A jasmine for winter. Épice Sauvage by Ayala Moriel Parfums

 

Merging jasmine with winter might seem counterintuitive as this heady, warmblooded flower feels so sultry and lush against the heat of the summer sun. Pairing it with a chill in the air seemed odd to me and it wasn’t until last December that I realized jasmine’s power to soothe and comfort during winter’s frost. It was Aftelier’s Fig that showed me jasmine’s ability to assuage the doldrums of cold rainy day after cold rainy day. Its blend of fir and fig is a jammy alpine enchantment, and I am pleased to say that jasmine’s winter-appropriateness does not end there.


Épice Sauvage by Ayala Moriel Parfums is somewhat gourmand in its treatment of jasmine, as it delves into culinary spices like cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and clove. Interestingly, jasmine grandiflorum was chosen rather than jasmine sambac which initially surprised me. I thought the spicy nature of jasmine sambac to be the obvious choice for this spice laden perfume, but Ayala in her great wisdom and talent chose jasmine grandiflorum which as it turns out, was the perfect choice. I’ll tell you why in a bit.


First, let me explain why Épice Sauvage feels so cozy. I love to bake with cardamom, especially in cookies, so its scent feels homey and nurturing. Of course it elicits images of spice markets as well, but cardamom’s comforting, homebody aspect is very strong to me. In Ayurvedic cooking, cardamom is a warming spice that balances all three doshas which are the elements that determine our physical, mental and emotional characteristics. I don’t adhere to Ayurvedic principles on a routine basis, but I’m pretty sure my dosha is vata for many reasons. Most relevant to this discussion is my preference for summer, so cardamom’s sweet, warm, and activating qualities are immensely welcome this time of year.


Upon first smelling Épice Sauvage, I knew I would love it. Cinnamon introduces the fragrance with a whisper of sweetness and foreshadows the emergence of cardamom as the central spicy focus. And here’s why jasmine grandiflorum was such a brilliant pick, it’s rounder and more voluminous than jasmine sambac which has a spicy tone that might have competed with cardamom’s flavor. With the grandiflorum species, cardamom is given the opportunity to provide Épice Sauvage itspiquancy while the jasmine offers up its lush floral heart.


Cardamom dominates the heart of Épice Sauvage, but as the drydown comes into reach, coriander has an important role as well. This spice is a little earthy and peppery, with a suggestion of woods which plays nicely with the cedar note that reveals itself in the basenotes. But let us not forget jasmine as it continues to support all of these essences. Such a compliant floral foundation for the ofttimes unruly jasmine! In the drydown, its blossoms fully coalesce with cardamom which allows the cedar and coriander to hover over and ultimately permeate the fragrance.


After 3-4 hours of wear, a 2nd drydown occurs, one that is very intimate and oh so pretty. It’s pure jasmine, like the moment the blossom begins to open to the night air. It’s the nascent fragrance of a jasmine, dipped for a brief moment in warm honey and rose blossoms. I can’t think of a better way to revel in jasmine’s winter radiance.


Ayala Moriel Parfums are 100% natural and made with loving care by Ayala Sender. Épice Sauvage is available at AyalaMoriel.com, starting at $48 for a mini to $120 for a 9ml Parfum Extrait Flacon.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: This sample of Épice Sauvage was my own purchase. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
image: Heart of Snow by Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) at artmagick.com

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Natural Tobacco Perfumes

It’s been about a year now that I have been drawn to tobacco scents.  Discovering In Fiore’s Maia, which is now called Jasmin Supérieur, sent me down this road due to its subtle yet intoxicating tobacco quality. I had always assumed tobacco in perfume would have to be an acquired taste for me. Turns out, I love it and it loves me.


The quest for my tobacco perfume has lead me to not one, but three fragrances that have fulfilled my aromatic leafy needs. Ayala Moriel Parfums Espionage was the first to capture my heart. Its opening is pure tobacco. Smoky, dry tobacco, that’s sultry and brings out my don’t-mess-with-me-side. After 10-20 minutes, in comes the leather to add to this tough-girl feel. Not too intensely though, Espionage is a tough girl wrapped in supple leather. And at the moment you might get too cocky with the tobacco and leather attitude, jasmine and rose begin to bloom, smoothing out the edges of the initial tobacco hit.




The smoky tones merge with the floral voluptuousness, giving this tobacco fragrance a sensual ambience that is deep and alluring. There’s a touch of vanilla to soften the scent another notch, but this is not a sweet tobacco, and I recommend Espionage if you’re wanting a tobacco scent that leans subtly floral, rather than sweet.


