Red Flower Champa


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.

42100Several 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.

Champaca flower photo by rbuzatto on flickr


Palas Atena


Palas Atena is the creation of Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums. Ayala is an incredibly gifted parfumer who is dedicated to using only natural ingredients in her line. This means that there are no synthetic or petroleum derived ingredients in her perfumes. Her products are also cruelty-free, phthalate-free, and she uses organic and ethically wild crafted essences as much as possible. On Ayala’s website, the notes of Palas Atena are listed as Amber, Champaca, Cinnamon, Jasmine Grandiflorum, Lavender, Neroli, Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Sweet Orange. It is a perfectly blended classic floral-oriental fragrance, along the lines of a subdued Coco. This is a good thing in my opinion, because while I appreciate Chanel’s Coco, I overdid it in the late 80’s and surpassed my threshold sometime around 1996.


ayala-palas-atenaUpon first dabbing Palas Atena, my impression is that the notes are very well balanced, amber and patchouli initiating the strongest presence. Yet they are never too much, never over-the-top. It’s very wearable, as I don’t like heavy ambers or heavy patchoulis. Ayala’s mastery of blending shows itself as Palas Atena evolves on the skin. The amber and patchouli settle into their warmth, as the spiciness of the champaca flower and cinnamon approach the foreground. Upon its drydown, the sandalwood and sweet orange become more present. But all the while, every note swirls subtly on the skin, each one complimenting the other. I could see myself wearing this fragrance when I want to feel elegant and “evening.” It’s the perfect option for someone who wants to wear a classic fragrance, but prefers natural perfumes over the more bombastic synthetic aldehydes. I miss wearing Coco from time to time, and Palas Atena will certainly satisfy that longing. But rather than yelling, it will call to me with its strong, yet hushed song.


Palas Atena is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums and Blunda Aromatics


posted by ~Trish

Pallas Athena, 1898 by Franz von Stuck