A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Perfume Event

 

Amanda Feeley of Esscentual Alchemy has brought together 16 perfumers and 11 bloggers to celebrate summer fragrances inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a tale of entangled, wacky love thanks to mischievous fairies and elves. I like to think of Amanda as one of these fairies, spreading various natural potions across the land just to see how we humans react and engage with these delights.

And what delights they are! I received “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” inspirations from Amanda herself, as well as from Ayala Sender.  I’ll begin with Amanda’s creation named “Bottom’s Dream” since it personifies the playful gauziness of a fairy’s wings. Bottom’s Dream refers to Shakespeare’s character, Nick Bottom, who unbeknownst to him, ends up with an ass’s head instead of his own. Titania, queen of the fairies falls in love with him in spite of his donkey face because she has been anointed with a love potion. Amanda too has created a love potion of sorts, because you know what? I am in love with it!


When I first read that a “handmade peach accord” was in the mix, I hoped that meant osmanthus would be a prominent note, and it is. I absolutely adore the fleshy peachiness of osmanthus which is why “Bottom’s Dream” is a success for me. It possesses the peachy sweetness of summer drinks and fresh blossoms at a garden party. Beautiful florals reside in the blend, most notably a fruity rose and a honeyed jasmine that swirl above, below and through the diaphanous osmanthus petals. A very subtle wash of marigold provides an earthy haze and musky pepperiness that keeps “Bottom’s Dream” from floating away too quickly. It stays on the skin for several hours giving this osmanthus lover plenty to dream about.

Ayala’s fragrance for this event is entirely different from Amanda’s. While it bears the insouciant name, “Smiling Country,” it feels far more serious than a daydream. This perfume delves deeper into the soil where seeds germinate after they soak up a nighttime’s rain. Ayala did not send me the notes for her creation, so what I lay before you is pure speculation. I must confess that after I wore it for the first time, I thought a vintage patchouli must be in “Smiling Country” as the drydown emanates its essence. Boronia also made an impression on me, and I had to let Ayala know my guesses. I was right on the boronia, but wrong on the patchouli.

Copyright 2008 Howard David Johnson

So what was that deep, balsamic, almost minty/pine-like essence that I smelled? This combination of dried grass and moist soil? After spending more time with “Smiling Country” I sense a tangy wood such as oud alongside the tannic fruitiness of boronia. Juniper is another possibility as it would be responsible for heightening the woodiness as well as adding an evergreen mintiness. Chamomile, hay and vetiver are my grass note hunches and I think something like mimosa might also be present as a higher pitched floral note dances above the richer woods.

I’m still searching my past olfactory memories for some other note that could possibly explain the patchouli likeness that I still experience when wearing “Smiling Country.” I have a notion that spikenard is lingering in Ayala’s perfume since it is noted to smell musky, animalic, earthy and sweet. (Maybe she’ll let me know if my out-on-a-limb guess is correct). Regardless, “Smiling Country” is for a different kind of “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” One that is rooted in the earth, but is also mysterious and beautiful.

Update: Ayala has posted her reveal of Smiling Country’s notes. Visit her Smelly Blog to find out what they are!

Please visit Amanda’s blog over the next 10 days as she posts links to the other participating blogs.

Titania by Henry Fuseli (1741-1825)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Howard David Johnson

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Best Perfumes of 2010: A Blogging Event

December has been a whirlwind for most of us, and I’m still reeling over how fast it went. Fortunately, there were moments of quiet calm this month, and several of them were spent revisiting perfumes from this last year. Throughout 2010, I enjoyed testing and reviewing an abundance of beautiful, newly released botanicals, and was very pleased that the natural perfumers themselves received a lot of positive press via magazines and blogs. With all my heart, I hope this trend continues as it is so important to support independently owned, artisanal businesses, especially when they are creating such gorgeous works of olfactory art.


The following are my favorite naturals from 2010, (as well as two non-naturals I fell for) but it’s truly just a sampling of what I enjoyed. I did decide to make a list though, so I have chosen the ones that will become lifetime loves.


Bed of Roses by Velvet & Sweet Pea. I don’t want to over-analyze this gorgeous fragrance too much, but Bed of Roses is like a study of contrasts. It’s vintage-esque but also modern. It’s powdery, but at the same time fresh and vivid. I give huge kudos to Laurie Stern for her expert hand and for creating such a dynamic and interesting rose perfume. Her skillful blending of aged sandalwood and cognac (vintage) with green mandarin and rose leaf absolute (fresh) allow different facets of rose to be present at the same moment. At its heart, Bed of Roses is a perfume that contains nine different rose distillations, so it’s richer and lusher than any other rose perfume I have experienced. Rose lovers, you will not be disappointed.

