New from Aftelier.

Aftelier grid

Where to begin with this trio of redolent treats? Each one is a unique creation of Mandy Aftel’s, who is probably well known to you if you frequent perfume blogs or have an interest in *natural perfumes. You might also be familiar with her book, Essence and Alchemy, which has influenced me a great deal in my blogging and personal love of perfume. Her evocative way with words and firm grasp of history makes it an incredibly inspiring and educational read. I believe she was able to write so poetically about the history of fragrance because she has an innate talent in creating fragrance herself. This expertise is exemplified quite remarkably in the gems pictured above.

Continue reading “New from Aftelier.”

Highlights of 2009: A Joint Blogging Project

I started blogging about natural and botanical perfumery in 2009, and this will always be the year I began discovering the depths of its beauty. Scent Hive grew out of my love for perfume, but this passion has become more profound since I have been fortunate enough to meet some of the gifted people behind the creations. 2009 gave me the opportunity to meet Ayala Sender of Ayala Moriel Parfums, Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes and Julie Elliott of In Fiore, all extraordinary women devoted to the world of naturals. Each of them are fascinating individuals of course, but have a common trait of serenity in the midst of their bustling, independently-owned businesses which provide some of the most sumptuous fragrances I have ever come across.

Other perfumers that I have not met face-to-face, but with whom I have corresponded via email and phone quite a bit are Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz ofDSH Perfumes. All of these women are some of the kindest people you will ever know, and their attention to detail in packaging their orders is exquisite. Opening a box from an artisan who has put much time and love into her creations takes on a deeper meaning in this tight economy and mass-produced society.

It’s challenging to make a “favorites list” as there are so many fabulous perfumes I discovered this year. Nevertheless, I would like share some fragrances, beauty products, and experiences that have made an impact on me in 2009.

1). Reading Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy was a very poignant experience. Her book allowed me to delve further into the realm of fragrance, and appreciate the power of natural essences as a medium to transform and transcend one’s material world. It also provides a thorough history of natural perfumery and is very informative regarding the essences as well. I know Mandy has inspired many persons to become perfumers after reading Essence and Alchemy, and for me, it allowed my understanding and appreciation of this art to deepen and evolve.

2). Discovering DSH Perfumes’ 100% Botanical Perfume Collection was an olfactory highlight this year. Was I a kid in a candy store? Oh yeah. I wanted one of everything. Epices d’Hiver satisfied my need for a spicy, comfort fragrance this winter, and Yuzu will give me something to look forward to this spring when my citrus cravings ignite. Bancha is not available yet on the DSH website, but is here. I won’t reveal too much as my review is coming, but I will let you know that it’s Ayurvedic in inspiration, and entirely calming and beautiful.

3). Julie Elliott relaunched her body oils! In February 2009 I wrote about In Fiore’s Maia Body Oil, even though it had just been discontinued. Thankfully, Julie listened to the collective sigh of disappointment and has given us Jasmin Supérieur, the Body Oil formerly known as Maia. Julie reassured me that the formula has not changed, only the bottle which is more user friendly as it now has a pump. When I visited In Fiore this fall, I tested all of her Bath & Body Oils (there are seven, pictured above) and left with a bottle of Patchouli Royale which is made with the most gorgeous vintage patchouli from Grasse, France. I still have my bottle of Maia, or else I would have walked out the door with Jasmin Supérieur as well because it layers beautifully with Patchouli Royale.

4). Kahina Giving Beauty, is a line of skincare based on organic argan oil. Founder, Katherine L’Heureux, gives 25% of her company’s profits to educational and women’s rights programs for the women of the Moroccan argan cooperatives, an incredibly generous action. I have reviewed the line here, but wanted to let you all know that I have used this line almost everyday since I reviewed it, and will continue to use this lovely and efficacious skincare regimen.

5). I remain steadfast with Red Flower Guaiac as my favorite citrus fragrance. Its rich, zesty, citrus quality is unparalleled, and the more I wear it, the more I become attuned to its woody aspect. I have had the good fortune of visiting San Francisco three times in the last eight months, and Guaiac has been my fragrance choice for each trip. This uplifting perfume now speaks to me of California, warm citrus, and getting away.

