The Arabic word fo’ah has no equivalent in any other language, a specific, and poetic, term that refers to the moment of flowering of the palm tree, a symbol of hospitality and prosperity across the Arab world; an oasis of hydration and nourishment in the desert.
The palm tree is also the inspiration for a series of five perfumes by Emirati-French fragrance brand Fo’ah, who use an unusual accord based on the essence of palm tree – fresh, green, vegetal, watery – as the basis for all of the fragrances in the collection, a lush quality that infuses the scents with a quiet hushed aeration, allowing the ingredients to flourish more subtly within themselves; bloom gently on the skin. There is a certain refinement to these perfumes, and I find them pleasing.
While Mémoire D’Une Palmeraie 02, a gentle, coniferous incense, may be somewhat too subdued for my personal tastes (palm tree, juniper, Siberian pine, Georgian cedar, frankincense), it is a well made, convincing skin scent that will work well for those who don’t necessarily wear their hearts on their sleeve but dress up their introversions in good style.
14, an oud-centred composition, was initially the one in the collection (from just reading the descriptions), that I assumed I would be least drawn to due to the oversaturation of agar wood scents in the world perfume market right now, but I was wrong : this is in fact a fresh, spiced rose oud perfume with sandalwood and musk that is almost pointillist in its culminations, rather than oil-paint (or oil-slick) thick like many recent niche perfumes, taking me back to vintage florientals such as Coco by Chanel or Ungaro Diva, but refreshed, and modernised, by the greener palm tree accord to give an understatedly lavish sillage that lovers of the aforementioned classic perfumes will enjoy in newer form. This would be a great and glamorous scent for an important evening out : surrounding its wearer like a high-end pashmina (for a similar, but lighter and less spicy rose scent combined with jasmine and a touch of patchouli, try Mémoire D’une Palmeraie 08).
For me, the palm tree accord is probably the most impressively and effectively used in Number 11, a true of breath of oceanic air. “I imagined a Palm Tree that would bloom on the seashore, its palms sprinkled with salt crystals,” explains its creator, Perfumer Michel Girard, and although apparently composed with notes of Sicilian citrus and Sichuan pepper with a central core of muguet and palm tree, the main impression the scent gives is of cool blue sea smells, gentle and appeasing, but not in the powerfully ozonic manner of calone-heavy ball-busters that fill up a room like a water-bellowing sea monster. Rather, this perfume reminds me of the expensive, mineralised soaps you get from luxury spas and retreats, where sea minerals and other oceanic plant ingredients are cold-pressed into hard, triple-milled soaps that when used in the shower, the familiar but strange blueness of the sea unknotting the stress in your body, gives you a sense of calm and expansive solace. This is not a dramatic perfume, but a tranquil and reflective one that does indeed give a sense of a breather – of a pause at a personal oasis.