January 13, 2011

Providence Perfume Co.- Osmanthus Oolong, Musk Nouveau, Ginger Lily

Providence Perfume Co. was kind enough to send me a small box of assorted samples, which I have been enjoying for the past week or so.  This is a well presented, completely hand made, fully natural perfume line, created by  Charna Ethier, a native New Englander, whose story I find inspiring.  I love when people just go ahead and do something when most would first seek validation or "permission"  from the taste-makers that be.  A number of natural perfumers are now trusting in their personal sensibilities,  with well developed ideas about what they want to do, and they make what they would like to see in the real world that wasn't there before,  and then find a way to get it out to the rest of us.  Charna, by study and respect for nature,  and instinctively drawn to the tradition of artisan made products of luxurious quality, has developed a unique style as a perfumer, grounded in the style and history of New England. 

All of the perfumes are immediately appealing straight out of the gate,  and have a strong undertow for me of a gourmand, consumable nature.   

Osmanthus Oolong has the fruity floral apricot tone of a delicate flower often used as an additive for tea, but in this perfume these effects are magnified so that the sweetness in the flower is most dominant while a deep astringent black tea is the background that heightens the brightness of the floral effect.   As it wears the floral becomes more ethereal and almost celestial in tone, alternately quiet and then rising up around the skin to reach my awareness from time to time as clear as a bell.  I find myself being surprised by wafts of it, like being visited by the spirit of the flower.  The notes as listed on the site are a variety of teas and gold Japanese osmanthus flower with sueded apricot leathers and a touch of powder. 

Musk Nouveau is an Art Deco style chypre composed of angelica, aged patchouli, oud, gold champaca,  coffee, sherry and black pepper.   This dark and astringent configuration results in the effect of something like a wad of never lit moist tobacco in a fine wool breast pocket, beside a very sheerly floral-scented scarf.  It was designed for both men and women.  The theme is carried out in the way the elements fit together in an orderly ascending progression/configuration, as art deco style often unfolds.  I can see the 20s era couples with their cigarette holders having a drink, their breath and clothing infusing the atmosphere around them, with a perfume like this rendering all the luxury vices that much more aromatic.

Ginger Lily is a sheer touch of gardenia like fragrance, with the ginger aspect tempered by bitter orange, all resting lightly on an amber base with mango, cloves and ylang ylang.  The zesty ginger and amber cloves are predominant, so that the spiciness makes this both a feminine and masculine that works well in winter since it has the warmth to carry a sheer floral into a cold atmosphere. 

As a trio they could also be layered, not on top of each other but rather beside or on different areas such as the neck and arms. Especially the Musk Nouveau as a chypre contrasting and well balanced by Ginger Lily as complementary.

I like that it comes in a variety of size/price ranges from $25 to $68 to $110, and that there are well thought out sample sets available to try the range at reasonable cost.

The Providence location of the company speaks to me personally, because I recall a couple of summers spent there at the end of my high school years, with friends who had rented one of the magnificent British Colonial houses which at that time were within our limited financially pooled reach.  The hilly streets were full of complicated domestic architecture, and I enjoyed the old gardens and details of many British Indian colonial porches.  These perfumes remind me also of the New England Far Eastern trade connection, and that this and other older port cities of the area made their first fortunes bringing back teas and spices and other consumables to the American market.

Above illustrations:
 Chinese stamps depicting osthmanthus fragrans

Ginger Lily from Floridata, who offers the image as a free wallpaper for your computer.

Self Portrait in the Green Bugatti (1925) by Tamara de Lempicka. Oil on Wood. Private Collection
see link for interesting story on this era and artist.


Carrie Meredith said...

Wow, I really love the sound of Musk Nouveau, and it's going on my "to try" list. I understand (and share) your appreciation of the "new guard" of natural perfumers creating art for art's sake, it's very refreshing to me.

Lucy said...

Carrie, yes, the list expands! Good thing there is a nice sample program. This one is a modern moderne, if you know what I mean.

So true, it's almost a home grown version of the aesthetic movement in the present day.

Anya said...

Isn't Charna a wonderful perfumer? And an Outlaw to boot!

Lucy said...

Yes Anya, that is how I got to know of her, via the Guild events...and others of great interest too

Marina Geigert said...

I was just smelling them the other day and enjoying them a lot. Osmanthus was a stand out for me along with Indolice. Cacao Tuberose was a delight too. :)

Lucy said...


Those are lovely. It's a distinctive aromatic style that permits layering or moving smoothly from one to another. I get that strong comestible aspect in each. Flavors.

Scent Hive said...

I fell hard for Osmanthus Oolong as well Lucy. There's something really rich and soothing about it.


Charna said...

Thank you Lucy for your beautiful comments regarding my perfumes! Your support of indie perfumery is remarkable. Thank you.

Lucy said...

Charna, thanks for stopping by. It's so interesting to me how you incorporate the local aesthetic and history into what you do, expressing it through the sense of smell.