Var en Provence by Rebel and Mercury

 

Many of you are already familiar with Nikki Sherritt via her line of all natural candles at her etsy site, Gabriel’s Aunt. She also creates botanical perfumes and recently established a separate shop, Rebel and Mercury, in order to better feature her line of fragrances. The name seems to suit her perfectly since it reflects Nikki’s independent and evolving creative spirit.

When Nikki launched Rebel and Mercury back in June, she sent me a sample of a new fragrance, Var en Provence. When it arrived, I was too busy with travel and work to spend quality time with the fragrance, but luckily the sample of Var en Provence caught my eye last week and I’ve been able to hang out with this perfect summer scent and get to know it a lot better.

 

To my nose, Var en Provence falls squarely in my favorite genre, the woody floral perfume. Having said that, I’m not certain of the woods in this perfume and I wonder if it’s the orris root and olive leaf that merge into a basalmic and herbal accord. But let’s get to the floral aspect first. Mimosa is the focal point of Var en Provence and it glimmers in the soft light of Southern France. Fortunately, this is a soft-focus mimosa and not at all high pitched which is often the case. The mimosa in Var en Provence is definitely sweet, but it’s a gauzy draping of honeyed blossoms that feels very wearable and appealing.

Going back to the woody floral discussion, and I’d like to clarify that those balsamic nuances are present only in the opening of the fragrance which I find very interesting as wood essences tend to be basenotes. But as I said, the earthy, almost mushroomy quality of orris combined with the herbaceous olive leaf hover around the opening notes and then dissipate as the heart opens to the soft and plentiful mimosa flowers.

The drydown continues the mimosa theme as it becomes even more powdery and floral. The final stage of Var en Provence is like a soliflore that allows for an unexpectedly serene yet intriguing mimosa experience. Clearly, I highly recommend mimosa aficionados give Var en Provence a try, and for those of you who are a little gun-shy regarding this yellow fuzzy blossom, you should give it a shot as well.

Var en Provence is available at Rebel and Mercury in various sizes and price points. 

Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by Nikki Sherritt. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Mimosa Flower by InFire at etsy.

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For Strange Women Natural Perfumery

I don’t know Jill McKeever, but I feel like I do. I have spent hours perusing her etsy shop and poring over her blogposts which is the way we get to know each other these days I suppose. Her natural perfumery is called For Strange Women, which speaks to Jill’s overall aesthetic. It’s slightly oddball, but certainly feels warm and inviting as it’s for us, quirks and all.

I became acquainted with Jill via Twitter when she followed me. I then popped on over to her etsy shop to see what she was all about. I was immediately taken by the descriptions and gorgeous photographs of her perfumes. The images have a vintage patina but are hyper-real as if you can feel the weight of the glass and liquid just by looking at them. Shortly after this introduction, I serendipitously found her perfumes at Flutter which is a beautifully curated Portland boutique loaded with everything you don’t need, but desperately want. After seeing and smelling Jill’s creations first hand, they went on my desperately want list.

 

My friend Bishop Lennon and I were together at Flutter that day, and we both swooned over Moss & Ivy. Seriously, the whole store probably heard our oohs and ahhs. I’ve since had the opportunity to wear Moss & Ivy several times and it’s had the same effect on me every time. When it melds into the skin it evokes an atmosphere which is deeply green and mysterious, like a forest teeming with emerald ferns, gigantic pines and wet mossy soil. As Moss & Ivy develops, its herbal greenness subsides and a softer resinous base completes the woodland journey.

 

Decadence and Debauchery is also a richly resinous fragrance that exudes intrigue. But this is not for woodland nymphs. It’s a glamorous scent “suitable for burlesque beauties, Victorian darlings, and vaudeville sensations alike,” as Jill herself proclaims. Decadence and Debauchery is laden with tobacco, vanilla bourbon and violets which might sound pretty and sweet, but don’t be misled. This all natural perfume possesses a strong, full-bodied tobacco that is more dry and smoky than sweet. Vanilla and violet simply add more curves to this voluptuous fragrance which boldly makes its presence known. Decadence and Debauchery ultimately settles down a bit, and gets smoother and sweeter as immortelle coats itself over tempered woods and dry tobacco. I’ve never been one to enjoy the maple aspect of immortelle, but in this composition it’s so well harmonized with balsams that it’s more bittersweet than sugary, a perfect ending for this gorgeous perfume.

Moss & Ivy and Decadence and Debauchery are $28 for a 7.3ml (.25 oz) vial of 100% natural perfume oil.

