February 13, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

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

February 8, 2015

Clarimonde's Winter Bouquets

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

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

Photo Christopher Morris

Photo Christopher Morris

Photo Christopher Morris

Photo Christopher Morris

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

l’illustration horticole – journal cover – anon

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

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

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

Lalique Thistle brooch

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



Dog collar necklace, Lalique

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

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

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

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

February 2, 2015

Baruti Perfumes

Baruti has recently re-launched with six perfumes. I have written about the prior incarnation as Magnetic Scents in April 2014.  

This line is the essence of Amsterdam distilled into perfume form. Spare refined cleanliness is set beside the aromas of fresh hand-rolled cigarettes and rich cream and sepia shadows, and the principals of contemporary design keep an informed eye on the grand traditions of the great art housed in its legendary museums. The general population's attitude of what is sensible and reasonable maintains a careful inner balance in their pursuit of daily pleasures. and a clear and balanced ideal of the Good Life is always kept in mind.

The perfumer Dr. Spyros Drosopoulos of Baruti
What I said last year bears repeating:
"the perfumer Dr. Spyros Drosopoulos is a also specialist in sleep and memory, a doctor who has become a perfumer, with a true contemporary sensibility that appreciates nature and produces everything by hand, with ecological consciousness, as the site says. The study of sleep and memory shows in these perfumes; they are soothing and memorable."
Which is a great basis from which to create perfumes, and this persona carries through into the new incarnation at Baruti.

I wore Melkmeisje out and about in Brooklyn yesterday and was asked what it was; quite a rare occurrence among strangers in NYC, and was complimented on how floral and restful it was. As an Extrait de Parfum, even much later in the afternoon walking home in the cold I could still sense it clearly coming through my winter glove. Delightful.
Vermeer's The Milkmaid

Melkmeisje was inspired by the Vermeer painting The Milkmaid, with notes listed as Pear, Lilac, Linden blossom, Honey, Orris root, Vanilla, Vetiver, Sandalwood, and Musk, to "encapsulate the promise of early summer".  For me the peak of this perfume experience is the combination of linden, lilac and pear, especially with this particular quality of a floral cloud hovering over the gentle musk base. The musk in combination with the other notes holds a creaminess that captures the freshness of Spring flower petals. None of the notes stand out as identifiable or typical, instead they contribute the abstracted essence of what they are into a harmonious whole that is lighthearted, yet reassuringly stable and long lasting.

Voyance gave me the impression of freshness, purity, cleanliness and strong tobacco, which is not listed as a note but all these things in combination are a virtual experience of the masculine half of the city of Amsterdam, in a nutshell. Both earthy and ozonic, there is a washed with mineral water freshness, surrounded by a cozy flannel softness, which I was surprised to find continued to cling after a hot shower.

As the Baruti site says, "Smoke, luminous and limpid, a mystifying paradox" with a featured note list of Tuberose, Guaiac wood, Vetiver, Sandalwood and Musk.  It might be the Vetiver and Musk as tempered by the other notes and uplifted by certain aspects of the Tuberose, that imparts the contradiction and allows the perfume to be both fresh and earthy at the same time. Again, above all, so soothing.  

To my mind that sense of soothing grounded calm is the overall signature of the line.

Nooud  playfully demonstrates the effects of oud without actually using oud itself. Woody in the extreme,  I find it implies Tree and the sap contained within soaked in seawater, then dried in the sun, permeating a freshly sawn-off branch thrown onto a perfume burner.  The power of oud is released, and not heavy but heady. It is strong with some plant-based essence, akin to whatever energy it is that lives within vanilla or cocoa or vetiver, that leaps up from a deep base with the sheer vitality of an aromatic hit of caffeine. Still in the character of the house, there is a sense of peaceful serenity, a way to use the power of oud without wearing it like a thick coat, but rather floating along on the air with the white smoke it creates as it burns.

Berlin in Winter surprised me with its first opening moment of fresh budding florals reaching out with force. It's a very first impression of brightness quickly overtaken by the fragrance of coffee warmed over a flame that is also burning incense. There is closely bonded amber and leather and Nooud itself used as an element. I have not yet visited Berlin myself, but I too appreciate domesticity in the midst of a big city, especially during the harsh winter season we've been having lately. This perfume is meant to evoke "Long cold winter nights, intimate and cozy".   Lavender and orris give an impression of fresh smooth clean and cool sheets waiting under warm fuzzy blankets. There is a cashmere effect, like putting on a soft sweater after a good long fragrant hot bath. The notes are listed as Lavender, Mastic Oil, Rose, Iris, Cassis, Plum, Myrrh, Frankincense, Irish Coffee, Nooud, Amber, Leather.

