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.
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.
Several 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.