We were in Italy recently, and this is one of my favorite shots that I took on the trip. It’s from Francavilla al Mare on the Adriatic coastline and it truly embodies the relaxed nature of our time there. We had such an amazing trip, and if you follow me on instagram, you have probably seen the places we visited in this region as well as Siena and Rome. Incredibly beautiful and such delicious food of course!
Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studios has a lovely collection of *natural perfumes. Cocoa Sandalwood continues to be one of my favorite sandalwood fragrances, and in fact, turned me into a full fledged sandalwood lover. Laurie’s latest from her Naturals line also revolves around wood, but this time it’s a woodland theme, the Pacific Forest. Hiking in the Pacific Northwest is truly an exceptional experience. It’s very calming to inhale the fresh air filled with the aromas of majestic pine, spruce and fir trees. To witness this beauty and breathe in the perfumed air is relaxing and awe inspiring. Laurie has captured this sense of restful wonder that is the Pacific Forest. Although the piney forest scent is most prominent in her Pacific Forest perfume, its amber base of labdanum and vanilla allows for a gentle backdrop, made a bit sweeter by heliotrope and violet. An earthiness is present too, as patchouli, frankincense and sandalwood fuse to create the scent of the forest ground being shuffled by one’s feet. Pacific Forest is an ideal feel-good fragrance for the cold days and nights that lie ahead.
A fragrance based around rose and neroli might not strike you as an autumnal perfume choice, but Musk Malabi by Ayala Moriel is a unique creation. Yes, there’s a strong focus on the aforementioned flowers. How could there not be with rose absolutes from Bulgaria and Turkey present, as well as neroli, orange blossom absolute and blood orange? But it’s the addition of a few other botanicals that elevate Musk Malabi to the level of chilly weather comfort.
Ever since my spring break visit to Scottsdale, I have been obsessed with the scent of orange blossoms. The orange trees were teeming with their impossibly pungent flowers, and rekindled my passion for its very special perfume. Luckily it didn’t take long to quell my obsession, as I had something awaiting me at home that would satiate my orange blossom needs.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums had treated me to a lovely “thank you” package after staying with me in Portland. Fortuitously, not only did it include the Vetiver Racinettes soap that I reviewed, but also a sample of Zohar, her orange blossom soliflore.
Ayala Moriel Parfums has begun offering bar soaps, which I am so happy about since they are my favorite delivery mechanism of getting suds to skin. Ayala sent me Vetiver Racinettes, along with a couple other goodies that I will soon review, as a thank you for hosting her and her lovely daughter in our home about a month ago. The pleasure was all ours, as we (my boys, husband and I) had such a terrific time getting to know them and showing them a little bit of Portland during their short visit.
It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, that I do not feel compelled to write good things about this new soap because it was a gift from Ayala, nor do I feel that is the reason she gave it to me. I am writing this review because I LOVE THIS SOAP! It is truly wonderful. Its slip is silky and its lather is luxurious. It is non-drying and smells just like the listed notes, a perfect balance of vetiver, ginger, cardamom (a favorite of mine) and coffee. It’s of special interest to me as well, that Ayala is working with Open Source Soap of Oregon in creating these all natural, handcrafted soap bars. And for those Film Noir fans out there, the bar form of this fragrance will be released next!
As this might be my last installment of The Clarimonde Project, I would like to thank Lucy of IndiePerfumes for inviting me to partake in this extraordinarily inspired adventure. I’m hoping many of you have listened to Clarimonde via Librivox and perused the other participant’s blogs for reviews and beautiful prose inspired by this haunting romance.
There’s one aspect of this story that I have not touched upon yet, and that is the ending when Clarimonde is revealed to be a vampire. Romuald, the priest who fell madly in love with Clarimonde, did not disentangle himself from his lover once he discovered that he had been drugged nightly by her so she could drink his life giving blood. Rather, he seemed to relish that he kept her alive, so much so that his words could be mistaken for the prayer given before taking Holy Communion, “Drink, and may my love infiltrate itself throughout thy body together with my blood.”
