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.

To Bee. Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Homage to the Honeybee

I am continually marveled by Roxana Villa. She is a prolific and highly gifted natural perfumer whose work I greatly admire and her dedication to nurturing the native flora and fauna of her home in Southern California is unflagging and commendable. She has created perfumes inspired by local plants such as the native rose of California, lavender from Ojai Valley, and the California Coastal Live Oak. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of several of Roxana’s perfumes are donated to organizations like the California Chaparral Institute and the Ojai Lavender Festival.

As if Roxana didn’t have enough on her activist-perfumer’s plate, over the past year she has become an organic beekeeper. Her efforts are part of a movement to help reverse colony collapse disorder and ultimately save the honeybee (and ourselves) from destruction. Her hard work also gives her the opportunity to savor her bees’ honey. Roxana sent along a tiny pot of this glistening elixir which tasted heavenly as it mingled with melted butter atop my morning toast. Along with this culinary treat, her bees have given rise to Roxana’s newest olfactory creation, To Bee, a 100% natural perfume that radiates the essence of honey.

 

To Bee is available in solid and liquid form, and both are composed of several complex accords, botanical notes, as well as tinctures from beeswax sourced from Roxana’s hive, local hives, and feral rescue hives. The result is a mosaic of scents that swirl together harmoniously which then ultimately distill to a crystalline honey drydown.

Amber and musk accords anchor To Bee with a resinous sweetness and a vegetal musk as tonka, woods, vanilla, ambrette, and hay offer their enticing aromas. It sets a tone of warmth that gives To Bee a glow in which the honey can bask. But it’s Roxana’s intricate leather accord that makes To Bee quite unique and animalic as it’s made up of choya (smoked sea shells), africa stone and oud- along with nearly fifty other essences! This leathery bounty of notes boosts the muskiness of Too Bee and gives its sweet amber accord a sultry sexiness. Clearly, Too Bee is not a one dimensional honey scent. It is sophisticated, alluring, and a pleasure to wear.


In its final hours on the skin, Too Bee dries down to a pure honeyed experience, like the scent of melting beeswax which I find utterly intoxicating. A slightly floral component is more noticeable in this stage as jasmine and mimosa seem to quietly declare themselves. A little musk lingers as well, more so in the solid form, but it’s the honey from hardworking bees that makes the drydown, as well as To Bee in its entirety, so very alluring.

Please leave a comment if you would like to be entered in a drawing for a sample pot of Roxana’s To Bee. US entries only please. Drawing closed, will announce winner soon!

A sampler of To Bee is available at Roxana’s etsy site. Beautiful engraved lockets filled with To Bee are also available as are 5gm solid pots and a 7gm liquid flacon. A spray version is coming, and that’s what I’ll be holing out for!

Images courtesy of ©RoxanaVilla

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by Roxana Illuminated Perfume. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Stunning Lookbook

 

Roxana Villa has been hard at work, creating her Lookbook, and it was worth the effort. If you take a gander, you will be rewarded with gorgeous images from her collection and beautiful descriptions of her work. So here it is: Roxana Illuminated Perfume Lookbook, Number 1 (I hope that means there will be more)!

Since the above image is of Roxana’s Rosa, I am posting a portion of a prior Scent Hive review.

Rosa’s rose is comprised of an otto (essential oil) from Turkey and an absolute of rose bourbonica from India. But before you sense the full blossoming of those gorgeous flowers; woods, oud, vetiver and subtle leather introduce the fragrance. The woods and oud begin slightly sharp but rich, and then mellow into vetiver’s deep earthy vibration. When the rose finally blooms at the drydown, Rosa’s bouquet is full but close to the skin. It’s complex and provides a beautiful evolution on your skin.

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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

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Gracing the Dawn by Roxana Villa


Gracing the Dawn is the second chypre to be released by Roxana Villa. The first was Green Witch, which emerged this past spring and was heralded by us perfume bloggers as a gorgeous “marine chypre” due to its sea side aromas. Gracing the Dawn is similar in that it possesses classic chypre notes like oakmoss and galbanum, but it differs from Green Witch of course, even from the opening. It feels more like a vintage perfume as a multitude of complex notes intertwine effortlessly so no essence is distinct, yet the fragrance as a whole is quite distinctive.


To me, Green Witch is a softer chypre with a floral heart that resembles a neroli kissed honeysuckle. By contrast, Gracing the Dawn with its rich abundance of rose, jasmine and mimosa bring to mind vintage chypres like Magie Noir and as Donna from Perfume Smellin Things mentioned, Jolie Madame. Adding to the opulence of the aforementioned flowers is a tincture of violets from Roxana’s mother’s garden that grace the floral heart making it even more rounded and voluminous.