A requisite for anyone on a tobacco quest, Caron’s Tabac Blond has to be experienced. Unfortunately, Tabac Blond was too sharp at the beginning with a rough, cracked leather note and finished with a floral melange that turned into a violet/iris musty mess on my skin. I so wanted to love this classic tobacco fragrance that was released in 1919 and manages to still be around, albeit with reformulations. Loving Espionage instead is no small consolation. Ayala Sender, the creator of Ayala Moriel Parfums, is a beautiful olfactory artist inside and out, and I am thrilled to support her independent, all natural perfumery.


Liz Zorn of Soivohlé is another master at the art of creating gorgeous natural perfumes. Her Vanillaville is my answer to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille which I thought might be a worthy contender. It was not. Tobacco Vanille took me back to my 80’s youth when I sneaked clove cigarettes in high school. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I love the smell of clove cigarettes. But something in Tobacco Vanille went haywire on my skin, and it turned into a toothachingly sweet tobacco. I much prefer Vanillaville as it’s smoother and the vanilla note doesn’t strangle the earthiness out of its sublime tobacco presence.


Vanillaville’s opening definitely speaks of tobacco, but not as intensely as Espionage. Vanillaville is no less intriguing or decadent, it’s just softer from the get go. Vanilla provides this perfume with a harmonious balance between its sweetness and the edginess of tobacco. Vanillaville is a tasteful gourmand, not only with its vanilla, but with subtle coffee notes as well. Full bodied and slightly sweet, it’s a mellow pipe tobacco gently rubbed with leather. I’d choose this if you want your tobacco perfume sweet like a pipe, but in a tempered and artful manner.

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Parfum de Luxe, by DSH Perfumes, is made with 96.5% botanical ingredients and is a fantastic go-to fragrance when you want a classic, vintage feel. The opening is graced by the beautiful duality of violet and bergamot, violet being pretty and powdery, and bergamot lending its uplifting spirit. The notes are listed as Bergamot, Clary Sage, Neroli, Petitgrain, Violet, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Honey, Orris, Tuberosa, Ylang-Ylang, Amber, Benzoin, Brown Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolute, and Vanilla. Each one is given equal weight in the heart and progression to the drydown. Tobacco emerges more prominently in the last hours of wear, but more subtly than Espionage or Vanillaville. Parfum de Luxe is an ideal scent for someone who wants a rich, traditional perfume with a delicate tobacco.


Espionage is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums. Its notes are: Ambrette (Musk) Seed , Bergamot , Jasmine Grandiflorum, Leather Notes, Orris Root, Rose Otto (Turkey), Tabac Blond, Vanilla Absolute, and Virginia Cedarwood.

Vanillaville is available at Soivohlé. Its notes are: Almond, Tonka, Tarragon, Leather and Coffee.

Parfum de Luxe is available at DSH Perfumes. The notes are listed within the review.


Posted by ~Trish with special thanks to Shay at TheModGoddess for alerting me to the website Commando Group for the above illustration.


Disclosure: Samples of these perfumes were provided for this review by Ayala Moriel Parfums, Soivohlé and DSH Perfumes. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Advent to Hanukkah

Advent is usually associated with Christmas, but my husband and I have decided to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our house so I thought a mixed title was quite appropriate for my contribution to this holiday blogging event. Yes, there’s the chance my boys will grow up to be very confused about their religious upbringing, but I figure life is confusing enough…why not make is more so? And since I’m not converting to Judaism, many Jews won’t regard my boys as “true Jews” so we’re really stacking the cards against them. But hey, their waspy-goyish mom can make a mean latke. Seriously, they’re beyond. Here’s my secret: you’ve got to hand-grate the potatoes. No food processors allowed. And keep the already grated potatoes in ice-cold water while you’re grating the others so they don’t turn pink and brown.


Friday is the first night of Hanukkah, and we’re having a small gathering on Saturday night. I’m in charge of the organizing and cooking, as I have been the last nine years of our tradition, and I love the smell of frying potatoes, apple sauce, melted wax, and chocolate wafting throughout the house. Kids playing dreidel and running around the house add to the festive scene and I especially like it when Hanukkah and Christmas don’t overlap, so Hanukkah can be the sole focus of the night. Lighting the menorah to commemorate the miracle that a single day’s worth of oil lasted for eight during the purification of the Temple’s rededication is my favorite Hanukkah moment. Bringing light into the dark is a ritual many people cherish, especially during the Winter Solstice. So while the lighting of the candles is on a menorah, it also feels very all-inclusive and transcendental.


I know I joked about religious confusion above, but the crux of this is a warm and loving home with traditions children can hold onto. Love transcends religion and my boys will feel that, regardless of what path they choose. Whether they have a menorah or a Christmas tree, or both (or neither) in their adult homes, they will always remember having playful and loving Hanukkah parties when they were kids. (Even if there was Christmas music playing in the background every now and then).



