February 20, 2012

Tui Loves Kowhai and other Solid Perfumes by Pacific Perfumes

Pacific Perfumes of New Zealand makes an appealing line of solid perfumes, beautifully packaged in rounded nut-like cases made of wood, that are redolent of a world far away which keeps a close relationship to a nature unique and exquisitely beautiful.

A very green place, the culture  combined aspects of the native Maori culture and the British that settled there, along with the new international influences and morphed it all together into something like a surfer California crossed with late Victorian England and a mystic/fiercely tattooed tribal strength.

My favorite New Zealander Jane Campion, depicted it in The Piano, which gave the sense of an almost otherworldly natural beauty. I also get the impression that the birds and trees are spoken of with a certain brotherly familiarity by the human inhabitants.

These cream and solid perfumes seem very much tied into the sensibility of the place, which is one of beautiful beaches, ferny mossy forests, people whose ideal is to be physically active and self reliant and a little removed from the layers of references and sophistication some of the rest of perfume culture likes to tap into. These perfumes are a little like taking an olfactory vacation, to a healthy and clean place that could be restorative of the body and calming to the mind.

The theme of Tui Loves Kowhai is the symbiosis between a bird and a flowering tree. The Tui bird lives on nectar, like a hummingbird, sometimes fermented, causing their flight to appear intoxicated. Tui are very attracted to the abundant if brief flowering of the kowhai and will fly long distances to get a sip of its nectar.
“Tui are considered to be very intelligent, much like parrots. They also resemble parrots in their ability to clearly imitate human speech, and are known for their noisy, unusual call which is different for each individual. Some of the huge range of Tui sounds are beyond the human register. Watching a Tui sing, one can observe gaps in the sound when the beak is agape and throat tufts throbbing” (from the Wikipedia entry)
The Kowhai trees are common and its yellow blooms are the unofficial flower of New Zealand. It seems like the two unique forms of being, bird and tree, evolved to make themselves perfect for each other.

The cream perfume Tui Loves Kowhai  opens out right away with intoxicating floral notes, which hit me all the harder at this tail end of a grey Winter.

It’s as welcome and as simply beautiful as a patch of sunlight on a wall. The note list is simple, Jasmine, Honeysuckle and a soft Vetiver.

The site says the cream perfumes are created from essential oils and man-made fragrance compounds blended into a creamy solid base. I find the fragrance is strong enough to uplift my mood and hovers in an aura about a foot around the application site. This makes them perfect for weekend and casual use. It seems like the percentage of fragrance in the solid is high and because of the strength and good longevity.

Burlesque Dancer’s Thigh – I like use of the Cuisse de Nymphe concept, that special  shade of pink that gave its name to a French rose. This limited edition solid perfume is made entirely of botanical and natural ingredients. The notes are Wild Rose, Costus Root, Patchouli, and Cocoa in a Tuberose floral wax. It comes in a small metallic slide tray labeled with a vintage late 19th Century typographic feel.

I actually did once personally know a burlesque dancer from New Zealand, or more precisely a lovely very petite very elderly lady, a long retired chorus girl who kept her perfect platinum waved bob from the 1920s. She lived in my neighborhood and kindly shared stories with the kids of her childhood exploring rivers in hand-made canoes with Maoris as she learned their language.

On me BDT gives an appealing burnt muskiness to the skin. The scent implied is that of a very active young woman -- ahem -- who spends a lot of time in rooms filled with fine cigar smoke. There is a clean sweetness behind it. The Wild Rose and tiny amount of Tuberose make themselves subtly known behind the Costus and Patchouli.

Forest of Ferns cream perfume is strongly green, a citric refreshment with Lime Bergamot and Basil floating far above a base of Vetiver. Just enough Vetiver to tether it altogether and give a hint of the earthiness you expect walking out onto a ferny forest floor.

Pure Legend is of the more expensive (though still well priced) Artisan Range, and a more complex composition with notes listed as Vetiver, Violet leaf Absolute, Wild Rose, Labdanum, Balsam Fir and Patchouli that somehow ends in a feel of the ocean air. It’s a darker, smokier fragrance, then the smokes lifts off and leaves fragrant dry twigs, and since I am a big fan of the fir tones I am drawn to the evergreens-by-the-ocean-on-a-cloudy-day feel.

Much closer to home I’ve know of a protected beach with very white sand that bears many low growing and colorful blue junipers and other tiny evergreens with violet and magenta details of berries and twigs that show up in great detail against the sand. Pure Legend reminds me of that subtle and fragrant silence that exists a few yards in from the ocean behind the sand dunes.

This range of cream and solid perfumes are strong enough to make an immediate impression and hold it for some time, while still retaining that characteristic natural material feel of softness and a wholesome character. I think they are great to layer. You can put different ones on different areas of the body, to create an orchestrated impression of soft warm freshness and uplifting energy, especially for yourself since as solids these are not intrusive perfumes.

I love perfume in solid form especially because I like to carry perfume with me, and I find solids are the best way to do that. I also like the feel of a cream and the low sillage for the times when I want a more personally intimate perfume experience.

In style these perfumes are not meant to imply anything grand or sophisticated or even ironic, but instead very much a straight ahead and honest connection to nature and a particular place and time which is exotic and unique enough as it is, in need of no further embellishment. I think of the Maori name for New Zealand: Aotearoa, as the description of the first Maori navigator’s sight of the island, which appeared as a Long White Cloud on the ocean. That says it all.

There are three lines, the Original Range, the Artisan Range, and limited Edition.

Tui Loves Kowhai and Forest of Ferns are cream perfumes in the line’s Original Range, both essential oils and man made fragrance in a solid cream base, well priced at 28 NZD which translates to about $23.50 USD;

Burlesque Dancer’s Thigh is a limited edition solid perfume, natural and botanical, 20 NZD which is about $16.50 USD.

Pure Legend is a solid perfume in the Artisan Range, natural and botanical at 55 NZD or about $46 USD.

The packaging is sustainable, tactile and green, and the perfumer gives a NZD to the bird and nature preserves of NZ with each purchase. Shipping to the US is $10 for an unlimited quantity of perfumes.  There's a lot more information on the site.
Images above, from the Pacific Perfume site and from The Piano movie stills.


Francesca said...

Lucy you have such a wonderful way of looking at Aotearoa, so much so that I would have thought you'd spent time here. The sensibility of the place and making the connection to the perfumes - it often takes a stranger's observations to create these links. Recently I met the wonderful Jane Campion at her niece's 21st, the party held at their family's historical Victorian house. If we had all been more suitably dressed, we may have indeed come straight from that era of 'The Piano'. The Beaches, Forests and indeed our beloved Bird population are all truly dear to our hearts here in NZ and I'm pleased to be able to take you there with my perfumes.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful read, you have painted the picture of nature at its best here in New Zealand and our perfumes stand proud beside this! Thank you Lucy.

Lucy said...

Dear Francesca and Anon -- it's nice to be transported to a parallel universe by perfume!

Linley said...

I love the sound of Pure Legend. I have got the Simply Paradise one and love that too, its like Summer in New Zealand. Your idea of layering is something I never thought of. Will try that! Great read, I really enjoyed the way you described our country.

בשמים לאישה said...

מגניב תודה רבה!

Lucy said...

Linley, yes, the layering is very rewarding...I think you will enjoy it if you try it. Thank you for the kind words. Nice to experience another world so far away through the medium of fragrance.

Anonymous said...

The description of Tui birds & Kowhai trees . . . gorgeous.

~ solmarea