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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Aftelier Perfumes Fig EdP

Mandy Aftel, creator of Aftelier Perfumes, is a true artist. Her fragrances are interesting, thought provoking, and ultimately beautiful, and each time I wear one I adore her fragrances just a little more. I’m certain Mandy’s Fig has more than the listed notes of fir absolute, jasmine sambac and yuzu in its blend, but knowing this triad provides the foundation for this stunning perfume gives me much to ponder, even without having the scent on my skin.


The juxtaposition of something so deeply green and reminiscent of winter festivities like fir against the intensely lush and heady floral quality of jasmine intrigued me greatly before I had the chance to sample Fig. I wasn’t expecting Fig would smell like figs, but rather Mandy’s interpretation of the fruit. And indeed, I’d liken it to an impressionist’s take on what figs smell like, but not the watery Monet’s that typically come to mind; more like a Manet where you see the image quite clearly, but with an edge, albeit a softened edge.


Fig speaks of contrary alliances. It’s musty yet sharp, balsamic yet sweet. It’s indolic and resinous, earthy and powdery. Mandy’s Vintage Patchouli essential oil might be in Fig because it possesses a rich, earthy base that resembles the aged patchouli. But the overriding beauty of this fragrance is the merging of fir and jasmine sambac. Somehow the two create a sap-filled and organic scent that is dark and jammy with a subtle spicy flourish only jasmine sambac can offer. The chewy aroma of Fig is so unique and alluring, I had to put it on my holiday wishlist.


And Yay! I received a bottle of the new Fig EdP as a Christmas gift from my husband, and what a thrill it was to find that treasure snuggled up inside Aftelier’s signature purple box with her orange and purple floral label. Both the parfum and EdP have the same formulation, yet I do prefer the EdP as it is lovely to spray Fig on your skin. I do love to dab, but it is exhilarating to spritz such a gorgeous perfume which fortunately lasts all day.


Posted by ~Trish

Aftelier Fig was picked as one of the top 9 natural perfumes for summer on Stylcaster.com! Check out their site for beauty and fashion tips.


Fig EdP is $150 for 30ml at Aftelier Perfumes. Aftelier products do not contain artificial colors, synthetic fragrances, petrochemicals, phthalates, or parabens. This is clearly stated on the website.

Figs by Serinissima on Etsy

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Halloween Treats For Grown-Ups

Skyclad Witch by WinonaCookie

As a mom, the focus of Halloween tends to be on costumes, post trick-or-treat candy negotiations, and not so much on grown-up-time fun. I’d like to change that with this post, and focus on some delicious treats for those of us out of our tweens. So pull up a chair, and get to deciding which scent you’d like to wear for Halloween.


Aftelier’s Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil

I almost needn’t say more after you read this product’s name, right? Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil. It’s luscious, luxurious and very sensual. But there is one element missing in the name, and that’s jasmine. The oil smells as if it’s been infused with jasmine, bittersweet cocoa, and a boozy-honeyed quality that I’m assuming the saffron imparts. The chocolate oil is so dense, you must shake it vigorously to disperse it before using, and it’s beautiful to see it mix and meld with the golden saffron tinged oil. On the skin, the fragrance is decidedly chocolatey, in a dark and sexy way. Imagine walking down a tropical moonlit path with night blooming jasmine surrounding you, and impossibly, the blossoms are dusted with bittersweet cocoa powder. Like a dream, the cocoa melts into the petals and the petals into your skin, and you’re far far away from any children asking you how much candy they can eat on Halloween night. And…end dream sequence. Go get some Aftelier Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil, it’ll make trick or treating much more pleasant.


Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Black Cat

Black CatAs I’m sure many of you have noticed, 100% all natural perfumes can run on the expensive side, and Laurie Stern, the artistic mind behind Velvet and Sweet Pea, has answered her clients’ calls for something a little more affordable. Black Cat is one of Laurie’s newest offerings, and not only is it appropriately named for Halloween, its scent is perfect for the coming festive winter months. Cocoa, ylang ylang, aniseseed myrtle and biodynamic Italian blood orange blend beautifully, like biting into a bittersweet chocolate-orange holiday confection, spiked with anise. The drydown is gorgeous as the base of this Eau de Parfum is Tahitian vanilla infused organic grape alcohol. This freshly crushed vanilla bean essence alluringly opens in the fragrance’s final stages, and lasts for hours.

Anise has become one of my favorite notes over the past few months, most notably in Honoré des Prés’ licorice tinged Sexy Angelic , Ayala Sender’s The Purple Dress, and now in Black Cat. Its anise component is from Aniseseed Myrtle, a tree whose oil smells just like anise, and its bitterness tempers the beloved chocolate/orange duo perfectly.

