Strange Invisible Perfume’s Latest Release: Fire and Cream

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Fire and Cream launches today, the newest fragrance from Alexandra Balahoutis, perfumer and creator of Strange Invisible Perfumes. The name Fire and Cream is not so much descriptive of the perfume, but rather of Ms. Balahoutis, as she created this fragrance for herself. Yet, Fire and Cream not only alludes to her red hair and pale complexion, it also refers to the sky one summer evening when Ms. Balahoutis looked at what must have been a gorgeous sunset and thought, “The sky is full of fire and cream.”


Fire and Cream begins with heaps of pure orange, and a healthy dose of herbaceous white lavender. Both hydro-distilled orange and orange blossoms are in the top notes, allowing for a luscious mix of rich citrus, sweet blossoms and aromatic lavender. The herbal quality continues into the heart of the fragrance where frankincense and tuberose enter the picture. I confess that my nose did not pick up these individual notes, (they are listed on the press release), but I did sense resinous and mildly heady after about an hour. I also took note of vetiver which is listed as a base note, but mingles unabashedly throughout the fragrance hierarchy. In fact, Fire and Cream reminds me of Magazine Street with its similar vetiver vigor, (blended beautifully with vanilla) but Fire and Cream is toned down on the sweetness and turned up on the herbaceousness.


Another similarity to Magazine Street is the well-mannered patchouli dry-down that gives both fragrances an earthy yet smooth base. Fire and Cream still remains much more aromatic than the more confectionary Magazine Street, and I do believe it would wear very well on a man. In addition, the drydown comes full circle with a glimpse of its lovely orange opening. Alongside sandalwood, the final unfolding evokes petitgrain, an essence which can easily be worn by a man or woman.


Fire and Cream also seems to be one of those fragrances that will move effortlessly from season to season. The citrus/lavender duo is not overbearing in its liveliness and the patchouli/frankincense/tuberose triad never becomes a heavy floriental. All notes are well-balanced and being a fan of Magazine Street, I am enjoying that it feels like a familiar favorite, but is different in its cologne-esque edge.


So is there fire and cream in Fire and Cream? I’m not sure the name befits the juice in the literal sense, but I do love the fragrance itself and the story of a stunning sunset as its inspiration. But I’m certainly no red head with a pale complexion. I’m a brunette with brown eyes and olive skin. So Alexandra, you’re gonna have to move over…Fire and Cream is mine!


Leave a comment and you will be entered in a giveaway to receive a sample of Fire and Cream direct from Strange Invisible Perfumes. There will be two lucky winners! You will have until Sunday September 20th at 10pm Pacific time to enter. US entries only this time. Good luck! The winners have been chosen.


Strange Invisible Perfumes Commitment (from their press kit):

Strange Invisible Perfumes is committed to respecting and preserving the earth. Its practices as a company, boutique, and manufacturer are vibrantly green. All products are authentically pure and natural. They are completely free of synthetic preservatives, genetically modified ingredients, parabens, petroleum, coal tar, and industrial phthalates. While sincerely recognizing the value of organic certification, Strange Invisible Perfumes adheres to its own standards of purity and authenticity, which are arguably far more rigorous. The company aggressively pursues ingredients that are organic, fair trade, wildcrafted, and biodynamically cultivated, with every ingredient satisfying at least one measure. All perfumes are set in a base of 100% organic grape alcohol. Ecologically sound packaging reinforces its green stance.


Fire and Cream is available at Strange Invisible Perfumes


posted by ~Trish

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Carol's Daughter Body Butter. My Mother's Day Pick

groove_bb_mMother’s Day is rapidly approaching on Sunday and I wanted to post about a product that is affordable, easily accessible, and something that would make most moms feel special. My pick is Carol’s Daughter Body Butter ($18) and is available online and at most Sephora stores.

Carol’s Daughter Body Butter is filled with ingredients your skin craves to keep it soft and supple: shea butter, cocoa butter, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. And what’s even more important, is what isn’t in the Body Butter. You won’t find petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens, or synthetic dyes. Carol’s Daughter does not claim to use 100% all-natural or organic ingredients, but again, we’re looking for a lower price point here and I am happy that no petrochemicals or phthalates are being used, at least in the Body Butter. You’ll want to be sure to read the labels of their other products if this is important to you. The consistency of Carol’s Daughter Body Butter is thick and balm-like, but warms readily and absorbs quickly. It’s super hydrating and feels luxurious as you massage it into your skin.

