November 21, 2015

Aroma M Voluptuous Nostalgia

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant in Roman Holiday
Maria McElroy of Aroma M has ventured into an imaginative version of vintage territory, inspired by a glamorous film version of 1950s Rome, to make Voluptuous Nostalgia.

This perfume acts as an inspiration to cast yourself within its ultra feminine cloud to live the dream that Audrey Hepburn projected in her roles.  A butterfly lightness and elegance meant to project the feeling of seeing Rome from the back of a Vespa, your delicate perfume fluttering in the wind behind you.

Muguet and Gardenia, Ambergris, Tonka and Violet are the only notes listed for the perfume, but for me it also has that Italian neroli/citrus headiness, a floral sweetness, fresh and cool, a youthful sparkle, illuminated like the sun on the moving water of Rome's magnificent fountains.

The perfume's optimistic persona is one that delights in the moment, with a romantic core that is crossed with a sophisticated reference to the elegance of the past.  The deeper notes hold the perfume to the skin for a long time, without going heavy or sharp in any way.  This is the past as seen through the lens of beautifully styled Hollywood fantasy, basking in ease and charm.

Over time this perfume moves deeper into the pale golden aspect of an Amber tinted by the florals, especially the cooling Violet.

This perfume is like one of those ensembles that Vogue might say could be worn from day to night, a decorative flourish that gives the message that this lady knows how to enjoy life.

This is a limited edition, that comes in a hand etched flacon, held in a fastened velvet bag, reminiscent of an opera cloak.

Please see the Aroma M website for samples prices and stockists or to order directly.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

November 9, 2015

MikMoi Ideasthesia - Six Perfumes

"Static" by Owen Brown

Ideasthesia is the title of an collaborative exhibition joining a number of aesthetic fronts that took place in San Francisco this past September. MikMoi, a favorite indie perfumer I have written of before, with a distinctively specific signature style, collaborated with two artists --  painter and illustrator Owen Brown, and poet Emily Wolahan, in a pop-up exhibit at SOMArts.  Perfume, colored drawings and found poetry were the elements, layered together.

Ideasthesia is here being used as a substitute word for Synesthesia, that sensation of one kind of sensual experience triggering others in another sense, such as hearing a musical note and seeing a color or smelling a perfume at the same time.

A mind/body cross sensory unification.  Idea and sensation as one, a network of associations. There's a video that explains in depth, and how Ideasthesia is something we all do often, closely akin or even sometimes the same as synesthesia. The concept of Ideasthesia is also defined in detail in this interesting piece by Keith Hillman.  Mik Moi posted a great description of the collaboration on his website.

I think of it as a heightened form of associative thinking, or in this case feeling, an empathy of the senses, because all our sensory and mental experiences are inter-related (mind and body as one). This is clear in the experience of perfume, which triggers a cascade of associations, meaning, memory, and emotion, that sometimes may even evoke a visual reference or an ideal harmony within ourselves.

The perfumes that mean the most to us or seem the most beautiful strike on our personal inner memory chords of pleasurable experiences.  The notes perfumers use are a repertoire, similar to shades of color and sounds and words, chosen and combined for their special qualities and powers to reach inside.

For me, olfactory and visual senses are more often centered and attuned to pleasure and beauty, while others like language and music often hold other kinds of concepts within their beautiful forms, creating rhythms, narratives and imparting information that may comment on or discuss the experience evoked, as good and bad or ambivalent.

MikMoi put together a brilliant and  exceptionally gorgeous suite of five accords, which work as perfumes in his signature style, inspired by or cross-pollinated with the artist and the poet. The painter used lines colors and spaces expressing aspects of pure life energy, and the poet gathered audience responses and posted her curated choices, creating additional layers of sympathetic response.

The five perfumes are built as separate accords that work as stand-alone perfumes and harmoniously with each other. Their titles give an idea as to inspiration and effect. They are all sensitive, subtle and highly decorative. These are lovely interpretations of general concepts, abstracts that still hit on very specific scent experiences to bring you inside the intitial inspiration.

They layer wonderfully beside each other, in sets of two or three or all five.  They have that kind of connection to Nature that makes everything that happens between them fit together in an organic way.

There is a true lightness within all these fragrances that is neither sheer or superficial, but brings in a smoothness with an open quality to the powerful forces of distilled nature that are captured within them, to trigger the wearer's own scent memories.

