Sweet Anthem, the indie Pacific Northwestern Perfumery is featuring two new aspects of Spring as fragrances, Poppy and Lolita.
They don't fall easily within the traditional forms of perfume, so I can't place them specifically in a category such as oriental or fougere, and they are also different than other modern indieperfumers like Slumberhouse who have used absolutes of saps and balsams while eschewing top notes. There is a gentle focus on a scent experience that is highly pleasurable yet not bound by the typical themes for fragrance. For example, they may ask clients to volunteer their own scent stories, and then the crowd sourced favorites will be inventively developed into a set of perfumes.
Poppy EdP is a highly transporting and realistic recreation of striding along a muddy path, the earth softened by Spring rains. The earth tone realistically conveys the very minerals and rocks breaking down over eons of time, now freshly released as fragrance into the air by moisture and the friction of time and the action of the foot's pressure. It's a fecund moist soil that clings to your leather boots. It's impregnated with moisture all through, with a little metallic, maybe iron taste to the minerals in the rain softened earth. It starts out bright and fresh and strong, and as it dries down the metallic aspect softens and the woods behind it seem to stabilize the experience the more they poke through. There's a touch of white smoke from some clean burning cedar-like wood. The notes listed online are opium, red flowers, clove bud, Turkish musk, all of which I assume are accords invented by the perfumer.
This perfume is not exactly pretty but it is fascinating and beautiful especially for those who find themselves uplifted by the scent released when they water their plants or walk through an open field just after a thunderstorm has passed through. It has a sophistication within its simplicity in that I can imagine it as an elegant adornment to clothing such as a coat or sweater, clinging to the wool or leather and enhancing its presence and the period of time you wear it. It seems like it would cling well to all such materials, impregnating fabrics and hair and leather and even paper deeply and almost immediately.
I see there is clove in the composition and yes while clove is often a dominating note, in this case it does not read as a clove centered or recognizably clove-ish perfume. Instead it uses the part that gives a little bite to alert your responses, a slice of the clove experience that exists on the stimulating side of the carnation scale.
Lolita has a more traditionally perfume-y cast, more like a refreshing drink of floral water sweetened with a nectar that might attract a delicate hummingbird or a butterfly-like creature. By that I mean not a dessert-like sugary sweetness, but a plant's sweetness that holds the open air and spaciousness within it.
Yes, I can see as per the name it could connect to a dangerously attractive young girl's persona, at least in the initial stages. But then the top note sweetness passes off rather quickly and there is something of a clean fur animalic tone beneath, but semi-domesticated, like an immaculately clean white furred pet Easter rabbit or a young kitten.
Notes featured on the site, for the liquid EdP version (they are appropriately somewhat different for the solid perfume version): Sea Salt, Black Currant, Cherry Blossom, Tonka Bean, Rosewood Details. I'm not getting the notes separately as themselves, but the whole as a blended composition and atmosphere that moves from a floral into a furred/plushy sensation.
I admire the online site immensely, and there's a lot to read about there, with many different types of perfumes in both liquid and solid forms, inviting participation of the clients to suggest themes for new perfumes, and also a subscription service. It's a site for scent experimentation, keeping it casual but skillful and modern. There is a strongly specific Pacific Northwest style of indie open-ended experimentation going on here, that displays refined tastes developed from lots of reading and writing and close proximity to Nature.
I have written about them before, and continue to look forward to their ongoing creativity in perfume. They have a comprehensive sample program, and are also reasonably priced, as the packaging and marketing is carried out in a casual/creative indie style. Meredith Smith has the sensibility of a writer as well as a perfumer and keeps the site and the perfumes a rich and personal experience.
Above photos from the Sweet Anthem site, showing examples of two other sets of perfume on the site, as the photos for Poppy and Lolita will be coming soon.
Disclosure: I received samples from the perfumer.
Copyright 2014, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.