Finding a scent for the mom in your life can be challenging, but I say just go for it. With a body butter in general, she can use a little on her hands for a subtle scent, or go crazy and put it all over if she really falls head over heels with your choice. Carol’s Daughter gives you many to choose from. Love is laden with honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Ocean has rosemary, cyclamen and rose. Ecstasy is pineapple, white florals and musk. Almond Cookie is for the real sweet lover and has marzipan, tonka and vanilla orchid. Mango Melange is succulent fruit and coconut, and Jamaican Punch is Fuji apple, cinnamon and musk.

My favorite is Groove Body Butter. And groovy it is. There is nothing about the notes listed that say I should like this. Red currant and sugared dewberries (too sweet!), Tahitian vanilla and cocoa (that might be OK, but with that sweetness I was thinking too foody) and musk (dear gawd…..I cannot do musk). But somehow, it all works and I love it. The red currant tempers the whole deal and keeps its fruitiness just tart enough so the scales don’t get tipped too far into the cloying realm. And the vanilla and cocoa are not of the foody type, just the aromatic swoon-worthy variety. And the musk? What can I say….it’s one of those rare breeds that works for me. It’s not a clean musk, white musk or an “Egyptian” type musk. It’s a fruity musk I guess, a groovy musk.

All of these scents, Groove, Ocean, Mango Melange, etc. also come in other products like scrubs, oils and gels. So you could make your mama a lovely gift set and even mix and match the fragrances. So have at it and pick one up for yourself.

Carol’s Daughter is available at Sephora, their online store and their US stores.

Posted by ~Trish

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Pacifica Egyptian Bergamot Rose & French Lilac

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Pacifica has introduced Egyptian Bergamot Rose into its perfume and body butter line this spring. It has been a favorite scented soap and candle for years, but Pacifica’s perfumer and co-owner Brook Harvey-Taylor decided it was time to expand its horizons. Personally, I am glad she did because Egyptian Bergamot Rose is a lovely ambery floral fragrance that will appeal to the casual fragrance lover along with the devoted perfumista. For this review, I sampled the perfume solid which is incredibly convenient in its portability and price ($9), but is also available in the perfume spray ($22).

 

pacifica-roseEgyptian Bergamot Rose begins mildly herbal with a bright hit of bergamot. The citrusy freshness dissipates rather quickly and allows for a powdery, gentle spicy rose to move forward, but it’s all very subtle. The amber base settles in after an hour, but not like Spanish Amber. Egyptian Bergamot Rose is more floral and powdery, and it’s laced with a stronger hint of vanilla. The vanilla in Egyptian Bergamot Rose is not  particularly potent, but it has more of a presence than in Spanish Amber. I’d call this is a very pretty fragrance, and I don’t mean it diminutively or in a belittling way. Sometimes that is just what you want.

 

il_430xn296327521Another very pretty fragrance from Pacifica is their French Lilac. This is also a new offering in their solid perfume line, but previously existed only in the other forms (spray perfume, natural soap, body butter, and candles). For those of you who love lilacs, I cannot recommend this enough. I have this on right now, a few dabs from the perfume solid, and I feel like there is a bouquet of fresh lilacs in the room. It is that realistic. There’s not that much more to say about it. French Lilac smells like lilacs! I have never tried Pacifica’s natural soaps, but here is a rave review for the French Lilac soap. This is definitely going on my shopping list.

 

As an aside, you can see the Pacifica Update post for more information regarding their product information. They use organic coconut and soy wax as the base for their perfume solids and do not use any petroleum products. 

 

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

 Posted by ~Trish

Antony and Cleopatra by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1883
Lilacs photograph by BroomhillPictures on Etsy.com

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Pacifica Update!

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After I posted my review of Pacifica’s Spanish Amber perfume, there was some concern in the comments about the use of synthetic ingredients in their formulations. I corresponded directly with owner Brook Harvey-Taylor and she clarified this issue. Pacifica’s products contain 85-95% naturally derived ingredients, with most products falling on the high end of this scale. And to be clear, their products (perfumes, lotions, washes, etc) do not contain petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan (an anti-bacterial derived from benzene). In addition, Pacifica adheres to the following practices:

 

•No animal testing or ingredients
•Manufactures in the USA
•Works with local suppliers
•Provides full health and dental benefits for all employees
•Provides full 401K and 125 savings for all employees

 

(I also like the fact that the perfume solids are made with organic soy and coconut wax and the tins are recyclable!)