So what perfume will they remember me wearing this holiday season?  Probably a delicious mash-up since I’m constantly trying new scents, oils and body creams. DSH Perfume’s Epices d’Hiver is getting a lot of skintime this fall/winter. I reviewed it here, but I’ll reiterate that it’s a spicy gourmand, powdery-vanillic comfort perfume that will no doubt become a cold weather staple.


Ayala Moriel Parfum’s Fête d’Hiver has become another winter favorite, and is spicy in a completely different way. It’s richly floral as gardenia, rose maroc absolute and rose otto lavishly glisten throughout Fête d’Hiver’s structure. Just a pinch of allspice and nutmeg impart the piquant edge, while Ayala’s amber accord adds a delicious and cozy, powdery vanilla. A resinous woody base of frankincense and sandalwood, gilded by the winterized gardenia allows us to leave our fête with perfumed snowflakes lingering on our skin as the night comes to a close.


Much thanks to Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfume for organizing this Holiday Blogging Event. Please visit the links below to read the other participants’ contributions.


Sunday – November 29th: Guest blogger Jane Sibbett opens the Circle

Monday – November 30th: Guest blogger Wendel Meldrum

Tuesday – December 1st: Roxana Villa

Wednesday – December 2nd: Guest blogger Ida Meister

Thursday – December 3rd: Memory and Desire, Heather Ettlinger

Friday – December 4th: Memory and Desire, Jason Ettlinger

Saturday – December 5th: Guest blogger Jade Shutes

Sunday, December 6th, Eve and Roxana

Monday – December 7th: Indie Perfumes, Lucy Raubertas

Tuesday – December 8th: Scent Hive, Trish

Wednesday – December 9th: Olive Bites, Catherine Ivins

Thursday – December 10th: Perfume Smellin’ Things, Tom

Friday – December 11th: Lillyella, Nicole

Saturday – December 12th: The Non-Blonde, Gaia

Sunday – December 13th: Portland Examiner, Donna Hathaway

Monday – December 14th: Xenotees, Noelle

Tuesday – December 15th: The Beauty You Love, Lee

Wednesday – December 16th: Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, Mrs. B

Thursday – December 17th: The Artful Gypsy, Wendy Amdahl

Friday – December 18th: Perfume Shrine, Helg

Saturday – December 19th: Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume, Wendy

Sunday – December 20th: Grindstone Girl’s Daily, Kathi Roussel

Monday – December 21st WINTER SOLSTICE: Perfume Smellin’ Things, Beth

Tuesday – December 22nd: Guest blogger Davis Alexander

Wednesday – December 23rd: Guest blogger Greg Spalenka, Artist as Brand

Thursday – December 24th: Fringe, Dennice Mankarious

Friday – December 25th: Asking Leah, Leah

Photograph by my husband

Posted by ~Trish

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Back From Vacation and In Fiore Winners

First, let me announce the winners of the In Fiore giveaway, Barbara and Tao. Congratulations! I know you are both going to love sampling Julie Elliott’s line.

Mt Baker

So I am back from an eleven day vacation that included the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver BC. Our boys were in tow which went surprisingly well, but was nevertheless exhausting and it is so good to be home. The above photo was our view while on Lopez Island. A stunning view of Mt. Baker, the water, and loads of trees. There was a claw-foot tub that overlooked this view, and the bathroom was stocked with a local soapmaker’s goods that were divine. Bathing Beauty is the name of her tiny operation, and it’s only available at the Lopez Island farmers’ market. If you ever find yourself on this laid back, beautiful island, be sure to pick up her bar soaps and solid scrubs shaped like pastries.

Arghand Pebble Soaps

Next stop was Vancouver Island which included Sidney, Victoria and the quaint seaside town of Comox. A dear friend that I went to midwifery school with lives in Comox, so off we went to visit her and her family. Having my boys and husband on this trip, I knew I would not be getting in much perfume/body product shopping. But who knew perusing guest bathrooms would offer such opportunities? I was pleased as it was with my Lopez Island trials of Bathing Beauty products and then actually being able to buy them at the farmers’ market. When I stumbled upon a dish of Arghand soaps (Jessica wrote about these on Now Smell This about a month ago) in our Comox guest bathroom, I was surprised and elated. Fortuitously, they were a gift that had been purchased at a local pharmacy. Needless to say, I was more than happy to do my part in supporting the Arghand Coop that makes these soaps in Afghanistan, as well as the Comox economy. The above photo is of the Arghand Pebble Soaps and the bowl was made by ceramic artist Jeff Hanks and is available at the Chimera Gallery on Lopez Island.

Ayala

Vancouver BC was our final destination which for me, was one of the highlights. Not only is this city gorgeous with its mountainous, Pacific Coast splendor, but I was honored to have tea with natural perfumer, Ayala Sender. What a treat to chat with her and browse her entire collection. We sipped one of her delicious blends of tea, ate her perfumed chocolate truffles and homemade tea cookies. She was such a lovely host and even though we were able to visit for nearly three hours, I could not believe the time had flown by so quickly. I have exciting news to report: we Ayala Moriel Parfums fans have something very special to look forward to as Ayala will be launching a new perfume this fall. I am going to wait to review it, but I will say this…I love it!

