November 26, 2010

Outlaws #4 - Natural Perfumer's Guild - A Wing and a Prayer, Tembela & Providence Perfume Co.

I know  A Wing and a Prayer  from the last Natural Perfumer's Guild project of Musk, and I still wear Tallulah B, which is both light and rich, as is this new Outlaw perfume, Notorious.  Two perfumes are not enough to say this is the line's definitive style, but what these share is a delicacy of unfolding development and subtlety of effect.  There is the citrus refreshment of the beginning, burning down to a cooled floral heart supported by my favorites, oakmoss and amber.  The oakmoss and amber lingering together have a delicate dark spiced woodiness, and the whole experience makes me think of embroidery,  of light shown up more by the dark, of scented silks fluttering in the air.  The perfumer's female inspirations were Etta Place, Lily Langtry and Isadora Duncan, individualists and therefore outlaws in their own day, when women who were not exactly as society dictated they ought to be were automatically outlaws and dangerous to know.  As these notes are, all natural outlaw ones, deemed dangerous. 
So if IFRA regulations were to be followed this perfume would not exist:  bergamot and rosewood top; rose, wild rose, lavender, violet leaf, carnation and geranium heart, oakmoss and amber base.   

Rose of Cimarron by Bellyflowers/Tambela contains  essential oils of pink pepper, black pepper, pandanus, rose absolute, wild rose absolute, jasmine absolute, labdanum, patchouli, angelica root, ambrette seed, blond tobacco and amyris.  For me, the blond tobacco is predominant, and the rose and the patchouli are thrown into relief by the pepper.  I would say this is  a perfume that could be worn by both men and women, or well-shared by a couple. Rose was famous for her loyalty and devotion to her man, running through a hail of bullets to bring him a gun to fight for his life, they were outlaws together, and they worked as a team as long as they could keep out of the hands of the law.  Hopefully natural perfumery can stay out of the hands of the law before it goes down in a hail of regulations.  Of course, as the perfumer warns on her website , be mindful of your own skin sensitivities and do skin patch tests before using any such products in quantity.  

Gypsy by the Providence Perfume Co. hearkens to the rebel child of Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmens, and her adventures with the Gypsy queen and the circus people, a precious interlude of not having to obey the rules for awhile.  This is a perfect inspiration for a perfume, because who doesn't want to experience getting away from routine and convention and such strictures for awhile?  This perfume is a pairing of a fougere theme with an amber tone, thereby breaking the rules immediately  -- the typical components of a fougere such as lavender, oakmoss, tonka and linalool, are here combined with others not typical, such as vanilla, costus, patchouli, vetiver, cardamon and galangal.  The full list is for the top: galangal, lavender, lemon, petitgrain,  cardamom;  heart: pink lotus absolute, Bulgarian lavender and green violet leaf; base: tonka, oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli, costus, and vanilla.  In total the effect is a warm softness cooled by the lavenders and citruses, so you indeed experience a fougere effect cloaked in warmth.  Wit with a sense of the luxurious.

Please continue to visit the other sites for their takes on these and the other perfumes, and giveaways:

Gaia at The Non Blonde, Donna at the, Felicia at Fragrance Belles Lettres, Carol at Waft by Carol, Ida, Mark and Monica at Ca Fleure Bon, me of course, here at  Indieperfumes, Beth at Perfume Smellin Things and Pat at Olfactarama
First, Detail of an embroidered waistcoat, French, 1800 – 25; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New … (credit: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, gift of United Piece Dye Works, 1936)
Second, Illustration by Dulac, The Princess and the Pea (story)
Third, Madeline and the Gypsies cover art

November 21, 2010

Outlaws #3 - Natural Perfumer's Guild - Lord's Jester Daphne & Artemisia's Belle Star the Bandit Queen

Both of these perfumes require a couple of moments  before they turn the corner towards their destination.  This is not uncommon in natural perfumes.

