July 21, 2016

Perfumes of Summer 2016 Part 2

The heat waves and humidity started early this year and are set to continue around here and most of the country.  This state of affairs lends itself perfectly to floral perfumes.  Flowers have genetically engineered themselves to be the crowning glories of  the warm weather months.  They know how to handle it and are specialists in turning the sun's burning energy into beauty like no other.

They are the showcase for Nature's vigor, of how growth and energy poured into the lures of attraction will inevitably result in an abundance of continuing life.

I've never met a person who doesn't love the fragrance of real flowers, though perhaps with strong likes and dislikes among them. This can't be said of other materials that have been translated into perfume.

Flowers are the essence of universal appeal, and while their symbolism might be different among cultures, they all lay tracks in our scent memories and trigger emotions and vivid recollections of moments beautified by their presence.

Continuing the fragrance highlights of my summer:



Dreaming Eternal by Alexis Karl, is part of her Body Made Luminous series. A potent and almost narcotic floral perfume, made with an enormous dose of violet and muguet, anchored by black agar and fossilized amber, mediated by jasmine sambac, and lightly touched with white smoke.

In my estimation, it's best to be worn at night. As a night floral perfume, it is meant to represent the contented dreams of lovers finally sleeping and entering the shared dream of a physical and emotional Aurora Borealis.  It's about physical release, their excitement resolving into contentment. The ethereal aspects of violet and the air around the soprano aromatic waves of lily of the valley are folded within the warmth of amber and black agar.

This is a perfume to apply with one or two sprays, as more could even be overpowering. It's a strong perfume. I've never experienced violet and muguet to this exponential power.  I understand the perfume is at a strength of a full 33%. It's a rich brandy color.

This floral intensity is eventually much softened by the base notes. Those are rich enough to have a touch of the gourmand about them, with a subtly edible quality.  Personally I find all this comes out with the most clarity the more lightly applied, but I think there are times you can go for more.  It clings to the skin tenaciously and survives washing, truly staining the skin. It perfectly expresses the personality of the perfumer, which is expansive and enthusiastic, while obsessively drawn to the depths and ends of life's experience.

If you can imagine Vero Kern's Onda, crossed with an amped version of Guerlain's Insolence (Parfum) suspended over a deep Arabian amber, mediated by the use a sparing hand in application, you get the idea (ironically I found out about Insolence through an online recommendation as a perfume soothing enough to fall asleep to).

This perfume's florals are heady indeed, but soften over time with air and skin and enter a night time experience that includes a flash of lightening against a dark sky full of racing clouds. It's about another world, the night world, and I think using it as a night perfume will expand its other worldly quality of a dark night with the moon shining intermittently through massing clouds.

***


On the other hand, Romanza, Victorian Narcissus by Masque Milano's Cristiano Canali, is the essence of brightness and the rising sun.  Its immediate effect is as enlivening and strong as leaving a dim interior to enter sunny brightness outdoors. There's a lot of pure air mixed into the headiness of this narcissus-as-life-force.  The florals seem to quickly rise up far above the ground and pull you up along with them.

The note list of absinth, orange blossom, angelica, violet leaf, narcissus, jasmine, vetiver, cedar, patchouli, amber and civet skew, for me, to heavy on the orange blossom and narcissus, and the vetiver and cedar and absinth and angelica are a contrasting piquant support to the lush opulence.

This is a perfume that could dress up anything, including a worn house coat or a slapdash ensemble of jeans and a t-shirt. The Italian elegance is so strong as to permeate and transform all around, like a magical godmother could make Cinderella's rags into a couture ballgown.  Actually couture is the right word. Ultra refined and skillful, this initial big entrance lasts for some time until you might forget yourself, and then cools off into the shade of the drier, more subtle supporting players.  There is indeed Romance within this perfume, and a Victorian abundantly lush, singleminded focus on the sensation of a pure pleasure taken in beauty as a force sufficient onto itself.

This floral is round, bright, graceful and utterly itself, not to be influenced by anything, hence the ability to hold its own under whatever circumstances. Anyone could wear this perfume, from a girl child to an old man, a society lady to a casual student and it would shine an aromatic power over all that includes all who sense it within its generosity. That said, this is another perfume for those with a taste for the intense.