When one celebrates Holy Communion, the host (bread) and the wine are symbolic of Christ’s body and blood. In Roman Catholicism specifically, the host and the bread are believed to become the body and blood of Jesus, which is echoed in the aforementioned words of Romuald regarding Clarimonde. Romuald not only partook in this ritual as a priest, but administered it to his parishioners as well. And at night, he gave of his own blood to save the life of Clarimonde. At one point in the story, Romuald even describes Clarimonde’s “beautiful hands” as “purer and more diaphanous than the host,” a direct reference to the Holy Communion.
This story is rife with death, rebirth, blood, flowers, decay, youth and passion. What an abundance of inspiration for a perfumer, right? Indeed it has been. I have three *perfumes at my table right now. One by Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums, another by Dawn Spencer Hurwtiz of DSH Perfumes, and finally one by Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals. I have experienced them all separately, but as I have them together now, I am convinced there must have been a Clarimonde collective consciousness wafting through their creative spaces while they concocted their brews as they are rather similar.
They are all intensely floral perfumes that exude the weighty feel of aubergine velvet, burgundy brocades and red damask. Dawn’s perfume, Paradise Lost, is quite ambery and well-aged like a rich port. Monica’s creation, Sangre, is just as deep and dark as Paradise Lost, but it’s a little sweeter like over-ripe blackberries dripping in one’s hand. All three hint at a haylike note, but it’s Ayala’s Clarimonde Dream Pillow that emanates the most earthiness. It’s not a freshly tilled soil though, rather a soil on the edge of decay that is infused with rose, violet and carnation.
Each of these perfumes teeter on the edge between lushness and decomposition, which is right where Romuald existed. And all of The Clarimonde Project creations, including Mandy Aftel’s Oud Luban and Immortal Mine, by Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl are touched by the beauty and depth of this utterly captivating story. I am honored to have been a part of this event that so exquisitely married perfume and literature.
*Paradise Lost (DSH Perfumes) and Sangre (Skye Botanicals) are mixed-media perfumes as they contain small amounts of synthetics. Ayala’s Dream Pillow perfume is 100% natural.
Image of The Vampire by Sir Philip Burne-Jones at artmagick
Image of Victorian Vampire by FairyLover17 at etsy
I’m nursing a minor, albeit very annoying, cold at the moment. It’s the typical deal, stuffy nose, cough, fatigue- and all I can think about is warmth, comfort and pampering. Fortuitously, a lovely parcel arrived from Ayala Moriel Parfums last week which included a sample of her newest fragrance Zangvil, and its accompanying perfumed tea. Perfect for autumn, perfect for my achey bones.
Of course I was thrilled to give her latest perfume creation a try, but it was the tea I really wanted to dive into. OK, so I didn’t literally dive into the tea, but I definitely steeped in it. I held the cup close to my nose and inhaled its steam, allowing the aromatic vapors to heal my tender and congested self. Ayala uses very fine Jasmine Silver Needle tea leaves for Zangvil, which is harvested in the spring and then laced with night blooming jasmine during the summer. I envision the jasmine blooms opening and infusing the white tea leaves with their scent, just as Ayala’s Zangvil tea infused me with its restorative perfume. And not only with the perfume of jasmine, but also of organic crystalized ginger, ambrette seeds and vanilla bean. It’s a gorgeous tea and I think I need to make another cup as I continue to write.
Ahhh, now that I have the aroma of Zangvil swirling about me, I am tempted by my other autumnal (and common cold) indulgence- the bath! I guess this is when the real steeping begins right? It’s a simple pleasure really, immersing oneself in hot water. But when you add something deliciously scented into the tub, it becomes a truly pampering experience. My newest bath discovery is Persephenie’s Nanu Lei Bath, a fizzy mineral bath powder with the potent hydrating powers of coconut oil and cocoa butter and the captivating scent of tiare. Nanu Lei Bath has just the right amounts of coconut, tiare and a sparkling citrus to warm your senses with thoughts of a dreamy tropical destination without hitting you over the head with too much of any of them. I adore it.
