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.

 

Share

Gabriel's Aunt Venasque and Bohem

This review continues my exploration of natural perfumes from Gabriel’s Aunt. Last week I wrote about Royal Couple, a radiant and sultry rose/jasmine duo that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Today, I will focus on two of her roll-on perfumes, one that also features jasmine, but from a different perspective.


Venasque is an homage to the lavender and chocolate loving Southern French town by the same name, and uses jasmine in the top notes to enhance the experience. One would not smell Venasque and think, “my what a fabulous jasmine scent”, as it’s decidedly a lavender based perfume. But this lavender is fuller than usual as jasmine melds into the purple buds, enhancing its herbaceous essence with a juicy floral lift. Lovers of lavender will appreciate the lushness that Venasque brings to the plant which can oftentimes be dry and crisp.


A dusting of cocoa powder lands gently on Venasque after an hour, meeting the expectations set by the perfume’s back-story. Lavender continues to be the star of this fragrant experience, therefore it doesn’t become a lavender infused chocolate truffle (which sounds really tasty come to think of it!). Venasque is more like a lavender field that has been nourished by dark chocolate in its soil. The rich, bittersweetness effortlessly evolves as jasmine receeds. A judicious use of patchouli adds to this earthy imagery. As with Venasque’s jasmine, it’s the suggestion of patchouli that enhances the richness of the chocolate and the herbal aroma of the lavender.


Even though the drydown is similar to the delightful vanillic ending of Royal Couple, I wholeheartedly recommend men try Venasque as well as women. I happen to be a lover of lavender, so Venasque is a perfume I would reach for again and again. I already have two lavender favorites, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ Vera and Ajne’s deLavande, but Venasque rounds out the collection beautifully. Both of those fragrances lean more powdery and cozy, while Venasque is an amplified, aromatic lavender with a gourmand flavor.


Bohem, GA’s best selling fragrance of 2009, resides in the spicy-incense realm with its allspice and cedarwood blend. In addition, vetiver, patchouli and tobacco give a good deal of body to Bohem, most notably being vetiver. I thoroughly appreciate vetiver’s ability to provide a smoked earth quality while simultaneously allowing the surrounding essences their full glory.


The heart of Bohem becomes a little sweeter as cassie and davana lend a honeyed, fruity glow to the incense swirling on your skin. Tobacco and the allspice aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves infuse the smoke from beginning to end which like Venasque, would smell wonderful on either a woman or a man.


Nikki Sherritt, the woman behind Gabriel’s Aunt, is a bit of a dark horse in the world of natural perfumery. She flies under the radar, probably because she is more well-known for her candles, but should receive due recognition for her artistic hand in blending natural perfumes. Nikki has samples for sale on her site, and I encourage you to experience them for yourselves.


Venasque and Bohem are available on the Gabriel’s Aunt website. $38 for a 1/4 oz roll-on.

You can read Ayala Sender’s review of both Bohem the fragrance and the candle on SmellyBlog.


Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from Gabriel’s Aunt were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
Image of Venasque, France from TravelWebshots

Share

Gabriel's Aunt Royal Couple, Jasmine and Rose Bliss

*Please note that Gabriel’s Aunt is now Rebel & Mercury, see link below for website. 

Gabriel’s Aunt (GA) isn’t entirely new to me. Nikki Sherritt, the creator of GA’s natural candles and perfumes, also pours candles for Ayala Moriel Parfums. I adore Ayala’s White Potion candle, so I figured I should give Nikki’s concoctions a try as well. I wasn’t expecting to be as crazy as I am over GA’s scents. In fact, after I wore the perfume samples Nikki sent me for a couple days, I promptly went to her etsy site and ordered some candles figuring if her perfumes were this good, her candles must be as well.


I will review everything I bought and was given by GA over the next few days (or weeks) but I wanted to start with Royal Couple, a heavenly combination of jasmine and rose that comes in both a cream perfume solid and a candle. Nikki describes her cream perfume solids as having just one or two essences in them to encourage layering. Yet Royal Couple’s short list of jasmine and rose belies its complex bouquet and is entirely lovely on its own.


After smoothing the perfume solid on my wrists and neck, I was reveling in thick and juicy jasmine petals…of the indolic jasmine grandiflorum variety. It’s a potent jasmine, but not so intense that it chokes the wearer or those around you. Rose was not a part of this jasmine-fest at the outset, but slowly made its way onto my skin, along with a spicy jasmine sambac development. I don’t know what jasmine Nikki uses for her Royal Couple blend, maybe it is a combination of the two. Regardless, the evolution of Royal Couple from heady and densely floral to a more piquant yet refined jasmine, was unforeseen and welcomed.

The drydown was equally delicious because I love a well-done vanillic floral base. Only Nikki knows if there’s a touch of vanilla (or maybe benzoin?) in Royal Couple, and if there isn’t she’s got a magic touch with the raw local beeswax she uses in her perfume solids. Organic coconut, jojoba and sweet almond oils are also used in the solids, making them a pleasure to apply to the skin. The scent has excellent longevity and I am seriously elated that Royal Couple is also offered in a candle.

GA’s candles are soy based, made with locally grown, Non-GMO soywax. Nikki never uses soy/paraffin blends which allows for clean and environmentally sound candle enjoyment. And like her perfumes, the candles are made with 100% all natural essences. The Royal Couple candle is a nice accompaniment to the solid perfume, as the rose essence flourishes with heat. It’s a freshly cut rose that is very full, thanks to the support of jasmine. As I began writing this post last night, I had the perfume solid on my skin, the candle burning beside me and I felt like I was in a royal garden filled with the freshest of jasmine and rose blossoms. It was bliss.

Royal Couple EDP (solid is no longer available) and  Royal Couple Candle  (Royal Couple is now the Rose, Jasmine, Grapefruit Everyday Collection Candle) are now available at Rebel & Mercury. 

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample of Royal Couple Cream Perfume Solid was provided for this review by Gabriel’s Aunt. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.
“Madagascar Jasmine” at art.com

Share