December 1, 2012

Monica Miller Perfume Pharmer

Portrait by Krista Baetz
Monica Miller is a Renaissance woman. She is perfumer, an impresario of artisanal perfume, a social activist, a patron of the arts, a blogger, an instructor, a practitioner and devotee of natural healing techniques, a poet and yes, a real life farmer (flowers, herbs, bee-keeping). She lives in Martha’s Vineyard year around, and incorporates much from that location into perfumes, balms, remedies and tinctures.

As a statuesque and naturally beautiful blonde woman of enormous energy, with a light British accent, she goes about to accomplish her aims with an ingrained sense of style and elegance, even as she wears her crystal tiara to the farmer’s market and looks great in her bespoke body conscious ensembles at special events. She is a representative of the British eccentric of the grand tradition at its best, but comes with an appealing self-presentation and down to earth plan of action.

St Gauden's Diana
Her remarkable profile reminds me and others of the ladies on coins and the personifications of various virtues sculpted by turn of the century artists, something like a cross between the Statue of Liberty and a Gibson girl. Not to dwell on such personal characteristics but I think it is part of her innate charm and makes it easier to reach “across the aisle” to get the attention and ear of many who have not so far given attention to natural and artisanal perfumes and the social causes dear to her heart. She always uses her super-heroine powers for the forces of good.

Monica is a large presence in the world of artisan made perfumes and supports others wholeheartedly.

My favorite of her myriad perfume projects is the intention to create a line of comforting perfumes to be both beautiful and indeed reliably comforting. They are to be worn and experienced as comforters, and then to be used especially in those times of need, so that an automatic physical reaction to nice associations will be triggered to calm and soothe. There are three already.

Lavender and Honey, sounds like such a simple thing, sounds like a piece of candy, and been done a million times before right? Not like this. The honey and lavender retain their wild quality and have an almost feral energy. The fragrance is strong, like crystallized honey that has an amber tone mixed with refreshing almost mentholated lavender. I have it in both the solid and liquid versions. Of course the liquid version is the stronger of the two, but find that the solid perfume being incorporated into soft beeswax brings in another dimension as it softens the lavender’s strength to equalize it a bit more to the honey. This is something to carry with you in case of emergency, or just to relax a bit as needed. (I must say this perfume along with Alexis Karl’s amber and chocolate extravaganza Requiem for the Immortal got me through as relatively sane for three weeks, as I was partially immobilized from a nasty accident, stuck in a 4th floor Brooklyn walk up. The Lavender and Honey was the daytime perfume anchor. Consider credit given to where credit is most certainly due).

Fuzzy Blue Blanket is a warm skin and wool tone, a blend of various soft wildflowers with vanilla, chocolate and musk, added in such proportions as to be reminiscent of fur or clean hair after a bath. Super subtle but most definitely there, once you settle yourself down to pay attention to what is going on beneath the noise and pressure of life. It is a low hum in the background that sets your dials on cruise control as it smoothes the road ahead. Good for re-calibrating your attention if you have any tendencies to fall into the rut of multi-tasking ADHD thrill-seeker. Wild blue chamomile, white linden flowers, white roses, coffee flowers, a touch of lavender and biodynamic tinctures make a soft hum of a fragrance to wrap the wearer within an interior space of calm well being.

The third comfort perfume hangs on a strawberry cream tea theme, the Strawberry Passion Perfume comes in both Green and Cream versions, which I have written about at length before. These were based on Monica’s brief to Kedra Hart of Opus Oils, to capture the feeling of afternoon tea and scones with strawberry jam, a greatly comforting British ritual whose formality became associated for her with safety, abundance and sweetness. Because it’s Kedra Hart it also incorporates a fun-time psychedelic tang that implies an alternate reality, one where you can live in peace, and an imaginary world where Alice’s encounters are purely fun and never frightening.