Breath - Has a sweetened and metallic edge that is full of energy, as when breathing in deeply you take in energy and life.  A nectar then prevails with a mint tang that cools your face as you breath it in. Sweet fresh green. The notes are listed as Fig, Clary Sage, Petitgrain, Spearmint and Cut Grass.

Known - combines woods with spacious air, and a core that is solid and anchoring, like the peaceful center within yourself.  Gentle and serious,  grounding, meditative. Notes are listed as Sandalwood, Cedar, Pinon Pine, Ho Wood and Ood.

Found - Cooled spices, perhaps a tea that begins with cinnamon, toned with ginger, that makes room for the scent of your own skin, while still having and holding true strength of its own. Notes listed as Clove, Black Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger.  

North - personally find this one especially beautiful, creating a big space that holds corners for the intimate and cozy, which sounds strange, but the scent itself sends you out over big open fields/ distances, still tinged by the warmth of the skin/body as a reminder of the blood's heat inside and the quiet sense of life that prevails at your own beating heart's center. It's intense without being heavy. Partial list of notes: Tuberose, Jasmin, Rose and Geranium.

Birth - the freshness of Citrus, a floral decorative flourish pure and bright. Steady stream of lively freshness.  Notes listed as Blood Orange, Bergamot, Pink Grapefruit and Neroli.

There is a sixth vial called Ideasthesia, which I take to be a combination of all the accords, that travels through and blends the sensations described above.

This set of perfumes can be sampled at the perfumer's site, and I hope that the full sizes become available as requested.  These are true beauties and a brilliant set of pure scent experiences that are involving, lively and pleasing to wear for yourself and others.

Please hit the links above for more info and to order the sample set.
Photos taken from the Mik Moi and SOMArts sites as linked above.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

October 27, 2015

Clarimonde and the Devil Reflect

Visit Clarimonde on Wordpress for the nicest graphic form of her perfumed reflections with the Devil as they celebrate Halloween together.

Caleb Tenenbaum
Clarimonde knows the Devil very well.  They meet and go for long walks together in the woods this time of year, as far North as they can cross paths, far enough to feel the rain of leaves and release the crackling earthy scent of those already fallen, collecting underfoot.  They walk and talk for hours, it’s like visiting a counselor, they are each other’s best listeners.
They are each other’s confessors, and dream catchers, releasing their powerful emotions over each other in cascades. They feel free to explain themselves through demonstrations of beauty and strength.
Christopher Hassler
They are so much the opposite, they are almost the same. They reflect each other and so become reflections that cause the other to disappear for a little while, taking something like a rest from themselves, as a mirror will hold an angle of disappearance if held certain way. Looking into each other so deeply gives them the perspective and distance to see themselves in their true form. They see each other in detail and know themselves as others see them.
There is nothing so fascinating as your own reflection.
They will tell each other their stories of the past year, since last October.  What has happened?  They will tell each other as much as they can, and in telling, understand and even predict what will happen next.
The Devil knows Clarimonde’s tastes and is gracious enough to bring her a gift of a big floral perfume. These she has collected over the years, and they run across a range of refined effects, and she will keep them to enhance her sleep and dreams. She will intoxicate herself to sleep in Carnal Flower, Sarrasins, A la Nuit. The effects and essences of white flowers, masses of them. Tuberoses, jasmine, gardenia, roses, lilies, orange flower, sometimes cooled by iris roots, or sweetened and shaded by violets. These beauties become otherworldly as the vapors and fumes rise up around her and carry her away.
She in return will bring him the respectful gift of incense.  She knows he adores the perfumes of the ancient cathedrals, and other ritual sites, so has brought him Avignon, and Balsamo Della Mecca, and the dry incense of Timbuktu and Dzongkha, and once long ago, Opium. He can be terrible enough in his beauty to have incense rise up around him to announce his powerful presence.  He keeps his claws in when walking with Clarimonde.
They will eventually retire at the mansion of the Beast, who waits for Beauty to arrive, with a yearly standing invitation to be his dinner guests.  All their perfumes blend well together, her florals and his incense, and the luxuriously musky fur of Beast.
from La Belle et Le Bete by Cocteau
No one can appreciate the nights and the scents and the moon of the Fall of the northern year as much as they do.  They both sleep and wake in stages between furious activity lasting eras. Re-awaken and then meet each other as beings who can understand each other without even a word.  They know the depths of each other’s perfumes and why they love them.
Abbey Ashra
This day and night together every year marks their great holiday, when the ghosts and the past roam freely over the sky, and they glow with fragrant love for all the beings that have passed into their realms.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Photos borrowed from Pinterest and around the Web, I do not own these images. Please do not copy or reproduce these images for commercial purposes without researching the licensing.
This is a non commercial website.

