April 21, 2008

Red Flower

At the Red Flower presentation at the Sniffa at Blue Mercury there were samples of the three certified organic fragrances, which I was very pleasantly surprised by. I usually do not have very high expectations of a perfume created under such strict and limited constraints. These do have a distinctive and very different tone than most other perfumes, but they do the work of a true perfume in that they have, for me, a transporting effect, connecting to the scents of the outdoors, the freshness and depth of a walk in the woods, and the spices and floral scents which combine together in an enhanced and expansive way. The three are called Ambrette, Champa and Guaiac, as based on their dominant notes. They are combined with other ingredients that enhance the dominant one, and some that come from the native plant materials of Brazil and India. These ingredients are unusual in fine perfumery, and generally used for other more utilitarian purposes. Red Flower is being very creative, I think, to use such ingredients to create a perfume that is affordable but also complex and satisfying.
The weather coincidentally was much warmer for a time, just as I was trying them, and these are three scents that work well in that kind of sunny warmth. They come in a roll-on oil and also as an alcohol based spray. The perfume oil combines well with the tone of a light perspiration you can get just walking around in the warmer weather outside. The Guaiac in particular has a freshness which combines with the pink grapefruit to be subtle but uplifting and refreshing for warm weather. All three hold close to the skin, as oils do, and I personally was most drawn to the Ambrette, mixed with rose absolute, bitter orange, orange flower, frankincense, black pepper and geranium. It seemed for me to result in a geranium leaf scent very much mellowed by all those other ingredients and lifted by a subtle sweetness of the floral. Red Flower offers all three in a steel ball bearing roll-on, in a perfume oil for $48, and a very well made flacon that is the concentrated alcohol spray version, for $185.
The store on 13 Prince Street is warm without the hard sell or "exclusive" atmosphere of many fragrance environments, and the sales assistant was very gracious inviting me and my friend to try from among many of the products they offer in a relaxed way. They have a full body treatment and bath line, as well as hair products, including scented honey based moisturizers and shampoos and Japanese and Middle Eastern style beauty treatments that are used in Soho spas nearby. The perfumer Yael Alkalay has drawn on her Shephardic heritage to create products that give the benefits of the Hamman bathhouse practices of the Middle East, as filtered through her family's long history in South America and the strength of nature and the aromatic materials there. The basic cultural influence is like the Moorish aspects of old Spain combined with the traditional life of the Shephardic community crossed with the wild nature of Brazil. There is a strong poetic streak to her expression of the peace of nature's beauty as a gift to be enjoyed in the bath and to be worn in aromatic scents that are so close to the natural strength in which they occur in the trees and plants. It is well worth a visit to the store on Prince Street, and the products are also available at Blue Mercury and elsewhere (see their website www.redflower.com)
Above an atomizer of the alcohol based version of Champa.

5 comments:

Karen A said...

Welcome back, Lucy! I just love reading your perspective on perfume. It's intelligent, without being condescending - a truly unique presentation. I'm so glad you're sharing your thoughts with us all again!

We're still having a hard time getting your blog feed, so I'm posting it manually on Sniffapalooza. I don't want anyone to miss out on your writings!

xo

chayaruchama said...

Agreed, and agreed.

What a delightful soul she is- it's a pleasure to give one's dosh to someone like her.
It feels so right....

I always love your insights.

Lucy said...

Thanks so much, Karen and Chaya --

I think we have similar predilections for the earthy and the down to earth...

Anonymous said...

I have the Champa roll-on but it's turned a milky white in the middle for some reason -- does anyone know if this is normal for a perfume oil? I bought the oil about a month ago.

Lucy said...

Hi Anon -- I have not had that happen but wonder if there have been temperature extremes from hot to cold for the oil, somehow. I would call them on the phone and explain what has happened and ask them. They ought to know, if that is a problem, so they can deal with it...