I also found a new favorite clothing store called Maiwa. I was sitting with my husband and sons at Granville Island Market having a much needed late morning snack. A boutique caught my eye filled with beautiful Indian blockprint clothing, scarves, bags, bedding, etc. I celebrated my birthday while we were away, but had not picked out my gift yet. Well, as soon as I stepped foot in the shop, I alerted my husband that Maiwa was the place my birthday gift redemption would occur. Not only was I surrounded by sumptuous beauty, but the clothing and textiles are made by skilled artisans who are a part of a cooperative and have great respect from Maiwa’s founder. Maiwa is a part of the “Slow Clothes” movement which is in opposition to the factory approach to life and embraces the human involvement in all aspects of the production of their clothing. Not unlike small independently owned natural perfumeries, don’t you think? Their artisans also use natural dyes whenever possible like henna, marigold, and pomegranate. Since Maiwa’s products are only available in their store, I might have to make a pilgrimage back to Vancouver BC in the next few years to visit Ayala and buy more “Slow Clothes”.

Orca and baby

I hope many of you have had the chance to travel throughout the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver BC. The area is stunning, relaxed, and makes for a fabulous vacation. We really enjoyed the ferry rides, and even saw orcas on the way to Vancouver Island. Breathtaking!

Posted by ~Trish

Photos by ~Trish

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Scents & Serendipity; Ayala & Persephenie Part II

BACK TO BLUNDA AboutB_Natural_Perfumes

If you live in Los Angeles or are planning a trip anytime soon, you must call and make an appointment to visit Blunda Aromatics or just stop by on a Saturday. The studio is magical, as is the creator Persephenie Schnyder. She offers private lessons in natural botanical perfumery, bath and body care, aromatherapy, candle making and more. Blunda also specializes in a wide range of natural botancial perfumes, essential oil pharmacopeia, exotic herbs, roots, and resins from around the world, educational showcasesand lessons, and last but not least, collectible treasures.

Just a brief wend through the space during Ayala Sender’s Hanami’s showcase, and one small area caught my attention — a group of narrow shelves featuring five vastly different types of Frankincense from Ethiopia, India and Somalia, along with Myrrh, Costus Root, Agarwood, Labdanum, and a small nugget of Ambergris.

Because I am new to this, I had to Wiki and Google many of these substances. And it was a strange and whimsical gift to look them up, I have to confess. Now I know Agarwood (also known in the West as “oud” or “oude”) is a highly aromatic resin that is produced from several types of Aguilera trees — large evergreens — once they become infected with a type of mold or fungis. The trees immune response creates a rich dark resin in its heartwood which in turn impedes the spread of the fungus, and the result is a very prized and rare fragrance.

And I’ve learned the hilarious traditional harvesting process of Labdanum, an essential component of chypre perfumes. Labdanum is a sticky dark resin originating from two types of rockrose shrubs. Perfumeshrine has an excellent entry on this healing miracle substancehere. Although the modern method is far less imaginative, the old school harvest of Labdanum involves running herds of he-goats through groves of rockrose shrubs so that the beautiful, rich fragrant resin collects on the goat’s beards and is then combed out and saved. That’s right! According to some legends, ancient pharaohs would cut the goat beards and wear them because of the resin’s rich odor.

And lastly, there on that shelf was a small nugget of rare Ambergris. With its sweet, earthy, animal and marine odor, Ambergris is created by waxy, solid grey whale spit-up that turns black and crusty after years of floating on top of the ocean. Amidst all the gentle chaos of the Hanami showcase, Persephenie took the time to explain the origins of Ambergris to me and to invite me to smell it — and anything else in her studio of wonders. This world of rarities and exotic substances sounds sublime, doesn’t it? You can be sure I’ll visit again.

~Please visit the Blunda website to discover Persephenie’s offerings.

~Also see Part I of this article here.

~Written by guest contributer, duVergne Robert Gaines: a neophyte to the odor order, is a professional feminist and occasional poet. She lives in Los Angeles near the La Brea tar pits with her partner David Riley Shackelford and their two cat children, Trotsky and MadX.

Posted by ~Trish

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Scents & Serendipity; Ayala & Persephenie Part I

blunda
 FLOWER PARTY

BlundaAromatics in Los Angeles is an exquisite olefactorium/ artisan enclave/ scent school/ alchemical collaboration run by Persephenie Schnyder. Blunda’s website describes its store hours as Saturday: 11-5, Monday – Friday: By Appointment or Chance. It truly was a magnificent accord of chance, serendipity, a dash of divine intervention, and a dear college friend that dispatched me to Blunda a couple of Saturdays ago to experience natural perfumery in the flesh and to hear Ayala Sender describe her Ezra Pound haiku-inspired scent Hanami.

