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translated from Russian




How Kazakhstan smells


from Elena Prokofeva

I have never been to Kazakhstan. My parents were there more than once, as a child I had a favorite badge brought by my mother from Alma-Ata – a very beautiful red apple: the badge looked like a real brooch. Many of my close friends come from Kazakhstan or live there. I was in love with wild tulips and the legend of Queen Tomiris. But I haven't been to Kazakhstan… When I was waiting for samples of Aura of Kazakhstan, at least I tried to understand the history and culture of the new perfume brand from the books.

It seemed to me that the most important thing for the inhabitants of steppes is freedom. Spiritual, physical, personal freedom, body freedom, freedom of movement, freedom in every sense of the word. But Yulia Lukyanenko, creative director of Aura of Kazakhstan, said that freedom is important, very important, but more important – family, people:

"Only thanks to this, the nomads could survive in the steppe.

The main thing is those who are close to you, who will support you in a difficult moment.

The horse is an extension of you, like an extra limb, without which you are not you.

Steppe-home. Which is one for all.

Guests are always welcome, give the best to the guest.

But fight to the last drop of blood with the one who comes to take the Steppe, since it belongs to the family, and to future generations.

And the Steppe is also a connection with the ancestors, who were respected as gods. In the Steppe — their graves, and therefore it is inviolable."


Igor Masyukov introduced the brand and talked about the concept of fragrances, so I will not go back to what was the idea and what is included in the pyramid of each of the nine perfumes Aura of Kazakhstan. I will just tell you what they smell like.


It seems to me right to start the review with "Wind of the Great Steppe" ... Although I would not recommend starting acquaintance with the brand with this perfume: it is too bright and original. But if you love leather and animal notes in perfumes as much as I love them — "Wind of the Great Steppe" can be ordered blindly!

A strong, hot, even fierce fragrance of steppe herbs: spicy herbs, bitter herbs, herbs with a honey and resinous tint of aroma.

When this first overwhelming explosion of aromas subsides, individual notes appear: here is the silvery bitterness of wormwood, here is dried wild mint, and here is saffron... Other herbs are not familiar to me, as well as softly smelling flowers. But the many herbs, the variety of scents of flowers and herbs in "Wind of the Great Steppe" - like a lush wild bouquet.


Against the background of the intertwining scents of flowers and herbs – even hotter than the steppe air, a strong and bright smell of leather. This is not a thin, smooth leather for gloves or bags, but a thick, strong, rough-made leather saddle or harness. Leather with pronounced animalistic notes: this is no longer a new harness, it is soaked in horse sweat.

The animalistic aspect in "Wind of the Great Step" may confuse some, but if you liked the old "Knize Ten" Knize, did not shock the "1740 Marquis de Sade "Histoires de Parfums” of the first issues and you find "Gucci Guilty Absolute" Gucci attractive - you should definitely get acquainted with "Wind of the Great Steppe".

Yes, in "Wind of the Great Steppe" there are beautiful herbs… But the power of this perfume is in the leather and animal notes.


* * *

The continuation of the theme of the Steppe can be considered "Saga of the Silk Road" - a perfume dedicated to the Great Silk Road. In fact, there were several directions for the caravan road connecting East Asia with the Mediterranean, but the most famous and important segment passed through western China and present-day Kazakhstan, including through a large nomad camp called Almaty... In many centuries it will become the city of Alma-Ata.


Bitter wormwood, spicy herbs, but the dry hot wind flying over them, smells of all the luxury of the East: it has the sweetness of precious resins, the fragrance of fragrant wood, burn of spices… The smoky sweet scents of incense and myrrh mingle with the dry, rough sweetness of sandalwood. Salty sweetness of amber with velvet and viscous sweetness townscape balm. The burning smells of black and allspice-with the noble bitterness of rosewood. Even though the Prophet forbids laughing drinks, the wind that passes by the caravan carries away the soft, buttery smell of cognac.

The cognac note makes the already rich aromatic bouquet of "Saga of the Silk Road" truly luxurious.


But not only because of the cognac, it is impossible to call "Saga of the Silk Road" a classic oriental perfume. This is prevented by the smell of grass, and the feeling of a hot wind, and the feeling that the perfume is constantly in motion, changing on the skin…  Even after carrying "Saga of the Silk Road" all day, it is difficult to say what is more in it: the natural fragrance of the steppe or the oriental bouquet of precious resins and fragrant wood.