Powdery, violet laden woods appear in the drydown which is enhanced by a minuscule amount of Africa Stone, otherwise known as the fossilized poop of the hyrax. A tincture of Africa Stone provides an ambergris-like dimension that continues the vintage perfume likeness. Unlike Roxana’s other purely botanical fragrances, she has labeled this one natural since Africa Stone is clearly not of the botanical nature. But it is ethically harvested and of course, not synthesized in a lab.


Please visit the other participating sites for more impressions of Gracing the Dawn:

Roxana herself at Illuminated Perfume Journal

Beth at Cleveland Fragrance Examiner

Lucy at Indie Perfumes

Elena at Perfume Shrine


Gracing the Dawn is available at Roxana’s etsy shop, $27 for a 1gm vial.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by Roxana Villa. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Roxana Illuminated Perfume: Vera Solid Perfume

Roxana Villa, of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, is the creator behind one of my favorite lavender perfumes, Vera. I reviewed the liquid formulation of Vera this past fall, and am elated that Roxana is now offering it as a solid in addition to the liquid perfume. Organic lavender from Ojai is used in the formulations and lavender lovers in the Southern California area should consider attending the Ojai Lavender Festival on June 26th.



Both the liquid and solid Veras are comforting and unique renditions of lavender, but they do possess subtle differences. Alongside lavender, there are woods, resins, sage, oakmoss and orange blossom that coalesce elegantly in both formulas. In the topnotes, sage predominates the liquid while resins are much more enhanced in the solid. Resins of styrax (benzoin), Peru Balsam and cistus yield a supple aroma whose delicate sweetness hovers over the rich depth of a sunbaked thicket.


The middle notes of the solid continue to explore the resinous nature of Vera, as cistus (the essential oil of the rockrose shrub) becomes heightened in its rich radiance. In contrast, the heart of the liquid finds itself amidst the floral company of orange blossoms which temper the intensely herbaceousness of lavender. This herbal quality quiets even further in the liquid’s drydown which assumes a more powdery form. The solid on the otherhand, veers away from the powder path and into the deeper terrain of woods like cedar, vintage Mysore sandalwood and the aforementioned resins.



Vera in both of its forms are beauties, but I prefer the solid as the union of sweet, intriguing resins with aromatic florals reels me in effortlessly. Impressive longevity is bestowed upon both, but the solid wears closer to the skin. As always, Roxana’s perfumes are 100% natural, made with only the finest organic and/or wildcrafted botanicals.


As a special treat for Scent Hive readers, Roxana is giving away a trio sampler set of Vera, Rosa and Chaparral. As always, you are eligible for extra entries, one each, by following Roxana on Twitter and/or her Blog. 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 June 13th at 9pm PST. We have our winner!


Vera is available at Roxana’s etsy site. $7.50 for a solid perfume mini is $7.50, $25 for a 5gm pot, $65 for a compact, or $150 for a 7gm flacon of the liquid perfume.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from Roxana Illuminated Perfume were provided for this review. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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GreenWitch: A Captivating Perfume from Roxana Villa

If you read Roxana’s blog post regarding her inspiration for GreenWitch, you will find it was named after the book “GreenWitch” by Susan Cooper. It so moved Roxana, that she shifted her creation of a green perfume with an oakmoss base, a chypre (Sheep-ra) in other words, to one a little more oceanic. I appreciate chypres and their fascinating history in perfumery, but they are not my first choice in terms of perfume categories. But GreenWitch is not your typical chypre in a way that will pique the interest of chypre enthusiasts and garner the curiosity of chypre-skeptics. And isn’t today, the first day of Spring, the perfect day to savor a lush-green perfume?

GreenWitch introduces herself decidedly as a chypre with oakmoss, galbanum and a handful of crushed violet leaves and rose petals. The fragrance opening is full, but not sharp. This allows for ease when you sit in her presence, even though you’re not quite sure where you might be lead.

Watery teal was Roxana’s color choice for the art and beautiful hand-crocheted pouch that houses GreenWitch. Apropos since the oakmoss takes on a seaside tone with a vaguely nutty, salty air that vetiver and tonka can both lend. It also develops other floral nuances like boronia and honeysuckle. There are many, many essences in GreenWitch. Far too many to list here. Boronia is on that list, but not honeysuckle. Yet that is what I sense. Could it be that mimosa, ylang ylang and beeswax, which are in the notes, meld together in this fragrance to create a honeysuckle accord? I’m not sure, but I do know that the sweet green nectar of honeysuckle finds its way into my nose everytime I wear GreenWitch. Ultimately, the summery honeysuckle sugar gives way to boronia’s balsamic violet hue which is bright, sumptuous, and augments the green woods of oakmoss.

