The Bosphorus, floriental-gender neutral artisan blend from Swiss Arbian, is an oil based fragrance that encapsulates the memory the perfumers' trip to Istanbul, a melting pot of cultures. It is like opening the doors of an Oriental palace with ochre walls and being struck by its fragrance. The smoky scent of burning wood blends with that of sweet floral water on washed hands. That's the scent of this smooth atmosphere, where rose, frankincense and resin linger. The perfume is velvety and sensual, like the roses of the Orient.
There are some varieties of rose that smell fresh and delicate at first and then reveal a piquant, peppery bite. You pull away from the blossom with a start, the tingling sensation still in your nose and can’t help yourself leaning in for another inhale. My first impression of the Bosphorus, a new addition to Swiss Arabian's Artisan Corner Collection, was similar—the compelling sparkle of the top note contrasted dramatically with the darkness of patchouli and oud.
Although some aspects of the Bosphorus felt unexpected and surprising, this elegant fragrance is a classical marriage of rose and woods. The Bosphorus is an Arabian Tale alright, but it’s told with a French accent. Perfumer's style is polished and refined, and I particularly enjoy The Bosphorus for its easy to wear, easy to enjoy warmth. It isn’t a polarizing fragrance that requires a long courtship; It readily envelops its wearer in soft and velvety layers.
The initial dark hint comes right after the fresh and citrusy opening, liberally laced with rose. The rose—and from what I can smell they didn’t spare money on making this rose as full and voluptuous as possible—becomes rich and saturated as the artisan oil dries down. The saffron is a leathery accent that bridges the rose and the amber inlaid drydown. This is the point when I sniff my wrist obsessively.
The oud impression in the Bosphorus is as nuanced as that of Swiss Arabian's Leather Ouds' selections, dark fragrances from a this leading Dubai based perfume house. The amber with its honeyed sweetness plays up against the earthy patchouli and warm resins. It smells of tree sap, Indian sandalwood beads and incense. Some oud accords smell so medicinal to me that they end up being repulsive, but Swiss Arabian’s oud is mild and velvety. It lingers gently and feels as appropriate for an office as it does for an evening alone.
The Bosphorus’s ambery roses remind me of Frédéric Malle Portrait of a Lady and By Kilian Rose Oud, but with a stronger emphasis on rose petals, rather than dark and sweet notes. It may seem familiar, but it’s so well put together that I don’t mind the lack of novelty. I admit that these days I don’t always feel excited about new fragrance offerings and its strange practice of renaming and duplicating its own fragrances. But when I discover Swiss Arabian at its best—emphasizing quality and craftsmanship, I’m smitten once again. I hope that just as Scheherazade never ends her fabulous tales, the house of Swiss Arabian continues to woo me with new interesting fragrances.
The Bosphorus is exclusively available from the Swiss Arabian (USA) web boutique.