April 25, 2015

Monsillage: Aviation Club, Eau de Céleri

The back of the bottle, love the birds
The French Canadian perfumer Isabelle Michaud of Monsillage has garnered a lot of appreciative attention lately, especially as the winner of the Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan perfume category, for Eau de Céleri, one of my two favorites of the current line.  

I was able to try them all in person in the relaxed atmosphere at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn, which brought the line in as they do keep an eye out for creative, fresh and even experimental artisan indie perfumes with strong appeal.  

That makes for a refreshing difference to Manhattan lately, which tends to stay within the range of the highest end ultra luxury niche perfume lines. While elegantly wonderful the Manhattan perfume experience may often feel more classically traditional or even conventional and lean exclusively toward the intimidating end of price range and style of presentation.

I was excited to find that Monsillage also offers a travel perfume size which is well priced (as is the whole line) for those who like a portable perfume (as I very much do) and also like to experiment. It's casual, well designed and thought out while energetic in tone. 

It's Spring, and the line is definitely a refreshing departure from a lot of the over-the-top, seriously expensive and intensely heavy perfumes that seemed to proliferate this past winter. 

I am intrigued by the back story of the perfumer, an unconventional one for someone classically trained, as she came to perfume after a full lifetime of other experiences.

I immediately fell in love with Aviation Club. This eau de toilette releases depth within its transparencies, and revives my fondness for the edt form, in that its facets reveal themselves with clarity while surrounding the skin with an air of energy. 

The immediate speed of evaporation of everything at once imparts brightness and uplifting energy.  There's serious green right away, backed up with metallic tones, plus the pleasant woods, tobacco, amber, coffee and cognac -- all those elements I normally love in an edp or full perfume, but here as an eau de toilette, put together skillfully to hold a strong impression of engaging atmospheric brightness. 

It lingers and projects, which makes me happy when I catch it around me, out of the corner of my attention as I go about my business. Its appeal creates a thirst for the initial notes so I find myself wanting and willing to re-apply every couple of hours. As one of the original purposes of the edt form was for refreshment, that is more than fine with me.

Eau de Célerie edt is green too, and does indeed carry the true scent of fresh celery just pulled out of the local garden's rich black earth, fresh, but that distinctive green has been mixed into a cloud of vetiver, patchouli and galbanum which all bind the initial green to a drier more earthly tone. 

There's lots and lots of fresh citrus like lemon and bergamot and grapefruit so this earthiness continues to hold an optimistic, joyful personality. 

I picture myself re-applying this one frequently during the hot city months for refreshment and uplift, or when wanting a hit of grounded happiness in the colder months.  This line's edt style is strong and full and not all that fugitive. I find it to be the essence of a refreshing modern brightness that uses the edt form to pull the nose and mind straight up, that good posture held while demonstrating a backbone of skillful earthy astringency.

These perfumes are true enough to re-connect you to personal experiences with the aromatic powers of Nature and of the life forces around us, in case you should have forgotten them, as you well might spending too much time in front of a screen, as many do. 

I look forward to the next perfumes to come in this line, as the style established so far has instant appeal for me and I believe would for many, once experienced.

There are also soaps and travel sachets. Please click the links  to go directly for more info as to prices and sizes, or for samples and to order.

Disclosure: samples provided by Twisted Lily.
Photos from the Monsillage and Twisted Lily websites.

Music to listen to perfume by: 

FC/Kahuna - Hayling

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved

March 18, 2015

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

evening sky over Lake Pichola, Udaipur, India. 
© Martin Rychen
Pichola, a perfume by Neela Vermeire Creations in collaboration with Bertrand Duchaufour, was inspired by an extraordinary fresh water lake created in the 14th Century in India, considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. 

Built as a fresh water reserve for the entire region, the setting is enhanced by the architecture around and within it, as small islands were created for the views and to experience the meeting of water and sky surrounded by the landscape.

This perfume is a pure beauty that opens with power, with a brightness of white floral and citrus, and that wondrous quality carries through the entire process of wearing.  It goes on to blend into sandalwood and saffron effects, maintaining its exquisite balance of aromatic powers from beginning to end. 

That balance is a form of reflection, but a soft one, as the contrasts enhance details in a similar way to the graduated differences between light and dark in this photo of the evening sky over Lake Pichola. 

This is one of those perfumes I consider to be Perfume (with a capital P). I would use it as an example of modern niche perfume of the most exquisite kind. 

It holds a reflective, luminous quality, a glowing translucent white on white atmosphere. The strength of the perfume and especially the tuberose joined with orange blossom and jasmine does not overpower, but it's calibrated to be strong enough to reveal the white flowers' facets, just as an insightful portrait might emphasize certain details to communicate inner character.

