June 11, 2012

A Wing and a Prayer


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I can tell from her perfumes that Jane Cate of A Wing and A Prayer Perfumes is a deep-dyed romantic of the old school, which is a sensibility I always fall in love with when manifested as fragrance.

The very names of her all natural perfumes reflect this approach through and through. The ones I have before me now are Bronte, in honor of the 19th Century female breakthrough writers who exalted all consuming and fated love; Muse, the poetic force that animates artistic creativity; Shalott Rose, a flower from Lord Tennyson’s epic poem, Epione, the Greek goddess who soothed pain; and Scarboro – a reference to the old English folk song.

These are skillfully made all natural perfumes, with the fragile and fugitive top notes married well to the deeper longer-lasting resinous and woody base notes, so that they retain clarity and composition, and keep a fair longevity.

Once again, I must say that naturals have to be approached in a different way than other perfumes. To enjoy them fully it takes more of the attitude of drinking a fine wine, considering it a complex and subtle experience that passes through the senses like wine does, or like hearing a song in an un-amplified, acoustic voice.

Bronte comes in a perfumed body oil and spray Eau de Perfume form. I find the body oil version to be just as strong, a little brighter and have a bit more longevity than the slightly darker EdP version. In both, accords of linden and tuberose together with amber create a nectar-like honey, centered by the rose absolute. The EdP shows more citrus to begin with and then dries down to the deep benzoin a little quicker than the perfumed oil.

I think in this case the carrier causes the notes to act and reveal themselves differently. The alcohol fans the notes out and makes them more evident as they arise in succession, where the perfumed oil holds the composition more tightly together as a whole throughout.

The oil version holds more of the effect of true linden flowers in bloom. This is a classical, and in the best sense, a lady-like perfume that has a lyrical and deeply poetic beauty at its decorous heart. As the Bronte sisters did. It dries down and holds close to the skin with a subtle aura of nectarine floral beauty that is perfumey and rich, even while it seems to be part of your skin itself. It would be very luxurious to have both versions and use them together, the body oil and the EdP.

The notes are listed as benzoin, botanical musk, amber, ambreine, linden blossom, Turkish rose absolute, tuberose, bergamot and pink pepper.

Muse has a similar structure. There is a hint of the linden nectar but a creamy vanilla predominates even as it is toned by rose and rosewood. This perfume folds you into a gentle peaceful realm that is harmoniously ruled by The Better Angels of our Nature. The warmth and softness of the vanilla toned with rose emanates a sweetness without cloy that feels like a sheer cashmere blanket.

Epione, named for the Greek goddess who soothes pain, is the kind of perfumed elixir you want for the times when you turn to perfume as a comfort to the body and mind. I don’t have a note list, but what I get is something like a graceful pale blonde tobacco, and a light citric tang that uplifts the perfume into a dimensional space, grounded in a soft Tonka background. There is something slightly animalic in this concoction. This perfume is like the fur of a Persian cat.

Shalott Rose, named for the Lady of the Lake of the high Victorian epic poem extravaganza by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is a EdP that is a sheer amber experience, with a clove-y touch of carnation. The notes are listed as amber, roses, iris, carnation, citrus, Tonka bean and powdery labdanum. This list sounds like the result would be powerfully strong, but in the style of the house this perfume brings forth the softer, gentler side of the materials. This is a steady and peaceful amber, something that a fine old silk velvet dress would hold in its folds. 


Scarboro referencing the beloved old English folk song, is a green perfume with a high citrus note. The notes are listed as sage, blood orange with lemon verbena with a top of lemon essential oil. The sage is present as a touch of herbal astringency and a clean green, while the verbena and blood orange sweeten it, and the dash of lemon brightens.

There is a sweetness something like a honeyed syrup underlying all the perfumes, very soft and calming, that seems to be inherent to the house style.

I know that some natural perfumes can be fragile but AWAAP perfumes keep their structure over time. This is because they are skillfully structured and made of very good quality natural materials.  I have gone through two flacons of another of the perfumes, Tallulah B, over the course of a year and a half, and found it maintained its structure and character.

These perfumes are soft enough to wear to a work environment, as they hold close to the skin, while still imparting that direct connection to a natural wildness at heart, crossed with a strong dose of Romanticism.
Above image: Shallot Rose in a deluxe presentation, multiple presentations and sizes are available on all the perfumes, which are reasonably priced for such quality.
Mini samplers are available three for $10

Music to listen to perfume by --
in keeping with the peacefully gentle nature of the house style, something we need more of:
Thievery Corporation - Marching the Hate Machine (Into the Sun)




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