Aesop Marrakech and Mystra ~ fragrance reviews

We all have a favorite locale (or two) where a combination of climate, landscape, architecture, and aromas makes us happy. I love stormy coastlines, with raging oceans, billowing clouds, screeching gulls, old lighthouses, and the scents of rain, salt, mossy rocks, and seaweed. But I also love the ambiance of the exact opposite of a wet beach — warm, sunny, semi-arid hilltops, covered with flowering broom and poppies, where cypress trees reach up into blue skies and fragrance the air. (Add an abandoned cemetery, the cinder scents of a nearby active volcano, or some crumbling statues and buildings — an ancient temple will do — and I’ll purr with contentment only opiates can deliver.) Two perfumes from Aesop, Marrakech and Mystra, are perfect accompaniments for bright highlands, strewn with ruins and scrub.

Marrakech, which includes notes of cloves, sandalwood and cardamom, was developed with an idea of “a city draped in colours of the desert, where artisans sit on rugs hewn by hand, and lute music mixes with the smell of spices in hot wind.” Marrakech is a resinous fragrance that smells of spicy sandalwood, with the spice accent on cloves (“rough” cloves, not dainty or sweet “aftershave” cloves). Marrakech has no jarring edges; it’s smooth, but not blended to the point where individual notes are blurred. The overall impression of Marrakech is a fresh/moist mix of cloves, sandalwood and green cardamom seeds pulverized in a stone mortar and then mixed with silken oil. The longer you wear Marrakech the more you smell sandalwood (Australian sandalwood, of course). Marrakech is natural smelling, and compared to Mystra, it’s a “lilting” fragrance.

Mystra is a perfume “inspired by the Peloponnese hillside town’s* history of conquest and struggle, a place once home to French knights, despots, and monks, as well as its beautiful setting. It’s a place that reminds us of the complexity of human history.” Mystra includes notes of mastic, frankincense and labdanum. Mystra begins with the scents of a pungent, oily “varnish” note, incense ash and ‘stern’ labdanum, and it's a perfect fit for my imagined hilltop setting. As Mystra dries on skin, it becomes less “tough” and shows a softer, sweet-resin side that reminds me of the aromas of cypress and cedar trees sparkling with beads of sap on a hot day. Mystra grabs you with a muscular, rough, dusty hand, while Marrakech caresses with a soft touch.

Aesop fragrance line

The lasting power of Marrakech and Mystra in Eau de Toilette is good; please comment if you’ve tried the parfum versions. Aesop Marrakech and Mystra are available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette splash ($73 / $135), 10 ml Baume de Parfum ($75), and 10 ml Parfum roll-on (89). For buying information, see the listing for Aesop under Perfume Houses.

*Mystras, Greece

Note: top image is Evangelistria, Mystras [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.

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43 Comments

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  1. Bear says:

    Now I have CSN’s Marrakesh Express looping through my brain.
    Wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t the same 8 seconds over and over.
    Tangent over – resume thread!

  2. Been meaning to try these, thanks for sealing the deal Kevin.

    • Kevin says:

      C, you’re most welcome. I CAN see Mystra in your future….

  3. annemarie says:

    Yay! An Australian niche brand. I bought Mystra EDT a while ago, having tried both it and Marrakech. I think the latter would have been a better choice for me. Mystra is really too dark and sinister, and it was with Mystra I realised that while a scent can be fascinating and I might like it , that doesn’t mean I actually want to wear it. A simple insight that most perfumistas get to at some point. I got to it with Mystra.

    I find the lasting power of the EDT unimpressive, but you are supposed to apply lavishly. Not sure about the EDP.

    • Kevin says:

      AnneMarie: About 11 sprays lasts me all day…and that’s not “lavish” for me unfortunately (with light scents anyway!)

  4. Joe says:

    This line — and especially Mystra — seems to be blowing up the online perfumista community lately. I have been totally impervious to all the buzz, but your review makes Marrakech sound especially good to me.

    Maybe I should try Mystra too, though I like the idea of cypress much more than frankincense. While I love that smell, I think I’m burned out on it and have a hard time wearing it these days. I’d rather burn some of the frankincense “crystals” I have at home.