Mejica by A Perfume Organic. Mejica took me by surprise. I was not expecting anything new from this vanilla based fragrance as I thought I had pretty much smelled all that the bean could offer. Clearly, I was wrong. Mejica is smooth and spicy with cloves and hints of orange in the opening. It has a rich vanilla heart and a drydown made of sweet resinous musk. It’s been lovely to wear through the holiday season, and I eagerly anticipate what it will do on my skin when the days become warmer.

Bancha by DSH Perfumes. Bancha came along early in 2010 when it was still cold outside and I was craving a soothing balm. Bancha slipped into my life and provided just what I needed. Bancha is very grounding, and I liken it to scooping up limes or lemons that have fallen into dark, minty soil. Basil, rose and jasmine sambac add an herbacous floral quality while sandalwood and cedarwood round out its base, giving an aura of woods, like heat rising off a sauna’s walls. I loved Bancha last winter and have worn it frequently throughout the year. In addition to the perfume, I have the Bancha scented oil which is an exceptionally restorative balm for the skin and soul.

Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo. Mecca Balsam received rave reviews throughout the blogging world, and they were much deserved. Mecca Balsam revolves around labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco which suffuses the air with a gentle suggestion of incense. It never becomes overwhelming because it is so well-blended and subtle. Tobacco balances nicely with the labdanum, making it soft and cozy. For an all natural perfume, it has striking sillage with impressive staying power. Another excellent fragrance for the winter months.

Wildflowers by Aftelier Perfumes. Mandy Aftel released (at least) four fragrances this year, all of which I adore. But Wildflowers made this list because it’s centered around a note that for me, is crazy-making…in a good way. Hay. Yes, hay drives me a little wild. It gets up in my scalp and makes it tingle. Its scent generates the desire to frolic in a meadow of wildflowers and twirl until punch-drunk dizzy. Not all hay notes do this to me, just the ones that smell golden and have honey dripping from their stacks. Wildflowers is all about this kind of sweet, sunkissed hay and begins with a tart burst of lime and ends in a glowingly honeyed drydown.

GreenWitch by Roxana Illuminated Perfume.  GreenWitch is unquestionably a chypre as oakmoss, galbanum, violet leaves and rose petals greet you from its start. After a bit, it gets a nutty, salty air from vetiver and tonka with floral nuances like boronia and honeysuckle. Honeysuckle is not in the notes, so I’m guessing the mimosa, ylang ylang and beeswax create a hybrid honeysuckle accord on my skin, and I love it. It smells like a day at the beach when you are blessed with warm skin, salt in your hair, and suntan lotion that barely lingers on your body. Green Witch has incredible sillage and staying power which lengthens the fragrance’s evolution, and it might well be Roxana’s most multi-layered perfume yet.

The Purple Dress by Ayala Moriel Parfums.  Technically, The Purple Dress was released in December 2009, but for all intents and purposes, it was a 2010 perfume. The Purple Dress is a black tea based fragrance, steeped in a tannicy anise that is dark and smoky, moody and sexy, and has a gorgeous honeyed-wood drydown. Champaca is the featured flower in this beauty, but is tempered by the lightheartedness of magnolia and an easy touch of honey. According to Ayala’s website, this fragrance is a salute to Alexander Argov, who composed the famous Israeli song, The Purple Dress. You can hear an excerpt of it here and enjoy its evocative melancholic beauty, similar to its namesake perfume.

Guerlain Arsène Lupin Dandy. As I mentioned, there are two non-naturals that I fell in love with this year, and Guerlain’s Arsène Lupin Dandy is one of them. Dandy is being promoted as a masculine fragrance, and it does smell incredible on my husband, but it also smells pretty darn good on me. So let’s not cramp Dandy’s style with labels. Dandy begins with a nod to the legendary guerlainade brew which for me is sadly short-lived but for others, that might be preferred. Regardless, it grants Dandy an opening of distinctive familiarity that segues beautifully into a spicy, woodsy, violet tinged fragrance. Cardamom and an ultra-smooth sandalwood comprise the spicy woods while Dandy’s violets infuse a supple leather note that weaves its way through the fragrance’s entirety. The drydown finishes with a leathery-sandalwood-cedar musk that takes Dandy from its guerlainade opening to a modern finish.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore. Here’s the other non-natural perfume I could not pass up, and it happens to be another violet-leather fragrance, albeit a very different one from Dandy. Traversée du Bosphore’s opening is full speed ahead leather and violet. It’s a dry leather, nearly heat cracked and edgy and you can feel the little violets struggle against the unyielding hide. The opening is interesting, but not entirely likable and it’s not until a softness emerges that I find myself succumbing to this uniquely compelling fragrance. Once the leather allows the dewy violet to soften its parched surface, it becomes more full and welcoming. The heart continues to expand upon the iris-leather accord but incorporates a gourmand aspect which on my skin is a delicious vanilla-almond confection. It’s quite an evolution when one considers Traversée du Bosphore’s arid beginning evolving into a gentle, sugared and musky rose at the drydown.