Wearing GreenWitch after several hours is like a day at the beach coming to a close. It’s the scent of warm skin, salt in your hair, and suntan lotion that barely lingers on your body. Probably not what you’d think from a perfume that started off straight-up chypre. There is a nod to that beginning though, after about six hours of wear when a delicious soapy green freshness develops.It has incredible sillage and staying power which lengthens the fragrance’s evolution, and GreenWitch might well be Roxana’s most multi-layered perfume yet.

GreenWitch is available at Esty. $150 for a 7gm flacon and $25 for a 1gm vial. Each flacon sold will give a percentage to Green Peace.

Please visit these other blogs for their impressions of GreenWitch.

Ida at BitterGrace Notes

The Non Blonde

Perfume Posse

The Windsphere Witch

Perfume Shrine

Portland Examiner

Roxana and Davis at the Illuminated Perfume Journal


Posted by ~Trish

Photos and images ©Roxana Villa and ©Greg Spalenka.

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Scents of Comfort: A Joint Blogging Project

Today is the last day of winter, and as we pass from one season to the next we find ourselves in a moment of reflection. Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums has gathered a handful of bloggers to reflect on the remarkable scents that gave us comfort this past winter. Here is my selection of perfumes that provided warmth in the cold months and will continue to nest a sanctuary for me anytime of year.

Bancha is the first fragrance that came to mind when I received Ayala’s invitation. I wore it throughout the winter, and it felt nurturing and hopeful. Dawn Spencer Hurwtiz has named this fragrance after a type of green tea, but it is so much more than a “tea” perfume. It’s lemony and minty to be sure, but is entrenched in rich dark soil that provides sustenance to roots and bulbs, a reminder of emerging life. Bancha is equally as gorgeous and appropriate on a man, my husband specifically, which makes my affection for Bancha even stronger.

Royal Couple by Gabriel’s Aunt, is an overtly floral fragrance that is wearable and cozy. It starts with an intoxicating dose of jasmine, develops into a subtly spicy floral in the heart, and dries down to a gorgeous vanilla base. Royal Couple’s blend of jasmine and rose is impeccable and fortunately comes in a candle to help light the way when it’s chilly, be it from the weather or internal storminess.

A perfume can be a salve not so much because of its notes, but because of the association you have with its aroma. When I wore Ayala’s Hanami for the first time last spring, it was a near magical day at the Japanese Gardens with my young boys. The sun was bursting with much longed for radiant heat and the cherry blossoms were glowing with an otherworldly pinkness. Hanami was on my skin, and its floral notes of magnolia and mimosa made the day even sweeter. Despite its petal softness, Hanami is very grounded with woods, tonka, vetiver and subtle vanilla. So for me, Hanami is a complex fragrance that recalls a tender memory.

Buying a perfume after you’ve gone through turmoil is another way to experience well-being, at least in my scent obsessed world. I did just that after my recent unexpected surgery, as I deserved and needed a new scent to appease my situation, right? One read of March’s review of Strange Invisible Perfume’s limited edition Dimanche was all it took for me to decide what perfume I would indulge in. Thankfully, I concur with her glowing review. In fact, I’m having a hard time using any other perfume these days as I am in full-blown Dimanche infatuation. I agree with March that Dimanche is sharp in the beginning due to iris that isn’t tempered with something soft to round its edges. Instead, bittersweet cocoa and powdery rose heighten its intensity throughout the top and especially in the heart of the fragrance. Dimanche doesn’t settle until the drydown when hay and honey emerge, making for one interesting affair. It gets even more fascinating when the soapy quality of iris surfaces. This might sound like a motley crew of notes, but it works. It’s compelling, rich, and to use an overused word, a little bit fierce.

Chêne by Roxana Villa is a perfume I wished I’d had this past winter. Although it is a chocolate based fragrance, it suggests a similar ambience to DSH’s Bancha. Chêne is dark and rich with oud, woods and resins yet has a piquant vitality that keeps it from becoming too heavy. The base of this solid perfume is composed of cocoa butter, beeswax, and jojoba seed oil which is dreamy to apply, and perfect for the rainy days of spring around the corner.

These perfumes, and the Royal Couple candle, are all natural and contain no synthetics, petrochemicals, or phthalates. Many of them also use organic ingredients.

Please visit the other blogs who are participating in this comforting event:

SmellyBlog

Roxana’s Illuminated Journal

BitterGrace Notes

Perfume Shrine

Notes from the Ledge

The Non Blonde

Perfume in Progress

Katie Puckrick Smells

A Rose Beyond the Thames

I Smell Therefore I Am

Olfactarama

All I Am A Redhead

Savvy Thinker

Posted by ~Trish

“Bird in the Magnolia Nest” by Hadley Hutton available at etsy.

“This article’s title is an homage to Michelyn Camen‘s original article of this same name on Sniffapalooza Magazine in 2008, in which interviewed several perfumers to comment on what botanical elements make their perfumes comforting.

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