July 21, 2015

Hiram Green Moon Bloom

Hiram Green's Moon Bloom
Moon Bloom by Hiram Green is a revelation. Somehow Hiram Green made a fully natural and deeply real Tuberose and white flower perfume that is an individualist among the great crowd of wonderful white flower perfumes.

How did I miss this when it was first released? Thank heavens I know it now, having found my sample provided some months ago by Twisted Lily in Brooklyn, when unpacking samples from the fridge after a long trip away.

It holds the indolic richness of these most opulently scented white flowers and somehow, with some magical slight of hand, pulls the heady power back just enough to make it most wearable, translucent and silky, enough so as to climb over that steep hill to elegance and sophistication and modernity.

I realize many have already become familiar with and enamored of this perfume, but I feel in this day in age, there is no such thing as being late to the perfume party.

There may even be those who love perfume and don't know it yet and are waiting for they know not what, so believe me, this may well be it. Especially in this summer heat, it's a rare thing to find a white floral that is so graceful in the midst of the heat waves we've been having this year in North America, Europe and the Middle East.

I've never been interested in being the first to know or write about anything, especially perfume. I see what I am engaged in here not as perfume journalism but as sharing my own enthusiasms as they come to me.

Because of the internet, many beauties across all spectrums become accessible to the seeker just at the time they are needed. It may be that a person not even born at the time a film, perfume or book was first released may find something that speaks to them so personally as to seem like it was made just for them, even years after the release of whatever it was.

Let’s take it for granted as understood that each person has their own singular taste, formed by personal experiences and body chemistry and reaction to particular perfumes and ingredients. 

Night blooming Tuberose - from the Drink Factory,
 see their great article on Tuberose
To find the ones that send you, to learn about where this precious experience is most likely to come from, who the perfumers are and their style, who are your favorites, and what new directions they are exploring, increases the pleasure of fragrances almost exponentially. 

 It's a tree of knowledge that grows within from experience, which reacts to the other events in your life that demand different things for different times, stages, and occasions. Personal experience crossed with perfume develops taste.

Many online sites where perfumes are written about in depth expand into connection to personal experiences and social interactions, references to other art forms like poetry and film, pop art and classics, fashion and independence from following fashion. There are so many really beautifully written perfume sites online it’s difficult to keep up with them all.

There are so many new perfume releases every year, that it is truly impossible to keep up with them all as they are released. Eventually after trying different things, reading about the classics and the new, meeting and talking to a number of people who each have their own take on the state of these affairs, you begin to develop strong areas of primary interest of your own, and one love leads to another.

Sometimes this love comes quite by surprise, from unexpected directions. Sometimes I have not had an initially positive reaction to certain classic ingredients (speaking of which, tuberose fell into this category for me) but then later find that in the hands of a great perfumer, the line is crossed, and my taste is transformed so that a whole new world of olfactory beauty is opened up to me.

There can be a certain sense of humor about it all too. Personally I adore the dreamy aspects of perfume, and the surrounding buzz about it, but in the perfume sphere online and in person, there is plenty of irony and wit and comment and self-awareness that this is an area of interest that can seem incredibly effete in the face of global warming or the collapse of the economy or the corruption of politics or the state of inequality in this world. Those of us entranced by perfume still are though, for all those anxieties.

Why not insist beauty and artistry have a place in this world too, or is life still worth living without overt beauty?

Perfumes have been a personal expression and development of a sense of beauty across a wide range of cultures and history, that have spoken to the most fundamental parts of our brains and bodies for a long, long time. 

 Perfumes have been a mode of expression throughout history, under every range of economic and political condition. Personally I think the more time people spend in the pursuit of beauty the better, as long as their understanding of what beauty is and includes is thereby constantly expanded.


An interview in part regarding Moon Bloom and Hiram Green in this Basenotes interview at Twisted Lily.

Moon Bloom can be found for sampling and purchase online and at Twisted Lily. They were kind enough to provide me with that sample. It's now on my list for eventually acquiring the full size.