Don’t forget to visit the other participating blogs. I can’t wait to read what their favorites have been!

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A jasmine for winter. Épice Sauvage by Ayala Moriel Parfums

 

Merging jasmine with winter might seem counterintuitive as this heady, warmblooded flower feels so sultry and lush against the heat of the summer sun. Pairing it with a chill in the air seemed odd to me and it wasn’t until last December that I realized jasmine’s power to soothe and comfort during winter’s frost. It was Aftelier’s Fig that showed me jasmine’s ability to assuage the doldrums of cold rainy day after cold rainy day. Its blend of fir and fig is a jammy alpine enchantment, and I am pleased to say that jasmine’s winter-appropriateness does not end there.


Épice Sauvage by Ayala Moriel Parfums is somewhat gourmand in its treatment of jasmine, as it delves into culinary spices like cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and clove. Interestingly, jasmine grandiflorum was chosen rather than jasmine sambac which initially surprised me. I thought the spicy nature of jasmine sambac to be the obvious choice for this spice laden perfume, but Ayala in her great wisdom and talent chose jasmine grandiflorum which as it turns out, was the perfect choice. I’ll tell you why in a bit.


First, let me explain why Épice Sauvage feels so cozy. I love to bake with cardamom, especially in cookies, so its scent feels homey and nurturing. Of course it elicits images of spice markets as well, but cardamom’s comforting, homebody aspect is very strong to me. In Ayurvedic cooking, cardamom is a warming spice that balances all three doshas which are the elements that determine our physical, mental and emotional characteristics. I don’t adhere to Ayurvedic principles on a routine basis, but I’m pretty sure my dosha is vata for many reasons. Most relevant to this discussion is my preference for summer, so cardamom’s sweet, warm, and activating qualities are immensely welcome this time of year.


Upon first smelling Épice Sauvage, I knew I would love it. Cinnamon introduces the fragrance with a whisper of sweetness and foreshadows the emergence of cardamom as the central spicy focus. And here’s why jasmine grandiflorum was such a brilliant pick, it’s rounder and more voluminous than jasmine sambac which has a spicy tone that might have competed with cardamom’s flavor. With the grandiflorum species, cardamom is given the opportunity to provide Épice Sauvage itspiquancy while the jasmine offers up its lush floral heart.


Cardamom dominates the heart of Épice Sauvage, but as the drydown comes into reach, coriander has an important role as well. This spice is a little earthy and peppery, with a suggestion of woods which plays nicely with the cedar note that reveals itself in the basenotes. But let us not forget jasmine as it continues to support all of these essences. Such a compliant floral foundation for the ofttimes unruly jasmine! In the drydown, its blossoms fully coalesce with cardamom which allows the cedar and coriander to hover over and ultimately permeate the fragrance.


After 3-4 hours of wear, a 2nd drydown occurs, one that is very intimate and oh so pretty. It’s pure jasmine, like the moment the blossom begins to open to the night air. It’s the nascent fragrance of a jasmine, dipped for a brief moment in warm honey and rose blossoms. I can’t think of a better way to revel in jasmine’s winter radiance.


Ayala Moriel Parfums are 100% natural and made with loving care by Ayala Sender. Épice Sauvage is available at AyalaMoriel.com, starting at $48 for a mini to $120 for a 9ml Parfum Extrait Flacon.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: This sample of Épice Sauvage was my own purchase. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
image: Heart of Snow by Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914) at artmagick.com

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Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Can you believe the holiday season is already upon us? Thanksgiving will be here in a heartbeat, and the first night of Hanukkah is December 1st. So it’s time to hop to it and get gifting. I’ve gathered together some of my favorite bloggers (links below) to offer our recommendations for those special items on our to-give lists, and maybe even our own wish-lists. My list includes many price points ranging from $6.50 for a gorgeously scented soap to $325 for a precious limited edition perfume, with lots in between. As you might have guessed, all of my recommendations are 100% natural which means no petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or parabens.


Urban Eden (Now Oilve and Oud) Shahrazad soap ($6.50 per bar) I recently reviewed Urban Eden soaps and at the time I had just started using my bar of Shahrazad. At this present moment, I have but a tiny sliver left and recently placed an order for another bar so I can continue to bask in its plentiful floral spiciness. Tuberose, frankincense, and cardamom are the standouts in this richly lathering soap that’s perfect for this time of year.