The most recent incarnation of this perfume is in the form of a rich body butter, which holds the fragrance to the skin at great length. The richness and depth of the emollients are infused with the green version of the strawberry perfume. I find it great for the winter on the East Coast since it reminds me of Spring and Summer and the cream itself is so rich it holds perfume tenaciously.

copyright Igor Drandic, Croatia
Monica’s Traveling Perfume has been imbued with the great faith that this aromatic liquid will hold the strengths of all who participated in building it. It’s a combination of fragrance and homeopathy. Monica used distilled hydrosols of traditionally sacred herbs and flowers, from Martha’s Vineyard and California and added a tiny drop of a homeopathic composition made of the additions of all the perfumers around the country and different parts of the world that she knows personally, who each added something of olfactory importance to them to the mixture before passing it on to the next.

Drops of the oceans, rain, rivers, essences that the perfumers from all over identified with as part of the liquid magic they used in their work, even a tincture made from a well-used leather combat soldier’s glove soaked in perspiration from Afghanistan[1]. This is a fragrance of purpose and intention, and can be worn as a subtle ambience around the body to confirm personal charisma and chosen direction. The homeopathic essence is meant to enhance the wearer so as to bring out their best inner selves into the outer world.

As she says herself:

"It is a homeopathic perfume for PEACE, an AURA Spray, a perfume to enlighten the WORLD (meaning US HUMANS), a traveling perfume, a magical spell, a prayer, a song, a spark, a primordial element designed by US for US. We are our own remedy and this is what we have created."

Monica’s intention is always to promote peace on earth and healing of the environment, while she goes about her business making perfumes and healing balms and essences from the wild and cultivated plants around her. She has orchestrated large projects among indieperfumers and discovered many new talents that she has brought to the attention of a wider world of indieperfume interest.  Monica throws herself with whole heart in to all her projects, both others and her own.

Her perfume contribution to my Clarimonde Project, with her Sangre Perfume worn with a myrrh infused carmine lip stain, hits the spot of immediate appeal with the satisfaction of deep woods notes and crushed unsweetened dark fruit that dries down to a subtle sacred aura hovering over the skin.

Her contribution to Sheila Eggenberger’s Devilscent Project, which was a fragrant herbal infused massage bar in the shape of the Green Man’s face, to be rubbed all over the body and melt into the skin, confirmed my opinion of her ability to fuse the concept of a theme with a physical manifestation of an aromatic product that brings the body and mind together.

She has created two large perfume projects over the past couple of years that have yielded many perfumes from small independent makers that became cult hits.

The Patchouli Project aimed to rehabilitate the reputation of a note that was associated for many with less than its significant contribution to fine perfumery.

The Primordial Perfumes Project was even more ambitious in that dozens of perfumers created perfumes based on the ancient principal of the primordial elements, for earth, fire, water, air, metal and spirit. This project came out to reach across the aisle to those who were not much exposed or involved in this type of perfume (witness this delightfully enthusiastic video by a new convert).

Sample sets of everything she has done are available directly from her site and on Etsy. Everything is hand made with the most wholesome and highest quality materials available.

Music to listen to perfume by: Iron and Wine - The Boy with the Coin - perfect in mood and style for this kind of perfume

[1] Combat Glove Fragrance Tincture created by Jeanne Rose, author and aromatherapist – homeopathic remedies are often based on the principal of opposites. Monica says “in everything lies the seed of its apparent opposite, therefore in the tincture of War/Combat Glove, we search for the seed of Peace.” 

Disclosure:  I have both received samples from the perfumer, and have worked closely together with Monica on several perfume projects.

Copyright 2012 Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved


Lyn.Ayre said...

Whenever I read anything about our dear Monica, I put on some Lavender Honey. I LOVE IT!
Over the last two years, I've come to truly appreciate Monica's love and support through her worldwide perfume projects. She's amazing in her energy, promotion, strength, and stamina. Thanks so much, Monica, for all that you do for us... we artisan perfumers.

Have a scent-filled day.

Love Lyn

Lucy Raubertas said...

Dear Lyn thank you for stopping by.
Yes Monica is inspiring, and a great champion of artisan perfumers.

Shelley said...

An inspiring overview of the works of our dear Monica! Lovely read :)

Lucy Raubertas said...

Thanks Shelley. Monica has introduced me to many a new perfume.