MOONLIGHT IN CHIANGMAI by PARFUMS DUSITA (2020)

The perfumes of Dusita always have a ‘recognisability’. Even when the accords that Pissara Umavijani uses in her perfumes are not quite like anything you have ever smelled before (the viney green rainforest tang of the vetiver/clary sage in Erawan; the lush, flower moist rapture of Melodie de L’Amour, or the strangely beautiful esoterica of her last perfume, Le Pavillon D’Or), there is a cohesion and balance that you can grasp immediately; intuitively. You ‘know’ these scents.

For her latest release, Moonlight in Chiangmai, Ms Umavijani has created a less tenebrous and ‘difficult’ perfume than its predecessor. Although based on the idea of lunar light and moments of reflection as the perfumer looks out in contemplation onto Chiangmai, a city in northern Thailand, for me, this is not a nocturnal perfume – but an assertive and an active one for daylight.

More legible and in some ways more simple in style and execution than many of the other perfumes in the range, there is a directness to the construction here that makes this more of a commercial proposition; with the noticeably traditionally masculine main accord of Thai teak wood contacting with a warm and flinty Indian nutmeg and fresh Japanese yuzu tingling top note when the perfume first goes on, a counterpointing glowing slight sweetness that surrounds the forest rasp from subtle undertones of night blooming jasmine and benzoin, this is a more forthright and rugged fragrance for Dusita that will appeal to those who like traditional ‘male’ aromatics; a dependable warmth; and yet also, for me, with an interesting, inbuilt contradiction: while the perfumer may have been yearning for the country she was born in while isolated in lockdown in Paris and thus consciously reconstructing her homesick memories in a perfume (Despina Veneti’s interview and review of Moonlight in Chiangmai gives an in depth background to the inspiration and creation of the scent), to my nose, with its slightly retro feel and the ease of its exuberant minimalism, rather than evoking Chiangmai (a place I have never been), to me it seems clear that in spending so much time in her actual surroundings, in the Dusita headquarters on the Rue De La Sourdière in Paris – those influences and traditions have perhaps unconsciously been absorbed. Rather than the conscious ‘exoticism’ of perfumes like Oudh Infini or Fleur De Lalita, the balsamic vulnerability of La Douceur de Siam – evoking, for the western nose, far flung places and and the ‘unknowable Asian’ – this new release, in its sturdier realism (an antidote to the introspective melancholy of the times?) strikes me as being by far her most European.

21 Comments

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21 responses to “MOONLIGHT IN CHIANGMAI by PARFUMS DUSITA (2020)

  1. Chiang Mai sits up in a basin-like valley in the heavily forested northern mountains of Thailand. Its moderate elevation yet low latitude keep it warm but not as sweltering as Bangkok and certainly not like being parboiled on the southerly beaches of Phuket. It is very beautiful. I have often thought of moving there but the increasing industrialization and basin-like geography have made the air quality horrendous for almost half the year.
    The notes in Moonlight in Chiang Mai sound like they perfectly evoke the damp, smoky rainforest with night blooming flowers and wild fruits. I shall have to try this!

    • It is certainly a crisp and interesting scent. How many others in the range have you tried?

      I have only been to Bangkok – but I must admit, reading the story behind this perfume has definitely made me want to go to Chiang Mai as well.

      • I haven’t had the opportunity to try any Dusita fragrances yet. The last time I was in the US was September 2019 & I didn’t have time to order from Luckyscent. Melodie de L’Amour & Fleur de Lalita are on my list to try as well as this one.

      • Yes – definitely those two for sure. I reckon you will love them actually. This one is dare I say it more ‘mainstream’ in a way – less odd. Fewer layers being revealed. If you like patchouli chypres of yore, very chic, definitely also try Sillage Blanc. Pavillon D’Or is odd and difficult but really addictive – La Douceur De Siam is gorgeous too.

  2. Nice review! I have a sample of Chiangmai but am looking forward to my full bottle. It’s been almost a year ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Pissara at her charming Dusita Salon in Paris where she had just created Pavillon d’ Or. She is a beautiful and lovely person and her perfumes reflect the same beauty.