I have written of Daphne by Lord's Jester before among others in the line.  A number of "outlaw" essences it contains,  oakmoss in the base, the citruses on top,  roses, tonka and the two forms of jasmine would have to be left out if you wanted to abide by IFRA regulations. 

As we all know by now, having found reformulations of the classic perfumes not nearly what they once were, because there really isn't anything to replace oakmoss.   Rose and jasmine are among the great natural wonders of this world, and the spiced vanilla tone of tonka is a traditional perfume material.  Should we be cautious of roses and jasmine, to name the two most shocking examples of IFRA regulated perfume substances?  Have we been in danger all these thousands of years  -- have these  beauties concealed dangerous qualities?  I have noticed they can have an almost narcotic dreamy quality to their dangerous beauty - see the legend of Rose Briar depicted above (Edward Burne-Jones).

Other notes in Daphne are immortelle and magnolia at the heart and  benzoin, labdanum, pine needle, styrax and ambergris at base,  plus ginger, cypress, and tagetes (French marigold).  These have a dryness, astringency and strength that create a chypre effect, while closely married to the sweetness of vanilla and tonka.  This sweetness layers over the chypre and turns it into something like a dried apricot dipped into expresso.    I can imagine this would be good for perfuming a woolen winter jacket or scarf, because it seems to hold the dense natural distillations of the heat of summer. 

There is nothing that is not fully natural in this perfume (or the others in the Outlaw project for that matter) and in this one particularly the ratio of perfume materials in dilution seems very high.  I feel like I am inhaling something of strength.  It is tenacious, while still clinging  quietly close to the body as naturals most often do.  The site has further information and samples available.

Artemisia's outlaw is Belle Star the Bandit Queen, named in honor of a lady who went for the baddest boys of her time, in the Wild West, where they were as bad as they ever come.   An outlaw in her own right,  she eluded capture by whatever means necessary.  This perfume contains the outlaw notes of bergamot, karo-karound absolute, carnation absolute, jasmine grandiflorum absolute, and tonka.  The more law-abiding notes of red cedarwood, ginger, bois de rose, lotus concrete, rooibos and cepes absolutes, provide a little cover. 

This perfume begins astringently but shortly thereafter turns charmingly feminine with florals predominating.  Its  prettiness is mostly due to the jasmine, intensified by carnation near it, and its elegance is due to the other notes moderating and toning the jasmine.  This understated skill is intriguing, and the Artemisia site has descriptions of a number of natural perfumes that sound as thoughtfully subtle as this one.

This perfume, created specifically for the Outlaw project,  showcases the real problem natural perfumes would have if they had to do without the building blocks of a note as important as jasmine grandiflorum, for example.  Jasmine appears in the vast majority of all perfumes, and is considered the most important perfume material.  Natural perfumes especially use the complexity and beneficial aspects of the natural forms of notes such as jasmine as part of the architecture of the perfume.

Jasmine has been in the news lately, in a study about its soothing and calming qualities.  It will be ironic if true jasmine ceases to be used in perfume while scientists are attempting to intensify the effect of natural jasmine as an anti-anxiety medication.  It would be a safer alternative to the artificial chemical sedatives we have now. 

Jasmine is a perfumed hair ornament both as a flower and as an essence, and is still used in India and Bali and many other places, as it has been for many centuries.  It's hard to wrap my mind around the idea that it is something requiring official safety regulation in its use now.

Please visit the other bloggers for more  discussion of various Natural Perfumer Guild independent perfumers.  They are writing about the fragrances they have  received with a giveaway feature, and also the rest of the outlaw perfumes:
Gaia at The Non Blonde, Donna at the, Felicia at Fragrance Belles Lettres, Carol at Waft by Carol, Ida, Mark and Monica at Ca Fleure Bon, me of course, here at  Indieperfumes, Beth at Perfume Smellin Things and Pat at Olfactarama

Speaking of giveaway, the winner of the Dupetit Cannabis flacon is Lisa Ashby.  Lisa, please contact me at lraubertasatgmaildotcom with your address so we may get that out to you as soon as possible.  Congratulations! 