***


Rose Flash by Andy Tauer's Tauerville is a wake up call in terms of coming to one's senses, as a rose that gathers your wits about you in the best of ways. 

Roses are so versatile they can do almost anything as perfume. Rose may soothe, excite, overpower, mediate the notes that surround it,  calm, or lead toward hedonist or spiritual ecstasies. Rose as a classic icon is part of a long perfume tradition, that with all the attendant associations and status, may throw a highlight up against spare modernity. Rose has some baggage that comes from being strongly associated with the past, but its undeniable beauty will get through to anyone who allows themselves even the slightest susceptibility.

This time it is a tonic for the mind and heart.  Exquisitely beautiful, delicate, the core of a very precious grade of rose essential oil reveals all its facets simultaneously, like a clear cut gem, showing itself off on skin to your and its own best advantage. 

This is the kind of modern rose of refined simplicity and elegance that hints at the light in the eyes, a sparkle of engaged intelligence.  Easy to wear, the nature of the rose is the main event, without cliche or sentimental associations, fully itself on its own terms. This one is bright, even jammy, to start, energetic and a comfort at once.

This is a perfume that could be worn every day, anywhere, wholly relatable yet refreshingly and sensitively pared down enough in the right way.  It could be a signal to yourself and others that brings your to your senses, an intimate engagement with the beauties of nature. It shows you are willing to dive into the infinite references of historical culture, as roses are so full of symbolic significance, and then capably links you as wearer with this rose's sophistication, to carry it all off with ease and expansive good nature.  

Some ultra subtle mysterious deeper notes, possibly woods and resins, support the rose, an underpinning to the structure that strengthens and preserves the velvety rose petal sensations.  It's an extended wear experience. A modern rose for all sexes.

All three above are cross gender perfumes, all can be worn by everyone who has a wish to enter into their floral spirit.

***

Disclosure: sample of Dreaming Eternal provided by the perfumer Alexis Karl, who I have written about several times before, and been following her work with great interest.
Samples of Romanza and Rose Flash provided by Twisted Lily.
The above post is my independent opinion, not sponsored in any way.

Dreaming Eternal may be sampled through Morbid Anatomy in Brooklyn by appointment, where Alexis Karl has taken up the title of resident perfumer. She continues to lecture there on topics related to beauty and fragrance.  There is also a Scent by Alexis site for the Utopian Body series.
Romanza and Rose Flash are available from Twisted Lily in Brooklyn.  Please check the above links for more information as to prices, samples, and additional stores.

***

I'm taking a break from posting here until the end of this year from perfume writing, though not perfume wearing, and probably some remarks about perfumes on other social media like Facebook and Twitter. There are projects and skills for my site Luccia that I must focus on with a single mind, until they gain more strength and momentum.  See you here later, around the New Year.  In the meantime, please enjoy the prior posts if you haven't seen them already, and if you are so inclined, try the Clarimonde posts which I will add to from time to time over the next months.










July 12, 2016

Perfumes of Summer 2016 Part 1

The atmosphere of summer heat and humidity magnifies perfumes. This is the weather that brings out the nuances, the complexity, the details.

Perfumes that are more subtle, gentle, refreshing and relaxing are an olfactory lifeline to sensuality and beauty on those summer days and nights when you can't get away and must deal with the season's extremes.

This summer saw the release of many new beautiful perfumes by indieperfumers who provide individualized slices of aromatic heaven. If you allow yourself to enter into their worlds, I am certain they will help you create new and beautiful sense memories to make this season one you won't forget.

Some of the aromatic highlights of my summer:

Nettuno by Mendittorosa Odori d' Anima, gives you a dive into yourself by reflection, as in a mirror. A metallic plunge beneath the surface. Silvery, smooth, calm, gentle, holding the energy of water as a reviving and refreshing element.  A mystical  aura is thrown over your skin, so you may be and remain centered, with top notes of cyclamen, pink pepper, ginger and nutmeg; rose at the center, and base notes of leather, Haitian vetiver, carrot seeds, iris, benzoin, rum and white musk.

The notes are joined together in a song of refined musk, one that emphasizes the cooler aspects of all the notes, especially the iris, pepper, and ginger. A perfume that holds together. You will not analyze it in order to recognize the individual notes.  Instead you will be enveloped in an atmosphere of fresh cool air toned with the fragrance of a pure vitality and the cleansed atmosphere that rises from the surface of a pool of still reflective deep water. In extrait strength, the velvety soft strength lingers and gives a sense of well being, similar to the one you get when stepping out of the water after a refreshing dip in the summer heat.

The flacons are works of artisanal beauty in and of themselves. This line has that Italian sense of pleasure in materials and symbolic meanings.

***


Aroma M Geisha Vanilla Hinoki references the Japanese bath, and gives the impression of cleansing, the immersion experience of an open air Hinoki wood bathtub filled with steaming hot water in the cool fresh air of the evergreen forest, with a faint trace of white smoke from the low fire heating the water. The evergreen tones beside subtle vanilla sink into the skin joining these two forms of warmth. Both elements are full and rich, yet so soft that their expansiveness carries itself with a disciplined elegance that has a relaxing, restorative effect. This is an olfactory interpretation of the Japanese way of joining the bracing discipline of simplicity to a sensual appreciation of pleasure and beauty.

The note list of bergamot, hinoki, lavender, leather, patchouli, amyris and cedar wood gives a hint of how the bright and clear beside the balmy and warm work together in an elegant symbiosis.  It comes as an EdP and also an oil based roll on, which is my favorite, and which I find to last until you wash it off. I like that it holds closer to the body, with a slightly stronger, richer tone.


***


Temperate rainforest in Oregon, photo: vis-a-v. via flickr
Rainmaker by En Voyage is inspired by the perfumer's recent change of scene. After a lifetime near the shores of southern California she has transplanted to the shaded, rainy and darkly forested Pacific Northwest, so the new atmosphere made a great impression that expresses itself as a perfume. A woody amber modern chypre,  this is a soft fresh air combining mossy forest floor, rainy weather and the fragrant earth they create together. A deep, subtle and refreshing tone holds tiny touches of the spicy heart of the feral wild. 

Notes of rose leaf, silver pine tips, wild citrus, incense, patchouli, iris, rhododendron, cedar, fir, Redwood needles, petrichor, oak moss and amber.  Pure extraits, natural and propriety blends developed over a lifetime of experience, the perfumer's classical training often crosses with a distinctive experimental development in natural fragrance materials. 

This is a perfume of restful ease within a wild, romantic landscape. The perfumer combines the sense of clouds heavy with fresh moisture, evaporated from the treetops of primal forest.  A calming sense of release, a soft cloud of all these materials bound together to give a sense of immanent rain.  It holds close to the body but surrounds you with the subtle, detailed grounded calm of a beautiful atmosphere. 

***

I notice that all three perfumes hold a sense of cleansing and release. These are all calm beauties that bring you into a subtle delicate atmosphere.  Strong enough to hold around you like a cloak of beauty, or a protective force field, or suit of silvery armor that strengthens and contains vitality.
They are all meant for all sexes.

I know all of these perfumers personally and have followed their work avidly over time, so please read more about them on this site and others. Their beguiling perfumes are inventive and creative in ways that surprise, delight and shore up your energy.

Disclosure: samples were received directly from the perfumers.
My posts are independent opinion and not sponsored.
Please see the links above to get to the perfumer's websites for more information as to
stockists, prices and samples.

Images taken from the perfumer's websites, and, as credited per Creative Commons, from Flickr.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

June 1, 2016

Memoire Liquide and Antonia's Flowers - Lasting Indies

Among the first of the American indieperfumers are two that are still around from the early-mid 1980s.  No marketing, ads, nor even much courting of the online fragrance community or bloggers. They've worked primarily through word of mouth and client loyalty, and have inspired others to follow in their footsteps.

They are small independent operations that continue to thrive even in the midst of growing competition.

These are two gentle and pleasant lines, easy to wear, skillfully made, of high quality and good longevity.  I associate them both with a relaxed, vacation, luxury-casual sensibility.  They set a mood of lightness and ease, a kind of olfactory resort experience. They make me think of weekend American resorts like the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Key West or Santa Barbara. The beauty of a pair of jeans, a classic white shirt, fragrances you wear to watch the sun go down at the beach.