 

In the spirit of putting closure on this issue, I will not be opening this post up to comments. If you have any specific questions about my correspondence with Brook or have a question you would like me to ask her, please contact me at scenthive {at} gmail {dot} com.

 

Posted by ~Trish

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Red Flower Champa

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Red Flower was founded by Yael Alkalay in 1999 with a set of six candles, two organic teas, and a vision for people to create ritual and beauty in their everyday lives. Ms. Alkalay’s heritage is Russian, Bulgarian and Argentinean and she acknowledges her lineage within her products. For example, the mint and lavender used in select Red Flower body products are sourced from Cordova, Argentina where her mother’s family is from. She also spent five years in Japan when she was the creative director for Shiseido and one can sense her admiration of Japanese culture just from perusing the Red Flower website. Additionally, there is a Red Flower Japan line dedicated to the traditional Japanese bathing ritual. Ms. Alkalay’s tranquil aesthetic is matched only by the peaceful energy she seems to exude, at least here in this video.

Lucky for us perfume lovers, Ms. Alkalay branched out from candles, tea and body products and into the world of fragrance. She has created three USDA certified organic perfumes that contain no petro-chemicals, no phthalates and no synthetics. I will be reviewing Champa here;  Ambrette and Guaiac will follow in a few days.

42100Several floral notes are listed for Champa including champa flowers, mimosa, jasmine, osmanthus and ylang ylang. And while there are some potentially grating choices for me in this blend (I’m talking to you mimosa and ylang ylang), the flower that predominates is a soft spoken champaca. Champaca flowers have several names. Champa is a common Hindi name, as well as the Joy Perfume Flower, since it is one of the primary notes in Patou’s Joy. It is native to Southeast Asia, and the flowers are used to scent rooms, decorate bridal beds, and anoint the hair. Of course the essential oil is also used in perfumery, such as in Joy and in Red Flower’s Champa.

Even though champaca is the namesake flower and predominant note of this perfume, Champa ultimately is a blend of delicate florals that serve as the foundation for a nag champa incense experience. Although it’s not so much the smell of incense smoke or even smelling the sticks of nag champa in their box. Red Flower’s Champa smells of a freshly burnt pile of nag champa ash, which generates a new take on the incense fragrance. Its heart is floral, flowing, and smoky.

Once Champa settles and the drydown emerges, the smoky quality dissipates somewhat, allowing the osmanthus to surface and its accompanying apricot accord. The fruitiness is mellow, with hints of melon. Overall, Champa is a gauze-like floral layered over a smoky beginning and an osmanthus/apricot ending. Very worth trying in the oil-based roll-on version that is small, but easily portable and a little goes a long way.

Red Flower Champa is available at Beautyhabit and Luckyscent.

Posted by ~Trish

Champaca flower photo by rbuzatto on flickr

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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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Trying Something New. MyChelle’s Honeydew Cleanser

3182143705_4cbfea7a3d1I have been a Dr. Hauschka skincare devotee for quite sometime now. I use their Cleansing Cream and Cleansing Milk religiously, and even go so far as to integrate the Lavender Bath oil into the process. Sometimes I just cleanse with the Milk; sometimes just the Cleansing Cream. Sometimes both. When I have enough time I fill the sink with warm water, add a few drops of Lavender Bath oil and rinse my face with the aromatic brew and feel like I have just treated myself to a relaxing ritual. For those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Hauschka’s products, they are beyond lovely. They employ sustainable farming, fair trade practices, and of course no synthetic ingredients.  And because they take into account the cycles of the moon when they plant their flowers that are harvested for their organic formulas, I feel like little celestial fairies have somehow helped create my tubes and bottles of goodness.  

 

The only downside, is that they are a German company. If you are in Germany, that’s great! If you are in a different part of the world, that means your skincare has to be flown over the ocean to get to you. Not ideal if you are trying to decrease your carbon footprint. Not to mention the high cost of their products. It’s an expensive routine. But breaking my Dr. Hauschka skincare habit is a tough one. I’ll illustrate it with a true story. 