As I slipped out of the blazing SoCal sun and into Blunda(a Swedish word meaning “to close one’s eyes”), I was greeted warmly by Persephenie herself and an ethereal enclave packed with natural perfume devotees.  The walls were replete with sculptures, art, and shelves — shelves teeming with delicate glass vials of essential oils and jars of all sizes containing exotic substances; Ayala refers to this as a perfume organ.

The desserts Ayala and Persephenie prepared for our motley crew were other word-ly. Neatly stacked rows of sakura mochi (Japanese rice pastries filled with Azuki bean paste and wrapped in pickled cherry leaves) greeted us along withAyala’sperfumed teas, fresh and tiny tea sandwiches with cucumber, watercress, minted radishes, carrots, ginger and cream cheese, and wickedly delicious marble-sized handmade perfumed White Potion and Guilt chocolate truffles. As I tried to control my primal instinct to hoard and/or devour, I wondered how have I missed this genius; this cool lounge-like sliver of smell-hounds in LA? This brilliant speak-easy of taste, intelligentsia, and performance scent-art?  Thank chance and the prodding of Trish for this revelation!

GENUFLECTIONS BY A NEW NOSE

Ayala’s presentation was a wonderful introduction to natural and organic fragrance for the botanically naïve. After describing her personal inspiration for Hanami and reciting the rich Ezra Pound lyrics that inspired the perfume and Heather Ettlinger’s  poetic perfume project:

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ayala began by passing around scent strips dipped in her base notes of Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Cassie, Siamwood, Vanilla CO2, Copaiba Balsam and Bakul Attar. (For photos, check out her own SmellyBlog post here). As we passed and considered each note through the group, it felt surprisingly beautiful, holy and communal. There with Persephenie’s perfume organ as a back drop, we exchanged musical nose notes in quiet revelry.

Breaking Hanami down note by note seemed especially appropriate given the deconstructive nature of the tradition up-ending haiku written by Pound. With its unpredictable metrics (the musical notes/cadence of a poem), the poem shifts between hard clip urban consonants and noun images, and the gorgeous seductive nature of soft dark s’es and sh’s, p‘s and b‘s. Ayala’s base ensemble captures this brilliantly.

Cassie, as she explained, is a type of mimosa used in tanning leather and appropriately, it speaks with a musty earthen, even industrial and honeyed depth. Vetiver, a simple grass root with an incredibly rich and complicated wet woods and marshland scent, bowled me over. Vanilla CO2, she used because it is shearer than Vanilla and has a half milky half watery sense. Ayala identified these choices as a desire to pull a deep metallic, dark and dusty –even gloomy — smell.  The final woodsy, metallurgical accord is spectacular.

Then Ayala moved to the heart notes allowing us to appreciate the individual notes of Pink Lotus, Magnolia, Tuberose, Violet Leaf, and Oleander, before providing the scent strip fan of the Sakura Accord in its entirety. Again this process, especially for a novice like me, was extraordinary. There is something truly mystical and transformative to sit (or stand) in a jam-packed room and reverently pass these deep, dark woodsy and floral scents among one another. And finally, for Hanami’s top notes, she purposefully steered away from citrus and turned instead towards earthy-wooden florals — Cabreuva, Frangipani, Mimosa and Rosewood.

There is a hard softness in the core underpinnings of this perfume that beautifully echoes the elegiac quality of the poem itself.  This heavy metal base creates the perfect enduring and quixotic caesura (pause) in one’s mind, a kind of olfactoric undertow. The floral tip opens up a deep and resonant space for that urban anonymity, the alienation and intimacy of modern living, to transpire in all its crushed complexity.  It is a lot like that final image Ezra Pound leaves us with – Ayala’s final fragrance looms like the enduring apparition of our lives, of our faces, anonymous, mysterious, individual, as petals on that wet, black bough. Ayala’s composition is not just a perfume, Hanami (and Ettlinger’s entire poetry project) should be installed in MOCA or MOMA, as an art experience. It is a stunning and sublime fragrance.

Much to our collective joy, Ayala brought several of her other signature perfumes with her as well as small samples of her entire collection.  I was immediately taken with Bon Zai, another Japanese-derived scent. It is minimalist, woodsy, and the Juniper is fabulous. Juniper! Juniper! Fete D’Hiver I found bewitching as well, although totally different from Bon Zai. It is described as “Spicy roses with incense and amber dries down to a powdery snow on fluffy fur” on the website, and this really says it all.  Now to start saving up so that I may purchase all THREE.


Please come back to Scent Hive on Tuesday for Part II of Scents & Serendipity, Ayala & Persephenie

Hanami is available at Blunda Aromatics.