Indigo is a perfume about that soft dark blue, with the clearness of clean water in it, like a watercolor stain.   The Baruti site describes it as "radiating blue summer skies, continuous music, and effervescent Big-City life." The notes are listed as Mastic Oil, Hyacinth, Rose, Franincense, Atlas Cedar, Sandalwood, Nooud, Amber. I described it this way last year:
"Indigo is full of air cooled by dry astringent herbal infusions, warmed by sun and mystery. There is no specific memory or sensation I can connect to this perfume but it is nonetheless a comfort scent with sophistication laced into its core. 
This is the most gentle of all the line so far, and the most abstract. For me predominantly a musk, toned with the other floral and incense notes to a soft degree that makes them all breathe out through the pores of the skin as it wears over time.  It's a veil that enhances the skin like the balmy fresh summer air that renews you on a day out in the summer. 

Chai is a strong black tea and a little milk, beautifully floral-ized with rose and a little powdered cinnamon, cocoa, amber and pepper. My prior post said this about it in a prior incarnation, which still stands:
"dry Chai tea with Cocoa and Rose, with a lovely staining quality on the skin. I feel as though it will imbue my clothes and hair with magical attractiveness. Milk and vanilla are listed too as the most prominent of the other notes here, to make a Chai accord that has a leafy-root-y quality I find has a beneficial effect on my state of mind. One of the reasons I like perfume so much is the effect it can have of instantly coloring whatever mood within to beautify it. This one imparts a lovely quality of earthy peace and tranquility.
The Baruti site calls it "a delicious Indian Masala Chai" and lists the notes as Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Cardamom, Pepper, Black Tea, Steamed Milk, Cocoa, Roses, Vanilla, Musk Leather.  I find the pepper and the black tea aspect the most important, as it is an airy liquid whose caffiene energy is balanced by the soothing milk musk and vanilla, all in their softest incarnation, balancing the composition into a true perfume rather than a literal depiction of tea. A soft dry down that is exceptionally beautiful, and what you'd wish for yourself after ritually drinking this tea every morning, as it becomes a part of you and emenates through your own skin's pores.

Please visit the Baruti site for full and current information as to prices, samples, and stockists.  

My prior 2014 post on Baruti when it was under another name, is here. 

Samples were provided by the perfumer.
Photos taken from the Baruti site and the Baruti FB site.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
This is an independent post, not an ad or a marketing piece.

p.s. There was a recent artistic collaboration artist with Nicklaus Mettler: a perfume "Lark" was created by the perfumer, based on the daily surroundings of the artist:

January 13, 2015

Mik Moi Acqua Fortis and Lingua Franca

NASA photo of Earth from space.
Mik Moi demonstrates a style of perfume that is sparkling, vibrant, lively, uplifting and fresh, even while using the darkest and deepest of mystical perfume materials.

His two most recent perfumes have a brilliantly sparkling modern effect, synthesizing a harmony between East and West, based on his wide researches into the past. In Acqua Fortis the mystical approach to balance of body and soul is referenced by both Medieval Alchemical magic waters and Feng Shui cures for luck and health. With Lingua Franca, the various world cultures of East and West always find a way to communicate and embrace each other, by necessity and with style.

Acqua Fortis is balanced along the lines of the elements as understood by the old worlds of both East and West, quoting this inspiration: "A heart strong enough to melt gold, and hearts of gold alike, the result of visions past, present, future and future perfect."

Petit Grain and Saffron Musk for Metal, the element that rules Wealth, Precious Rarity, and Endurance. Bois de Rose and Pine Needle, for the principals of Growth, Resources and Expansion, as manifested by the element of Wood. Pink Pepper and Lapsang Souchong for the Fire realms of Passion, Warmth and Attraction. Stone Fruit and Hay notes for the realm of Earth, that rules Creativity, Intelligence and Strength. Yuzu and Ambergris for the Water elements of Recognition, Flow and Effortlessness.

