I was barely out of college when I first encountered this illustrious brand. I stumbled upon a small and colorful boutique of neon-colored traditional Chinese clothing donned in silk and other ornate embellishments somewhere in Central, Hong Kong. I would later discover that Shanghai Tang, while originally Hong Kong-based, was getting known internationally for their quirky design and superior craftsmanship. The price isn’t something to scoff at as well as they can rival other known Italian or French designers. And as someone with Chinese roots, I’m quite happy to see a luxury brand of Chinese-descent that’s competing on the world stage.
So, when about a month ago I heard that this famed Hong Kong fashion house dropped its fragrance line here in Manila, I was stoked! I knew Shanghai Tang released a fragrance line some time in 2014 but I’ve had very little luck in securing a sample or even getting any extensive info about the collection. In fact, very little information was revealed in perfumers monolithic website, Fragrantica.com.
Even over at Shanghai Tang’s official website, the fragrances are mostly sold out and it is pretty difficult to find this stuff over at online retailers and discount shops like Beautyspin.com, Fragrancex, or Fragrancenet…even eBay. I’ve been asking my friends who frequent Hong Kong for a bottle since last year and everyone came back empty-handed. :’(
Luckily, of course, Rustan’s Marketing Corporation—the official distributor of Shanghai Tang fragrances here in the Philippines was able to acquire the collection. But I first got wind of this dropping in Manila through Art of Scent’s Facebook Page (they carry the line as well).
Shanghai Tang’s Silk Road collection is comprised of 5 EDP bottles marketed for women and 3 EDT bottles marketed towards men. The nose behind it is Carlos Benaim who have had numerous incredible creations under his belt. Calvin Klein’s seminal classic, Eternity being one of them.
Meticulously crafted, the Silk Road Collection boasts of everything Shanghai Tang. The bottle design incorporates the brand’s signature SHOU logo (a Chinese Symbol of longevity, wealth, love and virtue). The women’s bottle incorporates the Lucky number 8 while the men’s bottle utilizes a streamlined gem-like design.
Drawing inspiration from the legendary 4000-mile trade route than spanned from China to the rest of Europe, Middle East and Asia, the Silk Road collection harnesses exotic ingredients mixed with oriental characteristics –such as spices, varying tea and flowers generally associated with Eastern culture.
To take it a step further, I’d like to think of the collection as an epic Chinese Martial Arts opera. Wherein the main actors, the set-design and even the setting all play an important role in crafting this wonderful and spiritual world. Think the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or movies of Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Dagger). It’s that level of imagery that one can get from the collection — and it is exquisite!
The men’s line sets the stage for the collection. The scents all conjure up various breath-taking landscape imagery like taking a horseback ride across the vast deserts of Xinjiang Province or wading lush Bamboo fields in the Emerald Valley at Anhui Province.
Obviously, being a huge fan of vetiver I immediately zoomed in on Jade Dragon as it promised to harness the heart of Vetiver while being infused with Tea and Jasmine. While I would have wanted a more rooty and earthy approach to the fragrance, this uniquely green and absolutely refreshing concoction works best with our current season. The green casing perfectly encapsulates how refreshing this fragrance is without being soapy or falling into the typical marine categories.
L’Orient presents a bit of a challenge as the scent can be incredibly woody especially during the mid. The soft leather accord on top gives this scent a supple creaminess to it that’s alluring and thoroughly enjoyable. The middle part is where cedar shines the most. If you’re a fan of this wood then this one’s for you. Reminds me of pencil shavings but with more class, of course. The dry down is where the magic truly lies for L’Orient.
Mandarin Tea latches on to Neroli and Tea. The tea notes in Shanghai Tang gives the fragrances it’s sharp and dry texture yet the Neroli, and other citruses adds just the right amount of zest.
All 3 men’s line shines amazingly during the Spring or Summer time.
While the men’s line conveys great imagery, the women’s line follows a distinct sensuality and gaiety that embodies the Shanghai Tang woman: strong, decisive, extremely cunning, graceful and always poised.
The five Shanghai Tang Silk Road Collection geared towards women are: Oriental Pearl, Orchid Bloom, Spring Jasmine, Rose Silk…
… and Golden Lily — beautiful white Lilies and Jasmine wrapped with accents of Orange flowers, Patchouli and Musk creating this invitingly soft fragrance.
However, it was Oriental Pearl that won me over the collection (and became the first bottle that I purchased from this house).
While marketed towards women, this variant works well as a unisex fragrance. This wonderful amber-vanilla-patchouli combo creates a gorgeous gourmand without being too overpowering (although has the tendency to be slightly cloying at the start if sprayed one too many times). As an EDP, all you really need are a few spritz and you’re good to go.
Sweet, crisp, sublime and a bit powdery, the closest perfume that I can associate this with is Chanel’s Les Exclusif line, Coromandel. That’s a testament to how wonderfully made these perfumes are.
If you’re looking for something vastly different, unquestionably beautiful and sublimely crafted, then Shanghai Tang Silk Road collection might fit right between your known designers and 5-figured niche bottles.
Shanghai Tang Silk Road collection is available at Rustan’s and Art of Scent boutiques for Php 5,850.00 for the 100ml EDT and 60ml EDP.