Tabac by La Via del Profumo

First things first, the winner of the Mecca Balsam giveaway is Chasa! Congrats!


This review comes on the heels of my recent La Via del Profumo Mecca Balsam review. If you read it, you’ll know that I am not the only one who is smitten with its labdanum laden redolence. Most every blogger who has written about it has sung its praises. Tabac is from the same perfume house, a natural indie-perfumery in Italy, and is just as accolade worthy as Mecca Balsam.


Mecca Balsam is all about labdanum with undertones of tobacco. Tabac is the reverse. It’s tobacco-filled with undertones of labdanum. Labdanum’s mossy warmth emerges from within the tobacco in the opening. It grounds the experience with an earthy floral tone, setting the stage for a soft and soothing tobacco experience. Vanilla and tonka are also responsible for Tabac’s soft edges giving a subtly sweet pipe tobacco impression.


I did a side by side comparison of another gorgeous tobbaco scent, Alaya Moriel Parfums Espionage. I adore Espionage and any other tobacco scent needs to stand up to its beauty. Tabac certainly does, but they are different. Espionage is a drier, more intense tobacco fragrance that exudes bold topnotes, only to be quieted somewhat by elegant florals in the drydown. Tabac on the other hand is a more diffuse tobacco, possessing an immediate subdued quality. They are both full and beautiful with Espionage having a sharp, clear tobacco articulation and Tabac being more tempered, almost downy. So yes, it it entirely justifiable having both in one’s perfume collection, just in case you were wondering.


Tabac is available at La Via del Profumo € 38,33 for 16mls and € 104,17 for 50mls.

posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from La Via del Profumo were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.


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Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo

There’s so much to love about labdanum. I love the sound of the word. It’s a potential tongue twister but once you get it, labdanum is a fun word to say. I also love the story of this resin. Goats would feast on Mediterranean rockrose shrubs filling their bellies while unwittingly collecting the sticky substance in their beards allowing their keepers to harvest the fragrant goo. Labdanum is still obtained via trusty goats, but more often with *leather rakes empowered by human hands.


What I love most about labdanum though, is its complex yet soothing aroma. All at once it encompasses a vegetal mossiness, subtle floral tones, calming incense and supple leather. The following was my impression the first time I smelled labdanum on its own:  …”utterly rich and musty. It also struck me as quite leathery with great depth and amazingly animalic for a botanical”.  How lovely I thought it would be to have a perfume composed mainly of this compelling essence.

La Via del Profumo, an Italian all natural perfumery,  has recently launched an ode to labdanum in Mecca Balsam that exudes what I described above. Benzoin, frankincense, agarwood, tonka, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose help comprise Mecca Balsam, but it is labdanum that most inspires this olfactory visit to Mecca. La Via del Profumo’s website has an eloquent description of Mecca Balsam that is truly on point:

“Wrapped in the amber fragrance of Tonka and in the mystic aroma of the Arabic Frankincense, Labdanum wildness is tamed in an almost ecclesiastic scent that evocates at once the perfume of the mosques and the music of the wind organs in cathedrals.

The scent of raw Tobacco, always present in the background, is like an anchor that binds the base accord, giving them a common denominator.

The flowery notes of Indian Tuberose and of Damask Rose enrich the base of the balsam in the fashion of Arabic fragrances, bestowing to the perfume an opulence worthy of the precious aromatic elixirs worn by the royal family of Saudia.

Mecca Balsam is a fragrance that is liked by men and women alike, its aroma is warming, full, aromatic, and somehow gives a fatherly sense of security.”


My dad has never smelled like labdanum and the florals didn’t blossom on my skin, but otherwise, I fully concur. Mecca Balsam’s quartet of labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco suffuses the air with the caress of incense. The fragrance anoints your skin with a soft richness that has striking sillage and impressive staying power. It also layers beautifully with floral tobacco perfumes like Hermes Kelly Caleche and Ayala Moriel Parfums Espionage.


