Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studios has a lovely collection of *natural perfumes. Cocoa Sandalwood continues to be one of my favorite sandalwood fragrances, and in fact, turned me into a full fledged sandalwood lover. Laurie’s latest from her Naturals line also revolves around wood, but this time it’s a woodland theme, the Pacific Forest. Hiking in the Pacific Northwest is truly an exceptional experience. It’s very calming to inhale the fresh air filled with the aromas of majestic pine, spruce and fir trees. To witness this beauty and breathe in the perfumed air is relaxing and awe inspiring. Laurie has captured this sense of restful wonder that is the Pacific Forest. Although the piney forest scent is most prominent in her Pacific Forest perfume, its amber base of labdanum and vanilla allows for a gentle backdrop, made a bit sweeter by heliotrope and violet. An earthiness is present too, as patchouli, frankincense and sandalwood fuse to create the scent of the forest ground being shuffled by one’s feet. Pacific Forest is an ideal feel-good fragrance for the cold days and nights that lie ahead.
A fragrance based around rose and neroli might not strike you as an autumnal perfume choice, but Musk Malabi by Ayala Moriel is a unique creation. Yes, there’s a strong focus on the aforementioned flowers. How could there not be with rose absolutes from Bulgaria and Turkey present, as well as neroli, orange blossom absolute and blood orange? But it’s the addition of a few other botanicals that elevate Musk Malabi to the level of chilly weather comfort.
Ever since my spring break visit to Scottsdale, I have been obsessed with the scent of orange blossoms. The orange trees were teeming with their impossibly pungent flowers, and rekindled my passion for its very special perfume. Luckily it didn’t take long to quell my obsession, as I had something awaiting me at home that would satiate my orange blossom needs.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums had treated me to a lovely “thank you” package after staying with me in Portland. Fortuitously, not only did it include the Vetiver Racinettes soap that I reviewed, but also a sample of Zohar, her orange blossom soliflore.
Ayala Moriel Parfums has begun offering bar soaps, which I am so happy about since they are my favorite delivery mechanism of getting suds to skin. Ayala sent me Vetiver Racinettes, along with a couple other goodies that I will soon review, as a thank you for hosting her and her lovely daughter in our home about a month ago. The pleasure was all ours, as we (my boys, husband and I) had such a terrific time getting to know them and showing them a little bit of Portland during their short visit.
It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, that I do not feel compelled to write good things about this new soap because it was a gift from Ayala, nor do I feel that is the reason she gave it to me. I am writing this review because I LOVE THIS SOAP! It is truly wonderful. Its slip is silky and its lather is luxurious. It is non-drying and smells just like the listed notes, a perfect balance of vetiver, ginger, cardamom (a favorite of mine) and coffee. It’s of special interest to me as well, that Ayala is working with Open Source Soap of Oregon in creating these all natural, handcrafted soap bars. And for those Film Noir fans out there, the bar form of this fragrance will be released next!
As this might be my last installment of The Clarimonde Project, I would like to thank Lucy of IndiePerfumes for inviting me to partake in this extraordinarily inspired adventure. I’m hoping many of you have listened to Clarimonde via Librivox and perused the other participant’s blogs for reviews and beautiful prose inspired by this haunting romance.
There’s one aspect of this story that I have not touched upon yet, and that is the ending when Clarimonde is revealed to be a vampire. Romuald, the priest who fell madly in love with Clarimonde, did not disentangle himself from his lover once he discovered that he had been drugged nightly by her so she could drink his life giving blood. Rather, he seemed to relish that he kept her alive, so much so that his words could be mistaken for the prayer given before taking Holy Communion, “Drink, and may my love infiltrate itself throughout thy body together with my blood.”
When one celebrates Holy Communion, the host (bread) and the wine are symbolic of Christ’s body and blood. In Roman Catholicism specifically, the host and the bread are believed to become the body and blood of Jesus, which is echoed in the aforementioned words of Romuald regarding Clarimonde. Romuald not only partook in this ritual as a priest, but administered it to his parishioners as well. And at night, he gave of his own blood to save the life of Clarimonde. At one point in the story, Romuald even describes Clarimonde’s “beautiful hands” as “purer and more diaphanous than the host,” a direct reference to the Holy Communion.
This story is rife with death, rebirth, blood, flowers, decay, youth and passion. What an abundance of inspiration for a perfumer, right? Indeed it has been. I have three *perfumes at my table right now. One by Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums, another by Dawn Spencer Hurwtiz of DSH Perfumes, and finally one by Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals. I have experienced them all separately, but as I have them together now, I am convinced there must have been a Clarimonde collective consciousness wafting through their creative spaces while they concocted their brews as they are rather similar.
They are all intensely floral perfumes that exude the weighty feel of aubergine velvet, burgundy brocades and red damask. Dawn’s perfume, Paradise Lost, is quite ambery and well-aged like a rich port. Monica’s creation, Sangre, is just as deep and dark as Paradise Lost, but it’s a little sweeter like over-ripe blackberries dripping in one’s hand. All three hint at a haylike note, but it’s Ayala’s Clarimonde Dream Pillow that emanates the most earthiness. It’s not a freshly tilled soil though, rather a soil on the edge of decay that is infused with rose, violet and carnation.
Each of these perfumes teeter on the edge between lushness and decomposition, which is right where Romuald existed. And all of The Clarimonde Project creations, including Mandy Aftel’s Oud Luban and Immortal Mine, by Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl are touched by the beauty and depth of this utterly captivating story. I am honored to have been a part of this event that so exquisitely married perfume and literature.
*Paradise Lost (DSH Perfumes) and Sangre (Skye Botanicals) are mixed-media perfumes as they contain small amounts of synthetics. Ayala’s Dream Pillow perfume is 100% natural.
Image of The Vampire by Sir Philip Burne-Jones at artmagick
Image of Victorian Vampire by FairyLover17 at etsy