 


Gabriel’s Aunt tea light sampler. ($9 for a set of 10) After you spend some time at the Gabriel’s Aunt etsy shop, you’ll be glad you can choose 10 different tea lights in your sampler. Nikki Sherritt, creator of GA, has so many scrumptious scents to choose from that it really is hard to pick only a few. My favorite isRoyal Couple ($25 for 8oz candle), a rose and jasmine blend that warms a room with a finespun throw. You can read more about her liquid and solid fragrances here and here.

 

Wing and Prayer mini sampler ($10 for three 1/8oz rollerball) This has got to be one of the best bargains in the natural perfume world. $10 for three nicely sized fragrances? That’s a steal that we all need to take advantage of! I adore Flowers, a gardenia fragrance with sweet notes of linden and beeswax as well as Bella, a soft blend of verbena and neroli. An individual bottle is $35 for a 1.78oz spray which is also an incredible value for such gorgeous, all natural scents.

 

Scented Djinn Sahar ($25 for 5ml) This beauty boasts jasmine, sandalwood, and champaca infused with honey and vanilla. Sounds pretty right? It’s also calming and cozy and I love to wear it on cold fall mornings. I reviewed Saharthispast spring if you would like to read more.

 

evanhealy Sweet Blossom Hydrating Oil($29.95 for 4oz) Smoothing this body oil over freshly showered skin is a pleasure of which I will never tire. Frankincense, neroli and a light touch of ylang ylang intertwine to create a comforting scent that will put a smile on the lucky recipient’s face. And not only is it beautifully fragranced, it is made with cold pressed, organic oils of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, jojoba and apricot kernel so it feels as good as it smells.

 

Organic Apoteke Droseros Hydrating Mist ($30 for 5oz) Hyrdosols have become a part of my daily skincare routine. Sometimes I spray it on my skin when it’s dry and I want to apply a body oil (such as evanhealy’s above) and I also mist my face with a hydrosol before using my serum. Currently, Organic Apoteke is my favorite because it’s soothing and hydrating. But honestly, I really love it because it smells so darn good. It’s like there’s a magic honey ingredient in this mist that lasts for hours and swirls around my skin amidst delicate rose petals. I’ve got this in the travel size, and you can be sure it’s going with me on my next plane ride.

DSH PerfumesÉpices d’Hiver ($40 for 1 dram/5 mls or $120 for 1 oz) Épices d’Hiver was launched by DSH Perfumes last fall, and got a lot of wear during the cold months, which here in the Northwest can last well into May. So suffice to say, I wore it many a day. Now that the rain and cold are upon us once more, Épices d’Hiver is back in action, providing me with a cozy spicy go-to fragrance suffused with nutmeg, hay and woods.

Ayala Moriel Parfums Palas Atena ($48 for 4mls or $120 for 9ml flacon) Palas Atena was the first Ayala Moriel fragrance that I fell for, and it still ranks high on my list of favorites of her creations. It’s a classic floriental with notes of patchouli, amber, champaca, cinnamon, jasmine, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, and sweet orange. Each essence flows into the next, moving in continuous harmony like a high quality vintage fragrance.

Intelligent Nutrients Aromatics in Focus ($50 for 0.85 oz) Feel free to spritz this alluring aromatic all over yourself. Mist it on your face, your skin, and your hair and let its organic vitamin e and castor oils hydrate while organic flower oils intoxicate. The neroli jasmine duo is swoon worthy, and so well loved, that I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled to open up this 100% organic scent.

 

Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Rosa Solid ($72 for 5.3 gm solid in a refillable silver compact) Oh lovely Rosa! Such a precious compact made even more so by its contents. If you are a rose lover, or know one, you should feel compelled to give Rosa a serious gander. Rose otto from Turkey and an absolute of rose bourbonica from India grace this sensual solid perfume, as well as woods, oud, vetiver and leather. Its rich and earthy bouquet is full but wears close to the skin. One of my favorite rose perfumes.

 

Aftelier Perfumes Candide ($150 for 0.25 oz which includes a 2ml mini, the mini is sold separately for $45) Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes has just launched Candide, and made a personal appearance last night at Bendel’s in NYC to celebrate its release. And believe me, she has much to toast as Candide is truly beautiful. It radiates with sparkling notes of pink grapefruit, blood orange and raspberries all wrapped up in sueded jasmine petals. Its lush and enticing, but cheerful and flirtatious as well. A suggestion of frankincense affords a bit of grounding, but to be sure, Candide is lighthearted through and through.