    What’s your favorite “warm, sunny, semi-arid hilltop” locale with the smell of cypress, Kevin? It makes me imagine Sicily or Sardinia or something and sounds so nice. Ah, to have a huge travel budget!

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: hmmmm…Pompeii area for sure, south of Napoli…central Mexico…and the Atlas Mountains in Morocco had everything but the volcano! Have you been to Taos in early summer? Must get to Greece soon too….

      • Joe says:

        I have only been to Taos once, in late summer (September). I am long overdue for a return to New Mexico — one of the places on my “magical” short list.

        • Kevin says:

          Joe: Go to the Millicent Rogers Museum if you haven’t already.

  5. LaMaroc says:

    For once the advertisemet rings true! I received samples of both of these shortly after the holidays and I am head-over-heels in love with both! I was afraid they would be too “hippy” so I didn’t want to buy unsniffed. My Christmas money-funded fragrance shopping spree is already over so I’m probably going to do a split or maybe a 5ml decant of each. So gorgeous, fun and evocative. Your reviews are spot-on, too, as usual. :) Thanks, Kevin!

  6. Winifrieda says:

    heh, good ole’ Aussies…we always have to reference cultures somewhere else!!! But these do sound great, ironic that the reminder that I must do these comes from the States!
    I often think Australia has a few evocative smells of its own…burning eucalyptus leaves, the drop-dead gorgeous aroma of caramel molasses around the cane mills, and my favorite; the scent of burning cypress pine in the cool air ‘out west’ in the evenings. It is a true incense of time and space!
    We have the amazing Brown Boronia, scorched honey melalucas, tea tree oil, and a sqillion miles of windswept seaside with salt and seaweed in the air.
    Bertrand Douchafor COME ON DOWN!!!

    • Haunani says:

      Winifrieda, you’ve got me tempted!

      • Kevin says:

        Haunani: ha…she MUST work for the Australia travel bureau…perfume-lovers/gardeners division.

    • Kevin says:

      Winifrieda: Really..an untapped resource! Time for JCEllena to come down too! How funny…I’ve been paying CLOSE attention to all friends’ travel plans for YEARS trying to get these…but the one person who did go to Australia conveniently FORGOT to get them for me. At last they are here in the U.S.

    • annemarie says:

      Wonderful smells, and I reckon Tasmainia has plenty to offer in terms of moss, peat, ferns, and yes, salty coastlines.

      But ya know? I kinda like it that Aesop has not referenced any Australian scents so far. The brand is very international scope. Perhaps, building in the international success they are getting, they will do an Australian scent that next.

      • Winifrieda says:

        Oh gosh yes!
        And I am really inspired to go and give them more support by getting these!

      • debbie says:

        Funny you should mention this-being Tasmanian- I got a sample of a perfume from Sonoma Scent that had rave reviews but it was so like the smell of my bushland backyard that I couldnt wear it and had to use to freshen up some old potpourri.Tas certainly has a fragrance or two!

        • annemarie says:

          Oh, what was the SSS fragrance? I have tried most of them …

          • debbie says:

            Champagne de Bois- smelt like eucalyptus and wet pine bark! Didnt even enjoy it sprinkled on the old potpourri, had to move it out of the living room!
            Hey I was driving in Bellerive after Christmas- and saw a dark car with ACT number plates-wasnt you was it? Wouldnt that be ridiculous-NO not in Tassie.

        • annemarie says:

          And I’m Tasmanian …

          • annemarie says:

            Run out of reply space!

            I was in Hobart in January with my two kids for our yearly visit, but in my brother’s car, so no, that was not me! I like CdeB but only moderately. I get coconut and chocolate from it. Isn’t that weird? No eucalyptus.

  7. FragrantWitch says:

    Kevin, your reviews are getting expensive for me! ;-)
    I would be very happy in both of your locales and now must try both of these. Marrakech sounds the most wearable but we shall see. Annemarie has additionally intrigued ‘me with her description of Mystra as ‘sinister’- did you find that to be the case?

    • Kevin says:

      FragrantWitch…sinister could apply, especially for those who don’t like to descend from my sunny hilltop into cold crypts or who avoid opening fragrant wooden boxes or trunks full of centuries-old bundles of hair, feathers, butterflies, etc… HA!

