AL SAHRA by THE DIFFERENT COMPANY(2020)



I am flabbergasted to find niche perfume in Fujisawa. While vaunted as an ideal place for middle class families to bring up kids, convenient for transportation, and the location of the upcoming Olympic sailing down at Enoshima Island, the city i am work based in is not exactly Fashion Central.

But here on the ground floor of recently refurbished Odakyu department store, where I sometimes come for lunch, is a shop selling not only The Different Company, Garment and Olfactive Studio, but also Nobile Essenza 1942 and an interesting range of aromatherapy.

What’s good about this for me is that where usually, faced with shelves and shelves of all the latest grandiosity from conceptual independents to select from, when I usually get overwhelmed and don’t get to experience perfumes in full depth,, this limited, spacious new concession is an astonishing apparition ( but WHO is going to fork out the cash for a perfume at this price in this carefully economizing hub of frantic school mothers and their cardigan-shopping grandparents ? Or are these pricey fragrances aimed more at the demi-monde, the tight-trousered night people who emerge from the woodwork and limousines after dark…….?) At any rate, all this takes me back somehow to my teenage years, when my world was smaller, and things of importance loomed larger. After school I would ogle the merchandise in bookstores, record shops, perfumeries with much more of a wishful attention span; consider my future potential pocketmoney purchases very carefully, picturing and dreaming of them went I went to bed at night : saving up for an item of clothing, a 12” or LP, and then later, perfumes, was extraordinarily exciting; a sign of self-assertion, of pushing your own drawing pin into the map. I would linger persistently at Beatties in front of the YSL or Givenchy or Calvin Klein counter, feeling that I was deliriously about to enter a new world; collect samples like a gem dealer, spray the tester bottles liberally on a blotter or blotters and keep re-smelling, smelling, extracting them from my inner pocket, or the inside of a book.

Those days can never return. But I have retained a lot of that very same thirst and curiosity, and I know that I will, now that I can’t go to Tokyo, on rainy lunch breaks enjoy going meticulously through all of these perfumes at my leisure. The warm woody white violet Al Sahra, one of the first scents I have tried on two separate occasions, is, I would say, mid-level alluring, a rich, soft, sawdusty floral labnanum frankincense that is nicely composed with a slightly haunting central refrain of lily and cinnamon, but not something I will necessarily be handing over my hard-earned cash for. Then again, now I have more opportunities to learn these perfumes thoroughly…..,,,..who knows?

20 Comments

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20 responses to “AL SAHRA by THE DIFFERENT COMPANY(2020)

  1. Tara C

    How wonderful to discover this hidden gem of a shop! I’d spend hours there testing everything. I had avoided Al Sahra because somehow I thought it was on oud fragrance, but it sounds lovely, just checked it out on fragrantica. TDC scents rarely have any longevity on me but I do like their aesthetic and own Bois d’Iris, Oriental Lounge, I Miss Violet and Kashan Rose. Majaïna Sin is fabulous but lasts 15 minutes on me, similarly Santo Incienso. Unfortunately too expensive to enjoy for such a short time, but fun to sniff.

    • Santo Incienso was one I was smelling again yesterday. There was a stark clarity and freshness to the frankincense and the Palo Alto wood underneath that was quite beautiful and clarifying.

  2. Robin

    That’s a kind of a weird thing to run across in Fujisawa, but we’ll take it!

    Good to be able to try things in a low-key and relaxed environment. I don’t like the hired hawks hanging around the big stores (or the snotty niche places like Hermès), watching your every move, equally distrustful and rapacious. I can’t think straight, can’t smell straight when they’re around, especially if they’re on your case the whole time, pushing for a positive reaction and a subsequent sale.

    I like The Different Company, by and large. I own several but have lost touch with the newer releases. Al Sahra and Santo Incienso sound promising.

    Thanks for reminiscing about your teenage years when your world was smaller and things of importance loomed larger. The extra anticipation due to more limited funds and the extra value created: yes! At that time, $3.99 for a new record album is like $200 spent now as far as buying a thrill goes. We got a lot of bang for the buck back then, didn’t we? Now, a $200 purchase can be forgotten about nearly the next day. “Oh, yeah, right, I do have that bottle of such-and-such by so-and-so. Completely slipped my mind. I know it’s around here somewhere.”

