Dawn Spencer Hurwitz was originally asked by a fan on Makeupalley.com to recreate her favorite perfume, Safran Troublant, because she had heard it was being discontinued (it wasn't) and was distraught.
Cimabue is not a faithful rendition of Safran Troublant, but instead a loving tribute that ends up taking the delicate saffron-infused rice-pudding-and-cream accord of the original inspiration and spinning it off into a far more complex, oriental result.
A creamy, dessert-saffron takes center stage here. But a significant clove, ginger, orange, and cinnamon combination lends it a spicy pomander feel that makes my mind wander more in the direction of Pan d'Epices and other European Christmas treats, rather than in the direction of delicate, dusty-floral Indian milk puddings.
There is rose too, and whole ladlefuls of a dark, molten honey not sweet, but rather bitter and grown-up, like the slight edge of bitterness on a candied peel or a raisin that rescues a taste from being too sugary. There is a charming medieval feel, overall, like a rich golden tapestry hanging on a banquet hall or the taste and smell of those sticky (but dry) honey and almond cakes studded with nuts, cloves, and dried orange peel that are still popular in Siena and Pisa today, such as panforte and ricciarelli.
Cimabue is no simple gourmand, though. It's a fully-fledged oriental. It's as if the simple, gourmandy custard of Safran Troublant got dipped into the clove-studded orange and booze of Chanel's Coco, rubbed in the spicy velvet of Opium, and rolled around in the ambery dust of Fendi's Theorema, and emerged twelve hours later all the better and wiser for it. It's the pomander-cross-spice gourmand I had hoped Noir Epices by Frederic Malle would be (but wasn't). And best of all, it features my favorite note saffron in perhaps by favorite guise, that of a sweet, creamy, exotic dessert saffron.
I own two bottles of Safran Troublant, because I love it mindlessly and wear it as a simple comfort scent. But Cimabue is a step forward in the perfume evolutionary chain, and as a piece of art, I prefer it.
Cimabue, by the way, was the Italian artist famous for breaking with the flat Italo-Byzantine style of painting icons and frescos in pre-Renaissance Italy by introducing more naturalistic, true-to-life proportions of figures and shading. And I like to think that the name of this fragrance was deliberate. Because Cimabue takes the basic model of Safran Troublant, animates it subtly with shadows and highlights, and renders it in living, breathing, 3-dimensional form.
It doesn't make me love Safran Troublant any less, but it is only when I wear its more evolved descendant that I become aware of the progenitor's serene flatness.
Cimabue is a spicy oriental fragrance that delivers gilded olfactory splendor without sinking into cloying sweetness. It begins with a burst of bright citrus with a rich spice (nutmeg, I think,) counterpoint. Next come cinnamon and cloves, a distinct honey note, and some rich florals, all resting on a bed of soft sandalwood. This combination is sweet, dark, and remarkably well blended. The saffron in Cimabue is more harmony than melody, and its slightly bitter accent cuts the surrounding sweetness. The saffron-sandalwood accord is rendered rich, smooth, and creamy by added notes of tuberose and vanilla.
As the scent continues to develop, the cloves and cinnamon merge with opopanax to make a profound and luxurious accord that enriches the sandalwood and vanilla drydown. If you enjoy spicy or woody orientals like Jaïpur Homme and Eau Lente, you ought to try this very well made scent as well.
Like so many other DSH perfumes, both in the cheaper and the more expensive range, this is a fairly dull, traditional sweet/warm/muddy/smooth/powdery oriental. Half of them smell the same if you ask me! Not bad, just not very exciting. I like to be able to pick out at least one note, it adds a certain interest to a scent.... Well, I suppose you could pick out saffron in this, the kind of perfume-note saffron that has nothing to do with the wonderful aroma of the spice, but is more of a golden, powdery sweetness type note. If you really really dig that note, why not try Cimabue? I'm disappointed that saffron in perfume never smells like saffron in food and I'll pass on this version of it.
Cimabue is a saffron-centered fragrance and contains a plethora of ingredients, such as bergamot, orange, cardamom, neroli, lemon, carnation, honey, cinnamon, cloves, jasmine, sandalwood, saffron, tuberose, ciste, labdanum, opoponax, vanilla and much more. The result is a surprisingly harmonic scent that reminds me of gingerbread and christmas pastry (well, cinnamon, cloves and honey say it all). Sweet, but not cloying, this is a nice mood-lifter for cold winter evenings.
An interesting, sweet concoction with decent lasting power. I could never figure out what this sent wanted to "be". The opening note reminds me a bit of lemon hard candy, but not really if you know what I mean. Like all of DSH perfumes, it is avery complex and smooth, but this one isn't for me.