Here is a cologne-like energy and transparency bonded to the strength of a perfume.  The elements combine and sing together as a chorus, not breaking apart, but adding their innate strength to each other to bring out the details of the heat within Pepper and Pine, floating over a base of ambergris toned with Hay and Lapsang Soochong. All notes and elements are in balance so as to emit an energy that is both warm and alert. Opposites unite with the tingling spices and herbs holding onto the skin as part of a musky group hug of all the notes, as they stand together in a bright open hay barn built with fresh cut timbers of bois de rose.

This creative and original modern perfume is immediately appealing from first impression. I can't get enough of it and would say this is one for my full bottle wish list because of its immediate appeal and subtle intelligence. It has a moderate but true throw from the site of application, and is a pleasure to wear, as well as being a fragrance that works for people of all genders.

Lingua Franca - Mik Moi
Lingua Franca is another hit for me.  Based on the principal of a shared language, spontaneously arising and  "making communication possible between those without a common native tongue. Examples have arisen in trading ports around the globe throughout human history."

This one has the same feel of a bright and energetic cologne that holds the strength and character of a perfume.  It's a lyrical mood, a friendly enticing charmer.  I get the sense of bathing in a limpid reflecting pool that supports the body as it floats between heaven and earth and thereby buoys up the spirits. It is based on several ports of the world that through history have traded internationally with various cultures that communicate through their personal beauty and a desire for each other's 'goods'.  A common language incorporating several spontaneously arises so that the various cultures may make exchanges with each other. Citruses, spices and incense notes from all of the continents are deliberately balanced to evoke a sense of discovery and the romance of distinctive cultures and races meeting and mixing together.

The top notes are based on the concept of Meeting, set in the cafes of the port cities of of Italy, Africa, Spain and the South Pacific, using the 'souvenirs' of Antique Lemongrass, Yellow Mandarin, Tagettes, Yuzu, Lime and Pineapple.

The middle notes are based on the concept of Sharing, as set in the gardens of various cities and their inns for resting up after world travels and relaxing with your fellow travelers,  with appetite enhancing spices,  and florals. The mix means to evoke the essence of the ports of Southern U.S, various parts of North Africa, and the South of France.  

Blond Tobacco, Neroli, Ylang Ylang, Allspice, Gallic rose and Carnation do indeed make for the feel of an indolent afternoon spent enjoying the bounty of the world. The intoxicating aspects of a mild tobacco and citric floral and spicy rose are gently and softly present.

The base notes are based on the principal of the Embrace (as they would hold most closely to the skin for the longest time). These are incenses of many cultures coming from various ports in Southeastern Asia, Australia, Indonesia, Canada and Spain.  The 'souvenirs' are listed as Frankincense, Palo Santo, Agarwood, Ambergris, Vetiver, Castorium and Labdanum.

This is a citrus incense perfume for ease, for rest and recovery from long and arduous efforts and travel and interactions.

Aqua Fortis expresses a mood for the excitement of discovery and an active, varied life, while Lingua Franca is for the pleasures of rest and harmony. Both are extraordinary and astonishingly lovely. 

I am enthusiastic for the back story as a creative combination of many influences and a balance of the Eastern and Western influences that I know this perfumer lives with on a daily basis.

I have met the perfumer and feel his base in San Francisco and his eclectic tastes for the deepest and most beautiful aspects of the East, after being thoroughly steeped in the history of various Western cultures, is expressed with special sense of harmony and beauty through his perfumes.  I believe he sees the entire globe as one being with separate elements that enhance and beautify each other through their specific differences.

The perfumer has recently exhibited his concepts of What Harmony Smells Like at a gallery in San Francisco.  Please come to his site for more information and details. Also please visit the site for info and prices and stockists or to purchase the perfume directly.

1.5ml samples are available and come with a scroll wrapped around that explains it all in clear and evocative language.

Please see my prior post on Mik Moi for more information.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

Photos above - the globe photographed by NASA from outer space, the perfumes from the perfumer's site.
Disclosure - I received samples of the perfumes directly from the perfumer.

December 29, 2014

The Brilliant Collection by DSH Perfumes

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is often inspired by the special exhibits at the Denver Art Museum, and has interpreted their show on Cartier with four perfumes relating to the qualities of gemstones and certain personalities identified with them.