November 18, 2010

Outlaws - Natural Perfumer's Guild 2 Amazing, Mata Hari & Amberess

Cast Out of the Garden
For part two on the project of natural perfumers using outlaw perfume elements, here are three perfumers who have been incited to  out-do themselves, plunging into  big statements focusing primarily on  controversial elements.  Much has been written by people on both sides of the story, there is a lot of information online for those who have problems with these scent notes, so I will simply say that it's always best to know what is in your perfume and if you are someone with those kind of sensitivities, it is best to check into the note and ingredients lists online before purchasing or wearing anything.  All of the natural perfumers give detailed information about their ingredients on their sites, or would be happy to consult with anyone who has concerns.   There are no reports that I am aware of that say any of the ingredients cause serious harm even to those sensitive to them, but rather that they may cause some skin or photo sensitivity and always it would be the safest course that pregnant women and infants be most careful to avoid substances that might even only be suspected to cause irritations of any kind for anyone.  I am happy to say that I am fortunate enough that none of these outlawed notes cause me anything but joy and interest in their beauty.

JoAnne Bassett's  Amazing in EdP, is put together around one of my favorite notes, oakmoss, which has been deleted from commercial perfumes for some time now.  It's been a great loss to the integrity and beauty of the genre of chypres and therefore many classics.  Still, it's confusing because there is conflicting information about it, some say it can cause irritation in some individuals and some say it soothes irritations because it is antiseptic.  The tree resins it contains cause the reactivity, when it occurs.  I happen to have some oakmoss essential oil myself, and find it has beauty and complexity enough to stand on its own.  It does many good things in perfume composition, and one of them is the green, live, dark earth scent it fixes to the other materials beside it.  It is listed first in the notes of this perfume, implying that it is the predominant ingredient.

The list is Oakmoss, Cassie, Cinnamon, Vintage Jasmine, Lemon Verbena, Rose Otto, Muhuhu, Ginger, Yuzu, Rhododendron, Benzoin, Violet Leaf, and nineteen others.  It is like a rich loamy earth has been mixed with splinters of aromatic woods and petals of flowers and leaves and roots.  The floral and plant elements are strong enough to balance the strength of the base.  I know this perfumer from the prior Musk project, and I can see now that she is a sensualist above all, that sensuality is the priority for her perfume compositions.  They bloom out over the skin as sensations propelled by a slight burn underneath, in this case probably from the cinnamon and ginger,  that keep all the rest moving up and twirling around each other.  This is a harmonious scent with a strong oakmoss theme, which holds well to the skin.  Check the site for samples and more information.

DSH/Parfums des Beaux Arts has made a deeply feminine chypre, Mata Hari, inspired by the Greta Garbo interpretation of this legendary seductive spy from the turn of the last century.  All the ingredients are on the IFRA restrictive list, and she has written eloquently about her creative process for this perfume on her site.  Mata Hari famously gave men no choice, their will was a burden they set down before her.  One of the main qualities of this type of fascination is a hypnotic level of focus and concentration.  The kind of focus is felt with how this perfume is immediately striking and holds together tightly for all the complexity of so many notes.  Many were used to make the accords for "fantasy" notes of lilac, orchid and leather.  It has that vintage yet moderne quality of the times, interpreting the 1910s via the 1930s; both eras of serious elegance.

Here's the list from the perfumer's site, as an exercise in full labeling and information for those who are afraid of these outlaw fragrances: bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom absolute, mandarin, tarragon, sweet & blood orange, davana, tagettes, galbanum, carrot seed, black pepper, cassie flower absolute, mimosa absolute, jonquil absolute, orris butter, rose de mai absolute, damascena rose otto, sambac jasmine absolute, tuberose absolute, ylang ylang, champaca absolute, osmanthus absolute, nutmeg, cinnamon leaf, cinnamon bark, clove bud, honey absolute, angelica root absolute, ambrette seed co2, benzoin, cistus, costus root, oakmoss absolute, peru balsam, australian sandalwood, styrax absolute, tonka bean absolute, vanilla absolute, cumin, patchouli, java vetiver, buddahwood, texas cedarwood, cassis absolute, myrrh gum, tabac absolute, and cade.

