June 1, 2016

Memoire Liquide and Antonia's Flowers - Lasting Indies

Among the first of the American indieperfumers are two that are still around from the early-mid 1980s.  No marketing, ads, nor even much courting of the online fragrance community or bloggers. They've worked primarily through word of mouth and client loyalty, and have inspired others to follow in their footsteps.

They are small independent operations that continue to thrive even in the midst of growing competition.

These are two gentle and pleasant lines, easy to wear, skillfully made, of high quality and good longevity.  I associate them both with a relaxed, vacation, luxury-casual sensibility.  They set a mood of lightness and ease, a kind of olfactory resort experience. They make me think of weekend American resorts like the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Key West or Santa Barbara. The beauty of a pair of jeans, a classic white shirt, fragrances you wear to watch the sun go down at the beach.

The first time I ever heard of what have come to be known as "indieperfumes" was an article I read in the NYT on  Antonia's Flowers perfume, created in 1984.  The notion that someone had the agency to make this happen sank into my skin through reading those words about it, as a soothing, pleasurable sensation. I didn't know it then, but this was a foreshadowing. The shape of things to come.

I was excited to know that someone decided to make a perfume so personal and intimate, about the interior of their flower shop, as dominated by freesias.

Located in East Hampton, when it was still a relatively relaxed New York weekend resort town, I imagined it filled with clear sunlight, sea air and bright flowers, set within 18th century main street architecture. (all this, alas, no more, overtaken by amped real estate values and more money than quiet relaxation).

Reading of Antonia's Flowers reminded me of the times I had brought home a few freesias from the greengrocers. They fill the space around them with an heady bright freshness and grow more intoxicating the closer you come.

Antonia Bellanca worked with the perfumer Bernard Chant to perform the difficult feat of creating a freesia themed perfume with fantasy accords, aided by 'living flower technology', aka head-space gas chronometry, that captures the scent molecules from the flower itself. Freesia is one of many flowers whose scent is impossible to capture by extraction or distillation, but can be copied by building accords with other scent materials.

As for me, after much wandering through the natural, handmade, indie and niche perfumes worlds, American and European, I recalled my first encounter with the concept of indieperfumes through reading about Antonia's Flowers and finally took the step to order samples this past summer.

I found that Antonia's Flowers in both EdT and EdP open with more depth than I expected, and then it moves into a pure freesia rush, after which the dry down pulls up the supporting jasmine and magnolia. Absolue is as expected, a far more intensified version. These are never heady or indolic, but they all share the same yellow freesia charisma that the fresh flowers have. Definitely for the true lover of florals, as it's purely focused within that genre.

Floret, next in the line, is a bright floral with marked green sweetness. These are the old fashioned flowers in American country gardens, like Sweet Pea, held together with a soft apricot tone.  As I love and pursue the scent of apricots wherever I get the chance, I was delighted with that aspect. The early summer months distilled into perfume form.

Antonia Bellanca is a pioneer of American indieperfumes, and her success struck a spark that lit the way. Antonia's Flowers and Floret remain cult favorites and in the top ten perfumes for Barney's and Bergdorfs. Her ability to pull this off in unique style was a message to all who were ready to hear it that modern American indie and niche perfume could be successfully produced by individuals from outside the traditional perfume world.

They were kind enough to send me a second set of samples with my order, which I will share as a give-way to one of the readers.

Meanwhile, on the Left Coast:

Memoire Liquide began in Southern California, by two sisters, Robin Coe Hutshing and Jennifer Coe Bakewell, as a small custom fragrance oil bar in 1984 with 150 fine fragrance oils. This developed into a created library of 6,000 blends. These are bespoke perfumes kept on file for clients.

In 2007-9 they created a ready to wear Reserve Edition of five in an edp spray. These use the iconic themes of perfume, vanilla as Amour, incense as Encens, citrus for Soliel, summer flowers for Fleur, and marine ozonic as Vacances. They are refined by several notes to support the mood of each, and balanced so that they can all be worn with each other in a layered way.