Notes as listed on the Twisted Lily site: Tuberose and Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang, Coconut, Leafy Greens, Tropical Spices and Resins.

Above digression into perfume taste is an excerpt from a manuscript I've been working on (and off) for about a year an a half. Things keep changing so I'll keep revising until I know it's ready.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

Except for the photos above, taken from Twisted Lily and The Drink Factory on Tuberose as Flavor of the Week.  

July 9, 2015

Carlos the Brooklyn Fragrance Lover

Perfume obsessives, by which I mean those who pursue the pleasures of perfume wholeheartedly, know that it's an impractical expensive and extravagant interest.  Even so, perfume's great pleasures, especially for those who have cultivated both a wide and refined taste for it, are so inspiring and seductive that it can come very close to being something like an addiction.

Now that perfume creation has expanded into the ever morphing niche and independent categories, experiencing and appreciating it and sharing it becomes, for those who are true devotees, a form of personal expression, like fashion or personality or self-presentation.

Carlos J. Powell aka the Brooklyn Fragrance Lover
Carlos J. Powell lives a life which is one of the most deeply imbued with perfume that I know of,  speaking as someone who has come to know a range of perfume enthusiasts as well as perfumers themselves.  He talks, thinks, pursues, wears and engages others in perfume as much as possible.  His civilian job as a salesman has trained him to be a great advocate for perfume to others, and he shares that enthusiasm with energy and enjoyment.

He is one of my favorite "perfume personalities".  I have spent time with him at several NYC perfume boutiques, and discussed perfume with him over the past few years at every encounter. I've seen him conduct interviews with perfumers, watched and read his thoughts on perfume. I've visited his apartment and seen and sampled from his extensive collection of full bottles, decants and samples, that run across every category from the classics to designer to niche to high-end indie to mass-tige hits. The basis of it all is, as he often reminds me and others, from the Biblical quote: "perfume and incense bring joy to the heart" and that the pursuit of aromatic beauty is a way to refine and uplift one's life experience.

We've discussed his interest in bringing more people, especially men, into the perfume orbit, which has to do with relating perfume to the "regular" guy.  We both agree that there is no such thing as an authority on taste in perfume, because everyone as an individual has their own unique inner perfume profile, which they can uncover and develop at their own pace and in their own most rewarding way. His generosity in sharing his perfume enthusiasms by both in spreading the word and also sharing perfume itself is among the best in the true perfume geek tradition.

Some of the Goodsmellas
Carlos has been much involved with the group the Goodsmellas, which has been noticed by the mainstream media, and also created his own video channel on YouTube called Brooklyn Fragrance Lover.  He also writes perfume reviews under the same name.

He visits perfume boutiques and department stores almost every day, popping in wherever he happens to be, to try just about anything.

This has created a wide inner library of perfume experience across the categories, high to low end. He has told me that has began to re-approach the so-called "designer" perfume category, that is those perfumes known to most people through department stores and mass marketing, and has found it rewarding, showcasing the gems that he then shares with his many social media followers.

I found and got to know Carlos at first through his social media group PLP (Peace Love and Perfume) on Facebook, which he aims to keep as a space of pure appreciation, as a safe space for both the experienced and newbie perfume lover, to talk about their current perfume experiences. It's something like a daily social diary for perfume obsessives like himself.

Several perfumers have participated in his beautiful project creating perfumes for the PLP group (I have written about these perfumes already and there are more to come) in order to express the Peace Love and Perfume theme of the group.

His focused energy and capacity for perfume amazes me. He can and will try many perfumes a day.

Over the years he developed an extensive personal collection that has become a perfume library and personal history from which to choose every day, according to mood, weather, season.  This is something that most dyed-in-the-wool perfume obsessives do, but I find his range wider than most.  I find that many perfume enthusiasts tend to limit themselves to a certain style, or notes, or perfume family or types, or even a small number of perfumers, but Carlos is exceptionally open-minded and tries everything he can and spends time with all the perfume he can reach. I think this is unique.