The notes are listed as cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, juniper, magnolia, neroli, clementine, bergamot, orange blossom, rose, tuberose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, benzoin, sandalwood, driftwood and vetiver.  

I wonder if it might not be the soft vetiver anchor that holds the white flowers and citrus brightness down to earth, eased there by the more mystical and elusive qualities of sandalwood, mediated by the driftwood and benzoin. 

The freshness of ripe clementine is caught and held close to the white flowers, tempered by cardamom and rose.  On final dry down an abstract elegance comes to the fore.  

The First Lady takes in the view 
as she cruises through Lake Pichola, India 
~ March 17th, 1962 (via Pinterest).
I found this photo of Jacqueline Kennedy in the early Sixties enjoying a boating excursion on Lake Pichola, and I can picture her as one of the greats of style and sophistication wearing this perfume. 

It has that complex vintage perfume mystery about it, which encompasses all aspects of aromatic beauty, both cultured and basic. (Barbara Herman's book Scent and Subversion has influenced my perception of vintage perfume for sure). 

I appreciate the modern clarity, yet it holds that air of the vintage French classics, in a composition that conveys worldliness, style, sophistication and pleasure taken with a dose of heightened awareness,  referencing history and culture, as a perfume experience that presents a world of luxurious sensuality before you. 

Pichola will debut at Milan this Spring, and then be available in the USA through Lucky Scent, and Tiger Lily in San Francisco. This perfume, and Mohur Extrait, are for me the absolute slayers of the NVC line, that contains such special examples of creative refinement, referencing and joining the classic elements of Indian and French aesthetics of perfume. Every single one of the perfumes in the line is a stunner of its own kind, and that is a rare feat. As with a few other rare birds of niche perfumery such as Vero Kern,  there is nothing that is not of the utmost refinement, creativity and exquisite execution.

I know I keep repeating that word refinement. That is the essence of this perfume for me, the ultra-refined result of a collaboration of sophisticated sensibilities.

The other day I tried it for a friend visiting from CA who generally avoids perfume of any kind, and got an instinctive OMG! I got that same reaction a few months ago with Mohur Extrait too, from someone who doesn't know perfume that well. It's a kick to blow someone away with such a special perfume experience, especially a fresh or even a cautious nose. Suddenly they understand my obsession and what it might encompass. 

Disclosure:  I was lucky enough to receive the sample from Neela Vermeire when she visited NYC,  and with Carlos Powell, meeting on New Year's Day.  We were both floored by it. Opening it was like unleashing an aromatic fairy tale. How lucky to have the chance to try something so exciting at the very start of this year. A good omen, for my first perfume of 2015.  

Please check in on the website at Neela Vermeire Creations for more info and especially for release dates. 

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Photos above as credited.

March 3, 2015

Soft and Gentle Perfumes for Winter Cold

"The Old Willow" by David Vincent
Gentle, soft, beautifying, distracting, that's what I've looked for in perfume the past two weeks of a heavy cold in the midst of freezing weather, mixed up with the sadness from the passing of my dear long time Italian Greyhound companion Dante.  

There are a number of perfumes I have relied on in this situation. Respiratory sensitivity makes my the usual strong and deep perfumes seem like way too much, and I don't want to ruin them for myself either, by forcing it when it's just too soon, so for the meantime I'll just look forward to them for later, and turn to those that I can dare to expose myself to without intensifying difficulties. 

I have noticed that certain perfumes have a quality that moves the focus away from weakness or discomfort toward a brightness and lightness that seems like the breath of vitality, or brings me to a place redolent of a balmier season sure to come.  I've listed those I have found to be true and reliable cloaks of beautifying gentleness (a number organize themselves into pairs or seem thematically related):

Lucid Move, via 
Two fully organic naturals: Saveur de l'Abricot by Artemisia and Honey by Laurie Stern of Purrfumery -- I have posted on both before, but in this context I have to say that the Abricot brightens and softens with a sunny apricot fuzziness and a tiny drop of a sweet nectar any moment at all, even if the midst of the most difficult, with gentleness and grace. 

Honey has a deeper tone that contains the sunlight warmth of all that its name implies, soothing and calming as a trigger reminder of the energy of warmer seasons.   Both seem to contain the healing sun of a Mediterranean climate.