 

Strange Invisible Perfumes Elektrou ($325 for 0.25 fl. oz. pure perfume • Available in-store or by phone only. Call toll free: 800.919.7472) Strange Invisible Perfumes has lured me in once before with these limited edition gems. I caved and bought Dimanche last spring, and have not regretted it for a second. It exudes two notes that I can’t seem to get enough of, hay and honey, in a surprisingly sophisticated and provocative manner. Well, if you wish you’d jumped at the chance to get Dimanche, Elektrou is quite similar, with a few distinct differences. Dimanche’s opening is on the sharp side due to the edginess iris sometimes possesses. Elektrou on the other hand is immediately soft with its vanilla and smooth amber accord. Sandalwood plays a large roll in Elektrou’s suppleness, emanating a sensual ease. It’s going to take serious restraint that I am not sure I have to keep myself for purchasing Elektrou as I want every scarf I own to smell just like it. It’s a splurge no doubt, but one that the perfumista in your life (which is probably yourself) will adore.

Please stop by the following blogs for more gift ideas.

Perfume Shrine

IndiePerfumes

Roxana Illuminated Perfume

All I Am- A Redhead


Posted by ~Trish

image courtesy of Roxana Villa.

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Ayala Moriel Parfums Cabaret


Ayala Moriel Parfums Cabaret was created with Rahat Loukoum as part of its inspiration. Rahat Loukoum, or Turkish Delight, is a confection made from sugar and rosewater that is sometimes covered in powdered coconut. Sounds delicious enough to wear as a fragrance don’t you think? Several perfumers thought the same including Keiko Mercheri (Loukhoum), Serge Lutens (Rahat Loukoum), and possibly Calypso St. Barth (their Léa is in the same vein), as well as Ayala Sender with Cabaret.


Keiko Mercheri’s Loukhoum is intensely powdery, almost baby powder-like while Serge Lutens’ Rahat Loukoum possesses a cherry syrup note that does not work well on my skin. I find both unbearably cloying. Léa is not as gooey as those two, but it is heavy on the synthetic musk which to my personal taste is stifling. What sets Cabaret apart from this gourmand crowd, is its subtlety and entirely natural ingredient list.


Ayala, being a highly skilled blender of notes, has managed to capture the sweetness of this floral candy while never crossing into overbearing territory. Bergamot sets the stage for Cabaret with a sparkling hint of citrus and an underlying creamy vanilla quality that emerges from Ayala’s amber accord. Her amber is delicious. Benzoin, ambrette, and labdanum swirl together in a musky, resinous, vanillic aroma that makes me a little weak in the knees.


I’d like to clarify the musk issue since I just mentioned not liking synthetic musks. Ambrette seed oil is a vegetal musk that is earthy, musty, fruity and floral. Ambrette feels like the backbone of Cabaret giving each beautiful raw material; benzoin, labdanum, orris root, rose and magnolia, a sprinkling of dark soil that anchors this sweet floral to its incensey/resinous base. Massoia bark oil from Indonesia gives Cabaret its suggestion of coconut. In keeping with the overall feeling of nuance, the coconut is subtle and earthy but heightens vanilla’s sweetness a notch allowing us to savor Cabaret’s gourmand essence.


Cabaret is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums in many different sizes. $45 for a 4ml parfum mini, $65 for a parfum oil 5ml roll-on, please set site for more information.

Posted by ~Trish

Turkish Delight image from FoodNuts.com

Disclosure: Cabaret is from my own collection. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Scents That Sing Spring! A Blogging Event.

Growing up in Phoenix, one scent above all others sang “spring.” Orange blossoms. Their melody is beautiful and lush and the desert air becomes saturated with the intoxicating perfume of these tender white blossoms every spring. If you’ve never been to the Phoenix area, the orange trees are a funny site as the trunks need to be painted white to protect them from the blazing heat of the Arizona summer sun (as well as bugs). The photo just below is all about my childhood memories of Phoenix which always have a backdrop of white tree trunks and orange blossom redolence.

I live in the Northwest now where orange trees do not grow, so neroli is my go-to scent when I crave the playfulness of childhood and the sensuality of wearing a voluptuous fragrance as an adult.  Neroli is the oil from the orange blossom and has found its way into many of my perfumes and beauty products. The following is a list of those stand-out items from my collection that feature the exquisite orange blossom.


Skincare


In Fiore’s Pur Face Oil Concentré is a fabulous way to pamper your skin as well as your senses. I use it as a nighttime moisturizer when my skin needs the attention of grapeseed oil, rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil and vitamin E. These ingredients help balance skin that leans oily and is prone to breakouts. While those healing oils do their work on your skin, cold pressed orange peel oil and Tunisian neroli flower oil get to work on your psyche. Pur is pure neroli heaven. When I have it on my skin, I feel like I am lounging peacefully under the shade of an orange tree teeming with blossoms.

Alchemilla’s Neroli Rehydrating Essence is another facial oil loaded with healing ingredients like jojoba nut oil, hazelnut oil; herbal extracts of ginkgo biloba, chamomile, calendula; and rosehip seed oil. All of which are organic. This too makes for a soothing nighttime treatment as the hypnotic essence of neroli lulls you into sweet dreams.