I have asked Carlos where does he see this going, how long does he think he may continue to put so much time, work and energy into this, what some might consider an unusual and extravagant obsession, and his reply was so typically spontaneous of him.  He immediately responded that it's so much fun, and that he loves it so much, it makes him happy.  That he doesn't know exactly what may or may not come of it all over time, but he does know it's good for him and that he is enjoying himself.

There are now several perfume groups on social media and those perfumistas that know each other in real/face time, and more and more people on social media are learning from, sharing with and encouraging each other in enjoying this new modern Renaissance in perfume in a way that combines the development of both soul and sensuality.

Carlos is that kind of true perfume enthusiast, one of those who is working hard but with pleasure, to share the beauties of perfume with as many as he can reach.  I see him as tireless in his pursuit of beauty and appreciate that he combines it with fun, and so fully integrated into his everyday life.

Carlos with Jean et Claude
For more, please see his video blog at Brooklyn Fragrance Lover on YouTube
and his blog also called Brooklyn Fragrance Lover.
A video of Carlos' recent visit to Twisted Lily discussing Rubini,
Imaginary Authors and Bruno Fazzolari
The Goodsmellas article in Elle.
the PLP Perfume Project on this site

Photos above taken with permission from Carlos J Powell's online sites

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure:  As noted above, I know Carlos personally and belong to the PLP Facebook group. As it happens, we are both Brooklyn Fragrance Lovers; we both live in Brooklyn.

June 26, 2015

DSH Fleurist, Le Jardin Vert, La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes, Giverny in Bloom, L'Opera des Rouges et des Roses

Claude Monet. Water Lilies. c. 1920.
Oil on canvas, triptych, each section 6'6" x 14" (200 x 425 cm).
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund.
Photograph ©1997 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (DSH Perfumes) recently released several floral perfumes based on an ideal of French impressionist beauty crossed with shades of vintage perfume, for a collaboration with the Denver Museum of Art. There are also two other perfumes  that refer to the 19th century academic side of French taste at that time, one that referenced the classics and the past as much as our own does.

These all seem to have the same feel of vibrant delicacy, airiness and subtle notes that grow in harmonious complexity over time. They are primarily skin scents but hold with strength and vigor there, to survive even a hot shower.  They are all great beauties in the individualist style of DSH.

Le Jardin Vert is as the name promises, green and fresh dew and mist, with black earth and even a touch of the lilac/mixed floral freshness that lays over an entire garden at certain times of year, as a sheer vapor that permeates the air. A little woodiness, and simultaneously the open freshness is grounded with an overall arrangement of notes that magically support an overall sense of well being.

Probably it is ingrained in most humans to feel tranquil and content if surrounded by the scent of fresh live green plants, which notes are here arranged in an Audrey Hepburn style of forthright and innocent grace.

La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes requires three or four sprays to reveal itself as a musk that is tinged with shades of water and woods, hovered over by the distant sweetness of the floral breath of some of the shyer Spring flowers.

A soft-voiced aromatic presence, as I love musks it suits my taste exactly that this creates an invisible envelope of well being.

It joins in with that peaceful intimate garden shown in countless impressionist paintings, a place of tranquility. If you are open to it this olfactory experience may well  lay down a sense memory of peace and well being for you; I see it as building a inner emotional and mental resource.

Giverny in Bloom (EdT) continues the theme of La Danse only layered over with a dense cover of many florals, along with the sun on them bringing out their scents. This has a calm within its center but there is an excitement there from the multiple delicate florals joining together to cause the nose and memory to raise their hackles. Pleasurable ones, those pin-pricks of happiness recalled from all the many times you subconsciously incorporated all the flowers you have known within yourself.

Again as with La Danse and Le Jardin Vert, I discern a central watery element, a theme that dissolves all edges and causes a musk-like effect of grounded well-being to arise, the kind of musk associated with a skin scent, with a fresh cut floral bouquet standing in cool water.

There is the touch of realism within an abstract composition, rather like the impressionism of Monet painting of his Giverny water lilies.  Those gigantic water lily paintings that wrap around your vision, that dissolve the closer you get into color, and then sharpen into a recognized form a distance. These perfumes dive into that atmosphere.