Dominique Dubrana (AKA AbdesSalaam Attar which is his Mulsim name) is the perfumer at La Via del Profumo whose creations have been given much praise in print. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have given Dubrana’s Grezzo d’eleganza, Hindu Kush and Tabac four stars in “Perfumes: The Guide” and please see the following blogs for more on Mecca Balsam:

Indie Perfumes

Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Bittergrace Notes


 

Dominique Dubrana has been very generous in offering a full 50ml bottle (worth $125 USD) to a Scent Hive reader. Please leave a comment to enter. You can also get extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. (Check the right sidebar for the Scent Hive links). We have our winner!

Mecca Balsam is available at the La Via del Profumo website. € 34,17 for 16mls and € 91,67 for 50mls.


Posted by ~Trish


*labdanum rake image from labdanum-creta.blogspot.com

Please visit the NYT website for a feature on La Via del Profumo and Mecca Balsam.

Disclosure: Samples from La Via del Profumo were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Los Angeles Part II: Blunda and Yosh

Blunda

Los Angeles Report Part II brings us to my enchanted evening at Blunda where Yosh, Persephenie, and many botanical gems were discovered. Before I get to Yosh though, let me tell you about the benzoin! I had never smelled benzoin until this past weekend and could hardly pull my nose out of the jar that held this intoxicating substance which is made from the bark of the Styrax tree via cuts to release the resin. Above all, enticing vanilla wafted from the glass jar. Soft and supple, yet dirty and earthy as if you’d just pulled a piece of wood out of the soil. And the labdanum! I finally got to smell labdanum, another resin, utterly rich and musty. It also struck me as quite leathery with great depth and amazingly animalic for a botanical.

Hundreds of individual essences within Persephenie’s perfumer’s palette remained to be sniffed, but time was short and there was much to smell. Blunda is filled with a delicious array of natural fragrance offerings from Aftelier, Velvet and Sweet Pea, DSH, Artemesia, and Persephenie’s own bodycare line. I could have spent all evening poring over the gorgeous selection. And when one of my favorite perfumers, Roxana Villa walked through the door, I was thrilled not only to have the chance to chat with Roxana, but to experience the fragrances and essences with her was truly special.



YOSH-Winter-Rose

Of course we were all gathered to learn more about Yosh Han’s fragrance Winter Rose and the two fragrance installations, Dew and Sombra Negra, she created especially for the evening. Winter Rose is a 100% botanical fragrance that was inspired by Yosh’s travels through Turkey. Four rose attars along with cardamom are in Winter Rose, making for an inspired, authentic and slightly spicy rose fragrance. But it was the evening’s installations that really got my attention. Sombra Negra with its vetiver, patchouli, oak moss, and tobacco went into deep and dark territory that smoldered in LA’s summer heat. A little too much actually. I had to fan myself as I thought how Sombra Negra would be more appropriate in front of the fireplace upon autumn’s first chill. But Dew….Dew was perfection on that hot night. Why don’t more perfumers use fennel? It’s sheer genius with its crisp and refreshing bite. Yosh added honey absolute, citrus notes with lime, petitgrain and neroli and then a hint of sweet floral in ylang ylang. She created Dew in a gel base, which enhanced the cooling effect of the fragrance and heightened the sparkling anise quality of fennel. For those of you interested in purchasing Sombra Negra or Dew, there still might be some available through Blunda if you contact Persephenie.

If you do call the boutique, consider calling in an order for Persephenie’s Linden Blossom Dry Body Oil or the Nanu Lei Fizzy Wonders. I haven’t actually tried the bath fizzies yet because it has been outrageously hot since I’ve been home, but they smell heavenly! A luscious blend of coconut, cocoa butter, citrus, and tropical flowers. I can’t wait for the weather to cool down so I can enjoy an evening’s bath with one of my Nanu Lei Fizzies. I can attest to how wonderful the Linden Blossom Dry Body Oil is, as I have used it several times and it hydrates beautifully and smells like you’ve stepped out of a Maui spa. The linden blossom is warm and citrusy, almost honey-like, and I’m sure Persephenie has enhanced the oil with other citrus elements as well as tropical white florals and a spot of cocount. It lasts many hours on the skin and you can put it in your hair as well where I’m sure the scent would waft sublimely.


