July 31, 2011
Neil Morris Fragrances – Spirit of Water, Drifting, Rainflower, Intimate Lily
Greetings from Swamplandia. We now have days when the weather is so bad for so long that I wonder if perfume can be worn at all. The city is a furnace, and still heavy air full of dampness blankets everything with heaviness. This is week a bit less bad than last, but I understand from the news I hear every day this may be the new normal. They say we are in for extreme weather going forward each and every season. I have to adjust the rhythms of my perfume wardrobe, activity schedule and style of life in general if this turns out to be the case.
Perfumes that are refreshing, graceful, and soothing are calling to me now. This is a complete switch. I am coming out of a long period of looking for the perfume version of dark glamor, in the land of the dramatic, rich and strange. Of course I still love those things but right now I want the perfume equivalent of a swim in natural sweet water, like a lake or creek shaded by big old trees with ferns on the shore. I've been walking from one patch of shade to another, or along the sundial effect of the side streets casting their shadows according to the time of day, trying to learn to move more slowly.
When perusing his site, I was looking for samples of Neil Morris Fragrances that would I know have his signature liveliness and opening strength but still express the abstract more transparent forces of better weather's softer moods. Winds, atmospheres, water in all its forms; a flower's exhaled scent-breath.
I am grateful to find the descriptions of perfumes on his site are accurate. He is precise in listing the inspiring sense memory, the mood he looks to evoke and the predominating notes. It's not all a story or a fan dance, or crazy perfume ad-copy prose.
Spirit of Water has water lily and freesia notes completely submerged in white musk, and a hint of tonka. Jasmine and poppy are a far cry of notes in the background, but they may be what gives the lively effect of moving through water to the surface of fresh air, keeping that refreshing breath in the forefront of sensation.
All the Neil Morris Fragrances have good staying power, and this one is perfect for wearing light/white clothing while running your errands in the morning before it gets even hotter.
Drifting is by contrast to Spirit of Water, less bracing and a more meditatively calm and relaxation inducing perfume. This is primarily a clean musk that lives within the realm of subtlety yet translates the sensation of heat into something decorative and ornamental.
I get nervous and a little edgy when I am uncomfortable in the heat of full sun, so this perfume with its clean calming beauty soothes me by evoking a more benevolent sunshine. The freshest part of a mandarin rind is enveloped in water lily, mediated by fig and azalea (or what I think azalea would be if it had a fragrance; exactly that).
Creamier than Spirit of Water, it's like getting inside the interior of a flower that has a warm air within its freshness. There is "solar musk", also light amber, myrtle wood and maltol. Maltol is an organic flavor enhancer, like malt, hence the name, found in the bark of larch trees and in pine needles, used to give an ethereal sweetness to fragrances.
Rainflower is distinctly floral but the bouquet is mixed and one is not more important than any other, in a symphonic chorus of floral fragrances after they've been well soaked and mixed together by rainy air. Freesia, jasmine, gardenia, hyacinth, lilac, tulip, are all well cloaked in a musk that is submerged in soft rain water with the sun breaking out, a little warmth misting the florals together. Even though this is a floral musk, the combination and balance of everything together results in a green/floral tone overall.
Above - Georgia O'Keefe, Flower
middle photo is a New England waterfall on the site for Blake Garden and Design, landscape architects. Third is a scene from the Brooklyn Flea, in the outdoor market section.
Bottom right: Louis Icart - Madame Bovary, 1929, etching.