August 7, 2011

Haute Claire by Aftelier & Sharif by La Via del Profumo - With a Special Double Giveaway

Two exceptionally beautiful new fragrances from two unique natural perfumers, Mandy Aftel and Dominique Dubrana, have something in common, to my mind, distinctive as they both are. Both have kept a connection with the wildness that emanates from certain strong natural materials identified with the ancient Middle Eastern perfume traditions. Both imprint this reference with a distinctively contemporary sensibility. They both use twists and turns in the perfume's development and both keep a surprising sense of sheerness within that strength that allows your own bodily presence to be a part of the experience.

I am holding a giveaway of both perfumes together at one time, so that the lucky winner can get a physical understanding of the perfume experience I am trying to describe. I think experiencing one after the other in close proximity is a unique and beautiful perfume experience and I wonder if you will see the stylistic connections that I do. I was so struck that both used such powerful materials and yet keep a sense of transparency and space so that the wearer is still an actor in the play.

Both have immediately strong openings that seem to open with the base rather than the top notes.

I see them both as powerful liquid substances that enhance both the spiritual and sensual animal side of our nature. This treatment combines the two as one; quite a lovely concept well suited for the medium of perfume.

I like the idea of our animal nature being drawn to choose a distinctive scent to mark and transmit information about us to those who come intimately near.

Both are fully appropriate for men and women, but I believe they would give different signals on each. In my opinion, on a man, they would impart the power, refinement and sophisticated elegance of a high stepping thoroughbred horse. On a woman I believe the impression of strength, competence and the sensuality of a relaxed lioness. On both men and women, an earthy connection to our animal nature in its best sense.  These enlivening substances emanate a spirit of confidence and energy.

Haute Claire notes are listed as galbanum, Mexican lime, wild sweet orange, ylang ylang CO2, honeysuckle absolute, clary sage, ylang ylang extra, ethyl phenyl acetate, vetiver, and vanilla absolute.

For me, the galbanum, citrus, clary sage and vanilla are the most distinctive notes. The natural strength of the galbanum is mediated by the citrus that is perhaps what opens the window to the air and space. The vanilla and both forms of ylang ylang soften and smooth and link the perfume closely to your own skin tone. I love clary sage, which is too rarely used in perfume, and find it gives a high-energy heartening green tone. Haute Claire the name references the most important sword in the Song of Roland, which makes sense to me since it resembles the medieval French style as it was so much influenced by contact with the Arabian tradition.

Haute Claire is a marriage of opposites, it is bright as a floral citrus yet deep as leather. It holds together both of these two sides equally and that is what is most unusual about it. You are never going to miss the galbanum/vetiver for a moment through the entire development of the perfume but it is in dialogue with the other lighter heady elements, and a green tone suffuses everything, while enhancing your own skin tone with a vanilla reference. The Middle Eastern perfume tradition is in the galbanum and vetiver and the contemporary air is in the citrus and vanilla; the wild card is the clary sage. This style is a continuation of other perfumes I love from the Aftelier line such as Cepes and Tuberose, also bright and dark, the earthiness and headiness as one, contrasting and enhancing each other.

Sharif  by La Via del Profumo has a romantic air.  Composed with the traditional deep almond-amber and leather accords, and also the balsam and woods of the legendary Arabian caravan perfume materials that are so powerful they seem to stain the skin with ornamental warmth. There is even a whisper of civet  to reference the caravans of animals that carried the precious aromatic materials across the deserts along the old trade routes.  This perfume was inspired by and uses the materials associated for centuries with Arabian nobility.  The word Sharif means "nobleman" in Arabic.  In this case the perfumer wanted to reference the natural nobility of a soulful character,  and make this type of perfume beauty available to those whose natural confidence would be enhanced as translated through a perfume expression of this manner of being.

Even with these powerful elements, there is a refined sense of holding back their full strength while clearly referencing their depth, so as not to overpower the modern wearer. The wearer’s skin and persona are integral to the perfume.  I get a breath of the energy of camphor too.  Those who recall that other exquisite beauty, Balsamo Dell Mecca, will know what I mean by the strength inherent in this style of perfume, but while Sharif belongs in this perfume family it is far more open and spacious, energizing and wearable on a daily basis.  It is a modern interpretation of the Arabian style that uses the wearer's skin as a base and element in the perfume experience.

Both are fully natural perfumes, independently and completely hand made with care and respect for the natural power of the materials.  Anyone who does not know these perfumers already but is a fan of the darker ones in the Serge Lutens line, or has an affinity for the Amouage line will, I believe, appreciate these perfumes fully.

Please enter by commenting for a chance to win generous sample sizes of both of these perfumes. I will send Sharif, and Aftelier will ship Haute Claire directly to the winner from the studio in California.  They are 10ml and 5 ml respectively.  The winner will be announced on August 19th.  If you wish to share a few thoughts on your experience of natural hand-made perfumes, it would be lovely.

