When it comes to one of the region’s most successful perfumers, Hamid Merati-Kashani is at the top of the list. The Dubai-based Iranian has created fragrances for some of the world’s leading luxury brands, including YSL, Valentino, and Carolina Herrera – and he’s the nose behind the stunning new ‘CH Insignia Women’ scent. Savoir Flair sat down with the fragrance connoisseur to find out all about his new creation and why the Middle East played such an important role when concocting it. Read on to find out more and discover your new favorite oud perfume.
Tell us about the new ‘CH Insignia’ fragrance.
‘CH Insignia Women’ is an ode to noble materials, to the Arab intimate ritual of perfumery and the spirit of CH Carolina Herrera. When Olivier Cresp and I crafted this new fragrance, we wanted to create a couture perfume from the inside out. In collaboration with Carolina Herrera de Baez, we blended Eastern perfumery with high-quality Western ingredients that would enrich the fragrances with new facets. As a step further, the ‘CH Insignia Women’ fragrance is like seeing the values of the brand come to life. It is a classic and modern fragrance, a sophisticated olfactory tour de force that perfectly balances and embodies Carolina Herrera’s long heritage.
Arabian tastes are changing the way the world smells.
What key ingredients did you use, and why?
The idea was to celebrate oud and other Arab ingredients like patchouli, bringing them to the Carolina Herrera universe. Olivier and I decided to create a rich and elegant olfactory signature. The eau de parfum opens up with Italian bergamot, a crisp and bright citrus that highlights the fruity character of the Damascene rose. We used two kinds of roses: rose centifolia and rose Damascene, also known as rose Bulgare, which is very popular in Arab perfumery.
The spicy facet of Damascene is amplified with a touch of nutmeg – it makes for a vibrant composition. It reminds me of the fields of roses in Ghamsar, in the province of Kashan, where I grew up. ‘CH Insignia Women’ also layers cypriol, gaiac wood, cedarwood, and oud over electric molecules. To reproduce the leathery aspect of oud, we asked for essence of styrax, an element with a long history. Styrax was used in the times of Alexander the Great. It adds a warm and voluptuous undertone to the perfume.
Why was it so important for you to work with oud?
As we were linking the Western and the Eastern savoir faire in an eau de parfum, Olivier had the idea of playing with some olfactory emblems. Oud is one of the most iconic oriental ingredients. It is an intense and elegant ingredient not easy to use as it behaves differently depending on the region and the wearer. Olivier and I worked to sublime this dark ingredient, mysterious and sensual, really appreciated in Arab perfumery. Extracted from the Agar tree, it is used as a couture ingredient and, like a dress, it adapts to each character. In this new fragrance, oud creates an aura and leaves a powerful trail.
Women like to mix fragrances this region. Does this impact your perfume creations? What essence would you recommend if they do so?
In the Arabian world, personalization reaches its climax thanks to the use of exclusive and intense notes that have a long-lasting effect. Layering and personalization are highly cherished in the Middle East, and I feel I never stop learning from this art. Some of my clients ask me to blend ingredients I never would’ve thought of mixing. After playing with them, I end up discovering that those combinations can result in wonderful aromas. Perfumery is a magical science.
What do you see as the key fragrance trends among Middle Eastern women versus women in other parts of the world?
Smells have different meanings for different cultures. Many Westerners are not familiar with oud or intense dark scents, for example. They’re very versatile ingredients, but they are extremely delicate, especially when you work with the best quality. The Middle East is shaping the global trends in perfumery. Arabian tastes are changing the way the world smells. This is one of the reasons why ‘Insignia Women’ is a tribute to the Arab ritual of perfumery.