April 22, 2012

Strawberry Passion Perfume - The Perfume Pharmer & Opus Oils

Every time I try one of the two mods of this perfume, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince takes over my mind and  starts playing his songs in my head.  I keep getting the scene  and beat of the music video for Raspberry Beret.  That's mainly because this strawberry perfume in both incarnations is like an elegant psychedelic prance through the haute-Moderne-Baroque sensibility of both Kedra Hart of Opus Oils, the perfumer, and Monica Miller the Perfume Pharmer, whose brief this was.  There's something sharp and astringent in both versions, even a little on the racy side, overlaid with the soothing qualities of that childhood comfort, strawberry.  One is cream and one is green.  Both the green and cream are veiled over the basic structure of the perfume, which has a full-bodied wine-like personality.

Monica's idea is to use perfume as a medium for personal happiness and safety.  She wants to have perfumes that  "build olfactory memory" by taking something like the perfume of a strawberry, crossing it with some beneficial emotional passion,  and getting people to "think of a safe and happy place" when you first smell it. Like a meditation on safety, goodness, comfort. She believes that if people could build build positive associations with an "anchor scent" consciously, then that could be a really good thing in times of stress.

Monica has recalled the cream teas of her British childhood, which were bejeweled with lashings of strawberry jam and clotted cream, to become basic building blocks in her repertoire of comfort scents.  And of course, finding those tiny strawberries low to the ground, surrounded by the green grass and tasting of the pure freshness of Spring when you are lucky enough to find them, is another olfactory and taste related happiness memory for many.  If it is unfamiliar due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, these perfumes will make them for you now, and you can use them as a pleasant memory to fall back on in times of need.

Combine this sensibility with the house style of Kedra Hart of Opus Oils, who has a down to earth, almost vintage sense of naughty yet innocent sexiness to her perfumes, and you get these two strawberry surprises.  These are not like any strawberry perfumes you've ever encountered before.  The strawberry is definitely there, but the most important thing is the passion and the pleasure.

This is a preliminary release to perfumer bloggers in the two versions, to get some feedback as to which one to choose to release as part of the line Monica intends to fashion.  It's a privilege to be asked for my opinion.

My vote is for the green, though I like them both.   The cream is more like the perfume equivalent of drinking a liqueur, and the green is like a complex wine whose clarity is imbued with the spirit of strawberry as a fresh living thing.  But there is much to be said for both sides of this aisle.

The notes for both are all true naturals, from a lovely list;  Green is based on Martha's Vineyard Strawberry Flower and Leaf Essence, Pink Pepper, White Water Lily (no wonder I favor this one) Red Mandarin, Natural Ivy Accord,  Rose, Tuberose, Boronia, Strawberry, Black currant, Peach, Green tea, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Beach Bound Ambergris, Oakmoss.

I think the voices of the Peach and the Oakmoss are predominant in this one, liquified by Water Lily, kicked up a bit by the dark green of Ivy, and rendered sparkling by the fruit, especially the Mandarin, Black Currant and Strawberry elements.  There is something beach-y about this fragrance, like the strawberries grow in the sand dunes behind the surf's edge in the tang of salt air. I like that sharp energy.

The notes for the Cream version are Martha's Vineyard Strawberry Flower Essence, Pink Pepper, Bergamot, Tangerine, Boronia, Natural Peach, Raspsberry and Strawberry Accord, Amber, Vanilla, Patchouli, Beach Found Ambergris, Sandalwood.  It's very interesting how the Amber and Vanilla combine to  recall a true heavy whipped-cream note.  This one seems sleepier to me, the creamy amber is restful and conducive to a nap-time feeling.

I know that Monica has that tremendous ancestral memory of creamy pastries and whipped cream desserts at tea time from her childhood days, which could render this the most comforting of the two for her personally.  I find this perfume even more delicately raunchy than the green, kind of like the scent of amateur night at a small town Southern burlesque house.

I know it seems like an odd combination,  the sense of a childhood comfort scent crossed with a lightly raunchy style, as of the old-time local strip-joints, but actually both are from the time before the hard-core commercialization of our innocent pleasures got so over the top that our Western culture drove over the edge at top speed.  Now so much of our anxious attention has veered off into the non-stop 24/7 industrial strength porn aesthetic that we swim in today, and there is so much less time and space for even childhood's innocence.  Yet we need our childhood memories of safety and comfort to build a foundation of calm and confidence for ourselves.

I agree with Monica, I think perfume can be used as a grounding in safety, goodness and comfort as needs be, and certain iconic scents, like strawberries, cream, and green freshness, can get you where you need to be through the most evocative sensory experiences that we have, good olfactory ones.

I look forward to the next in the series and I'm very curious to try them on as a suite.  In the meantime, the two Strawberry Passion samples are available on Etsy.

Above top blinking image: Julie Longyear design, Katarina Silva, model.
Cream Tea image from My Waffle
The Artist Formerly Known As Prince;
Joanne Woodward on the set of The Stripper (she plays a small town burlesque dancer in the South in 1963) with her husband Paul Newman visiting her on the set, from IMDB. Terrific film.


monicam said...

Dearest Lucy, Thank you so much for capturing so much of my aim in commissioning Strawberry Passion Perfume from Opus Oils. It did take the better part of a year from the original idea till this stage and I look forward to completing the final bottle packaging for the chosen Mod! I am so very pleased with Kedra's work- personally I love both versions and wear both!

Lucy said...

Thank you Monica! I am so excited to see you working with Kedra Hart in this way, it's match made in heaven, and love that you commissioned the interesting graphics too. You are quite the storm of creativity!


Lucy, brava! I am in my comfy bed with a bed tray of wasabi seaweed, toast with jam and goat cheese and apple juice stimulating the Prince and the Alice in Wonderland in me. Reading this post was an exact match of this innocent, comforting and sassy respite which your words captured.

Lucy said...

Hi Jade

Yes exactly, Alice in Wonderland x'd with the Artist, that is the true spirit of this breath of comfort perfume.