Kaitlyn ni Donovan is a musician and natural perfumer, as well as a fellow Portlander. It seems like the Pacific Northwest would be fertile ground for botanical alchemy, but she is the first that I have discovered from my environs. Actually, I found Kaitlyn via a reader’s suggestion and am thankful for the tip (thanks Angie!) as Vireo: Scents of Nature features some lovely gems. Her entire line is created from 100% botanical ingredients, some of which are homemade infusions like her Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla bean (in Coco Violette) and Lapsang Souchong (in Smoke Follows Beauty).
Kaitlyn finds inspiration from her natural surroundings and states, “Oregon influences my work because of its great natural beauty, diversity and accessibility to just about any landscape you are craving within an hour’s drive.” Luckily, you don’t need to drive an hour to find lush forest greenery in Portland which her Coco Violette evokes. The “violette” in this perfume stems from violet absolute which possesses a deep leafy green scent that’s unlike the powdery-sweetness typically associated with violet perfumes. By contrast, Coco Violette ushers in the pleasure of being shaded by basalmic branches and walking along trails of rich soil.
Coco Violette exudes a fruity/herbal quality as well. A twist of blood orange and a pinch of cardamom attenuate the earthiness of the violet absolute, giving body and fullness to its leafiness. Coco Violette is further grounded with orris root’s warm and mushroomy texture augmented by cassie’s soft and honeyed floral absolute. It’s here in the heart that Coco Violette becomes really pretty. Not that the opening spices, citrus, and deep greens are unappealing, quite the contrary. The topnotes are exceptional, but they make me pause and take note of what I am experiencing. Alternately, the heart allows me to simply enjoy the beauty of a lovely floral perfume, like settling into your favorite spot on the couch as you ponder that interesting thought that was with you moments before.
The base has notes of cocoa absolute, vanilla bourbon absolute,Tahitian and Madagascar vanilla bean, and costus, the result being a milky chocolate that is neither too sweet nor too foody. The creamy cocoa settles into its drydown among earth and warmth, which is a fitting resolution for Coco Violette.
Kaitlyn has created another warmth-filled fragrance called Smoke Follows Beauty which is perfect for sandalwood admirers. It’s not complex or wildly innovative, but it wears with a lovely clarity and purity that I have not found in most sandalwood based fragrances. Alongside sandalwood’s distinctness, is a softness that seems to emanate from smoky embers. High quality, sustainable sandalwood (from Vanuatu in this case) has creamy buttery undertones that Smoke Follows Beauty possesses in just the right amount. The softening of woody edges remains in the background, never disrupting sandalwood’s distinct scent.
Fir, guaiac, vanilla, hay, frankincense, and lapsang souchong are listed in the notes, and they give Smoke Follows Beauty fullness and warmth that would otherwise be missing in their absence. Nevertheless, sandalwood is the focus of this elegantly named fragrance that in my opinion holds its own against more well known sandalwood perfumes like Diptyque’s Tam Dao and 10 Corso Como.
Image: She Danced in the City at Night by stilettoheights on etsy
Posted by ~Trish