December 19, 2012

Aftelier Wild Roses and Fig

Perfumes for the rain:

It's been grey and raining most days since the end of October, and that's influenced those of us who tailor our perfume to the variable conditions of our lives. Perfume is a force that can fight the greyness.

Perfumes can bloom out more fully in the humidity of the rain, though in the winter months when there is a cold wind and enough rain coming down, it takes perfumes with strong personality to counteract the pull of an almost gravitational force that wants to bring them down almost close to the ground.

I have recently become aware that I am operated by the sun, so now I pay more attention to balancing my withdrawal from its presence through the winter months. Thank heavens perfume is an infinitely varied and effective aid in this specific regard.

Recently a thickly foggy grey morning, one in a line of many,  condensed into rain but then turned into a fragrance festival when I received a welcome mail delivery of two minis from Aftelier, of the new Wild Roses and a prior favorite, Fig.  Two that go together well.

Fig has a deep and thick honey/musky tone and Wild Roses has enough indole and pure floral that together they heighten each other's inherent golden summer personality and situate me within the magical realms of pure Nature under the smile of a gentle sun. They enhance each other, the notes crossing over and heightening the effect of the other. They both have such a gloriously warm and sweet animal tone that they make me feel closer to the power of a true animal consciousness in myself.

I brought them with me on that grey morning, on an errand with a friend, the writer and illustrator Kris Waldherr.  The fog and rain outside intensified the perfumed atmosphere within the car as we rode through the old fashioned neighborhoods of central Brooklyn.

Wild Roses - the notes are listed as Top: rose CO2, heliotropin, bergamot, geraniol, m-methyl anthranilate, damascenone.
  Heart: apricot, Turkish rose absolute, pimento berry, p-ethyl alcohol, rose petals attar.
 Base: tarragon absolute, vanilla absolute, indole, aged patchouli.

It's especially the apricot, the rose absolute and attar, vanilla, indole and aged patchouli that pull the rope and chime the gigantic inner bell that awakes and connects to the freshly opened summer roses still on the bush I have been lucky enough to experience in my life so far. The very last of the dry down (on me) is a soft powder with a whiff of fresh green air. There are enough important less purely decorative elements within this perfume to keep the composition clear and bright and sparkly.

This is a rose perfume that does not fall into the soliflore category of being simply a recognizable note that pushes my internal buttons. The rose is wild enough and the dry down into a balmy green aura is soft enough to soothe an unruly mood. There’s enough complexity, definition and strength to ornament the vast greyness of days and days of winter rain for the likes of me.

Meanwhile my friend was caught up in the full on Fig perfume experience, which her skin drank like it was thirsty for it. We made sure to apply enough to last her into the afternoon to aid her in all the paperwork ahead of her later that day, which worked because I saw an afternoon Twitter that she was still enjoying the ambiance around her. She was having a dreamy experience sitting at her desk and the perfume sweetened a demanding and detailed task. By that time it was steady rain for the rest of the short dark day.

Fig: Featured Notes
Top: grand fir, pink grapefruit.
Heart: pink pepper absolute, jasmine sambac.
Base: Africa stone, fir absolute.

This fig perfume contains no fig (not available as a natural essence). It is built with an accord whose main components are a fruity Spanish lavender and a jammy fir absolute (which I have and prize as beautiful and dimensional enough to wear alone as a perfume in itself). I will testify that it does endow the skin and air with a subtle and softly intoxicant mood, something like a small glass of sherry to sip on a mental visit to a Mediterranean summer. I think the touch of jasmine sambac at the heart of the perfume is a key component too, not recognizable or standing out as jasmine but wielding influence.

So the grey skies, soaking cold rain and fog became a background that brought out the bright beauty of these perfumes.

These are both all natural and more lasting than is usual for fully natural perfumes.

Another recent perfume in the rain experience came later, when the temperature was still colder and it was fully dark with a stinging fine rain cooled by a strong wind that soaked my coat sleeves and turned my umbrella inside out several times one night. The wind suddenly kicked up as I took the wrong turn when going to a perfumed food and drink party hosted by Mindy Yang of MiN. I went astray further into Tribeca on a Sunday night of dark and empty streets, and so got even more soaked than absolutely necessary.

 Before I left my place that night, I was debating what perfume to wear, if any, and I chose to break out my vintage Opium, which I hold dearly and rarely use since it requires the right occasion and is not replaceable, as far as I know. I was bracing myself to go out in the weather and so applied it in three sprays, but then as I was about to walk out the door I realized I was not getting what I really wanted from Opium. It was emanating as too sharp and edgy, which surprised and disappointed me, as this was not the Opium effect I knew or was going for. Not blaming the perfume at all, because I think mood, clothes, weather and the state of the skin affect perfume enough to bring out some aspects a lot more than others at different times, so it might have been my own nervous energy burning through. Impulsively I took up Chergui, and sprayed it lightly over the Opium, to tone and soften it down. Its honey amber took the sharp edge off.

I need not have feared anyone being bowled over by too much perfume, which selfishly I had not worried about, because all that cold rain and wind whipped most of it off before I got there. I was glad I made the effort, because I am interested in the modern combinations of perfume and drink and food.  The occasion reminded me of those Tales of Genji stories where people gather and refine their sensibilities with  experiences of exquisite versions of normally ordinary things.

There was a little left on my wrist when I got home later that night. It was something like a sweetened smoky Lapsang Souchong tea that had steeped for an hour, lightly warmed by body heat, and diluted by the energy of all that wind-whipped rain. I felt like the perfume helped propel me out the door into a cold rainy Sunday night when otherwise I would have stayed home. It took that much  to create an aromatic aura around me that brought my comfort zone out into the world with me.

I have written about Opium and Chergui before.  They are two of my favorite classics and powerful spirits that are a match for a chill dark winter night full of rain and wind. I think of them as almost supernatural perfumes, with powers and lives of their own created by my history with them and all the women who have worn them before and along with me. Sometimes it takes such spirits and forces of nature to withstand and gracefully live within the forces of nature.

Music to listen to perfume by:  
40 winks Melancholia

Images Above
Top: Rainy Day in NY from Nicko's Big Picture;  Aftelier perfumes from the Aftelier site; Raindrops on branches from Celebrate Canada; Fog in NYC by Nichole356; Lapsang Souchong from the James Beard Foundation
Images above are not mine, if they are yours and you wish them to be removed please contact me.

Disclosure:  The perfumes were purchased by me.  My opinions are my own and I am not compensated in any way.    
Copyright 2012, Lucy Raubertas, all rights reserved.


lostpastremembered said...

I love the idea of layers of scent. Even the rose is layered with the scent of its leaves and the vegetation around it –– even the soil beneath the blossoms have a subtle effect on the scent... love the scent imagery.

I feel very badly that I tossed my old opium now...

Must try Mandy's fig now!

Lucy Raubertas said...

Definitely Fig for you Lost Past, you of all people. Yes, the rose contains the surroundings and origins, all that.

Anonymous said...

Like perfume, the scent layers, this resonates on so many levels.

Lucy Raubertas said...

Thanks Anon!

mandy said...

Thank you so much Lucy for this gorgeous writing about my work! I really love what you had to say about atmosphere and perfume. This is always in my head when I am creating a new perfume. I feel the actual essences have moods and tones and this is a very important aspect of this medium to me. I love the way you layered the two perfumes in your review -- another aspect of working with naturals that I dearly love.
xo Mandy

Lucy Raubertas said...

thanks Mandy - such inspired perfumes are in their turn inspiring