Mata Hari will be available on the DSH site as a very limited edition of ten beautifully curvy flacons and 35 minis, signed and numbered by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

Anya McCoy of Anya's Garden is the organizer of this Outlaw perfumes concept, which I think is brilliant because of her own and the other perfumers' intimate and long relationship to their materials.  She does indeed garden and often uses the materials she gathers there, while closely studying perfume materials from all over the world.  She has worked with natural aroma materials for many years.  I can't even imagine how it must be to have some kind of authority figure appear and make pronouncements that have the potential to limit your access to the elements of your art form and recommend that you change the way you work.  On a  fundamental level this is a restriction of natural perfumer's sources of inspiration.  This project demonstrates what we all would be giving up if IFRA restrictions or prohibitions were to hinder independent perfumers.  As discussed in my last post below, labeling and full information to the consumer from responsible perfumers could provide tailored protection as may be required.  In any case, the independent natural perfumers are making their fragrances by hand in small fresh quantities that are not likely to end up in the hands of people unaware of what has gone into the perfume.

Ambresse is  a Floriental on the theme of Amber.  There are no top notes, in the true Oriental style, as the perfumer herself has remarked, and as a lover of the lower tones in perfume as in music I am happy to dive straight into the warmth and depths below.  The perfume begins at the heart notes held closely by the base notes:  Zambian Princesse de Nassau Rosa Moschata African musk rose otto and Musk rose absolute, Madagascan ylang ylang, South African rose geranium sur fleurs
Base notes: Indonesian patchouli, Himalayan amber oil, Turkish styrax, Greek labdanum, Peruvian tonka bean, Salvadorean balsam tolu, Balsam of Peru, Chinese benzoin, Madagascan vanilla.
(italics denote untested or prohibited/limited aromatic).   The predominant tone is a soft almost powdery amber, which when fresh begins with a touch of light smoke but then dries down from the African flowers to the smooth dry darkness of patchouli, amber and the rest.  I know that this perfumer sources the materials with great care and has a highly developed sense of the subtle differences between harvests of plants and the effects of the weather on the regions of their origin, such as vanilla and roses, as she also does when extracting the materials herself from her own garden.  Her perfumes are jewel-like in their arrangement of glorious materials most carefully selected and matched to each other. There is much more information on her site.

Please visit the other sites for further takes on these and the rest of the perfumes in the Outlaw project:

Gaia at The Non Blonde, Donna at the, Felicia at Fragrance Belles Lettres, Carol at Waft by Carol, Ida, Mark and Monica at Ca Fleure Bon, me of course, here at  Indieperfumes, Beth at Perfume Smellin Things and Pat at Olfactarama

Above, detail from Fra Angelico's Annunciation, the expulsion from the Garden of Eden is depicted in the background, two details from the Pre-Raphaelite painters Rosetti and Millais, of their woodland backgrounds, Ophelia and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, publicity photo Greta Garbo as Mata Hari, and the perfume flacon from the DSH site linked above, rose photo from Anya's Garden site, linked above.

November 14, 2010

Outlaws -- Natural Perfumer's Guild - Dupetit Cannabis

As part of a cooperative event with other perfume bloggers and the Natural Perfumers Guild, we will be discussing a selection of fine natural perfumers who use substances that have been put on IFRA's (International Fragrance Association) restricted or prohibited list because they "might" cause some form of sensitization reactions in some people.