All  samples and giveaways have been generously provided by the perfumers.  I will be doing another draw in the Fall (September)  for a gorgeous full bottle of Sharif, so if you don't win this time, do not despair, you will have another chance.

Above illustration in the spirit of the perfumes: The Bahari Lacquer Book cover, Persian, approximately 1575, Tabriz;
follow the link for more information on this beautiful Persian miniature.
Follow the links above for more information on the perfumers and purchase information.

MICHAEL SINGELS, as they say, the hat has spoken, and it is you!  Please contact me at once at indieperfumes at gmail dot com with your address, you have WON!  

43 comments:

dabney said...

Lusciously written Lucy!! My head is spinning...OF COURSE I want to try these!!!!!

Gary W. Bourbonais said...

Mandy Aftel and Dominique Dubrana.....AT THE SAME TIME!

Would have to be a delight for any Natural Perfumer on the Planet to experience...!

Lucy said...

Dabney, I wanted to do something different and a giveaway of both together would I thought bring more attention to each one too. They are both luxurious in the exterme.

Lucy said...

Gary, yes I know, it will be quite the thing for the winner, I am so fortunate to have them both here right now. Good luck on the draw.

Chris said...

They sound amazing! I would love the opportunity to experience both.

Michael Singels said...

I would love to be entered in this draw! How exciting to have the chance to try both side by side.

I have fallen in love with natural perfumes, letting the synthetics I still had sit around collect dust.

They are so enjoyable, transforming and developing on the skin, unfolding to reveal new scents and layers to them.

I have some samples from both Mandy and Dominique and they are both masters of the art of Natural Perfumery!

Thanks so much!
Michael

lostpastremembered said...

Lucy, you could make mud sound good... oh what you do with perfumes... I can nearly smell them!!! Both of them are right up my alley with all the oriental influences... I hope to smell them one of these days!

Ozzie said...

I so wish to try these. :) Aftel is a genius, and I've been wanted to sample Dubrana's fragrances for some time....

elizabeth said...

Ooh, I would love to try both of these! Both Mandy and Dominique are true artists. Thanks for the drawing!

Marge said...

they sound amazing...both of them. Your descriptions are wonderful..thank you!

Irina said...

please, enter me the draw
beside their inherent beauty there is the intelectual challenge of comparison- thank you

Taffy said...

I've been avidly reading about both fragrances, so it was so wonderful that you are providing the two in a draw. My experiences with natural fragrances are fairly recent; the sheer loveliness leaves me with wanting to learn more.

civava said...

I don't have much experience with natural perfumes except of some of Gorrila Perfume. But would be glad to test some new.

Isa said...

I have tried few natural perfumes, and I don't like them all. Haute Claire is too strong in the opening, but the drydown is wonderful, with a sweet vetiver note.

I would love to try Sharif, so please enter me in the draw :) Thank you!

flavourfanatic said...

I have tried a few of Mandys creations and I love them. I think it's amazing with natural perfumes how they differ from person to person, it's like different notes light up on each individuals skin.

I'd love to be included in the draw for both perfumes, thanks!

Lucy said...

Glad you all have commented and entered.
Lost Past, it helps when it isn't mud, that's for sure! Yes you must try.
Elizabeth, Marge, Irina, these two are true beauties and right up the alley of anyone who love natural perfumes
Isa, interesting, I loved the strong opening, myself, Sharif also has a strong opening. I had it on in the train last night and couldn't believe how warm and present it was, it civilized the experience.
FF - yes they do differ, but I sometimes think even more from the psychology of the experience depending on the wearer...

Lucy said...

Michael, Ozzie, Taffy, good luck in the draw!

I suggest you all go over to Octavian's site and read his review of Sharif, it is spellbinding and perfectly accurate...

anotherperfumeblog said...

I am still so new to perfume love and to natural perfumes in particular, it would be a treat to compare two naturals side by side. Thanks for the lovely review and generous draw. I would like to be entered!

Cymbaline said...

I own one perfume from each of these perfumers (Shiso and Mecca Balsam) and love them both. It would be wonderful to be able to try Haute Claire and Sharif. Thank you for the interesting review and for hosting this draw. I'd love to be entered!

Juliana said...

I absolutely love Mecca Balsam, but would love to try an open, more spacious sibling (love the phrasing!) I have never tried any of Mandy's perfumes so this would be a great opportunity. I love natural perfumes and now that I have found then, there is no going back to the weird synthetic perfumes on the market.

mandy said...

Thank you Lucy, I love the way you think and write! You weave together a rich fabric of research and references that is beautiful to behold. I feel fortunate to have you write about my perfumes, you reveal so much. Mandy Aftel.

Stacey said...

Oh, how I would love to win these perfumes! Mandy Aftel is such a brilliant perfumer from what I've tried so far and have no doubt I will find a love with Haute Claire. I have not yet tried the La Via del Profumo line but wow-your description of Sharif gives me a lot to look forward to. :)

Lavanya said...

