You can call Maria Candida Gentile's fragrances anything but run-of-the-mill or bland. In each of her perfumes I've sampled so far, I detect a vast amount of originality, expertise and passion for perfumery. Her creations are far from straightforward or instantly lovable. On the contrary, it takes some time for their wearer to get under their skin and appreciate them. This was certainly my case. I'll never forget my first encounter with a Maria Candida Gentile perfume, “Barry Lyndon”. At first, I just did not get it at all. Fortunately, instead of deterring me, that experience stiffened my resolve. I kept testing it and now “Barry Lyndon” is one of my favourite perfumes from Ms Gentile's line.
“Sideris”, inspired partly by Cesare Pavese's (unrequited) love poem, is another fragrance from Maria Candida Gentile. Unlike “Barry Lyndon”, I found “Sideris” a little less challenging. It was the flawless blending of all its notes that struck me right away. None of them is allowed to “shout”, yet there are quite a lot of them that are perceptible even to an untrained nose like mine. “Sideris” opens with a pleasant combination of saffron and myrrh, which is soon joined by incense. However, don't expect any pungent, churchy incense. What we are given instead is a soft, incense-y background. In the heart, I pick up a delicate rose note, once again playing a supporting role rather than being the star. The whole fragrance rests on a pleasant benzoin and vanilla base which provides it with a hint of sweetness. Somewhere along the way, the Greek mountain tea sideritis is supposed to feature in the perfume, but since I've no idea what it smells like, I can't confirm nor refute its presence.
All in all, Maria Candida Gentile's “Sideris” is an extremely well-balanced and beautifully composed fragrance. It's a perfect olfactory interpretation of Pavese's poignant poem and so much more. Whenever I smell it, it reminds me of an embrace. A warm, reassuring embrace from a close friend whose mere presence makes my heart jump for joy.