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by For Strange Women. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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May Day Muguet with DSH Perfumes

 

Oh how I adore lily of the valley! Everything about this little gem of a flower warms my heart from its precariously slim stem that secures its white blossoming bells, to its heavenly scent that beckons you to get low to the ground in order to sniff its fragrance. And while there’s nothing like experiencing a flower’s scent in one’s own garden, I have been on the hunt for a muguet perfume that fills me with a similar warmth.

Of course there are many, many conventional muguets available that provide lovely renditions of this flower. Caron’s Muguet du Bonheur, Dior’s Diorissimo, and Guerlain Muguet come to mind, but my penchant for all natural perfumes leaves me with very few options since this flower’s essence is very difficult to obtain, and when it is successfully extracted it is highly volatile making it near impossible to use in perfume.

Knowing this, I figured it would take a substantial amount of time and effort to create an all natural muguet perfume, so I was reluctant to “commission” one for a May Day blogging event. When I finally mustered up the nerve to ask Dawn Spencer Hurwitz if she would be interested in participating in such an event, I was elated when she said yes. Then, a few months later I was floored when she informed me that she was creating not one but two muguet fragrances as well as original artwork inspired by her process.

Dawn’s inspiration for Muguet de Mai and Muguet Cologne was the impressionistic vision of lilies of the valley blooming in a dewy garden, bathing in May’s sunlight and being refreshed by rich damp soil. Let me say that I am a huge DSH Perfumes fan. I have so many loves from this line and knew that Dawn would create something really wonderful for May Day. But I was truly astonished at how brilliantly she composed her muguets as they are closer to the real thing than any other muguet perfume I have experienced.

In her creation of Muguet de Mai specifically, she wanted to pay homage to the classics like Diorissimo and Muguet des Bois by Coty. Not only has she paid them sufficient homage, she has outdone them in her approximation of lily of the valley and with only botanicals as her palette. DSH’s Muguet de Mai is lush and vibrantly green with an earth-toned muskiness that grounds its opulent floral notes. Dawn’s own botanical accords of freesia, hyacinth, cyclamen and lilac fuse together seamlessly to bring forth a muguet likeness. Bergamot, lemon, and neroli provide the opening veil of citrus that one finds in fresh lily of the valley which then moves into the richly floral heart of the aforementioned accords as well as sambac jasmine, rose otto and ylang ylang. A touch of honey from linden and beeswax gives it warmth and sweetness while aged East Indian sandalwood, frankincense and benzoin allow the perfume to rest on a vintage foundation.

There are moments when I can actually smell these essences as individual notes, but they’re fleeting, as it should be. The experience of Muguet de Mai is not about singular characteristics, but that of a seamless and harmonious blend of complex botanical accords and notes that is redolent of a garden chock full of lillies of the valley. Muguet Cologne achieves this same effect, but with an even stronger nod to the earth’s rich soil and to the woods that might surround this garden.

Muguet Cologne shares many notes with Muguet de Mai like galbanum, and violet leaf, but there are distinct differences between them. Muguet Cologne is less floral and more earthy. A couple of the floral accords are replaced by coriander, vetiver, patchouli and oakmoss which provide men the opportunity to enjoy a muguet fragrance. Having said that, this is not overtly masculine and women will certainly savor its woody-ambery character.

I am really smitten with Muguet Cologne‘s vetiver beginning. It’s got a green and nutty bite that I so enjoy from vetiver. It offers a vibrant opening which leads right into its core of muguet’s blossoming bells. Its heart doesn’t have the same  floral intensity of Muguet de Mai, though. It’s more of a muguet suggestion, like woodland air wafting the scent of the flowers.

While I am crazy for Muguet Cologne‘s topnotes, it’s the drydown that really has me under its spell. The patchouli and oakmoss are blended to perfection and compliment each other so well. Both are known to be strong and at times overbearing, but this diad melds the smoky green-musk of oakmoss and the rich sweet/spicy balsamic quality of patchouli into an alluring blend that compliments the floral muguet backdrop.

If it’s not completely apparent by now, yes, I am totally in love with both of these fragrances and give them my highest recommendation. The thing is though, they are extremely limited edition, (Muguet Cologne is now permanent) so be quick on your feet if you want some. The pricing and availability information is available now on the DSH Perfumes website.

I want to personally thank Dawn for her willingness to create these perfumes for this blogging event. I am humbled and completely blown away by what she has created. I also want to thank all of the participating bloggers (listed below) and hope you all will take the time to read their May Day Muguet thoughts.

