July 22, 2011

Neil Morris Fragrances – A Rose is a Rose, Storm, Midnight Star

It is now high time to revisit the Neil Morris Perfume Vault, where he keeps his extra special ones, that go far to push the limits of what perfume is about and can do. I am also delving further into his Signature Collection.

I was introduced to this line by the inimitable Ida, aka Chayaruchama, the arch-perfumista, and it has been a true gift because his style speaks to me in ways that hit many of my favorite inner memory and fragrance chords. His poetic sensibility is a treasure and as an independent perfumer he freely expresses a full range of moods and types of beauty without worrying about anything but his own vision of aromatic beauty.

I think it could be that perfume like this that speaks to such a deep and pure level of sense memory is a meditative benefit to the mind, too. Such olfactory experiences refresh and call up the beauties of experience to the forefront of awareness.

They are a modern interpretation of the archetypal beauties of this material world. In this post we have the perfume equivalents of the freshness of roses, the softness and soothing air rain falls through, the interplay of dark and light scents rising from rich loamy earth under an clear night sky.

I have an immediate sense of excitement on first application. The allusions the perfumes emanate with their strikingly beautiful opening notes are familiar in that you recognize the themes of these olfactory poems immediately by their classical references. They are further shaped with a sense of contemporary modernity in a style that has an air of almost distanced elegance, coolness, abstraction. It’s not so much an imitation of  beautiful aromatic things themselves, as much as the mood and atmospheric feel those things give you, in that moment when you notice how happy you are, where you are.

A Rose is a Rose is a modern fresh green rose, a precise delicate and firm hit of velvet petals floating over a cool, lightly mentholated wood like cedar. It tends to take over my attention completely when taking it in directly from my skin, but still without a wide sillage. There is an almost head-space realism, and like the real thing the fragrance extends perhaps about a foot and a half away. This is one for intimate personal space, and therefore perfect for the day-to-day realities of my life, when I need perfumes that don’t invade other people’s personal spaces.

The green is of leaves and stems in a bowl of cold water, and I get a light powdery smoothness over all, which grows stronger as time goes on. This is a clean rose, strongly rosy without any sweetness whatsoever, yet deeply rose while keeping that air of refreshment on a long stem. The dry down is relatively quick, while holding close to the skin, with staying power  close to the skin itself,  drying down to a powdery softness. It lingers with the powder holding a tint of the after-thought of a rose, and the light trace of a cedar-like wood persists. This is a must for those who are rose lovers. I have no note list but am describing personal impressions.

Storm uses a musk that relates to your own skin scent and marries it to a sense of impending violet- tinged moist clouds that  hold a sense of  air warming up from the cold. This scent cloud holds the subtle, almost musical notes of early blooming flowers. There is ozone, and heavy moisture leaving the atmosphere more highly charged with refreshed fragrance. The top notes are listed as papaya and lime, leading down to hyacinth and delphinium, then tonka bean, earth and musk notes. Even though the note list includes sweet ones, somehow the sweetness registers more as cloudy, maybe because the musk and tonka hold them down to the earth notes and the ozone quality is predominant. The  musk imparts a quality of deepening beautified skin scent heightening towards the area where the perfume is applied, like the ombre shading of color on the end of petal.

Midnight Star is the third in a series of midnight fragrances. The sea, the moon, a forest and a tryst are the others in the series. This begins as an abstract, almost cold, salty ozonic musk, giving the impression of spacious distance and fullness. This is one for those who are aldehyde fans. For me personally, more than a little aldehyde has a physical effect, I get a bit lightheaded.  Even so the fragrance itself has a pure, ethereal watery beauty that dries down into a whisper of mimosa (a favorite note of mine just now) pale shades of honeysuckle, pakalana blossom (a tropical grassy-woody Chinese green violet) and linden, on a clean and white musk and sandalwood base. It ends primarily as a white musk with very soft  soprano floral tones.

I chose six samples to try ones new to me based on the site descriptions that spoke to my mood (Neil threw in the Rose, which I asked about, not seeing it on the site). This is a process I recommend, because the samples will indeed fulfill the succinct descriptions. Samples are $4 and $5 each, so if you get six you have enough for at least a month of varying olfactory pleasures and I bet a wide enough range to definitely hit the perfume-love jackpot big time. I will also mention that there is a current discount of 15% on the full sizes going on until August 19th (discount code “sizzle”), This is a major temptation, because there are a number I know I want in full size.

Rose is a Rose is available though not listed on the site, just ask for it by name on the order form. There’s not much focus on the website or marketing or self-promotion, and the packaging is kept quite simple. It’s the perfume itself which is strikingly beautiful.

The Vault fragrances are deemed to be esoteric and more for the true perfume fanatic (though I think public taste is catching up). The perfumes are now carried in some retail locations in the Boston area and in NYC at Henri Bendels and in California. I must say, if perfume is one of your pleasures and you have not yet tried these, go straight to his site online and order samples. This is perfume with a strong personality, sophistication and balance, well-married to an acutely poetic sensibility.

Visit the Neil Morris site for more information, and please visit my prior posts on Neil Morris Vault perfumes, Part 1 and Part 2.

Above red rose from Thundafunda;
Storm at Sea by Turner on Artnet;
The Pleiades Star Cluster, NASA


lostpastremembered said...

I am always transported into another world when I read your words about perfume. I wish I could close my eyes and absorb the words so all of my senses could be channeled into imagining the fragrance you describe... lovely. Can anything really smell like rain and sun-warmed skin??? Heaven

Lucy said...

Deana, they do for a moment, just as it does for a moment in real life. I will definitely put these aside for you to try next time we meet. Glad you are back, though sorry you hit this heat wave. Lying low for now til it breaks. Loved your post, talk about transporting!

Rita P said...

I too am inspired by your descriptive words when discussing perfume. It takes you into a whole new world. Love this post.