Sacred Frankincense 1 by JoAnne Bassett 2014 + Interview


Post by Einsof


Hello Junkies!

My name is Einsof (eye-n-s’off) and I’d like to share a fusion of styles, mysticism and perfume with you. I recently sat down with botanical perfumer JoAnne Bassett to explore her Sacred Frankincense Collection. It comes as no surprise that speaking with JoAnne is rather like listening to your favorite Tori Amos album in that you’re going to be subject to impromptu voyages into spirituality, reincarnation and a host of muses both sacred and sensual.

“Working with some absolutes blocks the energy.” A typical Bassett-ism, there is nothing within JoAnne’s work which does not reach out to some higher purpose, “They can make the purpose of a perfume muddy, unclear or the energy simply stops flowing.” Her technical approach is intimately entwined with a higher calling. The word ‘exquisite’ floats around the room as perhaps the only synonym for the art of her craft.

Sacred Frankincense 1 JoAnne Bassett image fragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

These moments of revelation come as leaned-in, quieter tones from the sprite-like intuitive perfumer. “In the room where I blend,” JoAnne begins another such secret telling, “I have a lot of help. The plant devas, divine energies, indigenous wisdoms… and love come together in there.” After working with several clients in Saudi Arabia and parts Middle East, it seems the consummate queen of French style perfumery had found a new ‘sound’ in the voice of the Djin. “I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror- do you know I had no idea who was standing there. This energy was insistent.”

The common thread of the collection is hydro-distilled frankincense sacra from Oman and a heavy dose of the harem and Middle Eastern magic. Calling upon her extensive collection of vintage essential oils, home grown botanicals she dedicatedly tinctures and newer players such as CO2 extracted butter — JoAnne has crafted a bridge between the refined classic European perfumery with the attar laden East where aroma was ritual, “…I like the idea of worlds, old and new merging; the evolution of the raw material all in one glance.”

Sacred Frankincense 1 by JoAnne Bassett 2014

The collection is Royal Alchemy Collection, the perfume is Sacred Frankincense 1

Sacred Frankincense 1 JoAnne Bassett fragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Olibanum, moroccan rose, elemi, peru balsam, lavender, artemisia, yuzu, chamomile, lime (linden blossom

Upon application there is an immediate sense of an apricot orchard, and familiar notes; lavender & peru balsam are waving from deep within the grove. Elemi, yuzu and linden greet you with childlike glee and beckon you into the rows. Throughout wear, chamomile softened cabbage rose and rose absolute exchange faces like JoAnne and her Muses in the mirror- sometimes you can distinguish between notes and sometimes there is a completely new being in your presence.

Sacred Frankincense 1 JoAnne Bassett Apticot Orchard WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

In the center of the forest- a clearing where all flora and fauna come to pay tribute to frankincense. The jus rests here for a moment (another interesting facet of the JoAnne’s Djinic journey is a change in tempo for unfolding of the perfume)- it seems to be the moment when the florals take their final melding with the resins in preparation for dry down. Every note seems to pop out from behind a puff of frankincense- and this complex dance of synergy continues for some time.

After about 3 hours of play in this enchanted forest, you realize you may be just dancing in the mirage of the desert as a luxurious.. exquisite…dry down of softened peru balsam, rose and davana have left only a soft but definitely resinous waft of the dervishes whirling through my nose and mind. This skin souvenir will continue for hours, even though reapplication is the way of the truly natural.

Tadrart AcacusPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

“I don’t quite understand,” JoAnne says genuinely surprised, taken aback even, “Do people only pray once? Is that why they only want to spray once?” Of course, JoAnne considers the people who are attracted to her art as “Divine Clients, for whom the perfume is more than just aesthetic.” She recounts noting her observant clients wash their hands, and apply pleasing perfume (an intentional reason the client sought out JoAnne’s Custom Couture Perfume services)- a fragrant way of preparation for courting communication with the Divine.
It is in this capacity which JoAnne finds her true calling: to call upon lifetimes of aromatic memory in order assist, uplift, affect energy patterns and give genuine moments of satori to those who experience her craft. These moments of divine illumination are not meant to last… they are glimpses into our own heavenly natures.

“Do you know, I came from the world of the stock market… and I am still enriching people’s lives. What I can do for them from my blending room is not significantly different from what I did from behind a desk. I am here to be of service to my clients.” JoAnne left the stock floor to search the world’s gardens for the most exquisite, hand distilled oils and attars. Her reserve must equal that of the royalty she references in her art.

In the naturals world, JoAnne gives quite a show of sillage and longevity. There is nothing overly gendered about her work, only names and your nose will have any influence- perhaps a reason why the collection is numbered rather than titled. Sacred Frankincense 1 could be worn anywhere and everywhere. Truly this collection proves true that what is intimately sacred will make intimacy sacred- these pieces of olfactory art could be found as easily in the boudoir and on the altar.

Further reading visit the JoAnne Basset site
Shopping you can visit the JoAnne Bassett ETSY site

From JoAnne Bassett: Because there wasn’t a perfume giveaway I am offering a special sale on my website of the fragrances recently reviewed.

Has anyone tried JoAnne Bassett? What do you think when your favorite artist changes their style up? Is it interesting expansion or irritating aberration?

Much light,

8 thoughts on “Sacred Frankincense 1 by JoAnne Bassett 2014 + Interview

  1. I have had the pleasure of sampling the whole Sacred line and as an incense lover, I found them breathtaking and original. Each and every one. The use of the highest quality naturals is evident in the exquisite quality of JoAnne’s oils and I have been astounded by the breadth of atmospheres she has been able to create from a single starting point in Olibanum. I’m not one for a great deal of holism etc, but when someone seems to be channeling the divine in such a way as JoAnne is, it gives one pause for thought!
    To answer skirtingly the second part of the question, I can only be brief, as I have only sampled two other marvels from the house of Bassett: Petit Trianon (an oriental musk) and Malmaison (a complex floral and amber). Both display the same stunning composition and attention to detail shown in the Sacred Frankincense collection, but are quite clearly by the same nose. I think it matters not that an artist would redirect their style. Indeed I think it would be more “irritating” if the opposite was the case and the perfumer continued to regurgitate & auto-revel in what had gone before! It would be the Rolling Stones of perfumery! Playing the same old numbers ad infinitum. Preaching to the paltry choir and refusing to challenge themselves or their audience, so long as the endeavour remains lucrative.
    Bravo to JB for this Frankincense line. Following her muses and producing an entire line of utter beauty in an age of perfumery where the boardroom rules and the lowest common denominator is king.
    A fantastic line that I could never recommend highly enough, especially to lovers of incense, such as myself. Do yourself a favor and order the sample set at the very least. You won’t be disappointed!


  2. Thank you Portia and Einsof for sharing my work with your readers. Thank you Gwizz for your thoughtful post. Yes changing it up a bit…I love being creative!

    I do ship all over the world and to Australia of course. You can purchase Sacred Frankincense perfumes on my website under the Collections page – Royal Alchemy Collection


  3. Lovely review. And thanks for the reminder. JoAnne Bassett tops my list of natural perfumers that I want to try. I always seem to get distracted elsewhere. Maybe it just hasn’t been the right time yet? There is not a single perfume that she has that doesn’t sound good, but I really want to try the limited editions, especially Luscious Roses! Oh, and the bottles are exquisite.


  4. Thank you Junkies for allowing me to share with you- My time with JoAnne was a magic carpet ride!

    JoAnne’s work is some of the best out there, and it was my great honor to share my experience with you.

    much light, einsof


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