    • I thought of you immediately when I smelled the Incienso and assumed you would know more about Palo Santo than I do. This is a very lung-fresh forest scent with an aqueous frankincense ; on both occasions I have smelled it I sensed ‘integrity’, if you know what I mean. I would like to try it next on skin to check there is no lurking fake sandalwood ( I suspect somewhere in the mix there might be ).

      As for teenage treasures, what you say about forgotten 200 dollar purchases is spot on. The overaccumulation. When you had less, there was more of a thrill because you were more invested ( perhaps this is why we get so excited by vintage bargains : some of that exhilaration is still there somehow).

      When I passed Cambridge, my parents gave me a big pot full of one pound coins and I spent the LOT. on Obsession For Men and a whole range of auxiliary products. My ecstasy was indescribable : I accessed a very pure sense of extravagance

      • Robin

        My mind was searching for that descriptor of TDC output overall. Integrity. They all share it, at least the ones I’ve tried. It was founded by J-CE, so it’s not surprising. The first one I ever had was Jasmin de Nuit and I still miss it.

        If it’s not too much trouble, Neil, please let me know if and when you try Santo Incienso on skin and if it’s devoid of the dreaded fake sandalwood. I see I can get it for a great price, but there are just a few bottles left so I should get on it fairly soon. (Just don’t tell Ric I’m buying another fragrance for him. He gets so mad!)

      • ooh ooh – but how to do it on a work lunch break?

        Maybe I can go a quick half hour job and then scrub it off before the classroom…

      • Robin

        Oh, no, darlin’, that’s okay. Save your lunchtime. I may just take a chance and buy a bottle blind. Not like I haven’t done it a few (!) times before.

      • I can do it on Tuesday no problem.

        We can’t risk it !

    • I sometimes wonder if my joy of record shopping and perfume hunting is a case of arrested development ( I should be at home in slippers watching television and doing my taxes ) or whether it just means I am not jaded. There is definitely some truth to the saying I once saw on a t – shirt : ‘adulthood is the corpse of childhood ‘

  3. Hmmm. I have been looking for a white violet but perhaps something not so woody.
    I’m happy to say that living in Nepal has cured me of my Western constant consumerism habit. Although being human, (and a rather spoiled Californian) I do enjoy the endless novelty of perfumes.

    • Me too, most definitely, but it is also nice to slow down for a moment. I tend to sniff and judge simultaneously, but you can sometimes miss out on nuances by doing so. Al Sahra is quite nice actually – the violet becomes more salient as it progresses. Quite atmospheric.

  4. I love the recollections from your teenage years, that anticipation and delight at acquiring a new treasure; whether it was an album, 12″ single, or a fragrance, it was pure magic. I always had all the things I loved when I was younger and didn’t always treasure them as much as I should have. I was always giving things away to friends, who were not as well off, who did not value the things I gave them because they didn’t appreciate their worth. Oh, if you knew the fragrances I gave away to my friends, you would probably smack me. I am still buying many of them on eBay to get back the scents and the memories.
    I have been intrigued for years with The Diffrent Company, but have never tried one of their fragrances. How lucky you are that they are being carried at a shop so close to your workplace. Do you think they are something I should seek out samles of, or are the scents not my type of aesthetic?

    • I’m wondering. Do you like the smell of Osmanthus? That one is quite nice.

      Re: giving perfumes away, I am the same, and there is definitely a pleasure in doing it. But I also know that gnawing feeling of slight regret that comes later and you see the hole in your collection!

      • Osmanthus is an interesting note, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I shall try it though.

        As far as giving away scents, the holes in the collection are troubling, but the people who have received them and didn’t appreciate how precious they were are worse. One friend I gave many scents to, including vintage Gardenia by Chanel, gave all of them to charity when she moved🥺. I wish she had just given them back.

      • AAAAAGHHHHHH

        NO YOU DON’T GIVE AWAY CHANEL VINTAGE GARDENIA.

      • I was just too foolish and generous to this friend. In the end she wasn’t worth the time.

      • My sister sells her bequeathments on eBay!

  5. Filomena

    I enjoyed reading this post of your teenage years. I have many perfumes from The Different Company, but most are their original ones. The only newer ones I have are Kashan Rose and White Zagara. I always enjoyed their fragrances but they are not that long-lasting on me either.

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