Many of these restricted ingredients are the important, classic, exquisitely beautiful and complex irreplaceable ingredients of perfume that have been used, like rose and jasmine for example, for more than two thousand years.   Many citrus ingredients, and one of my favorites, oakmoss, integral for the classic chypre formulation (the beautiful dark earthy scent that is distinctive in a chypre)  are also on the IFRA  list of outlaw ingredients.  Because of this their use has been reduced to such small amounts in the European Union that they have lost their significant contribution to perfume composition.  Synthetic substitutes which are much cheaper and chemically much simpler are being used instead.

The independent perfumers in the Natural Perfumer's Guild do not belong to IFRA but if they are in the EU or if they wish to sell in Europe they are affected by these policies.  There has been  lobbying to get the IFRA standards passed in the U.S., which will make life very hard for the independent natural perfumers, just as they are now beginning to become more well known and popular with consumers.  If these regulations are adopted in the U.S., the natural perfumers will become outlaws, because these restricted ingredients are so important to their palette and are the main source of the special beauty of the natural perfumes they make.  Suppliers of natural essential oils will also be affected  adversely, and the availability of natural essences may shrink or become even more expensive than they are already.

The list of ingredients is long, and actually quite shocking, because most of these ingredients have been known to have beneficial effects, even if some people are affected adversely by them in some way.  It is like saying aspirin should not be used except in very minute amounts because it can be counter-indicated for certain people.  Food products like peanuts and strawberries have a strong, even lethal allergenic effect on some people,  but we use labels warning that the machinery used in food product manufacture might have had contact with them, rather than outlaw or restrict their use across the board for everyone.

Full labeling would be a reasonable way of dealing with the issues of sensitivity,  but for the EU and IFRA, the answer is to  prohibit or restrict the use of such natural essential oils and substances to such a degree as to render them ineffective in a perfume.  Of course what we are left with then are the chemical imitations, which as good as they may smell, are nothing in comparison to the real thing, and perfumers of all kinds know this.

Here follows the essential oils and absolutes that are affected by IFRA, either because they are listed directly, or because they contain listed chemicals. Including essential oils prone to oxidation, there are some 200 materials impacted by the IFRA Code of Practice. This list has been drawn up to highlight the extensive repercussions of the guidelines, not to suggest that none of the listed oils should be in any way restricted.*

(I have emphasized my personal favorites):

Ambrette seed oil, Angelica root oil, Bakul absolute, Basil absolute, Basil oil (estragole CT), Basil oil holy) Basil oil (linalool CT), Bay oil (West Indian), Bergamot leaf oil, Bergamot peel oil (distilled), Betel leaf oil, Birch tar oil, Black tea tree oil, Boldo leaf oil, Broom absolute, Cabreuva oil, Cade oil, Calamus oil, Cananga oil, Cangerana oil, Cardamon oil, Carnation absolute, Carrot seed oil, Cascarilla oil, Cassia oil, Cassie absolute, Cinnamon bark oil,  Cinnamon leaf oil, Cistus oil, Citronella oil, Clary sage oil, Clove oil, Costus oil, Cumin oil, Davana oil, Elecampane oil, Elemi oil, Fenugreek oil, Fig leaf absolute, Galangal oil, Geranium oil, Ginger oil, Ginger lily absolute, Grapefruit peel oil, Ho leaf oil, Honey myrtle oil, Horseradish oil, Horsemint oil, Huon pine oil, Hyssop oil, Jasmine grandiflorum absolute, Jasmine sambac absolute, Karo karoundĂ© absolute, Laurel leaf oil, Lemon balm oil (Australian), Lemongrass oil,
Lemon basil oil,
Lemon leaf oil, Lemon myrtle oil, Lemon tea tree oil, Lemon peel oils, Lemon thyme oil, Lemon verbena oil, Lemon verbena absolute, Lime peel oil (expressed), Lovage leaf oil, Mace oil, Mandarin leaf oil, Marjoram oil (sweet)
Massoia bark oil, May chang oil, Melissa oil, Mustard oil, Myrtle oil, Narcissus absolute, Nasturtium absolute, Nutmeg oil, Oakmoss absolute, Opoponax oil,
Orange blossom oil, Orange blossom absolute,
Orange leaf oil, Orange peel oil (bitter), Orange peel oil (sweet), Oregano oil, Palmarosa oil, Peppermint oil
Perilla oil, Peru balsam oil, Phoebe oil,  Pimento berry oil, Pimento leaf oil
Pteronia oil, Rose absolute, Rose oil, Rue oil, Sandalwood oil (Australian),
Santolina oil, Sassafras oil, Savin oil, Savory oil (winter), Snakeroot oil, Spearmint oil
Spike lavender oil, Styrax oil,
Sugandha oil,  Taget oil,  Taget absolute
Tarragon oil, Tea leaf absolute, Tejpat oil, Thyme oil (thymol CT), Tolu balsam extract
Treemoss absolute, Tuberose absolute,
Vassoura oil, Violet leaf absolute, Wormseed oil
Ylang‐ylang absolute, Ylang‐ylang oils