 

A few weeks ago I was at a restaurant with my husband and older son. I got a cell phone call that I had to take, and excused myself from the table. While I was away, my son asked who I was talking to. My husband said, “Mommy’s talking to a doctor.” My son then asked, “Oh! Dr. Hauschka?” Yeah, even my son knows about Dr. Hauschka; even how to pronounce the name correctly. I’m a little attached. But, in the spirit of looking for more locally made skincare, at least on this continent, I went shopping.

 

38859hnydewcleansrunsc44oz1MyChelle Dermaceuticals has been my first attempt. MyChelle is based in Colorado and does not use phthalates, parabens, or petroleum ingredients in their products. Some, but not all of the ingredients are organic, such as organic honey, blue algae and glycerin in the Honeydew Cleanser. I have heard  about their high quality reputation over the years, so I figured this was a good enough place to start. And well, Colorado is a lot closer to the Northwestern US than Germany. I saw a travel sized bottle of their Unscented Honeydew Cleanser at my local health food store about two weeks ago and decided to take the plunge. I am happy to report excellent results thus far.

 

I like to warm a nickel-sized amount in my palms and massage it on my face. It has a silky slip when applied and rinses nicely with warm water.  The consistency is creamy but does not leave a residue. Nor does it leave my skin feeling taut; just clean and soft. (As an FYI, my skin in general is fairly normal, but prone to dryness in the winter and breakouts every now and then). After two weeks’ worth of use, my skin looks as good if not better than it does when I use my beloved Dr. Hauschka routine on a twice daily basis. Even though the Honeydew Cleanser is labeled as “unscented” there is a mild, slightly floral scent that is very pleasant but does not linger. 

 

For those of you who enjoy a cream cleanser, I encourage you to give this one a try. I don’t think I will ever stop using Dr. Hauschka’s Cream Cleanser, which is not creamy but rather granular and more of an exfoliator. And I won’t abandon the aforementioned cleansing ritual entirely. But I think I am ready to let go of the Dr. Hauschka’s Cleansing Milk and allow MyChelle’s Honeydew Cleanser to be its lovely, and far more reasonably priced, replacement.

 

~MyChelle is sold at Whole Foods and many health food stores. See this link to find a store near you in the US.

~MyChelle Unscented Honeydew Cleanser is also sold online at a discount at Vitacost.

 

posted by ~Trish

photograph by muffet on fllickr

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L'Artisan Verte Violette. For your reconsideration.

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There’s been a lot of talk about violet perfumes lately. Especially new and unusual ones like Comme des  Garsons + Stephen Jones, Frédéric Malle Dans Tes Bras, and The Unicorn Spell by Les Nez. But there is another violet to (re)consider, L’Artisan’s Verte Violette. Verte Violette has been around since 2000, but is an innovative and unique violet fragrance in its own right.

Initially, it is slightly reminiscent of the guerlinade base of Guerlain’s classics L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko. Possibly from the way the green violet leaves create a crushed balsamy effect alongside the floral, powdery violet petals. But probably more so from the heliotrope, even though it is not listed on L’Artisan’s website scent description. Heliotrope’s almondy-vanilla aroma (some liken it to play-doh) is definitely mingling in the topnotes. Immediately this fragrance is both comforting and refreshing, like a sweet walk through a forest at dawn. Dabbing Verte Violette on your wrists and on the nape of your neck is akin to picking a nosegay of spring’s first violets and pressing their leaves between your fingers to release their dewy greenness.verte-violette

Once the heart of Verte Violette emerges, the heliotrope/vanillic scent becomes even more apparent. The sweetness is balanced nicely by a touch of iris soapiness and just a suggestion of damp cedar. As the fragrance progresses to its base, the cedar becomes more pronounced. But pronounced feels like too strong a word as the cedar note is quite subtle in the drydown. Alongside the cedar, iris supports the earthy vanillic violet; creating a warm and sweet, singular fragrance. I would consider its sillage mild to moderate and it has wonderful lasting power on my skin. For example, if I spray it in the early evening, it will last until bedtime and linger in the morning. Verte Violette gets a strong recommendation from me for someone who is seeking a soft violet that leans deep and green and away from a more candied violet such as Borsari’s Violetta di Parma.

L’Artisan is not a strict natural perfume line, but they do not use phthalates or petrochemicals. (At least that was the response back from customer service). And they do not test on animals. In their literature they state that they use the “purist raw ingredients” but they do not state they use them exclusively. They have introduced an organic line, Jatamansi, which includes perfume and body care.