During the fall and winter months, I like to ramp up the pampering, and apply a facial mask before dipping into the tub. Evan Healy’s French Rose Clay Mask has occupied my number one spot for just over a year now, but I decided to give a new one a try, Naturopathica’s Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel. My first test-drive timing wasn’t great as it was on a hot, dog day of summer, and I was not feeling the scent of pumpkin. Fast forward to the cold chill in the air of late October, and it’s ideal. According to the Naturopathica website, pumpkin is an exfoliator that is loaded with antioxidants given its high beta carotine content. Cinnamon is also in the mask which gives it a spicy aroma and also acts as an antiseptic. I’ll take their word for it, because after I rinsed it away, my skin felt smoother and softer and I had a curious craving for pumpkin pie.
My last autumn discovery is actually a rediscovery of a forgotten perfume love, YSL’s Paris Roses des Bois. This Paris flanker was released in 2004 and it’s been far too long since I paid it any mind. It’s much more wearable on me than the original Paris which I find too cloying. If you’re familiar with Roses des Bois, you know it to be full of pink roses and blackberries, with an added smidge of sandalwood and musk. Not your typical fall-ish fragrance I know, but it’s really working for me in this colder weather. The musk has taken on a new coziness this autumn as the rose feels a little wilder and the blackberry like a special preserve you ration out during the chilly months. Happily, I have a huge bottle that need not be used sparingly. This jammy rose can now take its rightful place at the front of my perfume collection.
What are your latest autumnal discoveries? Feel free to share in this blogging event!
Top most Image from PennGastronomyClub
Bellatrix! Yahoo and congratulations! You are going to love this uniquely gorgeous perfume.
Image from eaglewingtours.com
Riding the ferries throughout the San Juan Islands is a memory that conjures up fresh marine air, gorgeous vistas of the northernmost Cascade Mountains and tall evergreens that meet the water’s edge. I find it challenging to describe the feeling of being on the water amidst the Pacific Northwest’s humbling beauty so I’m going to rely on my trustiest source for help, National Public Radio.
So I was listening to NPR the other day, Here and Now to be specific, and Robin Young was interviewing the writer Touré about his recent essay in the New York Times on writers writing about tennis. In the interview, which captivated me as I am an avid tennis player, Touré read David Foster Wallace’s description of Roger Federer’s style of play:
“Inspiration, though, is contagious, and multiform — and even just to see, close up, power and aggression made vulnerable to beauty is to feel inspired and (in a fleeting, mortal way) reconciled.”
When I heard those words read aloud, I nodded in agreement, not only because Federer is such an incredibly powerful yet balletic athlete, but also because these words can be applied to most anything sublimely beautiful. His quote embodies my feeling of being on that boat, surrounded by the overwhelming grandeur of nature which as Wallace said, is made vulnerable to its own beauty.
Orcas by Ayala Sender, is an homage to the unique land and seascapes of this region and the Wild Pacific Trail in particular which runs along the westcoast of Vancouver Island. Like all of Ayala’s fragrances, Orcas is expertly blended and as a result the natural materials move like water over a stone, seamlessly and fluidly. The opening is the one moment you’ll take notice of a singular note, as a bitingly green burst of lime initiates the Orcas encounter. Quickly though, after just a few minutes, the remaining notes begin to swell.
Spruce, moss, rosemary and seaweed tumble together in an herbaceous and slightly salty wave, ushering in exhilaration, and renewal. Another passing wave brings forth violet leaf and cedar which heighten the herbal and basalmic aspects of Orcas in their own unique way. Violet leaf is deeply green and leafy thereby ramping up those tones in the rosemary and seaweed while cedar’s smooth and dry quality imparts the spruce and moss with warmth.
In truth though, all of the notes complement each other and meld into one another making note deconstruction feel a bit insignificant. In the end, Orcas stands as a gorgeous, all natural oceanic fragrance that bathes the skin in a maritime-woodland dew. But for those of you who are drawn to vetiver and ambergris, I will say that the drydown has something very special in store for you.
Above is a photo of Ayala Sender in her studio. I took it two summers ago when my family and I visited the San Juans, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver BC where Ayala lives.
She has graciously offered to give away a EDP mini to a Scent Hive reader. Just leave a comment and you will be entered. If you have a favorite from her line, please share it! Drawing is now closed.
Orcas is available at ayalamoriel.com $120 for 15ml splash/spray bottle or a 4ml mini for $45.
Photo of ferry and Mt. Baker is from Panoramio.com
Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by Ayala Sender. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
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