Essential oils containing “substantial amounts” of limonene or linalool should have antioxidants added to them. IFRA does not define “substantial amounts”, but adding essential oils containing 20% or more of either or both constituents to this list would grow it by 50‐60 further essential oils. Essential oils derived from the Pinacea family should also have antioxidants added to them. This would include a further 25 or so essential oils

*Source: IFRA/EU Boycott Primer 2007

Dupetit Cannabis EdT features what is probably the most outlaw natural scent of them all.  There have been  number of perfumes with this note recently, it is one that combines well with rose and sandalwood, as in Fresh Cannabis Rose and Fresh Cannabis SantalThe Dupetit Cannabis EdT is composed of the  true hemp flower absolute with strong top notes of Tskana neroli and petitgrain from Grasse which give it a beautifully sparkling citrus quality.  The cannabis effect is more in the fond and body than in the top notes.  Other notes in the composition are basil, bay, bergamot, birch tar, citronella, clove, geranium, ginger, grapefruit peel, jasmine sambac absolute, lemon peel, lemon verbena, lime peel, mace, nutmeg, orange blossom absolute, orange leaf, bitter orange peel, peppermint, rose absolute, rue, thyme and tolu balsam extract (see above list, many of these are on it).

This combination of so many citrus notes of all types, combined with the green jasmine sambac and the herbs, contribute to the overall sense of an almost effervescent energetic uplifting effect, unexpected in a cannabis themed product.  This is not an indolent, relaxing perfume, but an uplifting, energizing one that is smoothed by the cannabis absolute which holds the citrus notes for a long-lasting and intensified effect. Overall it seems related to a true Cologne or Acqua Admirabilis type, and I can see this as a strong masculine tho wearable as a feminine fragrance too.  The anchoring cannabis absolute is made from the flower rather than the leaves so it allows more modification by the herbal notes and the rose absolute while still retaining the characteristic sharp tang.  Brisk and clean, the scent does not smell like you've been getting high, but the qualities of the cannabis note have been thoughtfully used to both fix the citrus uplift and impart a unique kick of its own. The lasting power is quite long for a pure natural.   Those who would like to try it can leave a comment and I will draw at the end of the week so that the outlawed perfumer, Alfredo Dupetit-Bernardi, may directly send one of you a 5 ml give-away.  The site has this and other selections.

Please visit the other bloggers in this discussion of various Natural Perfumer Guild independent perfumers who are writing about the fragrances they have  received with a giveaway feature, and also the rest of the outlaw perfumes:
Gaia at The Non Blonde, Donna at the, Felicia at Fragrance Belles Lettres, Carol at Waft by Carol, Ida, Mark and Monica at Ca Fleure Bon, me of course, here at  Indieperfumes, Beth at Perfume Smellin Things and Pat at Olfactarama

As with the natural perfumers' Musk Project, I expect to get eight more interesting and beautiful natural perfumes, using the outlawed classic materials listed above, and will be discussing them here in my next posts.