The first time I ever heard of what have come to be known as "indieperfumes" was an article I read in the NYT on  Antonia's Flowers perfume, created in 1984.  The notion that someone had the agency to make this happen sank into my skin through reading those words about it, as a soothing, pleasurable sensation. I didn't know it then, but this was a foreshadowing. The shape of things to come.

I was excited to know that someone decided to make a perfume so personal and intimate, about the interior of their flower shop, as dominated by freesias.

Located in East Hampton, when it was still a relatively relaxed New York weekend resort town, I imagined it filled with clear sunlight, sea air and bright flowers, set within 18th century main street architecture. (all this, alas, no more, overtaken by amped real estate values and more money than quiet relaxation).

Reading of Antonia's Flowers reminded me of the times I had brought home a few freesias from the greengrocers. They fill the space around them with an heady bright freshness and grow more intoxicating the closer you come.

Antonia Bellanca worked with the perfumer Bernard Chant to perform the difficult feat of creating a freesia themed perfume with fantasy accords, aided by 'living flower technology', aka head-space gas chronometry, that captures the scent molecules from the flower itself. Freesia is one of many flowers whose scent is impossible to capture by extraction or distillation, but can be copied by building accords with other scent materials.

As for me, after much wandering through the natural, handmade, indie and niche perfumes worlds, American and European, I recalled my first encounter with the concept of indieperfumes through reading about Antonia's Flowers and finally took the step to order samples this past summer.

I found that Antonia's Flowers in both EdT and EdP open with more depth than I expected, and then it moves into a pure freesia rush, after which the dry down pulls up the supporting jasmine and magnolia. Absolue is as expected, a far more intensified version. These are never heady or indolic, but they all share the same yellow freesia charisma that the fresh flowers have. Definitely for the true lover of florals, as it's purely focused within that genre.

Floret, next in the line, is a bright floral with marked green sweetness. These are the old fashioned flowers in American country gardens, like Sweet Pea, held together with a soft apricot tone.  As I love and pursue the scent of apricots wherever I get the chance, I was delighted with that aspect. The early summer months distilled into perfume form.

Antonia Bellanca is a pioneer of American indieperfumes, and her success struck a spark that lit the way. Antonia's Flowers and Floret remain cult favorites and in the top ten perfumes for Barney's and Bergdorfs. Her ability to pull this off in unique style was a message to all who were ready to hear it that modern American indie and niche perfume could be successfully produced by individuals from outside the traditional perfume world.

They were kind enough to send me a second set of samples with my order, which I will share as a give-way to one of the readers.

Meanwhile, on the Left Coast:

Memoire Liquide began in Southern California, by two sisters, Robin Coe Hutshing and Jennifer Coe Bakewell, as a small custom fragrance oil bar in 1984 with 150 fine fragrance oils. This developed into a created library of 6,000 blends. These are bespoke perfumes kept on file for clients.


In 2007-9 they created a ready to wear Reserve Edition of five in an edp spray. These use the iconic themes of perfume, vanilla as Amour, incense as Encens, citrus for Soliel, summer flowers for Fleur, and marine ozonic as Vacances. They are refined by several notes to support the mood of each, and balanced so that they can all be worn with each other in a layered way.

My first experience with Memoire Liquide came quite awhile ago at a trade show in NYC. They made a small amount of fragrance for me on the spot. We reviewed some examples of my favorite notes and effects. They put together something harmonious and balanced, easy to wear yet personal. A mix of bright flowers over a dark base, which I still enjoy wearing. They provide a simple and straightforward access to custom personal fragrance. I appreciate this is done at a fair rather than shocking price and without excessive hype, using materials of quality.

I am fascinated with the Bespoke aspect and would love to have two or three more fragrances put together this way. You can of course get several different ones made for different moods, and or create your own with layering the elements of the Reserve Edition.

The vanilla  of Amour Liquide is concentrated, linear, pure and focused. A high quality true Madagascar vanilla with a whisper of incense and tonka, that holds onto you with great longevity. Beautiful for layering or worn alone, for true vanilla lovers. Especially great after a warm bath or shower.

The were kind enough to send me a boxed full size Amour Liquide, and an extra set of samples, which I will give away to one of the readers.