6). Ajne’s Fleur Blanche is hands down, the most gorgeous gardenia fragrance…ever. And I’ll stand by that proclamation too. I’ve introduced enough perfume-lovin’ fiends friends who go gaga over it to know that I’m not the only one who drools over this beauty. It’s creamy and buttery, yet slightly smoky and woodsy, with a luscious hint of indoles. A common (and frequently undeserved) complaint with naturals is that they don’t last long enough. I have never found this to be the case with Fleur Blanche. It lasts from morning to night, and hints of its soft petals can be discovered on your scarf and blouse the following day.

7). I’ve already reviewed Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Body Frostings twice on Scent Hive, so you know I love them. I use them almost every night to soothe my dry hands and to fall asleep with their creamy floral redolence. It’s difficult to pick one that I like the best, since it seems to be whichever one I have on at the time.Kashmir Rose and Tuberose Gardenia usually compete for 1st place, but Orange Blossom edges in closely as I do adore neroli and have been enjoying using this as a neck cream at night.

8). Finally, becoming a part of the perfume blogging community has been most touching to me this year. As an avid reader of blogs such as NowSmellThis, Bois de Jasmin, PerfumeShrine, TheNonBlonde and IndiePerfumes, I feel very grateful to have been supported by them and anyone who has taken the time to read Scent Hive. The perfume-loving community is filled with the most generous, kind-hearted and intelligent group of people a gal could ever hope to engage with. Thanks to Lucy of IndiePerfumes and Jessica of NowSmellThis for meeting me this summer in NYC, you two are fantastic! And Angela, another NowSmellThis writer extraordinaire, thank you for swapping scents and stories over the past several months. And thanks also to Elena at PerfumeShrine for your advice and encouragement when I was getting this ball rolling. You all are awesome.

Please visit the following blogs for their 2009 highlights!

Perfume Shrine

Mossy Loomings

1000fragrances

Ayala Smelly Blog

Bittergrace Notes

Shoes,cake,perfume

Eiderdown Press Journal

Olfactarama

Roxana’s Illuminated Journal

A Rose Beyond the Thames

The Non Blonde

Notes from the Ledge

Under the Cupola

All I am a Redhead

Perfume In Progress

Savvy Thinker

I Smell Therefore I Am


Happy New Year to the Scent Hive community and all of your friends and family.


Gather ye Rosebuds while ye may by John William Waterhouse at artmagick.com
Primavera detail by Sandro Botticelli at visualstatistics.net

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Strange Invisible Perfumes: Galatea

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Galatea begets an image of a bitter-orange tree corridor. Blossoms opening from a balmy night of late spring. Dark silhouettes of lovers loosely hold hands, fingers intertwined. Boozy thoughts dance above them. The trees emit their balsam, finally released from the first true heat of the season. The bark has become balm and essence. It’s a lovely vision, a bit dark in my mind, and this perfume swirls around it like a trance. 

 

I am in love with Galatea and yearn to have a full bottle. Here’s the caveat; one has to really love this fragrance before buying it as it is only available in parfum strength and is $185 for 1/4 ounce. But neroli is a weakness of mine. I adore its sensual heralding of springtime and slightly spicy undertones. This lovely note of neroli, combined with the sweet warmth of benzoin and the leafy-green resinous quality of galbanum have been orchestrated with an artist’s skill and inspiration. Alexandra Balahoutis, the creator of Strange Invisible Perfumes composed Galatea for herself, which might explain why this is such a perfectly blended fragrance. 

 

To clarify, the benzoin used in fragrance is different from the medicinal benzoin which is a skin protectant and smells like camphor. Perfumery benzoin is a resin from the Styrax tree which is native to Southeast Asia. Cuts are made in the bark to release the liquid secretion, which later solidifies into a resin after being exposed to air and the sun. The resin smells sweet and vanilla-like, and according to Mandy Aftel in her book Essence and Alchemy, “people tend to find benzoin calming, seductive, sensual and rejuvenating”.

 

Tuberose plays its part in this perfume as well. But not in the typical bombshell-floral role it’s usually relegated. In Galatea, tuberose has soft curves that cradle the neroli. So subtle is the tuberose, that it only becomes apparent in the base. Providing a richness to the neroli and an evolution for the fragrance to move into deeper territory. But the resinous, booze-like quality that makes Galatea so dreamlike remains constant. 