Then there are two perfumes that come from the opposite end of the 19th Century French ornamental spectrum.

Faux curtain at the Paris Opera Garnier via Vagabond Design
L'Opera des Rouges et des Roses is the subtle inner essence of red on red, red silk velvet, long stem red roses.

In the vein of the Garnier Opera House in Paris, in the mood of the 19th Century romantics, in the mood of Fleuriste rather than the impressionist garden perfumes, it translates the over the top ornamentation of that other, opposite end of French taste into its core element of flowing luxuriant vitality, with the central note of a red rose surrounded by supporting floral shades.

Again, as with the others above, the perfume's message comes mixed with and floating over fresh water and air. Bright, smooth, a lightness that is not slight but rich with detail.  A way to enjoy the animating principal of 19th Century maximum decorative impulse without the excess, which could be overpowering.

Fleurist (EdP) makes a soliflore first impression, then revealing itself to be far more than a solifore. Based on a sheer carnation, with a many faceted and lighthearted approach to this dense and heavy flower. Pepper acts as a shadow that highlights a bright clove.

There is nothing heavy here, all the aspects of a carnation gather in transparent layers that together display a flexible, slim kind of dancer's strength.  A summer carnation for any season.

The vintage tone comes through as an invisible, perhaps aldehydic uplift, with a mineral almost coppery earthiness. It's a beauty with a refined, delicate air, almost otherworldly, shades of varying aromatic impressions that create a craving for more. One of those perfumes that lives within its own world. I would love to live the life, at least for awhile, that is implied. It is elegant in a way that seems from another time. The partial list of supporting notes listed are neroli, jasmine grandiflorum, rose, and ambergris.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has been and continues to be a painter, and these perfumes visit the classics of art of another time, that we know well and revere, as we now do the vintage formulations of classic perfumes.  There is that distinctive tang of the vintage about them, but they are still essentially modern both in their reference to the past and how they take what they want from it for those aspects that enhance a contemporary and even timeless aromatic experience.

DSH is a true indieperfumer, and so goes wherever inspiration carries her.  She is prolific and has created a style of her own that is immediately known once you have experienced it.  Her site offers sample sets of the wide range of collections she has built over decades.  One of my favorite perfumers, I always look forward to new perfumes.

Disclosure: Samples sent to me by the perfumer.
Please follow the links above for much more information.
Monet's Waterlilies above are the three in MOMA, as captioned in the first image.
If you have not been there recently it's always worth visiting again for the experience of these alone.
Vagabond Design has a great piece and more photos of the Paris Garnier Opera House.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

June 15, 2015

Jardins D’Armide by Oriza L Legrand

Is it a coincidence that a certain perfume comes to you to fulfill a wish? I came to Jardins D'Armide by Oriza L Legrand through a combination of recommendations, circumstance, and premonition, so it must have been fated.

Recently and out of the blue I suddenly wanted a powdery fragrance. A category I did not know at all, but somehow I began to crave a deep powdery-ness. The perfect aromatic companion for a long hot humid summer in the city.

The lady-like refinement and old-fashioned feel of the classic powder-heavy perfumes had before always seemed to me not modern, not my style, not appropriate for my life, but having learned to respect my intuitive impulses in regard to perfume, I asked my online fragrance friends for recommendations.

One of them, Jardins d’Armide, I happened to have already as part of a sample set I ordered months ago from Oriza L Legrand; it was one that I had not yet tried. 

 I found it and fell in love immediately, it was exactly the right time for it and it and emanated exactly what I craved, a dry softness with depth, an abstract and gentle but present softness that lifted the heavy atmosphere. It suited me, and felt like something I could wear often, with its subtle shades of lightly spiced florals, a refreshing powder with depth, a musk with a cloudy softly dusky undertone. 

That soft depth grounds and holds itself to the skin and somehow refreshes itself continuously so that you can notice it on yourself as a soothing and beautifying aura that lasts all day.

