The last-minute (good) surprise of 2008 was a new perfume from LesNez titled Manoumalia. I didn’t get to try it till 2009, and so I will probably forever remember it as the first new perfume I tried this year. As it turns out, it is not going to be available for ordering on the LesNez website till later in 2009 so watch out for it.
Manoumalia is every bit a steamy, humid floral that intoxicates the senses and evokes faraway locals in a most vivid and genuine manner. It opens with what smells exactly like the houseplant in my lobby that was haunting me last August. It has the same kewda-like sharpness and headiness to it, initially also underlined with some juicy orange blossom and and humid tuberose notes. For some 30 minutes or so, it feels as if tropical flowers' nectar and jungle-leaf sap is mingled with salty sweat; the kind of feeling you get when you work in a hothouse. The initial Dracena fragrans note fades out after the initial blast of tropical steam and turns into a soft, creamy tuberose and ylag ylang that remains subtle and subdued for the remaining of its life on my skin - with soft woody murmurs like the hushing leaves in the jungle at night.
The author this time is Sandrine Videault, Roudnitska's last student, who was inspired by the rich botanical heritage of the island of Wallis (a French island in the South Pacific). In the island of Wallis, Fragrant flowers are used in rituals and ceremonies and are tied into leis and garlands that are equally colourful as they are fragrant, and sandalwood powder is used to perfume the hair. The fact that she herself was born in that area adds to the authenticity of the scent, something that comes across in the photographs that accompany the press release from LesNez. It looks as if she took the role of an anthropologist to study the perfumes of the island. There is more about this in the press release (unfortunately completely in French so I am unable to deliver any additional information).In the above photo you can see her smelling Fragraea (Fragraea berteriana), a highly perfumed flower from a tree native to the island. I have never smelled fragraea but sure hope I will one day.