Scented Snippets Scented Snippets: Maria Candida Gentile Sideris - Rose as Wraith

Scented Snippets: Maria Candida Gentile Sideris - Rose as Wraith

09/28/13 16:38:26 (One comment)

by: Ida Meister

There are perfumes which possess one, a visitation so palpable that it becomes visceral. Maria Candida Gentile's Sideris is such a fragrance; in its wake we experience the rose as wraith, trembling under a tender veil of sacred smoke.

Liguria must be lovely, if it resembles a fraction of the beauty with which Maria imbues it, celebrates it. Sideris was inspired by moonlit ramblings along the Mediterranean, when the sense of suspension of self—between sea and stars—seemed utterly feasible.

This exquisite, delicately erotic poem with somewhat sinister underpinnings exalts the last night star / beloved. Astronomers counted the presence of fixed stars among their navigational and timekeeping tools: hence, sidereal time, and the fragrance's name. Maria cites the poem as further muse.

In the Morning
You Always Come Back:

Dawn's faint breath 

breathes with your mouth
at the ends of empty streets.
Gray light your eyes,

sweet drops of dawn

on dark hills.
Your steps and breath

like the wind of dawn

smother houses.
The city shudders,

Stones exhale—
you are life, an awakening.

Star lost
in the light of dawn,

trill of the breeze,

warmth, breath—

the night is done.

You are light and morning.
                               —Cesare Pavese

[Pavese composed these glorious lines for his lover, actress Constance Dowling, in March 1950. In August of the same year he took his own life, having been plagued with depression for much of his adulthood.]


Notes: incense, cistus labdanum, Corsican myrrh, white pepper, saffron, Turkish rose, rose Ayrshire splendens, sandalwood, benzoin, waxed woods

Our haunting is beyond benign—it is beneficent. The wraith which is rose is enveloped in faintest embers of incense, stone of ancient cathedral and the gently glowing hardwood floors of the refectory, polished by hand over many generations. Spices from exotic climes, the pride of the Renaissance: white pepper, saffron; myrrh and cistus labdanum from the Mediterranean coast, sandalwood and benzoin from the East regale our greedy nostrils. Sideris' grasp is poignant, tenacious; we cannot shake her free lest we lose a part of ourselves. She speaks to a dark primæval place older than conscious memory and yet is lighter than our ectoplasm. Her voice is plaintive with reverential longing as it intones Gregorian chant.

For me, Sideris sings Leonard Cohen's The Window:

“Why do you stand by the window 

Abandoned to beauty and pride 

The thorn of the night in your bosom 

The spear of the age in your side 

Lost in the rages of fragrance 

Lost in the rags of remorse 

Lost in the waves of a sickness 

That loosens the high silver nerves 

Oh chosen love, Oh frozen love

Oh tangle of matter and ghost

Oh darling of angels, demons and saints 

And the whole broken-hearted host 

Gentle this soul ...”


I purchased a bottle of this wistful perfume for myself—but have ended up by decanting it for others. It seems to give such gracious comfort in these trying times.

Ida Meister (chayaruchama) has been an avid collector and sniffeuse for over 40 years. She adores consulting and collaborating with niche, budding and independent perfumers. Her hypervigilant nose has been of great help in her profession as a neuroscience/ oncology nurse, where she often smells fear, suffering, stress, and can identify most micro-organisms, medications, stages of disease, and has written about the amygdala. As a Senior and Natural Perfumery Editor, Ida has participated in many blog events with natural and mixed media perfumers and other writers. She has also been a teacher, translator, opera singer, dancer and caterer.


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This sounds like a truly original grouping of notes, I'm particularly intrigued by the Corsican myrrh... it seems like everything from Corsica has a very certain characteristic - that wind-swept dryness and somewhat acrid character from living under the sun and yet being so close to the sea. The perfume is a profoundly beautiful color as well, and reminds me of that particular shade of green so well known by the classic perfume Emeraude. I feel so close to smelling this just by reading about it!


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