Notes from the site are listed as:
Notes de tête : Rose Ancienne, Fleur d'Oranger et Poudre d'Iris
Notes de coeur: Iris de Florence, Violette Sauvage, Glycine et Oeillets d'Inde

Notes de fond: Miel, Amande, Fève Tonka et Musc

In English:
Top: Old Rose, Orange Blossom and Iris Powder
Heart notes: Florentine iris, Violet Wild, Glycine and Carnation India.
Base notes: Honey, Almond, Tonka and Musk.

Pastels of old rose, orange blossom and irises are shaded into dimension with the lightest touch of clove within carnation. That and a pale violet sweetness holds true throughout the life of wear on skin.

The full open softens down gently with time, turning the dial a little more toward the honey almond, again soft and plush shades of tonka and a cloud of musk that intensifies and holds the floral details, along with the cooling sweetness of iris and violet.

Further, I knew I would be taking a rare trip to Paris, and planned a day of visiting various perfume shrines, so I was lucky to get to the Oriza L. Legrand boutique itself.

After a lot of walking on that hot day, it was a lovely experience to enter the boutique. I left refreshed and with a full size flacon and some samples of things new to me (Heliotrope Blanc, another floral powder, and a new one on a theme of jasmine which is yet untitled, among others).

Jardins D’Armide was first released in 1909, this version is based on the records received with the sale of the Maison, established in 1720, to the new owners who have revived several of the original fragrances.

Nijinsky and Pavlova - 1909 via Wikipedia
I was further excited to find a little background research showed that the year 1909 when the Ballet Russe performed the second premiere of Le Pavilion de Armide at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris on 19 May 1909, danced by Nijinsky and Pavolva, which made a great impression on Parisians. 

Especially so as the feminine persona of Armide is based on a longstanding French theme in opera and literature (and I was excited to find reference to the novella Omphale by Theophile Gautier, author of Clarimonde, the muse of my ongoing perfume and writing project cited as a basis for this Ballet Russe dance) .

I believe that this ballet and likely Gautier’s story together to be the inspiration for the perfume, as both the Ballet Russe and the writer’s aesthetic were so influential in the cultural scene of Paris in 1909. Gautier's story is steeped in soft pastel shades and floral motifs that come to life within haunted tapestry.

The perfumes women wore often reflected the current cultural inspirations of the time, as they still do. 

As it happens the writer Theophile Gautier, was a great balletomane, deeply involved as a writer and partner of a great ballerina of the day, as well as a famous journalist, aesthete, sensualist and the originator of the phrase “art for art’s sake”. 

The legendary character of Armide, like Clarimonde, was a strong female figure of action, their enchanted lovers torn between the forces of love and duty to others.

Armide appears in many French operas and ballets over the centuries. She is a figure in an old epic poem, a Saracen sorceress who instead of killing a Crusader enemy falls in love with him at first sight. She brings him to a garden of enchantment to take him away from the forces of mutually assured destruction, to put love first. 

I find this parallels the Clarimonde theme, so I feel this perfume somehow reached out to me by more than coincidence. More the fragranced air of an affinity that I was meant to know.

It’s also a lovely perfume to fall asleep in, soothing and calming. I can rest my arm beside my face and breathe deeply and be transported on a number of levels of enjoyment. Soft beauty, rich associations with literature and music, history, Paris at the turn of the last century, and the sheer quality of the ingredients and composition add to the headiness of a close encounter with this perfume on skin.

As to the perfume’s theme, the legend of the Garden of Armide, we know the West learned much from the Middle East while waging the Crusades, especially about perfumes, spices, and luxury.

The perfumed beauty of the air in an enchanted garden, a strong spell cast by a Saracen (Muslim) sorceress over a Crusader (Western) knight, to hold the force of attraction and love in control over the forces of revenge and war -- this is a deeper theme than I expected to find behind the soft powder and spiced flowers, musk deepened with tonka bean and honey almond, as it creates an atmosphere of ease.

For all that it was first released in 1909, it does not seem old-fashioned or even lady-like after all.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure: I purchased the samples and perfume directly from the perfumer.
Images above from the Oriza L Legrand site and Wikipedia.