October 18, 2015

Bruno Fazzolari - Seyrig and Room 237

Poster designed by Bruno Fazzolari
Bruno Fazzolari's two perfumes Seyrig and Room 237 are alike in that they open forcefully in one way and then turn a sharp corner and go in another direction to become something else entirely.

Knowing the perfumer is also a painter, I suspect he composed them both completely in his own mind first, conceptually, and then worked with the qualities of certain perfume materials to heighten effects by using intensities and contrasts within the perfume materials.

As with color, scent can show how an intense/condensed form can morph entirely, transformed into something more sheer and open, moving on in time and evaporation, as color moves from opaque and dark into translucent or transparent tints and shades. I know the perfumer also works with his own synaesthesia, that experience of two or more senses joining together.

Such contrasts work psychologically too, both in color and in scent, as we all have strong associations with both color and scents.  For example a bright solid red that dilutes into a soft pink, or a heavy rose diluted into an almost invisible presence, that acts to join and hold the balance between top and base notes, moderating their presence and mood.

Seyrig opens powerfully with a short burst of citrus and creamy soapiness, that lasts less than a couple of minutes, and then turns into a more classical perfume with cool greens and rosy musk infused with aldehydes, toned by woods. The predominantly chemical feel of the opening high notes gives way to a more lyrical, naturalistically styled floral mood.

The theme is an abstract rendition of the syringa, aka lilac, which doesn't lend itself to scent extraction.  Here it has been created from accords, as a heightened fantasy version of lilac's fresh qualities, taking off from a beginning of creamy citric soapiness into an invigorating and sparkling tone of early Spring.  Notes are listed as Aldehydes, Red Mandarin, Rose de Mai Absolute,Ylang Ylang Absolute, Syringa Accord, Muguet Accord, Oakmoss, Musk and Radical Chic (of course).

Image by Bruno Fazzolari
Room 237 opens with a chemical clean that soon changes into a more natural spirit, which remains haunted by the chemical scent, kind of like the vestige of someone who's just left, perhaps cleaning up in between presences engaged in who knows what mysterious activities.  The title is in reference to a haunted hotel room from The Shining.

Perhaps this implies the fragrant spirit that remains after the hotel room has been cleaned between many different incidents, personalities, events, passing through, both good and bad. There is an coolness, even a pine scent cleanliness to the opening of this perfume, which like Seyrig, then transforms itself, moving into a softly polished fougere-musk spirit.

There's an impish spirit of modern amoral spookiness, but also one of a fresh start and another chance, starting over,  or in other words, a little hope. Maybe things will turn out differently this time? Notes are listed as Flea bane, West Indies Bay Leaf, Angelica, Oppoponax, Costus Root, Peculiar Florals, Vinyl Shower Curtain.

It's brave and experimental to use the opening of perfume to be so different than the main body of the experience, as most perfumes are made to 'sell' on the top notes, as those are the immediate impression on first encounter.  It takes time to get what's happening with these two perfumes, and appreciate the dimension brought to the perfume's unfolding.

These perfumes show a sense of humor and are an intimate communication sent to the wearer from the perfumer.  It's highly likely that only the wearer will experience those first few minutes of radical difference at the opening overtures on initial application.  The rest of the day there remains a subtle tint of that opening, but the main body of the perfume will be something your public audience will find easy to love.  But you will remember and recognize the initial scent message in the experience throughout the day.

Samples provided by the perfumer.
Please see the perfumer's site for more info on stockists and prices.

Copyright 2015 Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Above images from the Bruno Fazzolari website.

October 5, 2015

Three from FRAGments--PK Perfumes, Olympic Orchids, Wax Poetic

Fragments of dried Orris root

Earlier this year the annual FRAGments event was held at the Neutra Institute Museum and Gallery in Los Angeles, organized by Maggie Mahboubian of Lalun Naturals. It is an underground, artisan and indieperfume collective event to expose such perfumers to the public, and vice versa. 

Several highly inventive and interesting perfumers take part, to establish a sense of community among the perfumers and outreach toward those in the area. Los Angeles and its environs holds a big audience for beauty made by hand, for self adornments that attract and delight others, and a special appreciation for sensitivity to nature and the environment.