My first experience with Memoire Liquide came quite awhile ago at a trade show in NYC. They made a small amount of fragrance for me on the spot. We reviewed some examples of my favorite notes and effects. They put together something harmonious and balanced, easy to wear yet personal. A mix of bright flowers over a dark base, which I still enjoy wearing. They provide a simple and straightforward access to custom personal fragrance. I appreciate this is done at a fair rather than shocking price and without excessive hype, using materials of quality.

I am fascinated with the Bespoke aspect and would love to have two or three more fragrances put together this way. You can of course get several different ones made for different moods, and or create your own with layering the elements of the Reserve Edition.

The vanilla  of Amour Liquide is concentrated, linear, pure and focused. A high quality true Madagascar vanilla with a whisper of incense and tonka, that holds onto you with great longevity. Beautiful for layering or worn alone, for true vanilla lovers. Especially great after a warm bath or shower.

The were kind enough to send me a boxed full size Amour Liquide, and an extra set of samples, which I will give away to one of the readers.

There will be three separate giveaways -

*A set of 8 samples of the full line from Antonia's Flowers, including all three versions of Antonia's Flowers, EdT, EdP, and Absolue, Floret in EdT and EdP, Sogni del Mare, Tiempe Passate, and the men's fragrance, Rokka.

*A set of 5 samples from Memoire Liquide's Reserve Collection, with a Body Creme of Amour Liquide. 

*and a full size of Amour Liquide by Memoire Liquide, in a beautiful presentation box.

Please comment below by July 4th of this year, as a celebration of these pioneers of American indie perfumery. (Readers who reside in the continuous U.S. only, please) with a preference for one of the three, and a little info on your involvement in indieperfumes, and I will randomly pick the winners and let you know in this space.

As noted above, samples for give away were provided by the perfumers. I am not compensated for this post in any way.

Please follow the above links directly to the perfumer's websites for detailed info as to price and stockists or to order directly.

Photos above taken from the perfumer's websites.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.


Gina Tabasso said...

I would be blessed to receive any of these three though the florals by Antonia intrigue me most then the Amour Liquide since I have recently developed a taste for good vanillas, especially the boozy ones.

As for Indie perfumers, I adore Tauer and Dame. But, they have gotten really trendy. A little indie oil fragrancier on Etsy that I own many of is Deep Midnight Perfumes. Cat is a lovely person and gifted mixologist.

ddpanda said...

I've only just recently gotten into indie fragrances. One of the newest ones I've tried is Dame Perfumery. I've sampled several and absolutely love them!

I'm familiar with Memoire Liquide and had gotten a sample of Soleil and Amour. Two entirely different scents but I really enjoyed both. Amour is warm and yummy and I'd love to win a full sized bottle!

Heidi Ever Heart said...

The last Mother's Day that I celebrated with my mom before she passed away, I was able to give her a very special present. I designed a custom fragrance called Twilight,(i think that was the name) at Bendel's with an amazingly helpful Memoire Liquide specialist. I remember his last name was Baptiste. I remember the whole process, because it was so special, and I knew she would love it.
I still have the bottle, and the wonderful memories of how happy she was to receive such a special and beautiful fragrance.

Lucy Raubertas said...

Hi Gina, ddpanda and Heidi,

Please contact me at lraubertas at gmail dot com with your addresses, so you may each receive one of the three above described giveaways.

I won't say who exactly gets what, let it be a surprise. Thank you!

xo Lucy

AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

Heya Lucy,
Now that your giveaway is over I wanted to say how much I enjoyed this piece. All of this was news to me and now I'm going to go find these beauties and get some on my skin. You make Antonia's Flowers sound particularly lush. My first sniff of it was with a few others and I didn't give it time to grow on me. I will next time.
Portia xxx

Lucy Raubertas said...

Thanks APJ -- Portia, they are especially nice for hot weather. Glad to see them going strong still on their own terms.