July 22, 2013

EnVoyage Part 1

The Milky Way, NASA
Part 1 - Carmel and Cosmologie Perfume series by Shelly Waddington of EnVoyage:

There is a word that comes to mind whenever I have a perfume experience that really sends me:  
celestial.

Celestial for me describes the air imbued with electric energy, a sharpening of awareness, an enriched atmosphere, with uncountable subtle and not so subtle sensations triggered in the mind and memory, joined with a harmonious sensual experience.

When that word automatically arises as I experience a perfume, I know I've found what I'm always looking for.  It's a word that comes to me repeatedly while in the midst of several EnVoyage perfumes.

Another would be swooning; a word often used by perfumistas to describe a state of surrender to a perfume. It is a close cousin to another favorite that recurs under these special sought-after circumstances, and that is: intoxicating.  Certain perfumes have an inner effect similar to the lift off and release felt after a glass of champagne.

Driving all other cares and worries and thoughts away in the full attention required to process all the lovely sensations that an especially effective perfume unfolds. Bringing you into the beauty of the present moment.

Shelley Waddington has been making perfume for a long time, and as her experience and skill have grown, we become the lucky beneficiaries. She is an independent perfumer living in the exquisite coastal town of Carmel, California.  She long ago sought classical training in France, and that in combination with her own R&D in the understanding and use of natural materials, isolates and aroma chemicals made her one of the original artisan perfumers.  She fluidly expresses a personality and view point sharpened by constant self exposure to fragrant beauty; crossed with deep knowledge of how fragrance materials work together in evocative ways.  With these perfumes, the whole is far more than the sum of its parts.

Many of her perfumes have a bright and a piercingly beauty that enlivens and energizes. Those that make soft, quiet references to intimacy are inviting in their complexity, yet tighten up the unconscious interior process of following and participating along with the mysterious relationships of the notes as they reveal themselves.

Here are a some of my favorites from the recent hedonistic Festival of Perfume I recently held for myself:

From the Carmel Collection:  I previously wrote about Carmel Boheme, and then went for one of my rare full bottle splurges, but I now know that the others in this series are brothers and sisters in the story they create together.

The place Carmel was settled by California Bohemians at the turn of the last century, aiming for a sea-side Eden, and they lived a wild and free life that many have tried to recapture for themselves ever since.   There's a common thread of headiness, not specifically but something like the effect of  lilies breathing fragrance out into the pure blue Pacific sea air in all the perfumes of this series.  Each one is its own self-contained experience but I recommend getting the full suite of samples so you can follow and appreciate the multi-facted progression for yourself.

Debut de Carmel - how is it possible that the precise feeling of beginnings was captured in the form of a scent?  There is something anticipatory and active in how the notes hold together, a sense of curiosity and innocence.  Wisteria on a stone wall, citrus, and shaded woods.  I suspect it's the wisteria accord, whose freshness, vitality and fragility are supported by the notes that surround it. With violet, rose, sweet pea.

Poete de Carmel was inspired by the poet Robinson Jeffer's hand-built tower, made with stones gifted from all over the world.  A dark and light green together, like fresh cut celery mixed with fern and moss, with a mineral tang resting on a solid foundation of fragrant cedar beams.  Amber, moss, vetiver.  My personal impressions are of an almost breath-cleansing green that softens to the minerals evaporated down by a sunny day from the fine salt sea spray overlaying everything.

Carmel de Ville is for the rich dessert lovers, a nectar attractive to bees, with fruit, jam, and citrus poured over several heady flowers like narcissus, and a caramel/balsam/raisin base. Sweet, creamy, and comforting, a stimulating orange citrus permeates it all.  

The Cosmologie series, inspired by the Primordial Perfume Project by Monica Miller (please see my post about her) has three perfumes based on elemental influences.  Imaginatively creative and engaging, each one is a detailed portrait of one part of a beautiful world that draws you in.

Undine the water spirit, swooning, by Fuseli
A Study in Water is  freshness evaporating into the air, leaving behind the mineral traces that formed the body of a refreshing, immersive pool.  There could be a few bright green leaves floating in this water. The dry down evokes the tautness of skin splashed with cool water, with a hypnotic base of sandalwood and musk, heightened by a touch of lily of the valley, water notes, and orange blossoms. Swooning yet grounded; as the water spirit Undine is caught in her swoon by a romantic hero.

Durango is sandy earthiness, freshened by soft rain water. Sagebrush, vetiver, with a woody amber effect.  The notes within sing out in a chorus, and you can try to concentrate on each one but they are best as they combine into a deep voice singing a bluesy country song like Hank Williams, for you alone. Seductively masculine it would be also be well worn by a woman who is called to warming deep earthy notes. Cactus flower, creosote leaves, salt, musk.

Chang Chang is on the warm and sunny side of the celestial arc, and is in fact a true embodiment of the word celestial for me.  With it I am surrounded and uplifted by an abstract mood enhancer whose upwardly moving draft of beautified air I breathe in with gratitude for its "summer blossoms in sweet cream" crossed with solar notes (!). There are marigolds, which themselves are the essence of dry heat; blood orange, which pricks at the nose promising refreshment, white wood, of a dry yet solid clarity, and other notes that reward every molecule of alert pleasure etched in my memory bank by recalling and triggering a renewed connection to same.

These two collections can be ordered in full as samples from the EnVoyage site, and then you find out for yourself how difficult it will be to chose among them for a full bottle (or maybe even more than one).  The Carmel collection is the older one, and the Cosmologie collection is recent, but you can see the connection and development of a unique personal style running through them all.

They all emit a strong joy and pleasure in beauty.


After awhile of trying a number of perfumes and becoming more fluent in the language of scent, certain perfumers come to stand out as especially right, personally. The magic of your mutual compatibility will reveal more of you to both yourself and others through the medium of fragrance as it emanates from your own skin's chemistry.

I did not expect how much I would respond to these perfumes, but now I can say that among a small cadre of perfumers, EnVoyage is one that reliably strikes my favorite inner chords with graceful confidence and harmony.

If you are not familiar with them yet, I say you ought to  quickly switch over to the EnVoyage site and acquaint yourself with these skillful beauties through a range of samples. Exploration is well worth it for those who are interested in developing their own repertoire of scent beauty and leading their own noses further into rewarding refinement.

The Cosmologie Collection kit is $15 for a three sample set and the Carmel series are $6 each; all are Eau de Parfum strength.  You will surely fall in love with with one or more of them, and there are a range of larger sizes in available in each.


This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on EnVoyage.   

Copyright 2013 Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure:  the perfumer provided me with samples.

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