I’ve always been partial to ancient Egyptian art, and would like to see more Egyptian style incorporated into my life, so I am happy that Nenufar, is gently light and transparent and can be used in our modern humid hot summers. I expected an intense, heavy type of perfume to represent ancient Egypt, but Nenufar is built around the blue lotus flower, as a transparent green sweetness. The flower was a cultural icon in ancient Egypt, depicted everywhere in its art in delightful ways. Everyone seems to be smelling or wearing the lotus, from the animals to the people of all classes and functions, as do the gods. I found it touching that blue lotuses were found strewn over the body of the young Tutankhamen when his pyramid was first opened. David Pybus of Scents of Time speculates Cleopatra may have used its intoxicating properties and scent in her seduction of the powerful Mark Antony and Caesar.
It grew wild abundantly at that time on the Nile, and possessed well-known and thoroughly exploited intoxicating properties. The flowers were steeped in wine and caused euphoric states and visions. It was also beneficial in that it is like a more powerful version of gingko, increasing blood flow to the brain, and said to be aphrodisiac for both men and women.
Pybus worked with the perfumer Monserrat Moline of Givaudan on the concept of the blue lotus flower as an anchor, using headspace technology to help create the exact scent of the blue lotus. Personally I have never smelled it in nature, so it is not a scent I can readily recognize, but I know that the actual blue lotus is much like a water lily that floats on the surface of the water, with a glowing yellow center, and from this it seems to smell much the way it looks.
It is light and sheer, indeed hinting of the aquatic, with floral sweetness overlaid on nutmeg and a clean light musk. The notes are listed as green watery accord, nutmeg, angelica, lily of the valley, floral accord, sandalwood, musks, orris, heliotrope, almond, and patchouli.
Pyxis is based on perfume found in Pompeii, which was preserved in the ash, found in a perfumer’s atelier which was suddenly buried by the volcano. It is indeed classically Italian, which stands to reason since it was directly inspired from perfume of the classical age in Italy. For me this ideal is primarily about a concentration of classically beautiful natural materials used for personal ornamentation and pleasure. The essence of this aesthetic is the image of a young woman in a green field gracefully strewing flowers, as combining the height of human bodily perfection expressing divinity as grounded in nature. Worshiping the divine by revering nature and beauty.
Pyxis is in the family of mossy Woods, with bright top notes of bergamot, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and basil, with a touch of peach to blend it together. The heart notes are rose and jasmine, which come up strongly in the heat of the sun or skin after exertion, and therefore perfect for a warm climate or season that has periods of morning and evening coolness. The base notes are sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, amber and benzoin and the woods give the rose and jasmine that mellow roundness that supports the Mediterranean body consciousness of a human/divine animal nature. The perfumer was Michael Evans.
Perfume being one of the ancient arts, I am glad to have such choices that connect to the past yet that are still eminently wearable today. These two express primal connections to nature and moods that we can still recognize within ourselves. Wearing these can also be an expression of internally incorporated legends from the library of history.