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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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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Essentially Me Natural Fragrances

essentiallyme

Essentially Me is a one stop shopping website for all things perfume. If you need botanical extraits, they’ve got ’em. Pure absolutes they’re available there also. Are you in need of a pipette, some smelling strips, or a blending bottle? They’ve got all that too. Basically, if you’ve ever wanted to become a mad perfume scientist and create your own fragrance, Essentially Me probably has what you need. Detailed instructions on how to get started creating your signature scent, as well as a book that Elena from Perfume Shrine reviewed in wonderful detail here, are also available at Essentially Me.


Alec Lawless, the creator of Essentially Me, also offers perfumery courses in England at their showroom / workshop / lab in a Victorian woollen mill in the Cotswolds, as that is where the company is based, if you’d like a little guidance in your fragrance making endeavors. Mr. Lawless has created ten fragrances if you don’t find yourself with a lot of time on your hands or aren’t inclined to do-it-yourself. He’s made the wise decision to make customizable sample packs available, as well as international shipping.


Essentially MeIt’s a hefty task to review ten fragrances, therefore Elena and I have decided to split it up. So please do visit Perfume Shrine to get her take on the five I’m not discussing. Overall, I was very pleased and impressed with Mr. Lawless’ natural perfumes. (Small disclaimer, they are approximately 99% natural, there are less than 1% of synthetics* in their fragrances). The fragrances are consistently well-blended, complex, and have a very sophisticated presence.


Chypre

The fragrance that I assumed would be the most sophisticated and elegant, turned out to be the most non-traditional of my bunch. Chypre (French for Cyprus) fragrances typically have an oakmoss, woods, and citrus blend. This Chypre definitely has cedarwood and a faint neroli-ish citrus, but really, it’s all about the cumin. That’s right, cumin. Yet this is not the human-cumin of Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom, but rather a very powdery, soft cumin that is proper, yet mildly rebellious at the same time. The drydown hangs onto the savory cumin opening and heart, but makes way for some rich and bitter tobacco, then some pretty, but not clearly discernible gentle florals.


La Joupe

My neighbor has a gorgeous honeysuckle vine that sits between our two houses and emits a heavenly scent in the summer. It’s intoxicating really, and La Joupe takes me back to the not so distant heat of July. Interestingly, the floral notes for La Joupe are listed as jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang, and orange blossoms, but that mixture turns into honeysuckle on my skin. Good enough for me because it’s sweet and pretty, and sometimes a perfume lover needs a break from intense and heady. Sunny and smooth works well on a day like today, as the sun is still shining and probably won’t be for too much longer here in the Pacific Northwest. (Insert melancholic gaze here).


Fauve

There’s so much oakmoss kicking around with sandalwood in this opening, that Fauve is more of a chypre than Chypre! And I love it. Upon first dabbing, it reminded me of Cristalle EDT in its radiant green coolness. Fauve continued to hold my attention with a surprising and restorative minty lavender heart. All of this aromatic, chypre-love was all well and good, but when the beeswax/vanilla ambrosia made its appearance after about an hour, I went weak in the knees. But don’t get the wrong idea. Fauve didn’t turn into a foodie party, it stayed true to its original intent. No doubt it’s elegant through and through; but the honeyed drydown amidst minty, oakmossy nuances…delicious!


Kuan Yin

Who loves the apricoty goodness of osmanthus? You do? Well then, you must give Kuan Yin a try. Kuan Yin starts with osmanthus and ends with osmanthus, but the beginning and end are slightly different. Mimosa helps start things off, creating a very fruity floral experience. It’s fleshy and deeply citrus on the outset, moving into a more fresh and green fragrance. The citrus calms slightly after a half and hour, turning into that quirky baby aspirin accord, with a splash of lime. Luckily, mighty tobacco comes to the rescue with its depth and slightly bitter earthy edge to give Kuan Yin a richness, moving it away from what could have been a light citrus fragrance and into a full-bodied osmanthus perfume.


Classique

I know I gushed quite a bit about Chypre, but Classique might be my favorite of these five I have reviewed. Classique is not the most complex of my grouping, but it hones in on two notes I adore, jasmine and coriander, coriander being a note that is not used frequently enough in perfumery from my point of view. Jasmine of course lends a gorgeous tropical, almost narcotic quality to Classique that has the perfect balance of indoles. There’s just enough to give the fragrance a well-rounded quality, but not too much as to compete with the compelling scent of coriander. In Classique, coriander brings a buttery, spicy tone that is also woody and fresh. The flower and the seed meld beautifully together in this scent, and if you enjoy the two, I strongly encourage you to test it in a sample pack. The other notes in Classique are rose, neroli, ylang ylang, geranium Bourbon, bergamot, mandarin, petitgrain, bay, clove, and vetivert Bourbon. Indeed there’s much going on in this perfume, but on my skin at least, jasmine and coriander are the real stand-outs that merge into a unique and alluring fragrance.


Essentially Me fragrances are available at their website.

Leave a comment and you’re entered to receive my set of all 10 samples! The winner has been chosen.

*per Essentially Me’s PR person: “Synthetic fragrance compounds usually have petrochemical-derived ingredients. The ones we use are about 50% petrochemical-derived, with the rest made up of turpentine derivatives (that is, synthetic molecules created from chemically processing alpha-pinene which is extracted from pine trees)”

Posted by ~Trish

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