There will be three separate giveaways -

*A set of 8 samples of the full line from Antonia's Flowers, including all three versions of Antonia's Flowers, EdT, EdP, and Absolue, Floret in EdT and EdP, Sogni del Mare, Tiempe Passate, and the men's fragrance, Rokka.

*A set of 5 samples from Memoire Liquide's Reserve Collection, with a Body Creme of Amour Liquide. 

*and a full size of Amour Liquide by Memoire Liquide, in a beautiful presentation box.

Please comment below by July 4th of this year, as a celebration of these pioneers of American indie perfumery. (Readers who reside in the continuous U.S. only, please) with a preference for one of the three, and a little info on your involvement in indieperfumes, and I will randomly pick the winners and let you know in this space.

As noted above, samples for give away were provided by the perfumers. I am not compensated for this post in any way.

Please follow the above links directly to the perfumer's websites for detailed info as to price and stockists or to order directly.

Photos above taken from the perfumer's websites.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.


April 25, 2016

Eris Parfums: Ma Bête, Belle de Jour, Night Flower

All three perfumes are warmth generators. They are ultra-refined body heat enhancers. As examples of three different moods, they magnify the beautiful animal within human nature. Spirited while respecting the restraints of elegance.

We all remain the animals we are beneath our exalted humanity, even if we don't often think of ourselves as such. Consciously or not, we use elegance, beauty and intellect to enhance our animal charisma. That kind of enhanced animal intensity is alluring. It's the essence of vitality and the fuel and foundation for everything else we've got going on.

Ma Bête edp is a big if refined warmth machine as generated by body heat, filtered through a halo of fur. Possibly mink, or possibly the pelt of our inner animal.

One of the influences on this perfume was Jean Marais' performance as the Beast in Cocteau's film La Belle et la Bête. It's the classic fairy story of a spellbound beast in love with a vulnerable beauty. It's a stylized classic, and so French. Mythic, ultra romantic, and so satisfying within the restraint of sophisticated French elegance. This beast was passionate but expressed it with refined manners, elegant attire and loyalty. It's a delightful olfactory reference for those who love the film.

The warmth of Ma Bête is almost but not amber, almost but not vanilla. The warm animalic accord holds tight to florals and cool wood to resemble a baroque musk. Soon the sparkle of abstract aldehydes reveals itself. Their appearance balances the composition. They also refer to the iconic French perfumes worn by the sophisticates of another generation.

There is a mysterious soft edge within the resinous natural-ness. As if it could have been generated by one's own body heat and energy, it sinks into the skin and becomes one with you.

Notes are listed as neroli, aldehydes, nutmeg, cypriol, styrax, Jasmin sambac, cedarwood, patchouli, animalic accord.



Belle de Jour references a performance by that most French of actresses, Catherine Deneuve. This perfume will support your own inner Deneuve.

It's like wearing tailored clothing. It creates an aura of perfection and poise. A refinement that hints at a soft hold over an animal nature.

The atmosphere: expensive sheets that have not been changed for awhile, the thick ironed linens crumpled by use. Lipstick, a silk scarf, a little hairspray, an open, well polished leather Hermes handbag, smooth skin, the best cosmetics money can buy, the remains of grooming on an ethereal angel who has worked it out vigorously.

Glamorous musk, one created by the most well kept and elegant of French ladies leading a secret life. A grown up perfume. The animalic tone flows through these sweat tinged refinements, which I suspect comes from the salty seaweed absolute set beside the delicate florals. It's perfume as an abstract trigger. With all the references to expensive sophisticated glamor, it's a confidence booster.

Notes are listed as coriander, pink peppercorn, orange flower, ciste, jasmin, pimento berries, cedarwood, musk, seaweed absolute.



Night Flower is a more an American kind of glamor, that of an achingly beautiful aspiring starlet who might start out as a coat check girl at a nightclub. She sits surrounded by the fur coats, breathing in the perfumes that cling, and wants it all for herself. Night Flower holds that perfumed soft haze. Candle lit tuberose, balanced and much softened by the soft haze of luxurious fur and the scent of a beautiful young woman's skin.

Night blooming florals project a sense of longing, as does Night Flower. The attractions of floral nectar, rising into night air from a base of soft skin are shown here as equally magnetic forces closely bound together. Night blooming flowers throw exciting and hopeful scent rays out, as do beautiful young women, and that's no accident. 