Two classics of French niche by Serge Lutens:  Clair de musc and Daim blond. Both absorb into the skin immediately as if it was thirsty for them, and then emanate out as if your skin has instantly grown silky and velvety around you like a comforting and perfectly fitting suit that holds you close. They both are the very soul of the ideal sensation of drawing on a long pair of pale butter soft suede or velvet gloves that bring out the shape of your arms and hands as elegant abstractions.  The complexity of the most subtle of leather tones rendered with mysterious softness is both distracting and intimate and a luxurious reminder of the finer things of life, calmly lifting the spirits, into an interior and exterior space beyond the difficult or even the ordinary.

Two colognes: Eucalyptus by Thymes and vintage Eau Tranquility by Clarins (much more basil than the current form). Both have a connection to herbal goodness and strength with a quick and full evaporation that creates a clarity, a beneficial atmosphere, that soothes the face and enlivens the spirits.  Both are especially good once out and about and needing to maintain energy to get through the weather and keep patience with the stresses and frustrations of being unwell and sad in the darkest and coldest part of the year. They both have a definitive citrus uplift set beside their respective herbal themes and are more complex than the title of cologne would imply. Good for the gym or for work or for errands without descending into the dreaded 'office scent' category of blandness, they both hold the ability to recall the summer within no matter what transpires outside. 

found on 
Reliable standbys: Eau The Vert by Bulgari - as an edp to be worn on the skin, also using it in the perfumer burner, and as a shower gel releasing its classic mellow bright green tea while bathing in hot water, it has a psychological effect of balance and classicizing beauty that makes for a wholesome influence.

Honey Lavender Perfume by Perfumer Pharmer Monica Miller is a great beauifier of any circumstance and become a favorite to fall asleep in.  The wild crafted lavender joins the honey in a feral childlike freshness and musky depth that feels like it is cleansing the body and mind as you breathe it in. 

I have written of some of these before, as it is in these circumstances you turn to those perfumes you know well, looking for more of how they act on you personally.  I have found this to be one of the most useful and beneficial elements of building a perfume wardrobe. 

The links below go to prior posts with more detailed descriptions and links to the perfumer's websites.

Artemisia Natural Perfumes Saveur de l'Abricot

Laurie Stern's Honey: as part of the Primordial Perfume Project and for Valentine's Day

Monica Miller's  Lavender and Honey

Serge Lutens Daim Blond

Vintage vials of Eau Tranquility can be found on Ebay; Eucalyptus by Thymes is available from their site online where they have the note lists and direct ordering info.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Photos above found on Pinterest and credited per captions.
This site is non commercial and this post was not commissioned or compensated by any outside party.

February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I always love Valentine's Day, no matter what, and take it as an opportunity to either look for a gift or treat myself to one.

This time among the many possible choices in Valentine's perfume experiences I have found these very special three, which will warm you to the core, in this harsh winter, or express your internal heat if you are in a warmer climate. I consider them to be good night-table perfumes; ones to keep beside you in the bedroom, for their warmth and opulence, to enhance either romance or rest.

Alexis Karl's Scent by Alexis has reformulated and re-released Body Made Luminous, using a Himalayan amber, re-balancing itself among mysterious cocoa and floral accords.  It makes an ultra-warm aromatic amber cloak, with natural cocoa of the deepest darkest kind, almost the bark of the tree, strong and a bit astringent, in a mist floating over roses. Predominantly cocoa, the deep amber keeps it from sweetness and shades into something like ebony, which dries down into more wood with a hint of cool cedar.

Fara Bad
It creates a definite aura that remains  private and close to the body. It does not throw itself out to the public, but reveals itself within your personal space, as is most appropriate for such a romantic perfume.  It was inspired by Foucault’s essay Utopian Body, to celebrate that hidden and seductive intimate landscape.  

The etched flacon comes with a black silk pump and a silver atomizer.  Two sizes are available -- 2 ounces or 1 dram.  There are more lovely photos and perfume thoughts on Alexis Karl's Body Made Luminous site. There is also the option of a bespoke perfume, calibrated to express the client's persona as a portrait painted in scent, as per this short video of Fara Bad, for example.

Alexis also has a new set of songs on Lost Cities, to be released on Valentine's Day in her guise as Ondyne's Demise. Here's a dark and stormy sample called "Rain" on Soundcloud.