All four perfumes (edp strength) share a certain vintage tone reminiscent of the European classic perfumes, and also I find the beauty of each perfume's  theme  - diamond, sapphire, ruby and gold rises up through a signature aquatic/metallic background that creates an atmosphere calling to the coolness of feel and metallic settings of highly polished and faceted gemstones.  The center fire and depth of the gems relate to the core natural elements and classic perfume notes such as rose, hyacinth, gardenia, and aldehydes, and that sense of concentrated power associated with sophistication, opulence, luxury identified with the adornments of celebrity.

Diamond and Ebony Jaguar Bracelet, courtship gift of jewelry to Wallis Simpson and designed for her
Deco Diamonds is associated with Wallis Simpson, and I get a clean contemporary edge supported by an art deco chypre background. These opposites are balanced and poised, resembling the public persona of a society woman who both successfully and unsuccessfully crashed the aristocracy (captured a King, but never became Queen) with the mood and notes symbolic of  irresistible romance and a fantastically privileged art deco stylized opulence, always strictly restrained by skillful design.  This is a perfume you might wear on Wall Street, or anywhere where the pure scent of money would be appreciated by those most discerning of its uses for subtle understated power.

Marie of Romania's Cartier Sapphire
Jacinthe de Sapphir is an example of one of my favorite DSH special effects, which is to throw the beautiful arc-light fire within high-pitched floral tones into greater relief and detail by wrapping them into a deeper base, to bring out an almost iridescent tone in their floral qualities. This one too rises through a pure limpid water/mirror-like atmosphere.  Violet leaf,  hyacinth and tuberose are in focus, over tolu and peru balsam, associating with the heady blueness of sapphires.  Referencing the largest Cartier sapphire of all (over 450 carats) as worn by Marie of Romania, one of the final, most glamorous and popular stars of the aristocracy.

Elizabeth Taylor's rubies, gift of Mike Todd at the swimming pool
Rubis Rose starts with a raspberry-tinged natural rose and then lifts up with a peppered tang, then falls overboard into a deep pool of aromatic resins like frankincense and myrrh, recalling the sensuality associated with the deep and precious redness of rubies.  Elizabeth Taylor could carry the spectacular jewelry she collected as gifts from her many wealthy husbands who knew she craved jewels that enhanced her legend and beauty. They were indeed a tribute and traditional validation of her legendary beauty. One of her most famous presents was a Cartier set of rubies and diamonds from Mike Todd, and the perfume references the seductive quality of roses and red, romance and luxury with precious perfume materials.  Rose permeates the entire experience and carries on well into staining the long lingering precious resinous base notes, legendary in their own right as the gifts of the Magi. I associate all this with the traditional hyper-feminine beauty of the mid 1950s, and the beginning of celebrity culture that hit all the luxurious, classic, overtly seductive, yet traditionally valued qualities of that Hollywood heyday. This perfume holds closer to the skin in the more modern style.  In those days people wanted to knock everyone dead with their unquestionable fabulousness, but we now enjoy a more subtle message and are still deeply moved by the same signs of classic beauty as such a famous star once was, with this composition.

Fumee d'Or opens with wood smoke and a warm metallic tinge, as the perfumer was thinking about an old goldsmith's workshop, where the precious metal was melted and shaped with the heat of a burning furnace, and the artisan wore a no doubt warmed-up thick leather apron.  This perfume is meant to both stand on its own and act as a setting for the others, as she invites us to directly apply the above gem inspired perfumes over this golden smoke, as a base to enjoy an enhanced effect. Birch tar and metallic aldehydes and civet create an imaginary atmospheric tone that does not literally represent gold itself but the experience of the jeweler who works with it and the precious gem stones that inspired the three perfumes described above.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz continually surprises and enchants with a subtle, dimensional approach, linking perfume with themes and experiences that are rooted in both primal and cultural memories of nature and the past, synthesized to a contemporary taste that respects the gentility of complex and subtle sensations in reaction to each other.

For me the prime objective is always does the adornment flatter the wearer?  These perfumes enhance the persona and bring out the elegance and an appealing well-informed intelligence.  They are a combination of sensuality and thoughtfulness.

Please see each of the linked perfume names to go directly to the perfumer's site for more details on and complete notes, and to order samples and varied sizes as available.

Disclosure:  I received these samples directly from the perfumer and have known her for quite some time. Please use the search bar with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for several more posts about her perfumes on this site.

The Brilliant Collection

Copyright December 2014, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved