Back into the mainstream (sort of): Reem Acra

reem acraHey! HEY, you!
Me (looking around suspiciously): Who, me?
Yes, you! I’m talking to you, lady!
Me (upon seeing where the voice was coming from): Well, hello, Gorgeous!
It was almost as if the Reem Acra bottle tried to pick ME up. Sitting on a crowded counter at Saks it practically jumped up from the display tray, calling out to me from the chaos of bottles like a siren song with its bold, yet classy stylings.

Kind of a square, blocky number, almost handsome, but prettied up with sleek gold trim, a saucy band of red around its collar, and across the front, a swirl of birds in a classical-leaning floral wreath motif that I love. I’ve read that it’s the signature of bridal gown designer Reem Acra. It looks simply elegant to me, but I’m crazy about classical motifs (Greek key, urns, Roman laurel wreath, fleur de lys, you name it). If they made a mini in this scent, I would be turning somersaults for one, yes, indeedy.

But you don’t just buy the bottle, do you? Or do you? So I start thinking, “Oh, great, probably another case of bottle lust: beautiful packaging likely filled with more of the same-old, same-old celeb-u-scent.” (That I’ll wish I could just pour out, fill the bottle with amber-colored water and put it on display.) But hope springs eternal. And as luck would have it, I have a blank wrist, so I’ve got nothing to lose. So I’ll take one for the team, because I love that bottle so.

One gentle spritz and here we go. So far, so good. The juice, while not earth-shattering, is actually quite nice. One aspect of it reminds me a bit of something else, but I can’t quite put my finger on what.
What Reem Acra is not, however, is your typical loud, bright, in-your-face fruity thing. This is softer, warmer, almost velvet-y, a burnished patina of scent, if you will.

The visual equivalent of this could be a mellow compote, or fruit gently poached in wine or perhaps cognac or something. Cedar, amber, ginger, musk and patchouli are the heating elements here and they ease the composition out of sweeter territory into a warm, slightly woody glow with moderate sillage and good lasting power. It hummed along softly on my wrist for 6 hours-plus.

Its early fruit and jasmine leanings might be a bit off-putting to some, but it does settle down fairly quickly.

This would be a great scent to wear in autumn and winter, easygoing and not trying too hard, but still a bit elegant. Sometimes, that’s a pretty nice thing to have in your perfume arsenal. And that bottle — well, that would be pretty nice sitting on my dresser.

I’ve read that this fragrance also comes in a 30 ml size, so if there’s one to be found out there, it will be mine!

What about you? Have any non-niche releases grabbed you lately?

Notes: bergamot, peach, orange blossom, ginger, jasmine, LOV, peony, amber, cedar, patchouli, musk.

Reem Acra is available at Saks Fifth Avenue, $125 for a 3-ounce spray (no smaller sizes were available on the Saks site at press time but may be available in stores).

36 Comments

  1. Oh, some people buy just the bottle, Ann. Or so I have heard; I know nothing about such a thing myself, of course.

    • Hey, Tammy! Yes, I’ve heard of such as well. And I know you would never do such a thing 😉
      But as for me, can’t really afford that these days, so alas, I need to love the whole package.

  2. Haven’t fallen for any mainstream releases lately, but I have bought a bottle of Roberto Cavelli’s Serpentine just for the bottle. It’s a real beauty, at least if you like snakes, and can be had for a song because there isn’t a lot of love out there for the actual juice. Which brings me to a question for an experienced perfumista, Ann: how exactly would that happen? This bottle had to be pretty expensive, so why not spend a bit more on ingredients so that people who bought it might buy another in the future? I’m not asking you to explain the whole industry, I just want your deliciously irresponsible speculation ;-).

    • Hi, Heather! Thanks for your very interesting and thought-provoking question. I’m not all that familiar with what goes on in mainstream fragrance creation, marketing, etc., so can only hazard a pretty simple guess. With any fragrance, there’s a budget, and if the firm is aiming for, say, a youngish, hip market that wants a cool, trendy product, then a lot of the emphasis (and probably money, too) is likely going to be on the exterior: bottle, image, ad campaign, hype, etc., and perhaps not as much on the juice itself. Make it as appealing as possible to the most people and sell the heck out of it. That’s my basic take on it, although I’m sure there’s more to it than that, and, of course, it all depends on the individual firm. Perhaps some other, more knowledgeable perfumistas can weigh in on this as well. But you’re right, it is a stunning bottle. I think I have a mini of it somewhere. I do have one other snake bottle: the twisting serpents of Niki de Saint Phalle from back in the early ’80s, and I like the unusual perfume in it as much as the bottle itself

      • I’ve admired the Niki de Saint Phalle bottle a lot, and might even buy it empty just to admire it on my dresser. Her incredible mosaic Tarot Garden in Tuscany is worth a look for anyone who revels in color.

  3. I’ve fallen hard for Tom Ford Noir but I have a mini so that’s enough for now. Your thoughts on Reem Acra are my thoughts on Coco Noir; gorgeous bottle, easy to wear scent. I haven’t set foot in a department store in ages, so no other bottles have whispered my name 😉

    • Hi, lady! I’m with you on the TF — I’ve only tried one spritz of it, but really liked it. Must wear it again and see if it won’t suit DH. I don’t shop nearly as much as I once did; now I get into “the big city” about once a month or even less. The Reem just happened to catch me as I was headed across the store to see a friend who works there.

    • Oh, yes, that’s a good one! Although for me, the opening is a bit much, but when it settles down after a few minutes, it is so lovely. Thanks for the reminder — must go sniff it soon …

  4. I was surprised how much I liked Miss Dior Le Parfum. This is not be confused with Miss Dior Cherie, L’Eau, Original or any other iteration. (Why must Dior make things so confusing)? It was if I remember correctly a soft floral over amber and just a little patchouli (not a strawberry patchouli monster like Miss Dior Cherie was on me). Nice bottle, too, though with over 100 perfumes, I did not like it enough to purchase.

    Prada Candy was the only other mainstream perfume I purchased last year.

    • Howdy, Sherri! Man, you are so right about Dior’s crazy name game — it’s made me avoid the counter like the plague. Although my Saks just got in the La Collection (New Look 1947, Mitzah, etc.), and now they have a lovely in-store boutique so I did make a beeline for that corner and spend some time there. But they won’t do samples, more’s the pity.

      • Glad you sorted through the Dior maze and found one to love — and the Prada, too — nice!

  5. Yes, I think it’s time to clamber down from the pulpit of nichedom, she said nervously. OK I bought and love Bottega Veneta, the bottle is a nice bonus, heavy and simple. Bought Chanel 19 just because.
    It’s quite fun to cruise the department stores (limited lines here in Oz) and collect paper testing strips for drawers and handbag,
    and sometimes you end up falling in love.

    Bottles can work in reverse with me, I wouldn’t be caught dead spraying Dot or anything shaped like an animal.

    • Jackie, glad you’re finding a few gems out there in the mainstream — it just takes some looking. I, too, love BV; they did a great job all around with it. I’m with you on the Dot bottles and others — just too cutesy for me.

    • Hey, Portia! I think the stars aligned for me on this one; I think you might like it as well. But I never buy those big bottles (and rarely even FBs of anything), so I will be hunting down the 30ml spray — or a mini, if and when they make one.

  6. LOL! I got snacked by that bottle, too! And, like you, (don’t you just love the Oxford comma?) I thought the juice very nice, though it does have a ‘hmmm…where have I sniffed this before?’ feel to it – but not enough to keep me from buying it, except for the fact that I cannot manage the perfume I already have!

    However…that being said..there is a little……something…about the whole Beautiful Full New Bottle Experience that just gives the heart a little lift, every now and again, isn’t there?

    xoxoxoA

    • Hey, doll! You are so right about a beautiful new bottle giving you a lift (and renewed hope in the industry). I loved the Laura Biagotti Roma bottle from years ago because it looked like a Roman column. I was loathe to use any of it because it looked so lovely full. Heaven help me if someone brings out a fragrance in a bottle shaped like a Grecian urn, ha!
      It finally came to me what the Reem Acra reminded me of — sort of: It had a similar poached fruit vibe to MDCI’s La Belle Helene, except the MDCI is pear and they don’t really smell that much alike. There may be something else out there as well. But inquiring minds want to know — did you end up buying the Reem?

      • Nah. I had other uses for my meagre simoleans. Had I a larger fund of discretionaries, though, I would’ve considered it. My only recent mainstream purchase has been Diorella – and I don’t regret it one bit. It’s an excellent reinvention of a classic and I wear it often.

        You know what I find interesting, though? So many of us keep our bottles boxes and/or stuck away in dark closets. Wonder why the bottle is so important (I confess to loving the bottles, too. My love for Lyric, for example is heightened by the gorgeous ruby-red bottle, with it’s glorious domed cap. Heck, I get all squiggly with the holographic stamps that close the tissue and outside wrapping. I’m such a magpie.

        xoxoA

        • You make a good point about the bottle. We adore it and then hide it away. Maybe it’s because it’s part of the whole experience of buying and owning a great fragrance, and the bottle is something tangible, that you can actually hold in your hand. And with the prices these days, ya gotta love every bit of the packaging you’ve paid for so dearly. Glad you’re enjoying the Diorella.

  7. Ha, I can understand why it’d be hard to resist a bottle looking like that! I recently had the pleasure of sampling Reem Acra and boy, let me tell you I have never smelled a better blend of ginger and patchouli. It was light and somewhat spicy but still maintained a floral feel to it. I really enjoyed it.

    • Yay, another fan! So glad you like it, too, Amanda; it really is nice. Is there a bottle in your future? 🙂

  8. I’m a little more than obsessed with this bottle, and I think that it would look very nice on my dresser 🙂 It is now a must-sample for me!

    • It’s downright gorgeous, isn’t it, Shaney? So many of the bottles I see look uninspired, or even a tad cheap, so when a classy one comes across my radar, I really sit up and take notice. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. A mainstream perfume hasn’t caught my fancy in a long time. If a bottle catches my fancy, I’ll wait until Surrender to Chance has decants available. If a mainstream perfume makes me fall in love with it, I’ll consider getting a bigger decant. I’m trying not to buy any more bottles of perfume this year!

    • Good for you! I admire your resolve. I haven’t bought a FB in ages either. And most times, unless it’s your Holy Grail or something exquisite, I’ve found you can be happy with a nice decant.

  10. I was going to say that the list of notes for this sound pretty darn good, and after reading Amanda’s comment I say … yes, dear Ann, I think you should get it! **Skipping away now before Ann’s wallet or husband shoos me in that direction** 🙂

    • Oh, Suzanne, you wicked, wicked enabler! 😉 I am tempted, but really don’t want that honkin’ big 3-ounce bottle. If the 30 ml or even a 50 ml shows up, I might be tempted though.

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