* * *

In spring, the steppe is covered with tulips: the true homeland of these flowers is Kazakhstan. "Land of Tulips" is a perfume dedicated to wild tulips. I saw them only in photographs and in my youth I dreamed of being there at least once in my life, among them, so that this beauty would become a reality for me. And once I brought tulips from Kazakhstan. A big tin bucket full of flowers wrapped in gauze.


The person who did this for me first flew with these tulips in a helicopter, then took a plane to Moscow, and came to my house in the evening. The tulips were asleep. And in the morning they opened.


I will never forget the satin shine and elasticity of their petals, the perfect shape of the cups and the flavor, which was full, these floral red bowl. The most beautiful and most fragrant tulips in my life.


 Then I searched for a long time for the fragrance of a tulip in perfumery, but all the time I was disappointed. It was always a little wrong... Most often, the tulip in the perfume remained only a recognizable spicy smell of pollen, and the smell of the flower itself seemed elusive.


"Land of Tulips" is a perfume that really smells like tulips. Of course, in the spring I will compare it with real tulips. Now I can smell the joy in it-no, not spring, spring has many shades of fragrance — I can smell the tulips. The same fragrance that fills the scarlet bowl of a newly opened flower, and the watery green smell of the stem, and the fresh smell of the ground, and the first green.


"Land of Tulips" is a cheerful fragrance that can be given instead of flowers. In February and March, it will become a healing elixir, saving from the blues and giving cheerfulness.


* * *


Two Aura of Kazakhstan perfumes are dedicated to two cities: the former capital, Alma-Ata, and the current one, Astana.


"Heart of Alma-Ata" surprised me: I did not expect such a cozy gourmet charm from a fragrance that embodies the smell of the city. Sweet apples: fresh, cool, crunchy, sprinkled with juice ... and homemade creamy toffee. Previously, they were cooked in a cast-iron pan, it took time and attention to prevent them from burning: creamy toffee should smell gently. Just like in "Heart of Alma-Ata". I couldn’t catch the promised chocolate in "Heart of Alma-Ata", but there is black tea with honey: the tea is fresh and very strong, the honey is young and very fragrant.


The background to this sweetness is fresh air, ozone and ice, and herbs, bitter and spicy herbs… The wind from the mountains, washing the warm sweet heart of the perfume, makes "Heart of Alma-Ata" unique even among such an extensive family of gourmet fragrances.


Thanks to the feeling of an array of fresh air, "Heart of Alma-Ata" becomes translucent, very light, still remains appetizing and cozy. A warm place in the heart: where home is, where childhood is. No matter how majestic and interesting the world is, sometimes you still want to hide in the memories and aromas of childhood…


"Heart of Alma-Ata "is a very distant relative of "Lann — Ael" Lostmarch. The magic here is quite different, there is no smell of immortelle and honey cakes that the fairies use to lure mortals into the Hollow Hills, and the apples smell different, because they are just apples, not the wind from Avalon. Actually, with "Heart of Alma-Ata" it is related to apple and milk notes, tenderness and complexity of the gourmet composition. However, those who yearn for the removed and already hard-to-get "Lann-Ael "should pay attention to "Heart of Alma-Ata".

* * *

Metallic-aldehyde fragrance, clean to the creak, frozen to the icy transparency, "Pulse of Astana" was the least understandable for me in the entire Aura of Kazakhstan collection.

White roses caught in the frost. Frozen in ice, but miraculously fragrant currant buds. Cold and clean air, the smell of ozone and snow, silver and steel…

To me, it's not the smell of a big city, but the smell of the legend of the Battle of Bosworth.

According to the chronicles, the helmet was torn from the head of the fallen King Richard III and the small golden crown that crowned it was presented to the victor – Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII.

What had become of the sword that Richard had so adroitly wielded, with which he had killed the standard-bearer and severed the shaft of the Tudor standard? There are several quite realistic versions, but how beautiful is the legend! The sword was hidden from unworthy eyes and hands, and the rust did not touch it, and the prickly stalks of white roses intertwined over it, and in that place roses bloom all year round, even in the bitter cold…

"Pulse of Astana" is conceived as the smell of a modern city, clean and sparkling, but I can feel the icy white roses, silver, steel… No matter how much I try to convince myself that it has nothing to do with King Richard III, the imperishable sword and the immortal white roses, no matter how much I wear "Pulse of Astana", trying to understand it correctly, I still do not feel the pulse of the big city. I hear the fascinating whisper of a legend, very far from the city of glass and metal, and from the Kazakh steppes.