  3. I only have a small sample which I have almost used up. I got citrus in the beginning along with the yuzu and nutmeg. I liked it a lot and did think that although it was more mainstream, it still has the DNA of Dusita Perfumes. The more I smell it, the more I like it.

  4. By the way, your photos are always amazing and depict the subjects.

  5. Robin

    Tenebrous. I like it. You are in top form with this piece.

    This new Dusita sounds intriguing. I was following along as I read your description and I got a remarkably clear idea of what Moonlight in Chiangmai might evoke. I love my Sillage Blanc and it never fails to capture my interest when I wear it, never bores me from beginning to end.

    This sounds as though it would be just the thing on Ric’s skin, which can add exoticism, mystery and an impressionistic quality to more straightforward or classically structured creations. (Interestingly, I think, I gave him my new – current formulation — Vol de Nuit edt, which was maddeningly anemic and didn’t even smell like VdN, it had been so hollowed out, dried out. It disappeared on me. On Ric, it’s beautiful: subtle and nuanced rather than thin, with that necessary round sweetness to the amber that didn’t show on my skin. I’m so glad I didn’t chuck it in the garbage in disgust, which was my first impulse.)

    • MY GOD it was that bad? I have smelled modern ‘Vol De Nuits’ and thought they smelled like mosaics that could probably smell interesting (if not on me – I have no interest in it). Great that it works on Ric.

      Speaking of which, I thought this new Dusita had some Rogue Mousse Illuminee about it (although not finishing on that very distinctive ‘red’ note). A bit gingery and coniferous,

      • Robin

        That makes it that much more interesting, since one of my favourite fragrances on Ric is Mousse Illuminee.

        Vol de Nuit these days may not be quite that bad. Mine is 2018, so things might have improved. Sometimes they do. For me, the 2018 is a write-off (I’m glad I stockpiled the vintage) but I actually wouldn’t want it any richer on Ric, so if nothing changes this formulation is still something I’d want to keep on hand for Ric.

        Guerlain has not been especially successful updating their formulations across the board, but VdN must be their most egregious example of cheapening-out almost beyond recognition. Ah well. As you’d said earlier about something else, first world problems.

  6. OnWingsofSaffron

    I don’t own a single Dusita perfume; I haven’t even smelled one yet. Where to start? Reading the notes, I feel that many do not particularly ring of Thailand: thyme, oak, clary sage, pine…
    Obviously—and this is really very, very obvious—the brand Dusita has no obligation whatsoever to produce Southeast Asian dream accords, let alone weave a spell of The King and I. And yet, it is the Western person’s exotic fantasy of “Siam”, frangipani flowers, champaca, cinnamon, sandalwood etc, that attracts me most. Perhaps I should focus on one of the following: Fleur de Lalita or La Douceur de Siam (Oudh Infini, unfortunately, is way outside my price range)? Yet reading Kafkaesque’s review of La Douceur de Siam, I baulk at the prospect of smelling like a fruit-salad on steroids, even though I do rather admire Patou’s Sira des Indes! Oh dear, I give up.

    • No: I am in ‘complete accordance’. And I am also TOTALLY aware of my ‘othering’,if we are going to get all woke (if a person just happened to be Thai and were making perfumes for a brand, then their origin it wouldn’t necessarily be of importance and I wouldn’t even need to make such references). but Dusita is VERY Thai oriented because each perfume is based on a perfume by one of the most famous Thai poets of all time, and the ingredients are also linked to the country; specifically the lush frangipani etc of which you speak.

      The wood accord in this new release is closer to European classic men’s perfumery – hence my closing sentence (which I do feel is slightly problematic, even though I can’t quite place why exactly) – and thus for you probably less essential, whereas the ones you mentioned here are definitely slightly more…….’off one’s radar’, as in – something new, unexperienced before.

      I personally absolutely love Fleur De Lalita, the beginning especially. I know how scent worthy you are, so choose my words carefully.

  7. I may have to try this one. I love scents that have a masculine bent to them, or are sold as masculines. One of my favorites, as of late, is Sagamore by Lancome, vintage 80’s. Love the woody spicy aspect of it at this time of year.

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