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
I’m nursing a minor, albeit very annoying, cold at the moment. It’s the typical deal, stuffy nose, cough, fatigue- and all I can think about is warmth, comfort and pampering. Fortuitously, a lovely parcel arrived from Ayala Moriel Parfums last week which included a sample of her newest fragrance Zangvil, and its accompanying perfumed tea. Perfect for autumn, perfect for my achey bones.
Of course I was thrilled to give her latest perfume creation a try, but it was the tea I really wanted to dive into. OK, so I didn’t literally dive into the tea, but I definitely steeped in it. I held the cup close to my nose and inhaled its steam, allowing the aromatic vapors to heal my tender and congested self. Ayala uses very fine Jasmine Silver Needle tea leaves for Zangvil, which is harvested in the spring and then laced with night blooming jasmine during the summer. I envision the jasmine blooms opening and infusing the white tea leaves with their scent, just as Ayala’s Zangvil tea infused me with its restorative perfume. And not only with the perfume of jasmine, but also of organic crystalized ginger, ambrette seeds and vanilla bean. It’s a gorgeous tea and I think I need to make another cup as I continue to write.
Ahhh, now that I have the aroma of Zangvil swirling about me, I am tempted by my other autumnal (and common cold) indulgence- the bath! I guess this is when the real steeping begins right? It’s a simple pleasure really, immersing oneself in hot water. But when you add something deliciously scented into the tub, it becomes a truly pampering experience. My newest bath discovery is Persephenie’s Nanu Lei Bath, a fizzy mineral bath powder with the potent hydrating powers of coconut oil and cocoa butter and the captivating scent of tiare. Nanu Lei Bath has just the right amounts of coconut, tiare and a sparkling citrus to warm your senses with thoughts of a dreamy tropical destination without hitting you over the head with too much of any of them. I adore it.
During the fall and winter months, I like to ramp up the pampering, and apply a facial mask before dipping into the tub. Evan Healy’s French Rose Clay Mask has occupied my number one spot for just over a year now, but I decided to give a new one a try, Naturopathica’s Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel. My first test-drive timing wasn’t great as it was on a hot, dog day of summer, and I was not feeling the scent of pumpkin. Fast forward to the cold chill in the air of late October, and it’s ideal. According to the Naturopathica website, pumpkin is an exfoliator that is loaded with antioxidants given its high beta carotine content. Cinnamon is also in the mask which gives it a spicy aroma and also acts as an antiseptic. I’ll take their word for it, because after I rinsed it away, my skin felt smoother and softer and I had a curious craving for pumpkin pie.
My last autumn discovery is actually a rediscovery of a forgotten perfume love, YSL’s Paris Roses des Bois. This Paris flanker was released in 2004 and it’s been far too long since I paid it any mind. It’s much more wearable on me than the original Paris which I find too cloying. If you’re familiar with Roses des Bois, you know it to be full of pink roses and blackberries, with an added smidge of sandalwood and musk. Not your typical fall-ish fragrance I know, but it’s really working for me in this colder weather. The musk has taken on a new coziness this autumn as the rose feels a little wilder and the blackberry like a special preserve you ration out during the chilly months. Happily, I have a huge bottle that need not be used sparingly. This jammy rose can now take its rightful place at the front of my perfume collection.
What are your latest autumnal discoveries? Feel free to share in this blogging event!
Top most Image from PennGastronomyClub