 

Kahina Facial Cleanser is a creamy, lightly foaming cleanser that I have been using for almost a year, and still love. The organic floral water and neroli oil create a light citrusy floral scent that is refreshing and relaxing. The gentle foaming action gets my face clean, but does not feel stripped dry thanks to the argan oil, oat amino acids and organic honey in the formula.

At the risk of being redundant (regular readers know how much I love this product) I would be remiss if I did not mention Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Orange Blossom Body Frosting. I come back to V&SP’s frostings again and again because they provide luxurious hydration and fragrant pleasure. Laurie Stern, creator of V&SP, uses jojoba oil in her frostings that have been infused with Tahitian vanilla beans for at least 6 months. This bestows a creaminess to all of them, but especially to her Orange Blossom. The result is a flirty, playful, uplifting fragrance that softens your skin better than any body butter I have tried.

I am placing Intelligent Nutrients Focus Aroma in the “Skincare” section because it has many uses. You can spray it on your skin, face, and hair for light hydration and a gorgeous scent. Aside from neroli, bergamot, jasmine, rose, chamomile, geranium, and ylang ylang complete the essential oil list of Focus. Even though that’s an impressive floral cast, neroli commands the fragrance leaving the others, most notably rose and jasmine, to enhance the orange blossom.


Perfumes

Galatea by Strange Invisible Perfumes embodies the intoxicating nature of neroli. Galatea melds neroli with galbanum which gives it a green clarity, tuberose which provides sensuality and benzoin which graces the mix with a soothing warmth. This is a fascinating and intriguing perfume, one that needs to be a part of my collection sooner than later.

Roxana Villa launched her Chocolate Natural Perfumes this year, and her Fleurs de Orange remains my favorite of the lot. Neroli, blood orange, and orange blossom absolute flourish on the skin while dark chocolate gently envelopes the citrusy floral perfume. Fleurs de Orange is not sweet like candy, but it is a honeyed gourmand that gives a new spin on my favorite springtime scent.


Palas Atena by Ayala Moriel Parfums feels very classic to me. It’s a gorgeous blend, created with a skillful hand. Neroli, along with patchouli, lavender, and amber, are radiant in the opening, each note moving seamlessly into the other. The more I wear Palas Atena, the more attuned I have become to champaca and cinnamon in the heart, but again, the essences work in concert, merging harmoniously. I look to Palas Atena when I want a sophisticated scent that uses neroli’s floral elegance, not as a soliflore, but as a traditionally composed perfume with a vintage feel.

Please visit the following bloggers who are also singing about the scents of spring!

Smelly Blog (with a giveaway! check it out)

Katie Puckrik Smells

Perfume Shrine

The Non Blonde

I Smell Therefore I Am

Notes from the Ledge

Savvy Thinker

Roxana’s Illuminated Journal

Perfume in Progress

All I Am A Redhead

Ambre Gris

Olfactarama

A Rose Beyond the Thames

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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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White Potion. A Tropical Beauty by Ayala Moriel Parfums

Tropical florals like tuberose, gardenia, and jasmine can easily overwhelm a perfume with their intense headiness. Sometimes the intensity is beautifully crafted, such as in Fracas, but that iconic tuberose perfume is challenging for many people to wear and still feel like they are in their own skin. Ayala Sender, the nose behind Ayala Moriel Parfums offers White Potion as an alternative to ostentatious white floral perfumes.


White Potion is creamy and tender, as if the milky petals of tuberose, jasmine and gardenia are melding with your skin. Tuberose stands out more than the other florals, but not by much. As is typical for Ayala’s fragrances, White Potion is so well blended and balanced that all the notes sing harmoniously with each other. These diva flowers don’t elbow each other off the stage. They perform in concert, and very smoothly.


Coconut, along with tuberose, peers out of the composition just a shade more than the others allowing for the creamy, silky feel of White Potion. My experience of White Potion has been more sensual and soothing than bright and cheery, especially on this rainy day in the Northwest. With its undercurrent of sandalwood and rosewood, this fragrance has woody roots that gently tame the wanton potentness of the white petaled blossoms. In the final moments of White Potion, tonka bean adds a nutty flavor creating a more playful vibe. The ending serves me well as I always like to leave party while I’m still having fun.


White Potion is very wearable, and the perfect perfume for someone who wants to venture into tropical territory for the first time, or for that collector who has yet to come across a gardenia/tuberose/jasmine “skin scent” that does not possess musk. As with all of Ayala’s creations, White Potion is 100% natural and made in small batches to ensure quality and freshness. Ayala also donates proceeds from her perfumes to organizations that support people with Autism, Peace Organizations, and her latest project to help save the Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Vancouver BC. Additionally, Ayala Moriel Parfums does not perform animal testing, or use ingredients that have been tested on animals or that have been involved in animal cruelty such as musk, castoreum, whale-harvested ambergris and civet.