Verte Violette is available at L’Artisan.com and decants are available at The Perfumed Court.

Posted by ~Trish

See Stylecaster’s L’Artisan pick for summer!

photograph by Peter_Grahlmann on flickr

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L’Artisan Verte Violette. For your reconsideration.

fairy-forest-violet3

 

There’s been a lot of talk about violet perfumes lately. Especially new and unusual ones like Comme des  Garsons + Stephen Jones, Frédéric Malle Dans Tes Bras, and The Unicorn Spell by Les Nez. But there is another violet to (re)consider, L’Artisan’s Verte Violette. Verte Violette has been around since 2000, but is an innovative and unique violet fragrance in its own right.

 

Initially, it is slightly reminiscent of the guerlinade base of Guerlain’s classics L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko. Possibly from the way the green violet leaves create a crushed balsamy effect alongside the floral, powdery violet petals. But probably more so from the heliotrope, even though it is not listed on L’Artisan’s website scent description. Heliotrope’s almondy-vanilla aroma (some liken it to play-doh) is definitely mingling in the topnotes. Immediately this fragrance is both comforting and refreshing, like a sweet walk through a forest at dawn. Dabbing Verte Violette on your wrists and on the nape of your neck is akin to picking a nosegay of spring’s first violets and pressing their leaves between your fingers to release their dewy greenness.verte-violette

 

Once the heart of Verte Violette emerges, the heliotrope/vanillic scent becomes even more apparent. The sweetness is balanced nicely by a touch of iris soapiness and just a suggestion of damp cedar. As the fragrance progresses to its base, the cedar becomes more pronounced. But pronounced feels like too strong a word as the cedar note is quite subtle in the drydown. Alongside the cedar, iris supports the earthy vanillic violet; creating a warm and sweet, singular fragrance. I would consider its sillage mild to moderate and it has wonderful lasting power on my skin. For example, if I spray it in the early evening, it will last until bedtime and linger in the morning. Verte Violette gets a strong recommendation from me for someone who is seeking a soft violet that leans deep and green and away from a more candied violet such as Borsari’s Violetta di Parma

 

L’Artisan is not a strict natural perfume line, but they do not use phthalates or petrochemicals. (At least that was the response back from customer service). And they do not test on animals. In their literature they state that they use the “purist raw ingredients” but they do not state they use them exclusively. They have introduced an organic line, Jatamansi, which includes perfume and body care.

 

Verte Violette is available at L’Artisan.com and decants are available at The Perfumed Court.

 

Posted by ~Trish

 

photograph by Peter_Grahlmann on flickr

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Palas Atena

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Palas Atena is the creation of Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums. Ayala is an incredibly gifted parfumer who is dedicated to using only natural ingredients in her line. This means that there are no synthetic or petroleum derived ingredients in her perfumes. Her products are also cruelty-free, phthalate-free, and she uses organic and ethically wild crafted essences as much as possible. On Ayala’s website, the notes of Palas Atena are listed as Amber, Champaca, Cinnamon, Jasmine Grandiflorum, Lavender, Neroli, Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Sweet Orange. It is a perfectly blended classic floral-oriental fragrance, along the lines of a subdued Coco. This is a good thing in my opinion, because while I appreciate Chanel’s Coco, I overdid it in the late 80’s and surpassed my threshold sometime around 1996.

 

ayala-palas-atenaUpon first dabbing Palas Atena, my impression is that the notes are very well balanced, amber and patchouli initiating the strongest presence. Yet they are never too much, never over-the-top. It’s very wearable, as I don’t like heavy ambers or heavy patchoulis. Ayala’s mastery of blending shows itself as Palas Atena evolves on the skin. The amber and patchouli settle into their warmth, as the spiciness of the champaca flower and cinnamon approach the foreground. Upon its drydown, the sandalwood and sweet orange become more present. But all the while, every note swirls subtly on the skin, each one complimenting the other. I could see myself wearing this fragrance when I want to feel elegant and “evening.” It’s the perfect option for someone who wants to wear a classic fragrance, but prefers natural perfumes over the more bombastic synthetic aldehydes. I miss wearing Coco from time to time, and Palas Atena will certainly satisfy that longing. But rather than yelling, it will call to me with its strong, yet hushed song.

 

Palas Atena is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums and Blunda Aromatics

 

posted by ~Trish

Pallas Athena, 1898 by Franz von Stuck

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