DSH Notebook (This is Dawn’s blog and you will find all of her related artwork and even more information there regarding her creative process)

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DSH Perfumes Mata Hari

The world of natural perfumery has become richer and even more intriguing now that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s prolific creativity has expanded to her natural offerings. In fact, she has so much to choose from, that a page on her website has been dedicated to those perfumes that are at least 85% natural, many of which are 100% natural. Mata Hari, one of DSH Perfume’s 100% natural perfumes, was released this past fall for the Outlaw Project, a beautifully productive response to the appropriately maligned IFRA restrictions.

Mata Hari is quite the outlaw as she contains (hold on!) oakmoss and a slew of other natural essences that the IFRA has deemed too big and bad for us consumers. If you frequent the perfume blogs you know the resounding response has been “Bring It On!” And Dawn did just that.

With the flesh and blood inspiration of Mata Hari, Dawn has created a full-bodied and sexy fragrance. Mata Hari was an exotic dancer who allegedly became a spy for Germany in the early 19th century. When Greta Garbo portrayed her in the 1931 film, Mata Hari’s fate as a prototype for the femme fatale was sealed.

Mata Hari, the perfume, explores the fleshy warmth of the seductive dancer more so than the edginess of a femme fatale due to the peach and apricot accord that runs throughout its evolution. Mata Hari does begin with an initial burst of bergamot and lemon, but the soft and sweet peachiness surfaces within seconds alluding to the zaftig sway of female curves.

Other fruity notes like cassis and blood orange augment this sensuality, but on my skin, the apricot, peach and slightly woody aspects of osmanthus absolute predominate. Mata Hari also possesses the spiciness of clove, black pepper and cinnamon which conjure olfactory images of vintage perfumes (no spice racks here). It’s also teeming with florals like mimosa, ylang ylang, champaca, rose, jasmine and tuberose which have such a seamless blend that they move fluidly alongside the spicy notes, amplifying the vintage quality of Mata Hari.

Like many classic perfumes, Mata Hari fully exploits the rich and earthy natures of patchouli, vetiver, and oakmoss as well as the sweetness of vanilla, benzoin and tonka bean. But it’s the woodiness of the drydown that brings all of these aspects; fruity, floral, earthy and sweet into a cohesive whole. Peru balsam, Australian sandalwood and Texas cedarwood help bridge the sensuality of the peach infused osmanthus absolute and the luxurious feel of a well-aged vintage perfume brimming with rich florals and exotic spices. The sandalwood is especially effective as it provides a buttery smooth backdrop that gives all of these essences a medium to settle into and flourish.


Mata Hari is available at DSH Perfumes and is a limited edition. It is $80 for a 5ml flask or $225 for a 0.5 oz vintage bottle.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by DSH Perfumes. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Solid Perfume Lovelies from Dabney Rose

Since I am a natural perfume blogger, it should come as no surprise that I prefer scents that wear close to the skin and refrain from too much public boasting. I also like that they (typically) don’t last into the next day or cling to my clothes like a tenacious sheet of Bounce. In the realm of fragrance, this tender intimacy is best captured in solid perfumes; fragrant balms applied with fingertips and softened by the warmth of touch.


Dabney Rose has created two beautiful solid perfumes, Amberleah and Rose Aimée, that are indeed intimate skin-scents but with a flirty, girlish playfulness. Rose Aimée is the more youthful of these two lovelies, bearing half opened buds of roses that are bereft of overripe powdery sweetness or earthy decay. Rose Aimée is dewy and honeyed, she’s pristine and a little childlike in her beauty but entirely suitable for a grown woman.


Rose Aimée has a fitting name as I do adore her, but I would love her even more if she weren’t so *fleeting. I know I just mentioned that I actually prefer the ephemeral quality of most natural perfumes, but Rose Aimée leaves a little too soon as the fragrance holds at about an hour and I’ve gotten used to most naturals lasting at least three, if not longer. I need to experiment with layering but I hope my next pot of Rose Aimée is longer lasting, but even if it’s not I will still revel in this beloved, or aimée, perfume. (Dabney, if you’re reading, I think Rose Aimée would make a fabulous body butter or soap!)

*Update: Dabney let me know that I had an older version of Rose Aimée and sent me her new formulation. The newer Rose Aimée is just as soft and lovely as the original, but does indeed last longer and the rose is a bit more pronounced. Love it even more now!