White Potion is available at the Ayala Moriel Parfumes Website.



 

Posted by ~Trish

Tuberose image from makeupandbeautyblog.com
Disclosure: A sample of White Potion was sent to me by Ayala Moriel Parfums. It was many months ago, so I can’t remember if it was included as a sample from one of my orders or if she sent it to me to review. Regardless, the opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Natural Tobacco Perfumes

It’s been about a year now that I have been drawn to tobacco scents.  Discovering In Fiore’s Maia, which is now called Jasmin Supérieur, sent me down this road due to its subtle yet intoxicating tobacco quality. I had always assumed tobacco in perfume would have to be an acquired taste for me. Turns out, I love it and it loves me.


The quest for my tobacco perfume has lead me to not one, but three fragrances that have fulfilled my aromatic leafy needs. Ayala Moriel Parfums Espionage was the first to capture my heart. Its opening is pure tobacco. Smoky, dry tobacco, that’s sultry and brings out my don’t-mess-with-me-side. After 10-20 minutes, in comes the leather to add to this tough-girl feel. Not too intensely though, Espionage is a tough girl wrapped in supple leather. And at the moment you might get too cocky with the tobacco and leather attitude, jasmine and rose begin to bloom, smoothing out the edges of the initial tobacco hit.




The smoky tones merge with the floral voluptuousness, giving this tobacco fragrance a sensual ambience that is deep and alluring. There’s a touch of vanilla to soften the scent another notch, but this is not a sweet tobacco, and I recommend Espionage if you’re wanting a tobacco scent that leans subtly floral, rather than sweet.


A requisite for anyone on a tobacco quest, Caron’s Tabac Blond has to be experienced. Unfortunately, Tabac Blond was too sharp at the beginning with a rough, cracked leather note and finished with a floral melange that turned into a violet/iris musty mess on my skin. I so wanted to love this classic tobacco fragrance that was released in 1919 and manages to still be around, albeit with reformulations. Loving Espionage instead is no small consolation. Ayala Sender, the creator of Ayala Moriel Parfums, is a beautiful olfactory artist inside and out, and I am thrilled to support her independent, all natural perfumery.


Liz Zorn of Soivohlé is another master at the art of creating gorgeous natural perfumes. Her Vanillaville is my answer to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille which I thought might be a worthy contender. It was not. Tobacco Vanille took me back to my 80’s youth when I sneaked clove cigarettes in high school. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I love the smell of clove cigarettes. But something in Tobacco Vanille went haywire on my skin, and it turned into a toothachingly sweet tobacco. I much prefer Vanillaville as it’s smoother and the vanilla note doesn’t strangle the earthiness out of its sublime tobacco presence.


Vanillaville’s opening definitely speaks of tobacco, but not as intensely as Espionage. Vanillaville is no less intriguing or decadent, it’s just softer from the get go. Vanilla provides this perfume with a harmonious balance between its sweetness and the edginess of tobacco. Vanillaville is a tasteful gourmand, not only with its vanilla, but with subtle coffee notes as well. Full bodied and slightly sweet, it’s a mellow pipe tobacco gently rubbed with leather. I’d choose this if you want your tobacco perfume sweet like a pipe, but in a tempered and artful manner.

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Parfum de Luxe, by DSH Perfumes, is made with 96.5% botanical ingredients and is a fantastic go-to fragrance when you want a classic, vintage feel. The opening is graced by the beautiful duality of violet and bergamot, violet being pretty and powdery, and bergamot lending its uplifting spirit. The notes are listed as Bergamot, Clary Sage, Neroli, Petitgrain, Violet, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Honey, Orris, Tuberosa, Ylang-Ylang, Amber, Benzoin, Brown Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolute, and Vanilla. Each one is given equal weight in the heart and progression to the drydown. Tobacco emerges more prominently in the last hours of wear, but more subtly than Espionage or Vanillaville. Parfum de Luxe is an ideal scent for someone who wants a rich, traditional perfume with a delicate tobacco.


Espionage is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums. Its notes are: Ambrette (Musk) Seed , Bergamot , Jasmine Grandiflorum, Leather Notes, Orris Root, Rose Otto (Turkey), Tabac Blond, Vanilla Absolute, and Virginia Cedarwood.

Vanillaville is available at Soivohlé. Its notes are: Almond, Tonka, Tarragon, Leather and Coffee.

Parfum de Luxe is available at DSH Perfumes. The notes are listed within the review.


