

Timbuktu”, I said, “By L’Artisan”.

“Never heard of it – where can I buy it?”

And a long meeting became even longer, but much more enjoyable for both of us, as I told her about niche perfumes, and one of my all-time favourites, Timbuktu.

Timbuktu was created by Bertrand Duchaufour, who I think is one of the best modern parfumeurs, and it is simply a beautiful smell. I was hooked at my first whiff when I found it at Bendel’s in NYC, because it was so different from my ingrained idea of perfume – it has almost no sweetness!

Instead it has a radiance which gives the sensation of cool, dry, exotic, peacefulness – like the early morning air I imagine I’d breathe at a Buddhist temple in the Himalayas. I smell the prayer incense burning, the aromatic wood of the temple, the herbs and grasses on the mountainside.

The opening notes in Timbuktu are pepper, cardamom, and spices – dry and startling. Then incense, green mango and patchouli mid-notes sweeten it up slightly, but still the overall effect is cool. The herbal grassiness of vetiver adds dryness, and finally the mild sweetness of myrhh brings all the notes into a soft ethereal veil.

Timbuktu is a light scent, which maintains its quiet force throughout the day – it has great staying power, but is never obtrusive. It’s mysterious, almost other-worldly, the kind of smell you catch a bit of, and want to follow until you find it, then inhale deeply. Kind of spiritual, almost…..

It certainly touched something in my client, and made her ask me about it. We talked for another half hour, about many things - our shared interest connected us on a new personal level, which is a good thing.

Maybe it will become one of her favourites. Such is the power of perfume.


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