As you leave work, there is music coming from the ballet studio on your floor. It tinkles, a music box tune but you cannot recall the name. As you pass, through a half-open door, you see a dancer. Foot on the barre, she stretches along her leg. A curtain billows. There is a storm coming. You hurry on your way; you want to beat the rain…
When the Moth Woman first tried Al Rehab Shaikhah (ARS), she was transported to her grandmoth’s home, back when she was a larva. Grandmoth used the most fantastic sandalwood soap. ARS is a perfect match for that soap. ARS is also one of those fragrances that shows powdery notes are not something to be avoided. Powder adds a quietly feminine softness and cashmere-like aspect, enhancing the core themes of the scent and without lurching into the dreaded ‘old lady’ arena.
First impressions of ARS are of a classy, very woody and expensive smelling scent with its origins in the 1970s, It begins with bitter, medicinal oudh, in a very small dose. This is coupled with the aforementioned old-school sandalwood soap scent and something sweet and floral. It has quite some volume and four foot sillage but it manages to be neither intrusive or annoying, just very calming. The oudh blooms early in ARS but not unpleasantly so. The oudh in this juice has been described by other reviewers as confronting to Western noses. The Moth Woman does not believe this is the case, as it is a much lighter version than typically seen in Arabian oil and more in line with Western perfumes than most of its ilk. An hour on and the sillage has significantly reduced. The entire composition becomes serene, reminiscent of that calm that comes at the end of day, when the sun is gone and there are crickets serenading the darkness. The oudh is gone. There remains sandalwood, rose, something sweet but not readily identifiable and some spice but nothing huge or in your face as spice notes can become. About half an hour later, a lovely creamy note appears. Two hours more and it is not much changed. Three hours, it is light and airy. A honey/pollen/wildflower note typical of many Arabian perfume arrives at the four-hour mark. By seven hours, it is still as strong as it was at three hour mark. It is going strong at twelve hours, still sandalwood but with a hint of musk and at skin scent level. The Moth Woman, on other occasions, has been able to smell this on her skin nearly two days after application.
ARS is not going to be for everyone but there are those of us, who seriously miss old school sandalwood, and for us, it fills a hole that has existing in our hearts for a while.
Available for purchase here.