Gracing the Dawn by Roxana Villa, revisited

Gracing the Dawn

Last July, Roxana Villa sent me a sample of what was then a new release, the solid version of Gracing the Dawn. We had just moved back into our newly remodeled home, and I was still on my blogging hiatus, so I tucked it away in my “special scent” drawer, and didn’t open it until just a few days ago.

I don’t have my sample of the liquid version anymore, but smelling the solid fragrance on my skin brings its memory right back to life. Gracing the Dawn is a glorious chypre redolent  of oakmoss and leather, but the solid downplays the chypre aspect and lighter florals swirl in the foreground. Orange blossoms and mimosa flutter about, along with blades of grass, and subtle herbs, showing off their brightness. Richer flowers like jasmine, rose, and narcissus are present, but dwell subtly with the oakmoss, all the while providing a chypre foundation by bolstering Gracing the Dawn’s fullness and feeling of abundance.

Gracing the Dawn 2

In my review of the liquid version of Gracing the Dawn, I focused on its vintage kinship which is not the case with the perfume solid. There is a quiet nod to the past of course, it is a chypre after all, but it does not harken to the past like the liquid did for me. The solid has more warmth and I don’t recall such a delicious buzz from the orange blossoms and a flurry of leafy-hay in the heart.

Like all of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ fragrances, Gracing the Dawn is 100% all natural, and her solid perfumes are in a base of organic jojoba oil with beeswax from her own bees or other bee keepers in her area.

Gracing the Dawn Locket

Gracing the Dawn is available in a locket at the Roxana Illuminated Perfume etsy site for $35. (See above photo from Roxana’s site). Other sizes available.

Gracing the Dawn Lookbook: here

The top two photographs were taken by me. Bottom photo courtesy of Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

Roxana Villa's GreenWitch, the solid presentation

When Roxana Villa, creator of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, launched GreenWitch last spring I sang its praises among a choir of rejoicing bloggers. We were thrilled for this green chypre filled with the stuff of vintage perfume like oakmoss, patchouli, galbanum, and vetiver. I appreciated it so much that I put it in my Best Perfumes of 2010 post. This spring, Roxana has given us another presentation of GreenWitch which is slightly different from the liquid, but just as compelling.

Galbanum and oakmoss form the foundations of both GreenWitch formulations, but in the solid perfume, galbanum steps up as the dominant of the two. Galbanum is an aromatic resin of the Ferula galbaniflua found abundantly in Iran and gives perfumes a very classic, green scent. When I had the opportunity to smell galbanum resin on its own, I found it grassy and bitter, but with an herbal woodiness that I was drawn to and didn’t want to stop sniffing. Such is the case with the GreenWitch solid, it expresses this green resin crisply and authentically.

Apparently, galbanum can be challenging to work with as articulated by Mandy Aftel and Liz Zorn in their exchanges on Nathan Branch’s blog, Letters to a Fellow Perfumer: ep. 1 and ep. 2. Their conversation is very interesting but the part that really grabbed me was Mandy’s description of galbanum as a “green razor.” After spending a good amount of time with GreenWitch, it seems that Roxana chose not to dull the green razor, but rather exploit its verdant quality by blending it with other strong notes and complex accords.

In its solid form, GreenWitch plays more with the citrusy notes than its liquid counterpart. Petitgrain and bergamot share their sparkle and radiance amongst the fern and faux musk accords. It would have been hard for me to believe that something could actually be greener than the original GrrenWitch, but I think the solid actually is. I don’t know if it’s something in the beeswax base, but the galbanum is amplified in all its green glory! The liquid by contrast, and this is only in comparison to the solid, is more subdued and smooth. But there’s no denying that it too is intensely green.

I know chypres are not for everyone, but if you are a card carrying member of the chypre fan club, GreenWitch in either form is something you must experience. Also, if you would like to be entered in a drawing for a sample of the new GreenWitch solid, leave a comment! (Drawing is now closed). Please read more about Roxana’s vision and creation of GreenWitch at the following links: The Making of GreenWitch, and A Song for Spring.

Also, please visit the following blogs for more impressions on the solid version of GreenWitch.

Perfume Smellin Things

Windesphere Witch

Illuminated Perfume Journal

GreenWitch is available at Roxana’s etsy store. $28 for 5gm.

