Rania J. (short for Rania Jouaneh) is the nose behind – as well as the name of – a beautiful line of natural perfumes from Paris that contained 5 fragrances at the time I sampled (now there are more). Her earliest fragrance was only created in 2012. When I discovered Rania J., I was delighted to find that she sells samples of all her perfumes, so of course I ordered them all. The samples arrived by post very quickly and I loved her personal touch of a card with note giving thanks, with my name spelled correctly. With my name that tends not to happen frequently, and the personal touch was very pleasing.

Rania grew up in the Middle East and Africa, so it is no surprise that her familiarity with smell of jasmine trees, the aromas of spices sold in local markets, and the scents emanating from souks and African bazaars influenced her when creating her modern, sophisticated, and sensual fragrances. Her creations pay homage to nature, respecting rare essences and the olfactory richness and complexities they contain. Her perfumery is guided by environmental sustainability and humanitarian values, and her natural essences and essential oils are procured directly from producers and distillers who use traditional methods to obtain their natural materials. She sees perfume as an accessory, “worn as jewelry for the skin.” I concur, Ms Jouaneh, and I love your skillfully constructed and well-balanced fragrances! The bottom notes in her perfumes are tried and tested ingredients that make her scents thankfully go on and on and on.

Rania J. fragrances are represented by the Jovoy Company, and you can purchase a bottle or sample set of her creations from the company site. Her perfumes below were launched in 2012-13 and are available in 50 ml EDP for just under 90 € a bottle. She has added another to her line since I ordered my samples, called Tobacco Habanero.

Ambre Loup

This scent skips the top notes and goes right to the heart, in which an all-consuming amber takes over the skin. That’s why it is long-lasting with a heavy sillage. It’s a warm, sensuous and mysterious scent, and is my favourite of the collection, followed closely by Oud Assam. It bears some semblance to Kilian’s Amber Oud, which is not surprising, considering the name. Ambre Loup is reminiscent to me of a chilly but sunny autumn day in eastern Canadian suburbia when you are wearing your coziest of sweaters, taking a walk and detecting the scent of sweet and savoury burning leaves coming form somewhere in the neighbourhood. It has an almost foody (but not gourmand) feel of of molasses with a pinch of cinnamon and spice and a shot of vanilla. Imagine the amber ousting the tobacco and taking over in Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. Still, I wouldn’t say amber is quite begging to play center stage in this scent, as it is tamed by the labdanum and guaiac wood. I couldn’t easily disagree with anyone who claimed this was a masterpiece, as it offers up some bloody flawless, full-bottle-worthy olfactory bliss!

Oud Assam

This scent is easily defined as a masculine fragrance, with a pure oud playing center stage softened up with lots of vetiver. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by women, as yes, I do love this alluring, addictive, and sexy scent that is happily lacking in much of the medicinal qualities that are known to accompany agarwood in fragrance, although that is not to say it isn’t fecal and pungent. Yes, for me an image of King Alobar in Tom Robbin’s Bohemian saga, Jitterbug Perfume, which includes lots fun, comical, carefree and spunky-funky activity of the carnal nature, comes to mind. The almost Christmas-y orange start pulls you in, and then takes you on a dark, warm roll not quite in the hay, but in some complex earth and leather, including an incense-y vibe that comes in after 30 minutes or so, smoldering onto the skin with plenty of balmy smokiness, and no sticky, heavy or cloying feel. Once in its later phases, it’s the type of scent that you forget you are wearing while running some errand that involves other sensory input, like going to an outdoor market, and then a breeze grabs you and releases your own scent up to your nostrils, reminding you of how divinely dirty you smell and pasting a sneaky smile to your face.

Jasmin Kâma

This fragrance was created in honour of Kâma, the Indian god of love. It’s a sophisticated, fresh, and pure jasmine soliflore marketed at the ladies.  Sandalwood is more expensive than cedar, and on the samplers I received, sandalwood was the woody note listed. Fragrantica, however, lists cedar for that note in this fragrance. It probably makes not that much of a difference to my shnoz. This scent is a delight to jasmine lovers, and the jasmine here is earthy, dank and delicious, with powdery cake batter powder and slightly bitter dried fruit in the drydown. The patchouli, wood and jasmine form a lavish, very chilled-out accord, and the musk in the background makes it sultry and anamalic. It’s loud and sexy, but very approachable once you get to know it.

Lavande 44

The aromatic intensity and elegance of dreamy, herby lavender are enveloped with woody, smoky notes of vetiver and cedar wood here. The vanillic Tonka bean and the patchouli give an aspect of warmth and sweetness to the accord, powerful but delicate. It is a sensual, very unisex blend that is assertive at first, until the boozy tonkas tone down the show. Lavender stimulates one’s creativity, and as such I deliberately tried on this scent while focusing on a writing project for work, and very much enjoyed the sweet calming effect it seemed to have on my brain.

Rose Ishtar

This is a fresh powdery and feminine fragrance of spicy rose with a slightly gourmand note. The rose is a classic one that invites your nose into the whole flower as you inhale, trying to bury it completely into its soft, velvety petals. It has a woodsy, smoky drydown that I really like, with the patchouli only lurking, with no threat to dominate, in the background. There is a jammy quality that probably comes from the cassis, giving the scent a tasty, berry edge. Reviewers elsewhere have picked up tonka bean and guaiac, and if those notes are indeed there, they would definitely explain more of this gourmand nuance. Guys who are into rose would appreciate this relaxing, natural-smelling scent. I have ranked this scent last in my order of preferences, but that is simply because rose is not my favourite. Compared to the first two fragrances listed above, its projection and longevity are less, but not terribly lacking.