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.