The kind of wake caused by wearing a floral perfume that stains a silk dress, walking through dark night air. Calling out to the wild side, while perfectly made up and in heels. I think the pace is slow and deliberate. It could be the influence of New Orleans, American with a French influence. A softer warmer musk, composed of makeup, silks and the perfection of young skin. Aspiration that moves at its own confident pace. The dry down is a little more angelic than carnal. It's a welcome surprise that one develops straight out of the other.

Notes are listed as bergamot, birch tar, cardamom, suede accord, tuberose, cinnamon, patchouli, tonka bean, musk.

I think Barbara Herman and Antoine Lie succeeded in fulfilling their desire to capture the sumptuous mood of vintage perfumes in a modern way. 

To explain, I will quote myself, from my post about Barbara Herman's book on vintage perfumes, Scent and Subversion

Couples who courted spent hours at the end of the day, cocktails, dinner, dancing, the theater, wearing their best and most flattering clothing, which by the end of the night was imbued from the lingerie up to the fur coat with their "signature scent" whose dry down eventually emanated from body heat, whose magic and elusive but addictive "chemistry" would foreshadow the next intimate steps.   Imagine drawing off the long gloves, either silk or leather, with the perfume beneath revealing itself more fully as the music plays and the drinks take effect.

Please see Eris Parfums and Luckyscent for more information and for samples. 

Disclosure: I know Barbara Herman who worked on these perfumes with Antoine Lie, and was privy to many stages of their creation. It was fun and interesting to get that close to the making of fine perfumes and watch them unfold. If you haven't already, please see her wonderful book Scent and Subversion as a precursor to this trio. It's a moving and detailed tribute to vintage perfumes. 


Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

Photos above: Eris Parfums, La Belle et La Bête vintage movie poster, Catherine Deneuve in a Belle du Jour publicity still, Gene Tierney publicity still.

April 4, 2016

House of Matriarch - Trillium

Great White Trillium in the rain - via Wikipedia

The House of Matriarch has made a perfume experience I have wished for. A natural perfume inspired by a native North American wildflower. The trillium was once common in the North American woods before they were almost all cut down. They are a wild form of lily, and protected in some states. 

It must be a sign of ecological health when you find a trillium in bloom. That spot has been restored to something close to its original condition. It's a good sign when there are enough people who care to preserve the conditions that can make this happen.

The perfumer Christi Meshell has created a fantasy floral, as this plant has no perfume of its own. Trillium is the cool green forest air holding a dreamy and soft warm nectar sweetness that hovers over damp black earth. 

This would be the air you breathe near and around a trillium in the wild. 

The notes listed are - Top: green tea, aglaia, mimosa, chamomile, Middle: black tea, coffee flower, Base: jasmine tea, amber, tolu balsam, cashmere musk.

The perfume rises in a cloud of vitality, with a refreshing energy that is bright and gentle. It's almost an ozonic experience imbued with earth and a mysterious white floral. 

This is not a massive attack perfume experience, there is no darkness, but the soft dirt beneath, moist and fecund. This perfume brought back late Spring/early Summer woodsy walks. This is a beauty that brightens the persona that wears it. 


There was no quick olfactory fatigue, expanding my personal enjoyment far longer than usual. Over time as the base steps forward, the brightness keeps on as a strong tint from beginning to end. 

Natural perfumes are ephemeral so I was surprised at how long this one stays true. It's a stubborn aromatic stain on the skin. It's a wonder that the uplift continues at length and never really departs. 

It's for anytime and anywhere, but for me it's perfect first thing in the morning. Not a gender specific fragrance, I can imagine it worn well if differently by all kinds of people of all ages, and truly modern in that regard. 

Exclusive to Nordstrom, you can find it online if it's not available nearby, in two sizes from $39 to $330. The packaging is serious and beautiful. Dark blue glass preserves natural materials from light exposure. Antiqued copper/bronze detail and a Moroccan aesthetic flavor. 

Photos above from Nordstrom's site, please follow the link for more information and to order. The trillium photo comes from Wikipedia, please follow that link for more info and a bigger view.

House of Matriarch has many other perfumes to explore, please see the site and my prior post
Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.