Written by guest contributer ~duVergne Robert Gaines: a neophyte to the odor order, is a professional feminist and occasional poet.  She lives in Los Angeles near the La Brea tar pits with her partner David Riley Shackelford and their two cat children, Trotsky and MadX.

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Mothers and Kids, and the Scents That Bind Us

Jos Plumeria

When I was pregnant with both of my sons I had the all too common and very dreaded smell aversions. Perfumes unfortunately were one of them. My aversion to perfume was so strong throughout my pregnancies that I literally could not look at a bottle of perfume, much less wear it. Because I am a midwife, I am around pregnant women a lot and I am continually amazed by those pregnant women who can wear strong and plentiful perfume and I have to suppress my desire to ask, “How can you do that?” Now that those days are far behind me, I relish in my fragrances and everyday I appreciate my ability to enjoy the glorious natural essences of the perfumers featured here on Scent Hive, including Roxana Villa and Ayala Sender who are also posting pieces today on their blogs regarding scents and motherhood.

 

Being a mother, I am of the biased opinion that my little boys possess their own enchanting smells, which create within me a meditative feeling of maternal longing as they sit cozily on my lap. Inhaling the oils from their scalps, the saltiness of their hard earned sweat, and the earthy grime in the creases of their palms; all of these being the most splendid of natural essences I will ever experience. These daily olfactory encounters bind us to our children in ways I’m sure we will never truly comprehend. Taking in their scents while reading to them at night, trying not to hold on too tightly while listening to them read as they learn new words; I attempt to put into practice my recent eastern philosophy reading, live in this moment, breathe this aromatic breath.

 

I don’t think my sons will ever associate a specific perfume with me. I change fragrances too frequently to ever have a signature scent. Chances are neither one of my sons will write about me wearing In Fiore’s Dayala the way in which Beth wrote so poignantly about her mother wearing Shalimar over at Perfume Smellin’ Things. (My moments of self-importance are few and far between enough that I think I can get over that). Instead, I try to pass on the deep love and affinity I have for the flowers that bloom here in the Northwest, especially in the spring. It’s blissful to have my older son point out lilacs to me on a walk or have my younger one point out his favorite “white flower” and his favorite “pink one” on our meanderings home from preschool.

 

My hope is that the experiences of flowers and appreciation for their beauty and fragrance will last with them beyond these innocent elementary school years. Maybe the joy that little blossoms bring to them now will continue with them or at least resurface in unexpected ways and foster the growth of our bonds. But at the very least you can be sure they know their mommy’s favorite flower in the world is plumeria. This is not because I am some model of perfect motherhood and my sons envision plumerias whenever they see me. It’s simply because the couple of times we have all been to Hawaii together I am constantly huffing the blossoms exclaiming, “this is my favorite flower in the world!” And also because I reminded them a few minutes ago…just to be sure. I also asked them how they would find me if they couldn’t see me or hear me, and my older son said, “by your perfume.” I just left it at that.

 

Thanks to Helg of Perfume Shrine for asking me to be a part of the Mothers and Kids, and the Scents That Bind Us project. It was an honor to be asked and a joy to write this piece. Please visit:

Perfume Shrine for Helg’s piece

Smelly Blog for Ayala Sender’s piece

Illuminated Perfume Journal for Roxana Villa’s piece

Posted by ~Trish

Photograph by Trish’s husband 

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Ayala Moriel Parfums: Hanami

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The sun rarely shines in April as brightly in the Northwest as it did the day Hanami arrived. It was also the day I planned to take my boys to the Japanese Gardens, so the sample’s arrival felt inspired. After gingerly opening the padded envelope, Hanami immediately went on my wrists and neck. And then stepping outside, I could feel my bones finally being warmed by the sun’s rays on my skin. I grabbed my boys from school, and off we went to stroll the gardens. The cherry blossoms were radiant in the sunlight, twinkling against the impossibly clear sky. Rows of pink gauzey blooms were dreamlike, and it was all I could do to keep from smelling my wrists.

 

 

Hanami, the Ayala Moriel Parfums fragrance, twinkles like a light and floats like gauze upon the opening. It’s sparkly with mildly peppery topnotes, and weightless like gossamer with its minimalist rendering of mimosa and frangipani. The fragrance also possesses unexpected buttery and dewy qualities, and the woods are immediately palpable which carry you right to Hanami’s heart which is a beautifully blended woody floral. Hanami then shifts back and forth in the drydown, evolving with your motion, the breeze, and warmth of your skin; from the sweetness of vanilla, back to woods and florals. Sometimes the woods are more pronounced, then honeyed mimosa peeks in again, powdery citrusy magnolia breezes by…  
 
Hanami was created by Ayala Sender after she was invited by Heather Ettlinger to be a part of the Perfume in a Poem project. Ms. Ettlinger is the founder of the blog Memory and Desire, who over a year ago asked several perfumers to create a fragrance inspired by the following two-lined poem:

In a Station of the Metro
 
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
                                        

Ezra Pound

Ayala discusses her experience and inspiration for creating Hanami here.  I recommend stopping by the link as she is a poetic writer in addition to being a fabulously talented perfumer.