Above photo of female cannabis flowers from Wikipedia, taken by Banana Patrol;
Above detail of a painting with what looks to me to be a poppy bud and the reverse of a carnation, (on the list) from a still-life of flowers by Willem van Aelst 

November 11, 2010

Fragrant Gift Guide

This is the time of year for gift giving, and here are a selection of things that both perfume fanatics and those who just appreciate fragrances would be glad to have, deliberately selected to meet a price range that does not break the bank.  It is amazing how much of incredible quality there is available at affordable prices. 

Natural essences, from a reputable company can be a wonderful gift.  I like Eden Botanicals, and Liberty Naturals. 

Liberty has a selection of attars from Eygpt and rose otto from different parts of the world. There are also a beautiful list of floral and herbal concretes.  These materials are sold by size, so $25 -$50 will buy you a substantial amount.
Eden Botanicals:  Amber Essence $13 or $20 in an Eygptian glass flacon - A deep and rich amber accord resin in oil that is smooth and soothing on its own and also good as using as a fixative to make other perfumes last longer.   Eden is a high quality essential oil company.  They make essential oil accords, and this Amber one is made in California from amber resins they obtain from Northern India.  It is composed of styrax, labdanum and other proprietary ingredients fully described on their interesting site.

Sample packs ordered online from artisan indieperfumers are a great way to introduce someone to a line, or to get new releases for those who know and love perfume line already.  Many unusual and beautiful perfumes are not otherwise readily available at retail, and the quality of the perfume and the thoughtfulness of the packaging is always top notch.  Most come in sets of individual tiny containers plenty enough for several wearings, and in sets of six to eight or so are enough to last more than a couple of months of multiple wearings.

Ayala Moriel - pure, organic, all natural, 6 samples  $40 - there is an intriguing long list to check off to choose which fragrance you would like to try.
My sample set was recently described in my post just before this one. I chose Rainforest, Lovender, Schizm, Roses et Chocolat, Fetish and Yasmin.  Check the site for minis and roll-ons and body products, teas and chocolates for $65 and under.  Beautifully made with the finest ingredients all by hand.

Soivohle' by Liz Zorn - there are areas of the site with pull down menus that allow you to order individual scents in smaller sizes, both naturals and mixed media  ($14, $17 and $50).   LZ makes special and limited editions, so when they are gone they are gone - get them while you can.  It's about time for me to get a new set of samples,  the ones I know are no longer on the site (I loved Writing Lyrical Poetry).  There is also an extensive list of accords for layering, such as Green Tea and Green Leaf and Persian Lilac and Natural Cedar from $15 to $25,  which sound divine.  P.S.  I hear WLP and some of the others I know will be back in the Spring -- appropriately in time for lyrical poetry, with a new jasmine accord.  Good news.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz  is very creative and has many different areas of interest in perfume.  She has a special affinity to scents from history, recreating them from the recipes come down to us from the great perfumers of the past.  There is wonderful array of sample packs that highlight each of her areas of interest ranging from $15 and up.  My especial favorite is the Perfumed Court Collection; fragrance from 17th Century Versailles - the sampler of ten ($65), which I wrote about over two posts, that are re-creations based on the courts of Louis XIV, XV and XVI, and include the perfumes worn by personalities like Marie Antoinette, Mme. de Pompadour, and Mme. du Barry.  They are exquisite,  and come in day and night versions for these legendary personas, whose personal taste come through clearly.  DSH also presents her limited editions and modern perfumes in this sample pack form, and each sampler pack comes with a written explanation of the notes and the concept of the perfume.  Miniature charm perfumes are $60 and each come in a pretty and unique little flacon.

Anya's Garden offers and 8 sample set for $55.  These completely natural hand made perfumes have many unique elements that Anya fabricates herself from her Florida tropical garden.  The bases are deep and rich, and even the packaging is made of thick biodegradable paper seeded with wildflowers, so you can tear it up and plant it for the Spring.  I love Pan the most, which is unisex, outdoorsy, aromatic, herbal, resinous and sunny.  3.5 ml is $60, which seems like an incredible good deal for something made with the best materials by the hand of one of the most knowledgeable natural perfumers on earth.