Persephenie and Yosh

Persephenie and Yosh

Blunda is truly an olfactory wonderland. Twice monthly visits (if not more) would certainly be the norm if I lived in Los Angeles. But more than the perfumes, body products and jars of botanical scents…it was the people of these natural perfume enclaves that made my trip exceptional. Persephenie was warm and welcoming; funny and kind. Yosh’s killer smile, along with her sharp intellect and charm-for-days left me giddy in her wake. Roxanna Villa was a joy to finally meet. Her caring, astute, and vibrant nature put me at ease the moment I saw her. And if you read Part I, you know my experiences at Strange Invisible Perfumes and Le Labo were also remarkable. My friend in life and in scent (not to mention fabulous Los Angelean host), duVergne, might be getting another visit from me sooner than she realizes!

Posted 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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Pacifica Spanish Amber

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Pacifica makes a bold claim on its website. “This is the best Amber in the world.” I am not an amber lover, so I can neither confirm nor deny that statement, but I certainly love their confidence. And I do love their business model. Take a look at the founders’ Standards and Ethics and you’ll know they have a deep commitment not only to the environment, but also to the health of their customers and employees. 

 

Not being one who is enamored of amber, I had not actively educated myself about this particular scent. But I recently read Mandy Aftel’s “Essence and Alchemy” and learned that amber is actually a blend of several scents. Typically labdanum, which is a resin from a Mediterranean shrub; benzoin, which is a secretion of the Styrax tree, and vanilla. There are other blends that can go into an amber resin, but this represents a simple example. So it’s no surprise that Spanish Amber’s notes are amber resin, as well as rose gernanium, sandalwood, bergamot, and elemi. (Elemi is a tree native to the Philippine Islands, and its fragrant resin oil apparently has a sharp lemonish scent, which for the record is no where to be found in this fragrance).

 

Spanish Amber comes in both a perfume solid and spray perfume. I tried them both, and they are very similar in scent and their excellent lasting power. The base of the solid perfume is organic coconut wax, organic soy wax, and non-GMO hydrogenated soy wax. Applying the solid perfume was very sensual. It warmed easily and absorbed well. The fragrance itself is definitely for amber lovers. But fair warning to the amber connoisseur, I would not call this complex or sophisticated. It’s a lovely, soft, straightforward amber that is wearable for even someone like myself who typically shies away from anything with amber in the name. For the first few hours, neither the rose geranium nor the bergamot assert themselves, and the sandalwood is present just enough to provide a gentle footing to assure the amber plays nice. Yet, after about five hours of wear Spanish Amber did evolve somewhat and the sandalwood emerged as well as a hint of vanilla which was not so prevalent in the initial amber mix.

 

And can I get an Amen? solids-group-fall-08-standardimageThe price of these fragrances is just what the penny-pinching perfumista ordered! $9 for the perfume solid and $22 for the perfume spray. I say go for the perfume solid. They are portable, really cute, and the scent lasts for hours. And if you’re like me and amber isn’t your thing, not to worry, their selection is outstanding. I will be reviewing more of their fragrances since they are so affordable. Pacifica also makes wonderful body butters and candles. Additionally, Pacifica products are free of parabens, propylene glycol, phthalates and lead wicks.

 

Pacifica is available at their website, Sephora, Whole Foods, and probably your local health food store.

 

Update: I emailed Pacifica customer service to ask about petroleum ingredients in their products as well as the use of synthetic aroma-chemicals in their perfumes/perfume solids. The answer back was: They do not use petroleum based ingredients in their perfumes and body products but they do use paraffin in their pillar candles, (but not their soy candles) and please see this post for more detailed information regarding synthetics.


Posted by ~Trish

photo by loutraje on Flickr

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