 

Clearly Ezra Pound’s poem is not evocative of sunny, pastoral days like I had in the park. Dark, overcast days on an anonymous city street is the tone the poem elicits. But not to be mistaken for another part of the country, rainy days came quickly, and Hanami’s temperament fit them as well. The woods took on more of a damp, moody quality in the wet weather. And the vetiver, while more subdued in the warmth, opened its grassy earthiness more readily. Subsequent wearings also heightened my awareness to a subtle hint of sandalwood within the drydown, and interestingly bakul attar is in the base notes. I came across a fascinating piece about bakul trees on Floracopeia, which I highly recommend reading. Bakul attar is made from the essential oil of the bakul flower and sandalwood oil. And while I am not familiar with the scent of the bakul flower, the sandalwood provides a warm woody base for the florals of Hanami.

 

As mentioned above though, the base provides a foundation for morphing to occur, and it transpired again in the cooler, rainy weather when the earthier, mustier notes became more apparent. I love this aspect of Hanami, and find it incredibly appealing that it seems to be a fragrance for all seasons. Spring and Fall at least. I’ll have to see how it wears in extreme heat and cold temperatures. But I have been wearing Hanami all week and I give it high praise indeed.

 

Hanami means “to enjoy the cherry blossom season” in Japanese. It can also mean “flower party.” Well, for those of you in the Los Angeles area, there’s a flower party going on at Blunda Aromatics on Saturday April 18th and Ayala Sender will be there to exhibit her gorgeous Hanami. So if you are in the area, stop over there for tea and chocolates that Ayala crafts herself, and meet this incredibly talented perfumer who is dedicated to the use of 100% all natural ingredients in her perfumes. See the Blunda Aromatics link for full details.

 

Hanami is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums.


Posted by ~Trish

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IFRA 43rd Amendment. A few natural perfumers weigh in.

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The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) represents the fragrance industry and puts out guidelines for safe usage of fragrant chemicals and essential oils in perfumes and skincare. Recently, they released their 43rd amendment, which has caused an uproar in the perfume blogging community. This amendment puts restrictions on the use of several natural ingredients like oakmoss, ylang ylang and jasmine because of their potential to be allergens. For many, this means deep concern that beloved classics like Chanel’s No 5 and Patou’s Joy will either be reformulated or die. Both are unacceptable results for the die-hard perfumista. This is terribly disheartening for me to consider, but makes me nowhere near as concerned as I am for the small independently owned perfumeries’ and apothecaries’ well being. My concern is not purely altruistic of course. The notion of not being able to access what has become my favorite purveyor of jasmine based scents, In Fiore, and many other fabulously talented natural perfumers’ creations, is a fate I simply do not want to consider. 

 

As to be expected, there is much discussion about whether or not the IFRA really has the consumer’s best interest at heart, or if there are possibly legal issues, turf issues, or (ahem) monetary issues behind these restrictions. My skeptical nature says of course that’s the case! In terms of the legal aspect, it seems that a warning label that states: May cause skin irritation, discontinue use if this occurs. In rare event of severe allergic reaction please seek medical care would be enough to cover the perfume companies’ behinds. Has anyone read the label of a hairspray canister lately? I have one that reads: INHALING CONTENTS MAY BE HARMFUL OR FATAL. How’s that for a warning? My skeptical nature also wonders who funded the studies that deemed these natural essences such a public hazard (jasmine in particular) and how rigorously they were undertaken. But knowing that I am not going to overturn the IFRA’s amendment, or somehow get Chanel up in arms to protect their jasmine legacy, I took to corresponding with some natural perfumers that I admire greatly.

 

Let’s begin with Julie Elliott of In Fiore who quelled my fears about her signature essence, jasmine, having to disappear. She reviewed the 43rd amendment, and believes that for her products, the restriction percentages are workable and within a healthy range for skincare and should be fine for her perfumery as well. Ms. Elliott is a classically trained aromatherapist and intentionally avoids potentially toxic and reactive essential oils, or oils with too many contraindications, so efficacy and safety are paramount at In Fiore. Ms. Elliott also does not foresee any problems with her jasmine suppliers and said, “jasmine is the soul of In Fiore so we will do our best to keep them in business.”

 

Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums addressed this issue on her blog, Smellyblog. She also does not seem overly concerned about these restrictions, and plans to keep using oakmoss as she always has. And like Ms. Elliott, she is dedicated to keeping her suppliers in business. As she states on her blog, “This is the least I can do to support the oakmoss distillers and to ensure that they can keep producing oakmoss absolutes and that entire families of fragrances will not be erased from the face of the earth.”