  8. Aparatchick says:

    Aw, Kevin. Now why did you have to go and do that? My “no buy” resolution is now in serious danger. Clove and sandalwood? Stern labdanum? I think the only solution is to sample both.

    • Kevin says:

      Aparatchick: samples indeed…some years I”ve spent more on THOSE than on perfume…and they are gone so quickly. HA! there’s no way to save money in this “realm,” is there?

  9. Want both of these so badly! Cloves, sandalwood and cardamom. Be still my heart. Also, Peloponnese & French knights. Oh dear. $73 a piece … yeah these are being bought ASAP. I have a birthday coming up, I may start dropping hints to the fiance’ or otherwise just link him directly to the site. Thanks Kevin! Lovely review, you and I share similar thoughts in what we considered preferred ambiance.

    • Kevin says:

      Klytaemnestra: do as I suggest to other friends…don’t drop hints…have a friend write your partner and say: “Just an FYI…but XXX said she’s LOVE this scent….” Sometimes I’m called into duty to do this myself.

  10. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    Enticed by Luca Turin’s rhapsodizing over it, I tried Mystra a while back in oil form, and it was very, very Band-Aid-y on me; I like weirdo scents, but I didn’t find it wearable. Do you think the alcohol-based versions would be different?

    • Kevin says:

      Lilydale: no doubt Mystra is much lighter in EdT formulation…I really want to try the parfum since I love the scent so much.

  11. Thanna says:

    I wish Aesop would make a perfume in their Resurrection scent. I’ve tried the hand wash and lotion in that one and the smell is divine!

    • Kevin says:

      Thanna: I do love all the Aesop products I’ve tried over the years…I think it all started for me with a lime hair polish.

  12. olenska says:

    Have tried and enjoyed both of these. Samples are currently buried in my scent box, but this evocative review has me running to excavate them. Many thanks!

    • Kevin says:

      olenska: you’re welcome.

  13. 50_Roses says:

    I just got samples of these after longing for them ever since reading the glowing reviews in The Guide. Mystra definitely strikes me as more “masculine”. I am sure there are women who would wear it happily, but I prefer my scents a little less dry. I am seriously considering it, however, for my husband someday. Marrakech, on the other hand, is stunning. If I find any fault with it, it is that the EdT is not quite strong or long-lasting enough. Of course, since I have only a small sample vial, I have not applied it lavishly. I am wondering if the parfum would have the impact and lasting power I would prefer?

  14. Seraph says:

    They certainly are complex, but they are rather short lived. Jury still out with me; maybe I was trying too hard to like them. All this talk leaves a “must-have-another-look” feeling…And how remarkably apposite of you to review Australian scents on Australia Day!

  15. yvashche says:

    Marrakech smells a lot like Penhaligon’s Hammam. Both scents lack lasting power. Otherwise, truly beautiful.
    http://theperfumedveil.blog.com/

  16. Marrakech is meh on me, Mystra devine. Like a false god, it lasts maybe 10 minutes. I think there is a creme to one of them. Must explore. Or spring for the (gasp) EDP.

  17. Santemon says:

    Aesop is one of Australia’s best conceived and executed brands, from the actual product through to the marketing and promotions, though it does sit at the pricey end of the market for its body and face products. But what I love is that, with these, they have actually produced what are, in my opinion, the two best fragrances produced here and neither of them refer to Australian landscape or stories really. I love that about them. Marrakech is indeed divine and Mystra’s dark green dusty resin is both delicious and odd, but totally compelling.

  18. Santemon says:

    And how nice of you Kevin and Robin to post these reviews on Jan 26 – Australia Day, whether by accident or design!

  19. ceelouise says:

    I now cannot wait to try these. Must order samples.

  20. beck says:

    I know this is an old thread but I like to hear people’s opinions after they have tested the actual product and I finally tried these. Mystra on me is well-kept living museum, a great deal of resin and very little green. It’s classy and mysterious and I respect it but would not wear it. Marrakech on me is spicy to begin, then the middle notes are a surprisingly fresh burst of orange and jasmine followed by the sandalwoody drydown. I like it very much. I first felt it to be too incense-y or room-fragrancy so might not wear it in professional environments but it’s definitely grown on me. My husband commented that with the same woody base they both smelt to him quite masculine. I think any gender could wear these.

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