August 26, 2012

Juan M. Perez Flor Azteca & Oudh Nawab Primordial Perfumes

Juan M. Perez of Exotic Island Aromatics lives on that island far yet near to those of us in the U.S., known as Puerto Rico, where he gardens and studies botany.

His is a rare talent as a perfumer, because he knows how to bring out the most feral fragrance aspects of his plants and materials and make compositions that are transparent and fresh and that also hold the tropical balmy air within them.

His use of naturals is so skillful that no matter where you are, once these touch your skin you are treated to the sensation of densely oxygenated air warmed by golden light, saturated with fragrance. In other words, you are instantly transported to a lushly fragrant tropical island.

Flor Azteca is predominantly a Tuberose that reveals its heart’s nectar, softened.

The Tuberose is a native of Central America, beloved of the native Indian civilizations, and part of their traditional self-adornment. The perfumer has a deep interest in the ancient American ceremonies and rituals using the native aromatic materials, especially for their mysterious spiritual and intellectual uses.

The legends about Tuberose as experienced in the West are intriguing too. Brought back to Europe, by Louis XIV’s time in France Tuberose became identified with aromatic sensuality of such intoxicating strength it was both avoided by young women before marriage and given to them after, to stimulate their capacity for sensual pleasure. Louis planted huge banks of them at Versailles to aid in the seduction of one of his first loves, the young Mademoiselle de la Valliere.

Tuberose can be as heady as jasmine or gardenia, maybe more, because it has a fresh green within it that entices you to inhale it deeply. In this incarnation it joins the creamy white floral family of nectar-laden aromatic intoxicants as a strong individualistic force to be reckoned with.

Notes are listed for top as Mexican Tuberose, Massoia bark, Chocolate, heart notes as Tuberose Absolute, Magnolia, Datura, Fresh Ginger, Pepper, base notes of Mexican Vanilla, Benzoin, Tonka Bean, Copal Negro, Smoky Woods, Mineral Notes.

Mexican Tuberose buoyed up on a bed of Tuberose Absolute should give you some idea as to how much tuberose you will be in the midst of here. The vanilla, chocolate and magnolia (all native American aromatic notes too) are a softening influence, holding the edge off the tuberose headiness in a warm embracing air.

The sparkle of the ginger, pepper and mineral notes run steadily throughout the life of the perfume, which is of good length. I can’t give a more specific time since my skin drinks perfume like it’s thirsty for it.

This is a perfume for an energetic morning.  It will make you wide-awake and hyper-aware. Even with the sense of intoxication arising from its dense white floral atmosphere, or even especially because of all that, this perfume sharpens the senses.

I understand that JMP considers the white floral accord to be his speciality.  He created Nectar des Illes which is full of plumerias and other white florals (carried at Shelly Waddington's En Voyage Perfume site). He also has an intriguing Gardenia and a Magnolia.

Oudh Nawab Eau de Parfum came to me together with Flor Azetca, and so for me acted as a companion piece, as a voice from the other side of the olfactory sphere.   I will immediately list the notes because they are a poetic description in and of themselves:

Top Notes, Tumeric, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Heart Notes, Oudh from Borneo, Golden Myrrh from Somalia, Allspice, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Saffron, Persian Figs, Dates, Base Notes – Benzoin, Patchouli, Tonka Bean, Frankincense from Oman, Labdanum, Vetiver, Ambergris, Musks.

This one is a paean to the Middle Eastern perfume tradition. Like opening the door at night to step into a field of freshly turned earth, with the scent of spices and deep dried hay wafting through. It is a spacious darkness. The complexity seems somehow to create more air so that the individual notes stand out. The tumeric and pepper are as clear as opening bells at the start, with the citrus of bergamot brightening all.

These fairy tale magical materials with their old names from far away places stand up to their own legends. Myrrh and oudh are both fragrances exactly what they sound like, causing purrs and murmurs of satisfaction within the mind as soon as they touch the skin. The fig and dates set beside Tonka Bean, the musks and the other base notes blend together intimately, like a melting buttery moisturizer on the skin. Soothing and calming, this is a profoundly meditative perfume to rest in, to calm yourself with, or to fall asleep in.

JMP is a favorite new find in indie perfume for me. Thank you to Monica Miller and her Primordial Perfume Project for sending him my way.  I look forward to  following what he does with great interest (I am happy to see that he is soon to release a perfume based on the blue lotus).

These two are new perfumes and not yet released as of this date but will be soon.  A preview pack of three 5 ml minis, of these two and a new Magnolia based perfume, can be ordered for $45 This is an excellent price considering the quality of the materials and the skill and passion immediately obvious as soon as you put them on.

Disclosures:  I received these samples as part of the Primordial Perfume Project, which I have posted on before,  specifically on the Air Elements. These are JMP’s contribution to both Earth (the Oudh) and Fire (the Tuberose) Primordial Perfumes.

Monica Miller the Perfume Pharmer is the  host of this admirable project, where she has invited many natural and indie perfumers to create perfumes celebrating the elements of fire, water, air, earth, and wood metal and spirit. This is to establish a library of fragrances that will call an olfactory reaction in people, and will both comfort and bind them to the basic building blocks of life on earth and to love it even more, and so to be motivated to protect the environment.   I consider Monica to be a friend, we often discuss our projects together and we have participated in other projects together.

The Exotic Island Aromatics site is primarily for soaps and candles, the perfume page and site will be open shortly.   I would love to pay a visit if I ever get to P.R., but I am interested in ordering some of these products because I can tell from the perfumes that they would be special.

Music to listen to perfume by: Erykah Badu and Stephen Marley In Love With You

Above photos, from Juan M. Perez, except for the Moon photo which I do not have a credit for.  If this photo belongs to you please let me know.  I will remove it upon request.
Copyright 2012, Lucy Raubertas, all rights reserved.


lostpastremembered said...

Love this fellows story. I never knew tuberose was a new world flower! I find it terribly dark and sensual and just got a tiny bit for myself but it has whetted my appetite for more.

I used to wear it in my youth until a very old southern lady told me it reminded her of funerals... they used to use it to mask formaldehyde! I imagine by now everyone who remembers that use is gone so I can wear it again! It evokes a rich time for me...his perfume sounds amazing!

Lucy Raubertas said...

Lost Past, I think that must have been very specific to a Southern use of the flower. I have read many places that elsewhere it is considered an enticement to bodily sensuality. Love that JMP made the perfume with an American aromatic theme, tuberose, chocolate, vanilla, magnolia, in their incarnations from the so called new world. Of course as old as anything of the so called old world especially when you think of the ancient central American civilizations, their shamans' plant lore, rituals and health uses. So much of which is lost to us from the destruction and language barriers that arose from the absolute domination and exposure to the illness from the other hemisphere. I hear they are finally cracking the code of some of the written languages so we will all know more soon.