July 11, 2010

Natural Perfumers Guild Musk Project – Part 4

We are at the end of a period of time I think of as the festival of musk, so I have put together the following perfume notes as a group.

As noted before, natural perfumes tend to hold very close to the body, and have an ephemeral nature. You experience them at first with curiosity, and then familiarity because they harken so much to our real life experience of nature and the body. They are fleeting, very much like our thoughts and moods. You can always re-apply, and you can also re-frame your sensitivity around the subtleties that quietly linger in a whisper. It is a calming and peaceful pace, making a private space for beauty and a gentle, personal concentration on it.

DSH Musk Eau Natural perfume’s composition is an Art Deco inspired, elegant and sophisticated interpretation of the musk theme, in keeping with the aesthetic that DSH carries through in a line of perfumes (Beaux Arts) of which this in now a part. It is an abstract Chypre, an aromatic feminine and masculine (but not unisex) perfume, which would carry a very different message on each sex. On a woman I would find it mysterious and sophisticated, on a man I would find it earthy and at the same time intellectual, and on both like a smoky amber cognac with an immediate opening of beauty that carries straight through to the transparent clean skin of a musk dry down. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is one of my favorite perfumers and I have written about her before a number of times.

Strange Invisible Perfumes has a well-known, well-developed, interesting and distinctive aesthetic, which to me speaks of a combination of opposites in this perfume Temple of Musk. The black currant and myrtle, the vanilla and mandarin, oppose and combine to pull back and forth in such a way as to bloom forth into a deep earthy muskiness. The result is indeed strange in the sense of different because the earthiness is arrived at by such unusual means and the element of myrtle is new to most of us. It goes very quiet after a short introduction by the mandarin and currant of the smooth vanilla and follows into the resinous quality of the myrtle. I find this perfume is best experienced very closely and would be one that you might apply to your face in order to get the full effect from beginning to end of the precious wild crafted materials.

Artemisia’s Drifting Sparks dries down quickly to an appealing dirty sweetness and dusty, sultry woods. It contains a classic floral center that imparts sweetness to an earthy atmosphere. These florals are in the form of absolutes, which are dark concentrated herbal forms, very tenacious in the summer humidity. It also contains the unfamiliar note of nyctanthes abortistus tree blossoms from India. This scent reminds me of a big old tree with a dense and textured bark, dark green thick summer leaves giving black shade, blossoms scenting the air wafting through the full branches, exactly that kind of subtle but interesting force of nature. There is more than the usual staying power in this natural perfume.

Verdigris by Bellyflowers has a lovely structure that includes fir balsam (the evergreen notes I often long for) with lavender absolute and clary sage in mid notes that cool a warm base headed by patchouli, ambergris, and labdanum absolute, plus something new to me called African stone tincture and benzoin. These are strong notes in themselves, combined into a tenacious balsamic musky flavor, with a strong green top. This one too can also be seen as a masculine/feminine perfume, without the dreaded unisex implication. The pairing of a green with a musk base is uncommon. I personally find it very satisfying, and often wished for a dark forest scent combined with an earthy but sheer musk. This one dries down to a clean earthiness, which seems like a contradiction but is not; especially today after a rainstorm that followed many hot days and the thirsty trees suddenly gave out green scented air above their moistened earth.

Perfume by Nature’s Craving has a hazelnut, caramel, dark chocolate beginning, toned by vetiver and sandalwood, equally. Incense notes give a tang that is reminiscent of what pepper does to chocolate, and the hay/wood tomes become more prominent as the base notes take over. Vetiver and chocolate with the other gourmand notes are what create the dark and rich musk. Personally, for me this combination creates an effect of toasted almond /strong black coffee, which then gives rise to the impression of moist tanned skin. In my opinion this would be a perfect scent for a young man, and grounding for a strong woman with an exuberant, outgoing personality, or perhaps to be shared by a couple who has a taste for natural, organic aromatics and love gourmand notes.

Musk Nouveau by Providence Perfume Co. gives an impression of brightness within the musk. It is made for both men and women, and uses boozy sherry and pepper notes to uplift the aged patchouli and oud as tempered by angelica. The floral center of champaca, night blooming jasmine and coffee balance their narcotic aspects with the coffee lift. Of course the smell of coffee just works that energizing way, regardless that in itself coffee has a thick, rich scent. The jasmine and champaca have the strength to linger and impart their bright vivid quality to the musk.

There is a huge range of creativity and fresh ideas within the world of modern natural perfumery. There are now so many talented artisan perfumers working, and happily many here in the U.S., using naturals toward a full expression and development of their own personal aesthetic styles, entirely through an intimate understanding and respect for natural materials. Their art encourages a refinement and recalibration of the sense of smell toward a more contemplative, intimate and personal sense of fragrant beauty. It has been a pleasure to go on this journey into a world of unique modern creative energy fed by respect for the magic of Nature itself. I know there will be much more to come that will further delightfully surprise and refine sensibilities.

Above paperbark acacia detail, from the Arizona Arboretum

Scroll below for my first three posts on this topic, and this list of the other participating sites:
I Smell Therefore I Am
Perfume Shrine
The Non Blonde
Bitter Grace Notes
First Nerve
Olfactory Rescue Service
Grain de Musc


Josephine said...

Lovely post with great information! Have you changed your blog format? The colors and spacing make it very reader friendly - nice!

Lucy said...

Thanks J, no I haven't changed it, but started putting in more para. breaks, that might be it...