 

Roxana Villa of Illuminated Perfumes provided me with a concise and eloquent statement about the restrictions.  Being an artist in several mediums, she feels that if someone were to limit her palette, she would simply adjust to those limitations or rebel. For example, Ms. Villa has created an oakmoss accord constructed from botanical and natural essences, without the use of actual oakmoss or synthetic oakmoss. Because of her dedication to ingredients that are pure, and have a vital life force, Ms. Villa would not compromise her art due to these IFRA restrictions. In the case of the oakmoss, she was able to adjust. But if rebellion is called for, so be it! Creativity and rebellion, now isn’t that the spirit of great art?

posted by ~Trish

Jasmine (original painting) by alisonhinks on etsy.com

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Aftelier’s Orchid Solid Perfume

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This winter I read Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy and not only learned a great deal about natural perfumery and its history, but I also found myself reveling in its mystical and spiritual aspects. Ms. Aftel’s book takes you on a journey of the natural perfumer as alchemist. Converting raw matter into something more pure and divine; potentially enabling us to connect the material world with the spiritual. This may or may not be the intention of a natural perfumer, but her book lays a convincing argument that botanical transformation or solve et coagula, to dissolve and combine, just might lead to a transcendental encounter. 

 

Reading her book was informative and moving, but I had never actually worn one of her fragrances. And frankly, I was reluctant to do so after having such a wonderful experience with her writing. I was worried that I would have too many expectations of her perfumes, and if they weren’t met, the let down would be enormous. So I waited.

 

Two months passed until I filled my shopping cart with some samples at Aftelier.com which I must say is no cheap endeavor. But the time had arrived to experience the alchemist at large. I have started my personal Aftelier foray with the Orchid Solid Perfume. What does an orchid smell like you might ask? I really don’t know. After a little research I found that some have no smell, some are putrid, and some are akin to jasmine, honeysuckle, gardenia, rose, violet, etc. Additionally, the flower’s oil is very difficult to distill, so the perfumer must attempt to approximate what she/he has envisioned for the orchid’s fragrance. Whatever Ms. Aftel envisioned for her Orchid Solid, was utterly gorgeous.

 

Aftelier’s Orchid is an interesting fragrance that might take a little time to grasp, but it’s also one that you can surrender to immediately. The initial spicy peppery, cinnamon topnotes made my nose twitch with delight and curiosity. But I accepted the culinary twist and remembered the first time I inhaled a deep purple plumeria that smelled of cinnamon and simply let the fragrance evolve. The floral/spice mix melted into my skin and after my introductory puzzlement, I realized I could not imagine Orchid unfolding in any other manner. 

 

The true beauty of Ms. Aftel’s creation is the orange blossom absolute. The interplay between the tropical narcotic, and the youthful fresh qualities of this blossom are perfectly balanced in her Orchid Solid. It’s green, heady, lush, citrusy, and vital. In Essence and Alchemy, Ms. Aftel describes absolutes as “floral essences at their truest and most concentrated.” That is certainly how the orange blossom of Aftelier’s Orchid flowers on the skin, truthfully.

 

Of course I had to do some research and find out what the spiciness was all about that I was perplexed and captivated by. I found Ayala Sender’s review of Orchid on her blog, Smellyblog, and she mentions that shiso is used in this fragrance. I have to plead ignorance in this regard, as I don’t know much about shiso except for what I have recently read and unknowingly consumed. Shiso, also known as perilla and many other names depending on if you are in Korea, Vietnam, India, etc, is a culinary herb. (Here is an informative article from the LA Times on its many uses). Clearly, shiso is responsible for the peppery, cinnamon opening and elegant transition to Orchid’s heart.

 

single_solid_smallI will echo Ayala’s sentiment that Orchid does not last on the skin as I long as I would have hoped; approximately two hours. This is such a stunning fragrance that I would love for it to last all day. Yet, while I only have a sample of Orchid, it’s a pleasure to dip my finger into the perfume solid and reapply, and I can only imagine that doing so with the sterling silver compact feels like a precious ritual. And precious it is, as the compact is $175 for 1/4oz. 

 

 

 

Many of you may know, but some of you may not, that Mandy Aftel has an exhibit in her honor at Bendel’s in New York City, Living Perfume: The Natural Alchemy of Mandy Aftel from April 18 – May 11. If you are in the New York area, this is not to be missed.

 Aftelier’s Orchid Solid Perfume is available at Aftelier.com and Bendel’s in NYC. Aftelier products do not contain artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, phthalates, or parabens. This is clearly stated on the website.

Posted by ~Trish

Green Orchid by thecrookedstreet on etsy.com

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