If you were looking for perfect purity, icy white roses and metal - all you will definitely find in "Pulse of Astana". What associations this combination of notes will cause depends on who wears the perfume.

* * *

"Black Gold" - oil, black gold of Kazakhstan-in the perfume incarnation turned out to be the most shocking perfume Aura of Kazakhstan. At the same time - the deepest and most luxurious. It is luxurious: this is the best characteristic of "Black Gold". The most shocking, but also the most luxurious perfume Aura of Kazakhstan.


I don't know what oil smells like, but I do know what fuel oil, engine oil, and tar smell like. They are in "Black Gold". Through the fuel oil, engine oil and tar, the subtle bitter-resinous aroma of galbanum and the delicate smell of spring grass breaks through. It is this combination that holds the attention after the first shock  – a perfume that smells of fuel oil and tar! - and makes you sniff, understand…


Then "Black Gold" begins to change. The fragrance becomes warm, rich and seductive. The smell of rough leather is harmoniously combined with the smoked-peat soft spirit of whiskey. The smell of styrax, vanilla-cinnamon-floral-with chocolate-earthy vetiver. Prunes soaked in cognac-with bitter chocolate. A single fresh green note makes its way, like a stubborn sprout, through all this spicy, heavy, sweet, rough, drunken luxury, and makes "Black Gold" charming…

For me, "Black Gold" is not about oil production and not even about a luxurious life thanks to the sale of oil.

For me, "Black Gold" is a perfume about bikers and for bikers. It will go well with a leather jacket and heavy boots.

However, "Black Gold" is so good that it could be worn with silk and antique lace, with an elegant suit and a white shirt. All the same, it will retain its wild charm and will whisper about freedom and strength, about the love of risk and speed, about eternal youth and about spring, which always returns, even after the most severe winters.

* * *

Kazakhstan is not only a steppe, but also mountains.

From "Music of Mountains" I expected freshness, ice, ozone, but it turned out that it smells of pines and cedars – needles, bark, resin. It smells of sweet-spicy dry herbs. It smells like incense, and it is the most natural, natural smell of sticky resin before processing.

"Music of Mountains" sounds very natural, so that of all the spices you can only recognize the smell of nutmeg, everything else merges into a living fragrance that still can be found in nature, if you go somewhere very far from all the cities, in the world of trees, herbs and mosses… In bottles, usually the flavors tend to embellish, make them more elegant.

"Music of Mountains" has not been decorated – and its natural beauty is mesmerizing. A fragrance for the witch, the shaman, the traveler. A fragrance for a person who wants to escape from the city at least at the moment when he puts on a perfume.

* * *

The fact that edelweiss grow not only in the mountains and not only in Europe, but all over the world, that there is also a steppe variety of edelweiss, I learned only recently, although edelweiss has always had a special meaning for me…

As a child, I heard a legend about a flower that grows very high in the mountains, on the most dangerous steep slopes. And  in the regions where he grows up, there is such a tradition: if a young man wants to confess his love to a girl, he goes to the mountains and, at risk, finds Edelweiss. This flower is small and modest, but it symbolizes a serious feeling, for which you can take a risk, climbing up steep slopes.

The legend fascinated me. I went to the library and got an atlas of plants to see what the edelweiss looked like. I was very disappointed when I read that this flower does not have a pronounced aroma. I didn't think it mattered that he wasn't too pretty, but the fact that he didn't smell was unfair.

Later I learned that this legend comes from Bavaria and Switzerland, that firstly Edelweiss is a symbol of good luck, and only then-hard-to-reach love and a high goal… I saw in Bavaria jewelry in the form of edelweiss, including old, ivory, very fine work: they were given for good luck and as a declaration of love – a flower that will never fade.

After receiving a set of samples from Aura of Kazakhstan, I first tried "Silver Edelweiss". I wanted to know how to recreate the aromatic image of a flower that does not smell.


It was a living crystal…

The fragrance "Silver Edelweiss" really creates a feeling of transparency and radiance of rock crystal. It smells of fresh air, rich with the scent of icy water and pine trees. At the heart of the perfume is a flower that smells of the most delicate incense and vanilla, purity and childhood, and melted milk…

The contrast of sweet transparent cold and sweet vulnerable heat in" Silver Edelweiss" is striking: this is jewelry work. The contrast persists for a long time. In the end, the cold notes seem to begin to melt, and the gentle fluffy warmth remains on the skin, like a gentle touch.