Amberleah, being the more mature of these two jeune filles, is not as shy as Rose Aimée as she’s willing to stick around longer and share her gourmand essences with not only the wearer, but those who lean in a little closer. Amberleah is true to her name with a delicious amber base of labdanum, benzoin, and vanilla. This aromatic triad sets the tone for a sweet and cozy scent that beckons for a warm fire and a plush blanket. Orange blossoms heighten Amberleah’s sweetness with a floral flourish and a tincture of ghee provides a buttery slip. Cardamom is also present in the mix and because it is a sweet spice, it also augments the sugared texture of Amberleah. Cardamom is warm and slightly earthy as well which brings out the resinous, mossy quality of labdanum.


So whether it’s a youthful rose or a sweet amber you prefer, get ready for some playful cuddling when you wear either one of these natural beauties.


All fragrances created by Dabney are 100% natural and the solid perfumes are in a base of organic jojoba oil and locally sourced beeswax. She also makes wonderful hydrosols and liquid perfumes which I have previously reviewed).

Dabney Rose solid perfumes are $25 for a 0.25 ounce tin or $55 for a 0.25 ounce brass compact in a handmade vintage kimono silk pouch: at DabneyRose.com

Disclosure: Samples were sent to me for consideration by Dabney Rose. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.


Posted by ~Trish

Image: Flaming June by Frederic Lord Leighton, 1895 at artmagik.com

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Natural Summer Scents by Wing and a Prayer

Light, citrusy florals are ideal for the summer’s heat. The brisk citrus essences are as refreshing as a cool breeze under a shady tree and the floral notes evoke strolls through gorgeous garden blossoms. Wing and a Prayer, a perfumery in Northern California, has perfected this genre of fragrance and makes it 100% natural and affordable. The above photo is of their sampler trio; three 1/8oz perfumes of your choosing for $10. I’m sure many of you know how expensive natural perfumes are, so this is a terrific deal.


Wing and a Prayer’s creator is Jane Cate and her daughter, Sarah, helps run the business side of their perfumery. Jane was kind enough to send me many samples of her fragrances, and while they are all very lovely, two really stand out as particularly exceptional.


Bella, named after Jane’s grandmother Isabel, is an excellent interpretation of a citrusy floral. Bergamot and lemongrass fulfill the citrus aspect, and meld into a delicate verbena scent that is akin to L’Occitane’s Verbena Perfume Extract which I adore, but is now discontinued. I rarely use my little L’Occitane Verbena bottle as I don’t want to use it up, but now that I have discovered Bella, I don’t need to horde it anymore. Verbena is rather sharp so I want to clarify that while Bella smells of verbena, it is much rounder as it’s softened by delicate florals and a whisper of neroli. A dusty rose is the most apparent floral note to my nose, but it resides in the background giving body and smoothness to the citrus fruits.


I have been wearing Bella a lot this summer.  Early summer days in the Northwest can be a little cool which suits Bella fine, but she really blossoms in the full warmth of the sun. Flowers, my other favorite Wing and a Prayer fragrance is just as beautiful on a warm day. Gardenia predominates within Flowers, but like a playful surfer-girl rather than a sultry bombshell. Linden blossom persuades gardenia in this direction with its light, beeswax note. Additionally, linden blossom leans a bit green and citrusy which also heightens the flirtatious nature of Flowers. There’s something a little musky at the base of Flowers, like the sweet vegetal musk of ambrette seeds. Flowers is similar to Ajne’s Printemps, so if that’s out of your wallet’s comfort zone, Wing and a Prayer provides a more affordable option.


Bella and Flowers are available at Wing and a Prayer’s etsy shop, $35 for 1.7oz.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from Wing and a Prayer were provided for this review. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Aftelier Natural Perfumes: New Website + Giveaway to Celebrate!

Mandy Aftel, founder and creator of Aftelier Perfumes is a busy gal. She writes, creates gorgeous scents, collaborates with chefs, and has just revamped her website. The above image is from her art collection and greets the visitor at the Aftelier homepage. Mandy’s new site is visually lovely with beautiful art and stunning images of her products. The best part of the website is its elegantly simple design that makes it so easy to navigate. At the left of every page, you’ll find a list of the website’s pages such as liquid perfumes, solid perfumes, perfumed teas, and my favorite, the samples page.