Soivohlé Oudh Lacquer Parfum

Oudh LacquerThis is a fragrance that brings together oudh and chocolate. Some might feel this is a meeting of exasperation and the ultimate in comfort, respectively. I have not had the experience of oudh being unapproachable or difficult to wear. Maybe it’s because I have mostly worn it in all-natural formulations which possibly gives it a warmer, rounder impression. So while Liz Zorn, the nose behind Soivohlé, has created a fragrance that boasts a dry and robust oudh, the perfume will not keep you at arm’s length. From the get-go, dark chocolate envelopes you and guides you into this deep, spicy, smoky scent encounter.

Anise and orange are subtly blended in Oudh Lacquer Parfum, steeped into the tangy woody texture of the perfume, and imbued into the cocoa absolute. An expert hand and artistic mind was clearly used in achieving the fine floral balance of the honeyed linden blossom and spicy/heady champaca. Several other blossoms are present, such as orange blossom, rose, aglalia, as well as orris butter, but the linden and champaca are the florals that give luster to this Oudh Lacquer. And thankfully, the warm, rich cocoa never strays from beginning to end.


Please visit Nathan Branch’s blog for his two part review of Oudh Lacquer. It truly deserves a Part I and a Part II. All three of these fragrances merit more words than I have room for here. They are all sophisticated, compelling, and most importantly, beautiful to wear.


Aftelier’s Chocolate and Saffron Body Oil is available at Aftelier.com $40 for 4.6 oz.

Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Black Cat EDP is available at Potion$105 for 15mls.

Soivohlé’s Oudh Lacquer Parfum is available at soivohle.com for $95 for 4.5mls or $260 for 1/2 oz.


Posted by ~Trish

Skyclad Witch by WinonaCookie on etsy.com
Disclosure: Samples from each company were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other. This post contains links to Potionwhich I am affiliated with. 

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Aftelier’s Lumiere, Tango, and Antique Patchouli

There’s nothing quite like the majestic beauty of the Oregon Coast. The rugged terrain of the evergreen forest meeting the water’s edge. New spits being created almost overnight. A continual reminder of nature’s enduring force.


I hadn’t been to the coast in a while, and took a quick trip with my family this weekend. When I first stepped out of the car and breathed my first breath of the evening’s coastal air, I was taken aback by the rich coolness of my inhalation. The redolence of the driftwood, the salt-kissed flowers, the bitterness of old seashells and the sweet anticipation of ordering ice cream had me reeling.


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Now that I am home from our quick jaunt, I have Mandy Aftel’s Lumiere on my skin. It smells like a beachy scent…an Oregon beachy scent. Blue lotus is one of the floral notes in the fragrance, and its East Asian origin could lean towards tropical imagery if it were paired with a white floral. But instead, boronia was chosen which lends to Lumiere a rustic tea-soaked fruit scent more in line with the Northwest Coast. Green tea absolute is also in the blend which of course enhances the tannic quality of boronia and augments the overall richness of the fragrance. Frankincense, which is present from the beginning and then fades upon the drydown, bestows elegance upon Lumiere and interestingly given the name, a darkness as well. Melancholic darkness that one frequently experiences at the Oregon Coast. Yet, morning clouds often give way to the bright luminescence of an afternoon sun. Just as Lumiere’s frankincense burns off to allow the floral fruits of boronia to shine a little brighter.


Tango, another Many Aftel creation, has an oceanic essence within its blend, roasted seashells. I’ve never had the opportunity to smell roasted seashells on their own, but I’d like to. In Tango, this essence creates a sexy, smoky aura that would most certainly be requisite for a fragrance bearing such a name. Champaca, along with delicious spices heighten the sensuality of the experience. Lest you think this fragrance is all about romantic desire, there is tension created with an intense inky note. Bitterness is present within the passion… a strong tango should convey such contrast. Tango the fragrance, unlike the dance, is allowed to evolve over many hours. The bitterness wanes, the smokiness fades, and Tango ends on a bed of honeyed sweetness and floral delicacy.


Antique Patchouli is one of Aftelier Perfume’s essential oil offerings. It hails from France and according to the Aftelier website, it has been aged for a few years and is the only patchouli oil Mandy Aftel will use in her blends. While I do not fall into the devoted patchouli-lover camp (although I do adore many fragrances that have patchouli in them) it’s not difficult to discern why Antique Patchouli has become the One Patchouli at Aftelier Perfumes. It possesses a highly unique minty quality that I have not yet experienced from patchouli, and its earthiness is so genuine I feel like I am hiking through an old growth rainforest after a storm when I smell it on my skin. It’s all about dark rich soil and herbal aromas, and it makes me want to pack my bags and go camping in the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula. (OK, for those who know me, maybe if there were a shower with warm water and a mattress to sleep on).

 

 

Aftelier Perfumes are 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

photo by jphillipe at etsy.com

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Strange Invisible Perfumes: Galatea

jeanleongerome-pygmalion-and-galatea

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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