To quote from the description on the group's discussion page on Facebook: 
Artisan perfumery is a growing movement where individuals are exploring unique olfactory directions through a variety of fragrant media.
Yet, very few venues exist for these perfumers to present their work that may also have limited distribution. While it is possible to purchase sample sets online or read reviews, nothing beats experiencing these creations in person, especially if they are celebrated in a special event.
To this end FRAGments has been created to provide a small scale, intimate forum for artisan perfumers to present their work where all perfumers will have equal representation in a collective pop-up shop. The name is derived from FRAGRANCE MOVEMENT and picks up on the slang
word for perfume . . . "frag".

This piece is to describe a small sample of the perfumes at FRAGments 2015, from three perfumers among my favorites. I will post more on several others over time.

All of these perfumers have their own websites with in-depth descriptions of the materials they use, their process and inspirations.

These are exciting perfumes that I would love to acquire myself as quickly as my personal luxuries budget allows (considering that in my case the luxury of perfume has morphed into necessity).

Two from PK Perfumes by Paul Kiler have a beautiful spacious and dimensional effect that evokes both the natural and traditional in a contemporary way.

Velvet Curaçao has a dreamy smoothness, and is seductively gentle with an interior warmth and juicy-ness that belies the reputation that fruity florals are always superficially sweet and easy.  The lively and fresh citruses are well married into a rich white and luxurious flower family of gardenia, jasmine and orange flower, cooled by a touch of violet air flowing over a base of ambergris, musk and woods. It reaches out beyond mere prettiness into beauty, owning the depth of an incense, restrained within the boundaries of elegance.

It contains Curaçao peel oil, used in Triple Sec and Grand Marnier, which may explain its olfactory reference to a warm and refined intoxication. Notes are listed as Bright Curaçao, Orange Blossom, Neroli, Sweet Orange, Red Mandarin, Bergamot, Petitgrain, Jasmine, Gardenia, Violet, Cassia, Oakmoss, Labdanum, Amber, Ambergris, Ambrette, Velvet Wood, and Velvet Musks.

In contrast, the bracing Café Diem brings the dryness of an astringent black coffee passed over the fumes of a dry and potent liqueur. Again I am connected to the qualities of an exalting Japanese incense, the elegance of finely drawn lines between the notes listed as a blend of coffee, absinthe, whiskey, sweet spices, incense and vetiver.

Olympic Orchids by Ellen Covey's Woodcut transmits the very essence of fresh cut wood, a particular fragrance that I've been looking for, and find it surprising how rare the true spirit of this is found within fine perfume. Notes are listed as fractional distillations of pine and cedar, oakwood absolute, tolu balsam, olibanum, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla.

I find the cedar predominates, as well as intimations of an old oak. The sweetness of caramel and sugar are far distant but there's enough to keep the searing edge of the aromatic punch of freshly cut wood smooth. To allow for the darker and deeper voices within to be known, and also the wild living quality of the trees themselves. Freshly cut trees exuding that spirit of powerful earthiness crossed with green. A soulful scent.

Two by Wax Poetic by Jeanette Price have a beautiful signature balminess. They hold that air within that immediately makes your mind and body receptive to the grace of relaxation caused by nothing but your own olfactory triggers that release tension.

Mercy is a rainwater soft skin musk that creates an impression of warmth and relief.  I have no note list for it, it's not on the website yet but was part of FRAGments, so I expect it will appear on the website soon, so look out for it.  If you are as susceptible to aromatic suggestion as I am, this comfort aura of a perfume is a pure elegant blanket that will surround and protect you with the beauty of a calm and lovely gentleness.

Flightas the name implies, provides uplift, along with that aromatic core of balmy air, rising like a balloon, large enough to carry you away on the soft breeze.  A bit of an edge of a dry and astringent floral, but still abstract as all get out.

One of those perfumes that can trigger memories you didn't know you had, of lifting off and lightness suspended in the air.  The bright sunshine edge of dawn's refreshing coolness.  The notes are listed as marigold, white grapefruit and tomato leaf.

I've come to learn that I have an affinity for tomato leaf, so that may be partly what attracts me so much.  It has that vibrant green and lively woodiness it shares with much bigger green leafed specimens of the plant kingdom. Here it grounds the breezes that are tinted by a brush against the plants stirred into movement, releasing aromas.

There were many more fantastically individual and creative perfumes at FRAGments, and I will revisit my stash of samples again here. It's inspiring to see that talented indieperfumers are growing in numbers and variety.

Samples provided by FRAGments organizer Maggie Mahboubian.

FRAGments website is an ongoing project, and I'm looking forward to many more such events. Please visit the sites linked above for more information.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Photos above taken from the FRAGments website.