What a lovely review! I have never tried anything by Domnique Dubrana but I am curious. Mandy's perfumes resonate with something deep inside me, be it the immediate resonance of Cepes and Tuberose and Shiso or the slow recognition of Tango. I often find other perfumes unsatisfying after wearing an Aftelier.
Haute Claire sounds wonderful with its bright and dark aspect. I get that sometimes when I wear Cepes and Tuberose on one wrist and Shiso on the other.

Please enter me in the draw! Thanks!

Nathan Branch said...

Lucy -- Great idea to pair Mandy and Dominique's work. I have both Haute Claire and Sharif and consider them terrific examples of what natural perfumery can achieve in the right hands. They easily hold their own against anything else in my collection.

I especially love how you noted the sheer, expansive qualities to each, allowing the individual wearer to be a part of the conversation.

I'm not entering the draw, but I wanted to comment on what a great post this is.

Laur-I said...

How generous for you to include both of these perfumes for comparison in your giveaway, Lucy. I couldn't agree more with your statement to FF that it is more than just the fragrance notes interacting with the wearer's body chemistry. The psychological aspect figures in equally (if not even more so) when one is assessing/delighting in any fragrance as the mind is KEY in the interpretive process. Would look forward to personally experiencing these creations by such skilled natural perfumers- cheers!

thea said...

Beautiful. I'd love to try these. I love natural oils and resins but haven't found a natural perfume that I can really lose myself in. These two look promising though. Thanks for the opportunity. :D

Wendy Norman - Aromatherapist & Educator said...

Oh it sounds heavenly! Aroma is woven through every part of my life like a beautiful fragrant thread.
I would LOVE to experience these perfumes, they sound gorgeous. I can just imagine how they smell.

Wendy Norman - Aromatherapist
Adelaide, South Australia

Lucy said...

Good luck to all you potential winners, you are all entered.

Mandy, I am so honored by your kind words. I am going to send you a little Sharif so you can see what I mean, I wonder if you will agree...

Nathan - thank you for your kind words. Your projects series bringing two perfumers together have been fomenting all kinds of creativity, what a wonderful thing to do.

Cymbaline, sounds like you have a lovely collection and good taste --

Juliana, Octavian has mentioned that Mecca Balsam is the base of Sharif, so this is up your alley, and Haute Claire is a great beauty in that brunette family;

Anotherperfumeblog - if these were to be among your first forays into natural perfumes you'd be starting so way ahead on many levels;

Stacey I agree with the description of brilliance, both of these perfumers have done things that move me more than I would have thought perfume actually could

LaurelI yes indeed, psychologically and personally these two perfumes hit the sweet spot for me, that is clear;

Thea, lose yourself, exactly what these allow you to do, you can really sink into them both;

Wendy Norman -- These two would I think really send you over the moon, the ingredients are all of the finest quality available.

womo531 said...

There is so much more depth to well-crafted natural perfumes. The idea that someone had drop by drop composed each scent makes it even more special =) Mandy created Honey Blossom, my current favorite linden blossom scent, and it moves me everytime I wear it!

Michelle said...

mmm...please enter me in this draw. Thanks!

ololiuqui said...

Fantasic draw Mandy Aftel and Dominique Dubrana!Please enter me I would love to try these.

ccdouglass said...

They both sound so wonderful! Please enter me in the draw. :-)

JoAnne Bassett said...

Yes I would love to try these...

Lucy said...

Civava, you are entered;

Lavayna, as a fan of Aftelier you would love this new one, Haute Claire; and very interesting to try it with Sharif;

Womo 531, these both are indeed very personal in feeling;

ololuiqui and ccdouglas, you are entered, come back on 8-19 and check if you've won;

JoAnne, you of all people would appreciate these

HollyJae said...

My oh my, both perfumes sound amazing ~ such luxury, detailed so eloquently! :-)

I'd love to enter, many thanks to all for such a generous draw!

Warm regards,
Holly

Lucy said...

HollyJae, yes they are luxurious, in a friendly way, warming and enveloping.

Nina Z said...

I've been very intrigued by everything I've read (on your blog and others) about these two different natural fragrances, so I'd love the chance to try them.

Anonymous said...

I've never tried a perfume from either house, I'm ashamed to say, so I'd be very happy to try either one, or both!
-Marla

Michelle said...

haven't sampled anything by either of these parfumers. Would love to!

Lucy said...

Nina,Anon and Michelle, you are entered...Friday announcement

Kittenish said...

These sound wonderful! I'd love a chance to try them.

kittenishcutie {at} gmail {dot} com

MAureen said...

I have never really tried a natural fragrance. I would love to try these and compare. Please enter me in draw

Undina said...

My experience with indie perfumes is almost non-existent. But I'll get there eventually - one way or the other.
Please, enter me into the draw.