Illustration  by  Commando Group


Disclosure: Samples of these perfumes were provided for this review by Ayala Moriel Parfums, Soivohlé and DSH Perfumes. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Advent to Hanukkah

Advent is usually associated with Christmas, but my husband and I have decided to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas in our house so I thought a mixed title was quite appropriate for my contribution to this holiday blogging event. Yes, there’s the chance my boys will grow up to be very confused about their religious upbringing, but I figure life is confusing enough…why not make is more so? And since I’m not converting to Judaism, many Jews won’t regard my boys as “true Jews” so we’re really stacking the cards against them. But hey, their waspy-goyish mom can make a mean latke. Seriously, they’re beyond. Here’s my secret: you’ve got to hand-grate the potatoes. No food processors allowed. And keep the already grated potatoes in ice-cold water while you’re grating the others so they don’t turn pink and brown.


Friday is the first night of Hanukkah, and we’re having a small gathering on Saturday night. I’m in charge of the organizing and cooking, as I have been the last nine years of our tradition, and I love the smell of frying potatoes, apple sauce, melted wax, and chocolate wafting throughout the house. Kids playing dreidel and running around the house add to the festive scene and I especially like it when Hanukkah and Christmas don’t overlap, so Hanukkah can be the sole focus of the night. Lighting the menorah to commemorate the miracle that a single day’s worth of oil lasted for eight during the purification of the Temple’s rededication is my favorite Hanukkah moment. Bringing light into the dark is a ritual many people cherish, especially during the Winter Solstice. So while the lighting of the candles is on a menorah, it also feels very all-inclusive and transcendental.


I know I joked about religious confusion above, but the crux of this is a warm and loving home with traditions children can hold onto. Love transcends religion and my boys will feel that, regardless of what path they choose. Whether they have a menorah or a Christmas tree, or both (or neither) in their adult homes, they will always remember having playful and loving Hanukkah parties when they were kids. (Even if there was Christmas music playing in the background every now and then).



So what perfume will they remember me wearing this holiday season?  Probably a delicious mash-up since I’m constantly trying new scents, oils and body creams. DSH Perfume’s Epices d’Hiver is getting a lot of skintime this fall/winter. I reviewed it here, but I’ll reiterate that it’s a spicy gourmand, powdery-vanillic comfort perfume that will no doubt become a cold weather staple.


Ayala Moriel Parfum’s Fête d’Hiver has become another winter favorite, and is spicy in a completely different way. It’s richly floral as gardenia, rose maroc absolute and rose otto lavishly glisten throughout Fête d’Hiver’s structure. Just a pinch of allspice and nutmeg impart the piquant edge, while Ayala’s amber accord adds a delicious and cozy, powdery vanilla. A resinous woody base of frankincense and sandalwood, gilded by the winterized gardenia allows us to leave our fête with perfumed snowflakes lingering on our skin as the night comes to a close.


Much thanks to Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfume for organizing this Holiday Blogging Event. Please visit the links below to read the other participants’ contributions.


Sunday – November 29th: Guest blogger Jane Sibbett opens the Circle

Monday – November 30th: Guest blogger Wendel Meldrum

Tuesday – December 1st: Roxana Villa

Wednesday – December 2nd: Guest blogger Ida Meister

Thursday – December 3rd: Memory and Desire, Heather Ettlinger

Friday – December 4th: Memory and Desire, Jason Ettlinger

Saturday – December 5th: Guest blogger Jade Shutes

Sunday, December 6th, Eve and Roxana

Monday – December 7th: Indie Perfumes, Lucy Raubertas

Tuesday – December 8th: Scent Hive, Trish

Wednesday – December 9th: Olive Bites, Catherine Ivins

Thursday – December 10th: Perfume Smellin’ Things, Tom

Friday – December 11th: Lillyella, Nicole

Saturday – December 12th: The Non-Blonde, Gaia

Sunday – December 13th: Portland Examiner, Donna Hathaway

Monday – December 14th: Xenotees, Noelle

Tuesday – December 15th: The Beauty You Love, Lee

Wednesday – December 16th: Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom, Mrs. B

Thursday – December 17th: The Artful Gypsy, Wendy Amdahl

Friday – December 18th: Perfume Shrine, Helg

Saturday – December 19th: Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume, Wendy

Sunday – December 20th: Grindstone Girl’s Daily, Kathi Roussel

Monday – December 21st WINTER SOLSTICE: Perfume Smellin’ Things, Beth

Tuesday – December 22nd: Guest blogger Davis Alexander

Wednesday – December 23rd: Guest blogger Greg Spalenka, Artist as Brand

Thursday – December 24th: Fringe, Dennice Mankarious

Friday – December 25th: Asking Leah, Leah

Photograph by my husband

Posted by ~Trish

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