I would say that "Silver Edelweiss" is the most beautiful fragrance in the Aura of Kazakhstan collection, if it were not for "The Legend of Tomiris".


* * *


"The Legend of Tomiris" is the work of Angela Champagna: one of my favorite modern perfumers. I assumed that the perfume would be beautiful. I didn't realize how beautiful it would be…

Delicate green notes of young grass and very young, just "hatched" from the buds of foliage, soft pine panicles – spring scents! - drown in the smoke of sweet oriental incense, giving a sense of peace, as if the perfume was created not to serve as an additional, invisible decoration, but to immerse yourself in relaxation or meditation.

Gradually, on this vague smoky-green aromatic background, more distinct patterns of creamy-tender sandalwood, gingerbread-sweet guaiac, cinnamon-pepper copay balsam and denser, pronounced green notes begin: the juice of exotic, unknown plants. Flowers bloom – first the bitter-honey flowers of the lemon tree, then tea roses with a tart hint of aroma.

All this is just a preparation for the moment when "The Legend of Tomiris" seems to explode with the scent of violets, and not wild forest, with their quiet moist aroma, as one might expect, but luxurious Parma. It seems a miracle how their pampered sweetness is harmoniously combined with a meditative smoky-green base, with notes of resins and balms. Violets in "The Legend of Tomiris", unlike most perfume violets, do not sugar and do not powder, do not drown in the watery note of the violet leaf, they remain flowers, living velvety Parma violets.

No matter how much I wear "The Legend of Tomiris" - every time I am amazed at this quiet, but complex and refined beauty.

Every time it seems to me that I still haven't really felt the fragrance, haven't solved its mystery…

Maybe it is impossible to solve it: you just need to enjoy the peace and quiet joy.


Interested, I also learned the story of the queen, where the great Persian king Cyrus wanted to take away power and took away her son, captured him and killed him (according to other versions – the young man committed suicide so that his mother could not blackmail him with her life). Tomiris swore that she would give Cyrus blood to drink, and when she defeated his army, she ordered his severed head to be lowered into a skin full of blood…

Rubens, however, depicted not a wineskin, but a large bowl, and all the characters are dressed in luxurious European outfits. But there is a severed head and there is blood, and there is a beautiful woman, outwardly unperturbed, watching as her orders are obeyed. Only her right hand, with its curled fingers, betrays the tension… As if she herself would like to grab the enemy's head and dip it in a bowl of blood.

I'm talking about a painting that is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, in the United States.

Another painting by Rubens, celebrating the bloody triumph of the queen of Massagetae - Tomiris orders the head of the fallen Cyrus to be lowered into a vessel of blood", exhibited in the Louvre — is less interesting and dramatic.

I like strong women who are able to protect their own - whether it is family, land, or people - and who are able to punish the enemy in a way that others do not want.

I was pleased to read Bulat Zhandarbekov's dilogy (the first part of it was devoted to the history of Tomiris) and even more pleased to watch the film "Tomiris", shot in 2019 by director Akan Satayev: a good, solid historical action film, modernly humanistic, but made with great respect for history and the traditions of our ancestors.


I thought I was ready to meet Tomiris in her perfume incarnation.

I was endlessly amazed at what "The Legend of Tomiris" turned out to be.


In "The Legend of Tomiris" – and the restraint with which a woman is in no hurry to reveal the secrets of her soul, and the vulnerability of her feelings, and the tenderness of her heart. Peace, confidence, self-esteem, self-sufficiency… But there is no ferocity, no belligerence.


When you inhale the fragrance of "The Legend of Tomiris", you realize that for Tomiris, whose portrait was created by Aura of Kazakhstan – the main thing was not to punish the murderer of her son. Her goal was to crush and decapitate the Persian army in order to protect her people, her people, other children, and their future. Save the tender greenery that will be trampled by the enemy cavalry, those flowers that will not sprout on the scorched earth… And they certainly will not flourish in the souls of those who were free, but became slaves.


In" The Legend of Tomiris", violets slowly sink into the fragrance of incense and the circle closes: the perfume returns to the notes with which it opened, only the greens and resins sound very quiet. Like a lullaby.




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