May 26, 2015

Ephemera by Unsound: Drone, Noise, Bass

From the Ephemera by Unsound site
Geza Shoen has made three perfumes for a project called Ephemera by Unsound, relating to three pieces of music, with perfumes and music made in such a way as to sensitively reflect each other in a syn-aesthetic way. 

I found the three, Drone, Noise and Bass presented together in a box (at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn) that opened to a lyrical- minimalist presentation. There are references to scent molecules and/or constellations both on the flacons and underneath them, as each is set as a glass rectangle within cutouts in a dark square box. This makes for a beautifully boxed set of perfume that carries layered symbolic meanings within every detail, if you want to find them.  They also come as separate full-size flacons.

photo of my boxed set
by Lucy Raubertas
They are all elegantly beautiful, but my favorite is Drone, described on the site as "...aldehydes and air notes, developing to fir and juniper, with a base of patchouli, ambergris, and vetiver."

 Probably because of the warming season, I am most drawn to this airy brightness, sharpened by edge notes of evergreens, softened by subtle versions of the base, especially the dry vetiver.  

I am glad evergreen notes are being reclaimed for fine perfume.

Drone is the most unisex of the three, and holds the brightness of the evergreen notes closely to the soothing, relaxing and balanced influence of ambergris and patchouli, to hover near the center of the dial, warming up with skin heat.

Noise reflects the strong scent and sound impression made by incense used during religious ceremonies on Catholic church holidays, along with the scents and sounds of bush fire, insect drones and moisture (rain storm scent, I assume) and pays homage to their influential sense-memory powers. Mold, gunpowder, solder, rust, all those specific scents that affect you when you first encounter them as full of the energy of processes that are mysterious but clearly making something change, something happen.

Selected notes listed are aldehydes, ozone, black pepper, saffron, and labdanum, which creates a sum total first impression of a freshly lit match held to a cigarette, later lifting off with a spark of electrical brightness. The depth of the base notes are raised aloft with the strong fresh brightness of sparkling aldehyde, crossed with ozone and the tang that sharpens your the nose from fresh-ground black pepper.

Photo of full size Drone from Twisted Lily
Bass, as appropriate to the name, is the darkest and deepest of the three, and most likely to be perceived as a masculine fragrance, initially. 

This one relates to a burn/smoke of soft grey dust, crossed with animalic musc tones. 

The burn is pleasantly clean in its electrical fire aspect.  The inspiration was a vacuum cleaner that gave off a burning dust smell as it first came on.   

The most predominant notes are listed as woodsmoke and rum, developing into leather, mastic, and tea, and finishing with castoreum and moss. This one opens big but dries down quickly on me, to a soft multi-dimensional musc.

All of these fragrances have a good hold but not an intrusive throw, which is a more modern way to wear fragrance.  The wearer would give an impression of an atmosphere of a life lived making things that involved using sharpened metal tools, and the energy of the elements of water and fire.  That makes perfect sense in an organically electrical combination of this type of modern music with modern perfume, as they sensitively interact with and reference each other.

I intend to experiment with using more than one at a time.  Their cohesive inner style makes them compatible. 

I liked them so much I impulse-purchased the box set at Twisted Lily in Brooklyn.  

Further credits and info from the Twisted Lily site:
Ephemera presents olfactory compositions based on musical resonances and reverberations. The nose behind the project is Berlin-based Geza Schoen, known for the groundbreaking Escentric Molecules series as well as various avant-garde/conceptual scents.
In the first phase of the project, three musicians – Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, and Steve Goodman (aka Kode9) – created raw sonic material which Schoen then reinterpreted to create three different scents: Noise, Drone and Bass. These scents and sounds are now used in an installation environment, and also encapsulated as unique perfumes.
The project is curated and produced by Malgorzata Plysa and Mat Schulz of Unsound.
See the link to the perfume page of the Ephemera by Unsound project for a lot more information and especially to hear and download the music.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Images from the Ephemera by Unsound site, Twisted Lily and me.
Quote above from Twisted Lily.