Roxana Illuminated Perfumes  are scents based on mythic illustrations and narratives, made of completely botanical local ingredients, with their beneficial qualities kept firmly in mind and beautifully presented - there are sample sets of various configurations on the Etsy site, ($25 and up) and I can say a gift of solid beeswax perfumes such as Vera, which is a lavender, wonderful to apply on the temples for fatigue and stress, or Q, ($65) based on oak leaves, (both could be for men and women) are the kind of perfumes that are unusually subtle and complex as only natural substances can be.  The presentation is gorgeous, the solids are in silver colored compacts in hand crocheted cotton pouches.  There are also antique finish lockets to contain the solid perfumes ($45).  I have written about Roxana's perfumes a number of times but most recently here.  Her perfumes represent a way of life as well as an aesthetic experience.

For the young at heart Cherry Bomb Killer perfume brings sweetness strengthened with depth to a portable format,  and I especially like the solids with a very subtle sheer iridescent sheen ($35).  The liquids come in heart shaped bottles with key-chain tops to be worn around the neck or dangling from anywhere.  I have written more here about the perfumes, Truth or Dare and Rebel Angel.  The collaborators Aroma M and Alexis both have beautifully packaged perfumes under their own names, a selection of Aroma M roll-on oil based Geisha perfumes are $50, and also sample sets.  Scent by Alexis has a very special presentation with hand gilding of her hand made flacons.

Herbal Alchemy has recently ventured into mixing scented cocktails lately, and offers her infusion materials diluted to the proper strength.  Her site has detailed directions on scenting and infusing vodka and creating cocktails, and I know because I have tried them,  that these natural essence dilutions make them fragrantly delicious and something really special.   Jasmine, Coriander, Clove, Labdanum, and others, $10 each.  Throw in the bottle of vodka and you're golden.

Aftelier is for me and many others the gold standard of natural perfumes.  The psychological and the material aspects of the natural substances are honored and thoughtfully noted in each of the fragrances.  There are samples of everything on the site, $4 -$6 each, so if you put something together for as little as $24 you will be giving  something truly memorable.  Also, most all the perfumes come in miniatures for $35-$45, and they are dense and rich enough and there is enough  of them to get you well and truly hooked.  I personally love the Cepes et Tuberose, Shiso Perfume, and Fig Perfume.  There are chef's absolutes at $15 and up which would be a gorgeous gift for a serious foodie.  The perfumer's absolutes are incredible quality, the fir is so very much the soul of this evergreen --  I can't imagine anything more appropriate for the winter season ($14).  The face body and bath section has an array of exquisite quality treatments fragranced with the finest natural materials for $35 to $45.  There is fragranced oolong tea for $20-$25.  The site is a wealth of gift ideas, so many so surprisingly affordable.

Of course I have tons of  other suggestions, all under $50 -- some of which are:  books on perfume, especially Mandy Aftel's Essence and Alchemy, in the hardcover version, The Guide by Turin and Sanchez, updated version, Robertet's Aromatherapy, Ackerman's The Natural History of the Senses, Penhaligon's Xmas boxes, Lush Lemon Butter & Salt Scrub, MCMC Humanity Perfume, 100% of the purchase price goes to charity, Cannabis Rose by Fresh in any form, Fracas body lotion, Lord's Jester solid perfumes, Wing and a Prayer Tallulah B, and CB I Hate Perfume Dandelion.  I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, I believe gift giving is one of the nicest aspects of the winter season upon us.

Here are the other sites participating in  gift suggestions -- please visit them because they each have their own special sensibility and they are sure to have suggestions that will be unique and beautiful. So dear readers, do consider spreading the bounty of beautiful independent perfumery around this holiday season: