Still Searching for "The Moon" On the Cheap...
Fidelis opens with a very brief dash of soft raspberry before quickly transitioning to its heart. As the composition enters its early heart, the raspberry vacates, being replaced by a starring faux Oud wood accord (most likely cypriol derived), supported by a heavy cardamom, saffron and cumin spice trio that combine to create a sharp wet concrete-like accord in support of the starring Oud with a very subtle underlying integrated coffee note. As the composition moves through its middle, an almost pipe tobacco-like supporting accord joins in with the rest to keep things interesting. During the late dry-down, the composition significantly sweetens, as the Oud gradually recedes revealing the slightly powdery amber driven base, with traces of the saffron spice warming the amber through the finish. Projection is average and longevity excellent at about 12 hours on skin.
After having been extremely impressed with The Moon from Frederic Malle and hearing talk that its predecessor from perfumer Rasquinet, Fidelis, from Histoires de Parfums was the composition it may have been based on I had to get my nose on it to sniff for myself. To give my quick verdict, there is *some* shared DNA between the two, but no, these compositions are very far from twins and not at all interchangeable. Fidelis really is much more about warm spice and faux Oud than the jammy raspberry and real Oud oil, rose/patch focus of The Moon. While those seeking "The Moon on the cheap" may walk away disappointed with Fidelis, when viewed on its own it is successful in its own right. Rasquinet never lets the cypriol get out of control, and tames it with the spice and a very clever coffee note that is extremely subtle but just sufficient to work with the spice to blend perfectly with the faux Oud. The late dry-down sneaks up on you, as the composition moves towards its amber-driven finish seemingly at a snail's pace, but the whole thing from top to bottom is quite skillfully done. The only real gripe this writer finds is what best can be described as a wet concrete accord throughout the mid-section of the composition's development. This, distracts to some degree from the Oud to prevent its complete dominance, but one may not quite care for the end result. The bottom line is the $160 per 60ml bottle Fidelis may not be a "The Moon on the cheap" solution to bargain hunters, but it is a "very good" smelling 3.5 stars out of 5 rated composition in its own right that is definitely recommended, regardless.