 

Galatea is available at  Strange Invisible Perfumes.  Strange Invisible Perfumes does not use any synthetically derived chemicals and all of their products are crafted solely from ingredients found in nature. They use organic beverage-grade grape alcohol as the base for their perfumes. 85-100% of their product is organic and they use organic ingredients whenever possible. Please see their site for more on their green mission.

 

Galatea decants are also available at The Perfumed Court.

 

Posted by ~Trish

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Leon Gerome at Explore-Drawing-and-Painting.com

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Aftelier’s Orchid Solid Perfume

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This winter I read Mandy Aftel’s Essence and Alchemy and not only learned a great deal about natural perfumery and its history, but I also found myself reveling in its mystical and spiritual aspects. Ms. Aftel’s book takes you on a journey of the natural perfumer as alchemist. Converting raw matter into something more pure and divine; potentially enabling us to connect the material world with the spiritual. This may or may not be the intention of a natural perfumer, but her book lays a convincing argument that botanical transformation or solve et coagula, to dissolve and combine, just might lead to a transcendental encounter. 

 

Reading her book was informative and moving, but I had never actually worn one of her fragrances. And frankly, I was reluctant to do so after having such a wonderful experience with her writing. I was worried that I would have too many expectations of her perfumes, and if they weren’t met, the let down would be enormous. So I waited.

 

Two months passed until I filled my shopping cart with some samples at Aftelier.com which I must say is no cheap endeavor. But the time had arrived to experience the alchemist at large. I have started my personal Aftelier foray with the Orchid Solid Perfume. What does an orchid smell like you might ask? I really don’t know. After a little research I found that some have no smell, some are putrid, and some are akin to jasmine, honeysuckle, gardenia, rose, violet, etc. Additionally, the flower’s oil is very difficult to distill, so the perfumer must attempt to approximate what she/he has envisioned for the orchid’s fragrance. Whatever Ms. Aftel envisioned for her Orchid Solid, was utterly gorgeous.

 

Aftelier’s Orchid is an interesting fragrance that might take a little time to grasp, but it’s also one that you can surrender to immediately. The initial spicy peppery, cinnamon topnotes made my nose twitch with delight and curiosity. But I accepted the culinary twist and remembered the first time I inhaled a deep purple plumeria that smelled of cinnamon and simply let the fragrance evolve. The floral/spice mix melted into my skin and after my introductory puzzlement, I realized I could not imagine Orchid unfolding in any other manner. 

 

The true beauty of Ms. Aftel’s creation is the orange blossom absolute. The interplay between the tropical narcotic, and the youthful fresh qualities of this blossom are perfectly balanced in her Orchid Solid. It’s green, heady, lush, citrusy, and vital. In Essence and Alchemy, Ms. Aftel describes absolutes as “floral essences at their truest and most concentrated.” That is certainly how the orange blossom of Aftelier’s Orchid flowers on the skin, truthfully.

 

Of course I had to do some research and find out what the spiciness was all about that I was perplexed and captivated by. I found Ayala Sender’s review of Orchid on her blog, Smellyblog, and she mentions that shiso is used in this fragrance. I have to plead ignorance in this regard, as I don’t know much about shiso except for what I have recently read and unknowingly consumed. Shiso, also known as perilla and many other names depending on if you are in Korea, Vietnam, India, etc, is a culinary herb. (Here is an informative article from the LA Times on its many uses). Clearly, shiso is responsible for the peppery, cinnamon opening and elegant transition to Orchid’s heart.

 

single_solid_smallI will echo Ayala’s sentiment that Orchid does not last on the skin as I long as I would have hoped; approximately two hours. This is such a stunning fragrance that I would love for it to last all day. Yet, while I only have a sample of Orchid, it’s a pleasure to dip my finger into the perfume solid and reapply, and I can only imagine that doing so with the sterling silver compact feels like a precious ritual. And precious it is, as the compact is $175 for 1/4oz. 

 

 

 

Many of you may know, but some of you may not, that Mandy Aftel has an exhibit in her honor at Bendel’s in New York City, Living Perfume: The Natural Alchemy of Mandy Aftel from April 18 – May 11. If you are in the New York area, this is not to be missed.

 Aftelier’s Orchid Solid Perfume is available at Aftelier.com and Bendel’s in NYC. Aftelier products do not contain artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, phthalates, or parabens. This is clearly stated on the website.

Posted by ~Trish

Green Orchid by thecrookedstreet on etsy.com

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