Posted by ~Trish

Share

Moving Past Cristalle with Liz Earle's Botanical Essence No. 1

My introduction to Cristalle EDT was by way of its sophisticated sillage wafting gracefully around a woman who has since become one of my dearest friends. Megan and I met over sixteen years ago, and Cristalle remains her signature scent, at least in my mind. Her father bought her a bottle in Paris twenty five years ago, so when you’ve been wearing a fragrance for that long, a signature it becomes. When I asked her more about her perfume, she made it very clear that she wore the EDT, not the EDP, and that it was becoming difficult to find.


So off I went to The Perfume House in search of Cristalle EDT. When I arrived, there it was, its square columnar perfection ready for me to purchase. And I did. But no matter how much I loved its scent, I could not move past the feeling that Cristalle belonged to Megan, not me.  I felt like a bit of an imposter when I wore Cristalle and upon telling that to Megan, she graciously gave me her blessing to wear it, but it never felt comfortable on my skin. I ultimately gave it to my grandmother who would never have spent nearly that much money on herself for a bottle of perfume. Fast forward sixteen years, and I have finally discovered a chypre that is reminiscent of Cristalle EDT, yet different enough to suit me.



Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1 has several top-notes in common with Cristalle EDT like bergamot, lemon, and petitgrain. While Botanical Essence No. 1 lacks oakmoss, the hallmark of many chypre perfumes including Cristalle, it possesses the aforementioned hesperidic* top notes as well as rose, patchouli, cedarwood and vetiver which are frequently used in the creation of a chypre. In addition to Cristalle EDT, Botanical Essence No.1 resembles Annick Goutal’s Eau de Sud and Clarin’s Eau Dynamisante. All of these fragrances are green and citrusy in the opening and woody-aromatic in the heart and drydown, but I find Botanical Essence No. 1 to be slightly warmer and rounder than its counterparts. It’s not as austere as Cristalle, is a little smoother than Eau de Sud and less “spa-aromatherapeutic” than Eau Dynamisante.


When I first tested Botanical Essence No.1, I was immediately impressed. I enjoyed its sparkly greeting and welcoming herbal notes of cardamom, coriander and nutmeg. The drydown was just as alluring, with tonka bean adding an unexpected touch of sweetness and cedarwood adding body and comfort. But it wasn’t until just today, that I was fully won over by Botanical Essence No. 1. Early this morning, I sprayed this EDP on my wrists before I gave much thought to my day. After sitting down to a breakfast of oatmeal and glancing at my dayplanner I remembered my acupuncture appointment at 10 am. I wondered if I had made a perfume mistake. I had never worn fragrance to an acupuncture treatment and became wary of my spritzing decision. The concern passed quickly though, and off I went. While I was having my “rest” (after being poked with what felt like 50+ needles) I drifted into a quasi-meditative state. The restorative and comforting qualities of Botanical Essence No.1 began to envelop me, and it was blissful.


Seven years ago, I had a blissful moment of a different sort when I found that bottle of Cristalle in my grandmother’s medicine cabinet after she died. It was empty, but I hope its gorgeous scent made her feel full.


One lucky reader gets to share in my bliss because the Liz Earle people are giving away a full bottle of Botanical Essence No. 1 to a Scent Hive reader. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered. Extra entries as well if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin,Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! Drawing will close Sunday July 11th at 9pm PST. Drawing is now closed.

Botanical Essence No. 1 is derived from 98.6% all natural ingredients. Here is a statement from Liz Earle’s PR folks regarding the other 1.4%:

Over 98% (98.6%) of the ingredients used in Liz Earle Botanical Essence No. 1 are directly derived from nature; the remaining 1.4 % ingredients are solvents, stabilisers and synthetics. These ingredients, whilst not naturally derived, are commonly used when formulating a fine fragrance. They are really important as they make sure the fragrance lasts when it is applied. They also help to make the fragrance smell continuous: essential oils such as the ones we are using can smell quite sharp and distinctive, and these ingredients help the fragrance smell rounded and balanced. If we didn’t use these ingredients the fragrance wouldn’t last as long on the skin, and the complex blend wouldn’t be as well rounded and such a pleasure for the wearer.

It is available at LizEarle.com, $78 for a 1.6 oz bottle.



* Please see this very informative post at Bois de Jasmin regarding the Hesperide (citrus) family of perfumes.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Botanical Essence No. 1 was provided for this review by Liz Earle’s PR company. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Share