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.

March 4, 2016

Roxana Illuminated Perfume: Fleurish and Mellifera

Roxana Illuminated Perfume has been making small batch, hand-made natural perfumes for a long time now, as the always growing refinement of her skills show. This line is a must to explore for those with an affinity for natural perfumes. Using organic essences and tinctures, some of the materials are produced by the perfumer herself from local plants growing near her home in Southern California. This immediacy gives her perfumes a subtle fresh vitality.

Her style is centered on purity and elegance. Those two words are the ones that come most often to mind. They are for the sensitive perfume lover who will most enjoy their subtle gradations and connection to nature. The presentation shares a thoughtful aesthetic, that reflects a way of life.

They generally come in two versions, as liquid and solid perfumes.

I have met Roxana a couple of times and have written about her perfumes several times over the years. I admire her disciplined pursuit of beauty, workmanship and quality. There can be that presence in fine hand-made artisan perfume, that reveals the personality of the perfumer.

Fleurish edp is a refined jasmine and wood. There are three forms of jasmine and a tincture of jasmine sambac flowers, with other white flowers and woods. The eau de parfum is in a base of organic grape alcohol, the solid version is in a base of local beeswax and jojoba oil.

The effect of both versions are similar. The often unruly indolic white jasmine has been captured within the spirit of wood. This gentle close union is a refreshing calming experience. It is simple in the best sense of the word, yet dimensional because jasmine itself is so complex and radiant. Its cloying aspect is held back within the wood, itself ultra softened and uplifted by this close association. I find there is a more a citrus freshness within the liquid version. As ever with natural perfumes, they hold close to the skin.

Materials and notes for the edp are listed as:

190 Proof Organic grape; vital plant essences including three different jasmine flowers, other white florals and precious wood; artisanal tincture of jasmine sambac flowers.
Mellifera edp is a broad open sunny California field full of green grasses and plants, some bleached to hay and mixed with their own soft seed heads and a few wildflowers. It exudes a vital presence, and an essential core of natural gentle sweetness. This references the nectar that feeds the bees, and the bodies of bees themselves. Bees are a recurrent theme for Roxana, who is highly engaged in apiculture.

There is a sharp borderline feral wildness here that sinks into the skin. The solid version is a little sweeter and smoother.

EdP materials and notes are listed as:

190 Proof Organic grape; vital plant essences including spice, herbs, flowers, resins, precious woods and helichrysum from Croatia and Ojai California.

Notes: Herbs, honey and resin

I like wearing both versions of these perfumes at the same time. They are like skin stains that hold a world of olfactory impressions. They feel like precious and rare substances, filtered through the mind and hands of an idiosyncratic and inventive perfectionist. They must be held close to get the full spectrum and effect but they make it worth your while. They take me away on a vacation to a forgiving climate.

I also like that Roxana delves deeply into the visual arts, and film culture, as an additional source of inspiration. Picking up those influences adds an ethereal layer to enjoy alongside the material substance of the perfumes.

In other news, I recently learned that through a series of unexpected circumstances, Roxana herself may be glimpsed in an upcoming Tom Ford film, in a gallery scene as an art patron (based on the persona of the legendary Carmen dell'Orefice. They do share the high cheekbones).

The website is a world unto itself, with a journal, beautiful personal photos and illustrations, information on classes and the location and calendar for her workshop, scent bar and teaching space. There are samples sets available to order, as well as a variety of sizes of both liquid and solid perfumes, which are also poured into lockets and compacts.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Photos from the Roxana Illuminiated Perfume site.
I received samples from the perfumer.

For an example of a prior post on Roxana Illuminated Perfumes:
Noir/Blossom - the search bar will find many others.

February 18, 2016

Mendittorosa Odori d'Anima - Le Mat & Sogno Reale

Mendittorosa Odori D' Anima creates perfumes as aromatic symbols that speak to and from the soul. The tarot symbol Le Mat (the Fool) and Sogno Reale (the dream is real). Others in the line, such as Id, Alfa, Omega, North, South. Mythic beauty.

The ocean, roses, dreamy well being, signs from the unconscious mind coming through as dreams. Fragrance released by opening a drawer holding important mementos. Directions, beginnings and endings, the primal heart and mind.

Each one is a world in itself, but these several work together as a highly cohesive collection. The creative director Stefania Squeglia and the perfumers Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel produced olfactory harmonies that resonate with each other. 

The extraordinary flacons are totemic and covetable in and of themselves. Sculptural, symbolic, sensual.

The mood is ultra luxurious and ultra European, expressive in the grand manner. Could almost be intimidating if it wasn't so intimate. Perfumes that hold close, they call you closer.

Le Mat reveals the deepest interior of rose, mixed with the air of a warm beach breeze. There is a little salt in this air while the melting texture of the floral heart is like biting into a chocolate. That pure salty air warmed by sun moves over roses at the precise moment their fragrance peak.

Without sweetness, and not a story, but more an experience, one that you know, even if you've never yet been to the Italian coast. A dense and velvety floral wrapped in a salty air that relaxes the whole body as soon as it enters with the intake of breath. A constant presence that makes itself known. I have never acclimated or tired of this rose, it renews itself.

In Extrait de Parfum, notes are listed as Nutmeg, Black Pepper, Cloves, Egyptian Geranium, Rose from Grasse, Indonesian Patchouli, Cashmere Wood, Spanish Everlasting Flower.

Sogno Reale is an aromatic musk infused with citrus and touched with marine air, born of the same beach atmosphere as Le Mat. For me they are brother and sister fragrances. Quiet and complex, it moves in several directions at once. It rises like cool air, while sinking into musky skin tasting of salt. Balsamic, alive and serene.

Inspired by a dream about the ruler of the oceans, it pushes and pulls like the tide. It is as quiet and smooth as moving sea water. Intimating depth and weight beneath the surface. Its strong hold and longevity does not shout or display its power with drama. Its marine nature calls to the salt in your own blood.

In Extrait de Parfum, notes are listed as lemon, bergamot, sea notes, tuberose, patchouli, olibanum, hyrax, rum, sandalwood, styrax and amber, Tuberose, Patchouli, Volcanic olibanum, Hyraceum, Rhum, Sandalwood, Styrax, Amber woods.

Others in the line, Id, Alfa, Omega, North and South share the serene spirit. (I saw online recently that another one is on the way). Their layered aromatic beauty unfolds like the mysteries of your sweet dreams. More later.

Many thanks to Mendittorosa for the sample set, and to Ida Meister for introducing me to these two beauties Le Mat and Sogno Reale.

Photos from the Mendittorosa Odori d'Anima site.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.