NORDIC CEDAR + TROPICA by MAYA NJIE (2016)

After a blessedly long sleep that refreshed the senses and washed away some of the strains of the classroom and the repressions of office politics this week, I woke up this morning to a piping hot cup of Earl Grey tea and a new package of perfume vials from London. Maya Njie is a Swedish independent perfumer and designer of West African heritage who lives, and has her own studio on the Isle Of Dogs on the Eastern Thames: the collection, released in 2016, consists of five fragrances. Concise; delicately mellow, with what she describes as ‘nostalgic, addictive trails’, I particularly like Tropica.

It is not easy to combine pineapple and coconut in the same perfume without it becoming tacky. Here, in probably the best example of a tropical fruit perfume I have come across, an opening accord of fresh piña colada, deliciously fresh and photorealistic, needn’t overstay its welcome: the perfumer sensibly withdraws the luscious tropicalia gradually and lets the scent cede almost imperceptibly to a warm, but gentle, iris, Mediterranean fig and light sandalwood/cedarwood accord; an unanticipated further fruit element of rhubarb – often used in Swedish cakes – that is is energizing and relaxing simultaneously (all of the scents – also comprising Tobak, Les Fleurs – read as ‘casual wear’ to me; mood boosters with aura).

Another very traditionally Swedish component used in the range – essential as an ingredient in Scandinavian confectionary, in hefty and noticeable proportions, is cardamom oil, which graces the beginnings of both Vanilj and Nordic Cedar, two perfumes that are described as being closely related: the former the more gourmand (‘the less feral, slightly sweeter and more softly spoken sibling’). I like the forthright, less sugared Nordic Cedar more, a warmly woody scent that opens with a healthy spiced rush of cardamom and cinnamon, before softening down to a very skin-centric snuggling ambergris, cedarwood and musk scent that is unobtrusive, sensual; pleasing up close.

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20 responses to “NORDIC CEDAR + TROPICA by MAYA NJIE (2016)

  1. I was so excited to read about a non tacky coconut and pineapple that I’ve gone straight to her site and ordered some samples! I’m on a bit of a quest to find a more green, not overly gourmand coconut – making do with Francesca Bianchi’s Sex and the Sea which is wildly tacky but so hot it gets away with it, and Olfactive Studio’s Lumiere Blanche, a cosy cardamom/coconut that sadly only lasts about an hour on my skin. Both gourmand though. I have a feeling my love of coconut isn’t terribly sophisticated but I think it’s a manifestation of my yearning for a holiday!

    • Have you ever smelled Demeter’s Pina Colada? Jesus Christ. I have a bottle. It is hilarious as a joke, but you quickly feel sick.

      This IS pina colada at the beginning, but on me it wasn’t sickly or sticky. I might also get a bottle because I feel exactly the same as you :it’s the nearest thing to a getaway. Most definitely a cheering scent, and I like the simple packaging.

      • I haven’t- I’ll check it out but maybe not one to put on skin from your description! Heeley’s Coccobello is another in this vein, though has something in the dry down that I can’t get on with. A synthetic musk maybe, but it’s jarring for me.

    • Lumiere Blanche is on sale at a department store near where I work on weekdays: I am going to go and check it out. I have smelled it before but it has left my mind.

      • Coccobello is one of the perfumes I have almost bought the most: I badly wanted a fresh coconut scent for the hot summer here, but something in it was jarring for me also. My favourite is G by Gwen Stefani which is now quite hard to get. A very fresh coconut cedar that has fantastic village – it’s the ultimate coconut work scent as it has those American ‘green apple’ beginnings but is very sleek in construction and leaves a really lovely coconut trail about you throughout the day. Recommended if you ever find yourself coconut web surfing.

  2. Nordic Cedar sounds just the thing to add to my Autumn fragrance line up. Cardamom brings back Christmas memories of my Dutch grandparents.
    After suffering through the ethyl maltol overdose that was the 90s, I prefer scents that are less sweet or overly gourmand.
    I don’t like pineapple & coconut together, but rhubarb & fig sound like an interesting combination.

    • It is definitely a muted affair – nothing gasp worthy – but D was snuggled up in it and said this morning he enjoyed getting hints of cardamom on his sleeves throughout the night.

      Tropical is definitely an overall fruity number, but I was impressed by the way the coconut curtains opened, letting pineapple leave the stage and then having a more European, cosy middle act.

    • It’s funny. The only perfume I have ever made also had an overdose of cardamom at the beginning. We were smelling both Vanilj and Nordic Cedar yesterday and agreed that they reminded us of the one I made, Java.

      JAVA by BLACK NARCISSUS ( 2014 )

      • Your perfume sounds marvelous! Cardamom is all things hygge to me – cozy, convivial, comfy, content. Baking huge sheets of kruidnoten, pepernoten, taai-taai, weesper-moppen with my grandma, & waiting for Sinterklaas! I love it in my chai, coffee & curries too.

      • Check these out then for sure.

      • Lauren

        I love cardamom and really associate it with childhood too – it takes me back to the smell of the suq: spices, baking, slightly rotten dates and mangoes, oud and incense, animalistic whiff from goats and dodgy drains, and gorgeous black coffee laced with cardamom. Also the smell of the desert, which is dry and sort of spicy and I’ve never found a perfume that captures it.

        And that holiday sounds so idyllic… god I miss Other Places.

  3. This scent sounds wonderful.

    • The Tropica or the Nordic Cedar? I think the latter is good as a curl up with a book type perfume; the former bright and easy. I suppose coconut and pineapple together are considered gimmicky in some quarters, but I think this perfumer has managed to give you the full dose of the two, at least initially, before toning it down a bit and just having an enjoyable skin scent.

      • Sorry for not clarifying earlier that I was referring to the Tropica, but actually Nordic Cedar sounds nice too. However, I am on a mission to try to finish at least a few bottles from my ridiculous amount of perfumes before I purchase any more for this year. (I recently counted how many new bottles I have added to my already huge collection and am trying to empty a few bottles before I buy even one more). I doubt I will succeed but am going to try. On another note, I have been able to watch and listen to live music for the past couple of weekends. I have missed it so much and it felt so good to have it back in my life. All the streaming that was around was better than nothing, but nothing beats live music. It was a gorgeous day today and I decided to wear a perfume that wasn’t as dramatic or offensive to people who are adverse to fragrances and ended up wearing Ortigia Zagara.

      • We both love that one. A really happy scent. So happy for you that you are finally back in live venues I know that is something you really love.

        If you do have a hankering for Tropica, definitely sample first: the beginning will not be for everyone.

  4. This is totally unconnected, but today I discovered ‘Amber’ by Laboratory Perfumes a UK brand in a boutique. They sent me off with a little sample. Have you tried this? It’s supposed to be a unisex perfume. I thought it was amazing.

  5. Robin

    Nordic Cedar sounds marvellous. Another superb description from the pen (thumbs?) of Neil Chapman.

    Tropica sounds like a nice seasonal treat. I also have problems with smelling like a drink with a little umbrella in it, but this sounds like a bona fide fragrance. Speaking of pineapple, have you sniffed the reform of Patou Colony, from their Heritage Collection? I like that one.

  6. I neglected to mention how musky the Nordic Cedar is in the dry down but it’s odd. It already smells of D to me: there is something tender about it. Nothing dramatic.

    I am still to smell the Patou. But the beginning of Tropica DOES smell like a drink with a little umbrella in it – pure pineapple and coconut!

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