Honey Perfume by Laurie Stern
Laurie Stern's Velvet and Sweet Pea's Purrfumery has a strong association with  the romance of engagements and weddings, as she frequently holds events with brides to be for wedding perfumes and other romance related events at her beautiful California atelier and garden. In a former life as a florist, she developed a great affinity for the opulence of scent and its effects on us.  She hand makes incredible fully natural enfleuraged whipped body and face creams that I have written about before, and has expanded that aspect of her fragrance endeavors. Among her many natural perfumes (more about them in a prior post) my current favorite is Honey, which is a luxuriant ode to the power and beauty of that essence, with French orange blossom, Moroccan and Bulgarian roses, vetiver, vanilla, honey, beeswax and propolis, antique clove, pomegranate and pink grapefruit.  It is both romantic and stately, it makes you feel like the heroine of a 19th century classic novel, with its richness of detail. Indeed it holds within itself the regal tone of the Queen Bee.

There is a Valentine's Beauty event today in San Fransisco, at Tiger Lily, with drinks and sweets and perfume and makeup and clothes, so if you are fortunate enough to be in the vicinity, I can't think of a better way to celebrate.

Aroma M Amber Rouge oil based roll on and EdP in alcohol spray form

Maria McElroy's Aroma M's Geisha Amber Rouge is a fiery, cinnamon and spice-charged perfume, balanced and softened by a big dose of amber.  I know it in the oil based roll-on version, and it also comes in an alcohol based spray edp. In order of appearance, the notes register as amber, cinnamon, clove, star anise, resins, and incense. but it dries down to an almost cognac toned amber infused vapor.  I have written about Amber Rouge in detail before, and it has been reformulated with a different amber accord, that makes it both softer and more pervasive over the whole. 

This is a perfume to ignite inner fire if there ever was one; Oriental in style but modern in execution, the spices are enhanced and tempered by the amber accord.  Not at all shy, in fact quite bold, for all that it still holds closely if tenaciously to the skin. It makes wonderful aromatic company for a quiet time, either alone or as an enhancement to romance, for that strong character held within ultra soft ornamental flourishes.

illustration by Jade Dressler
Valentine's Day is also the 20 year anniversary for Aroma M, and in honor of that major milestone, there is new option for bespoke perfume. Please visit the page for more details on the  process and price.

Aroma M has recently begun a line of body products, fully natural and madly effective, Camellia based, with a white floral fragrance that enhances the experience and effect, and a matching perfume. 

All of these perfumes are carefully sourced as to materials and hand made, with no phtalates or other scary ingredients.  I like to inhale and apply them with abandon.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

Disclosure: samples received directly from the perfumers, this piece was not commissioned and is a completely independent opinion. 

February 8, 2015

Clarimonde's Winter Bouquets

Please visit The Clarimonde Perfume Project for the fully formatted and integrated version of this post.

Clarimonde has been gathering references to create her special winter bouquets, to establish a conservatory for her winter fragrance library. As in winter the sun’s hours are few, these flowers and greens must be those that can persist in the darkest shadows of the forests and jungles.  In wild surroundings these plants would have trained themselves to aromatically emanate vanilla, spicy notes and the most piercing greens, crossed with the moist dew beaded up on their leaves and the scent of soft musc-y fur on the animals that feed on them all.

Photo Christopher Morris

Photo Christopher Morris

Photo Christopher Morris

Photo Christopher Morris

Massive flower power: The Artichoke Protea from the Temple of Flora published by Robert Thornton (British, 1768–1837). Hand-coloured aquatint engraving, from the quarto edition, Sept. 1st, 1811

l’illustration horticole – journal cover – anon

They would emanate moisture and life as fragrances, their stems beaded in humidity, reaching out with their thick petaled, juicy flowers and leaves to the myriad insects and animals passing by, using aromatic attraction to offer food in exchange for propagation.

These perfumes, for those of us who have never visited their worlds, are perfumes of the imagination, or intimated and incorporated into perfumes to be worn in winter when we need a vital connection to their active life force, to be re-wilded.

Clarimonde also keeps another library of floral motifs, in the form of special jewelry by Lalique. His plant jewels are true enough to satisfy a need to get lost in lush natural forms. The colorful stones, enamel and metals vie with the colors of natural flowers and are immortal in their own way, just as she is, they are related.

Lalique Thistle brooch

Rene Lalique “Speedwell” bracelet of gold, glass and enamel.
Speedwell is another name for the Veronica plant.



Dog collar necklace, Lalique

Her perfume library of intense floral fragrances that trigger sense memories are in ever more frequent rotation when she passes winter in a northern latitude.

For florals that may revive winter spirits, see Camellia by Aroma M,  Un Lys and De Profundis by Serge Lutens, Paradise Lost by DSH, Muguet de Mai by DSH,  Au Dela Narcisse by Bruno FazzolariNectar des Iles by Envoyage

Please visit this link to The Clarimonde Perfume Project for the post in its home format, and integrated environment. 

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved
Photos above credited as captioned, borrowed from Pinterest