 

Since the Aftelier website is much more user-friendly, it’s far easier to discover all of Mandy’s previously hidden gems like the Face Elixirs, found at the Face-Body-Bath page. I have the Violet Leaf, Neroli and Chamomile Face Elixir and I use it as Mandy suggests, which is to apply it to my clean face before bedtime. The Violet Leaf, Neroli and Chamomile Face Elixir smells exceptionally leafy thanks to the violet leaf absolute. I find this essence to dominate the Face Elixir with its damp earthy greenness. Neroli gives the slightest hint of citrus and the chamomile boosts its herbal tones, but violet leaf is the heart of this Face Elixir. The 7ml bottle is a petite thing, but I find I need only a drop or two added to my nighttime moisturizer of choice, typically Kahnia Giving Beauty’s Organic Argan Oil, for an aromatic lulling to sleep.

 

Another tiny bottle that packs a wallop is Aftelier’s Bath Oil. I’m used to bath oils in large bottles, so when I first laid eyes on the diminutive 15ml bottle, I was taken aback by its size, but once I learned that these Bath Oils are made only with pure essences and no carrier oils, the dainty size made perfect sense. The Bath Oils have droppers to ensure you’ll never use too much in one steeping. And believe me, one dropperful is all you need to create an unbelievably redolent bath. Mandy recommends adding the bath oil after your bath is drawn rather than under running water since the natural essences volatize immediately when exposed to hot water. After I squeezed my Forest Flower Bath Oil dropperful into the tub, the entire bathroom was filled with the camphorous and piney trail of Black Spruce essential oil. Relaxing in a Forest Flower bath soothed my sore muscles, and replenished my mind with a calm energy.


You all are probably wondering about the giveaway part of this post, so let’s get to it. There will be four winners in this drawing, and each winner gets to pick out one of the following: a Face Elixir, a Bath Oil, a Body Oil, or a perfume Mini (except Parfum Privé). You need to do two things to be entered, so read carefully! 1). Go to the Aftelier website and give a little feedback in your comment about the new design. 2) Let me know what item you want if you are one of the winners. You can get extra entries if you follow Mandy at Facebook or Twitter. Extra entries as well if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect,Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. Please let me know in your comment what you did so you get the entries you deserve! Drawing is closed, we have our winners!

Here are my past Aftelier reviews if you need help picking out a fragrance.

Fig

Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil

Lumiere and Tango

Please visit CaFleurBon, Now Smell This, The Non Blonde and PerfumeShrine for more celebration of Aftelier’s new website.

Posted by ~Trish

image from Mandy Aftel’s collection

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Atlantic: a masculine fragrance from Strange Invisible Perfumes

When we lived in New York City, my husband and I would take the journey to the end of Long Island at least once every summer. There lies Montauk, a quaint, laid back beach town that (at least 10 years ago) was much less glitzy and not nearly as expensive as its neighbors, the Hamptons. My memories of Montauk are replete with salt laden breezes, sunkissed cheeks and lazy evenings strolling by the harbor and lighthouse. I would love to go back there with my husband to celebrate Father’s Day, but since that’s not a possibility this year, a jaunt with Strange Invisible Perfumes’ Atlantic will be in its stead.


According to the SIP website, Atlantic “conjures the classic transatlantic gentleman,” but I think it’s more wanton than that image might suggest. This fragrance would befit a Californian surfer, a Northwest rock climber, or a British rockstar (Sting comes to mind, although he might be the quintessential transatlantic gentleman IMO). Atlantic’s citrus note is exhilarating but with smooth edges, like limes soaked in honey tinged Bay Rum. The amber accord must account for some of this sweetness which I imagine includes benzoin as the fullness of this resin feels palpable to me. Benzoin is one of those unique botanicals that embodies the duality of rich soil alongside vanilla softness. All of these elements are present in Atlantic which blend perfectly with the crispness of lime.


Another word used for Atlantic at SIP, is “smoldering”. I can’t think of a better word for this fragrance. Smoldering because of its resins- benzoin(?) and frankincense- as well as sandalwood. And also because it’s gorgeous and super sexy. Atlantic is fabulous on a man (my husband to be specific) but equally as alluring on a woman. Montauk might not be in my near future, but a bottle of this most certainly is.


Atlantic is available at the Strange Invisible Perfumes website, $185 for 0.25oz of pure parfum.

Visit The Non Blonde for another review of Atlantic.


During the month of May, use code LUVMOM10 for a $20 gift certificate toward purchases of $50 or more on Strange Invisible Perfumes products only. Valid in-store, online, or by phone. See my Scent Hive Facebook profile for more info.

Montauk image from montaukhotels.org

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Atlantic was provided by Strange Invisible’s PR rep. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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