Hiram Green launched their latest creation, Lustre, at the Esxcence 2019. A rose soliflore, it is the luminous pearl in the otherwise brightly coloured collection of scented jewels, and perhaps the most exquisite.
Lunarii gives these featured accords:
Rose Otto, Rose Damascena, Rose Maroc, violet leaf, spikenard, clary sage, musk.
Described as a ‘Euphoric unfurling of a rose-laden carpet into the sky’. The fragrance opens with a sudden whoosh, an ‘unfurling’, of very vivid rose notes. There is not a lot of sweetness; rather, the effect is peppery and a little raspy. If it is a little harsh at this point, it softens as it develops. Incense is not given as a note; on my first wearing of Queen of Hearts I smelled it distinctly, but in subsequent wearings not so much. Never mind. For me, Queen of Hearts resolves into a clean, serene rose incense (-like) fragrance. It is aimed at a ‘woman of any age’, but to me it is quite unisex.
Lunarii gives these featured accords:
Frangipani, Tolu balsam, vanilla, lemon-butter
Summer caught my eye because I love the idea of gardens bright with sunshine and flowers, shaded with trees and murmuring fountains. The fragrance is described as ‘A warm summer’s breeze. Youthful and delicate’. The opening gives me a strange, earthy, almost muddy effect for a minute or so, as if I’m getting earth and roots before leaves and sunshine. As time passes, bright florals and a feeling of freshness and ease emerge. I really can see myself reclining under a shady tree sipping a glass of lemonade, and with nothing to do but read or snooze or watch the pattern of leaves against the sky. However, to my nose the muddiness of the opening leaves a trace throughout that makes the fragrance not as enjoyable as I had hoped.
Queen of Hearts and Summer are quite different, but I’ve enjoyed reviewing them together. Pursuing an Alice and Wonderland theme, Queen of Hearts is like the dim, cool hall in which Alice finds herself after she has fallen down the rabbit hole, and Summer is the garden she sees through the little door, and which she eventually finds.
Sillage and longevity are moderate in both fragrances.
Lunarii’s perfumer is Jason, a Sydney-based healer, artist and scientist with an interest in alchemy. His disillusionment with big-brand fragrances led to the launch of Lunarii, late in 2015. There are seven fragrances in the line-up so far, and there is a range of sample and gift sets available.
Have you tried any Lunarii fragrances? Do you have any favourite natural brands?
More than anything I get asked about the Hand Wash in my bathroom. Every time we have visitors at least one of them question the provenance of what I consoder to be the best smelling and most effective Hand Wash in the history of the universe. I love it so much that this December I bought ten of them, two for my home and eight to give as gifts over the festive season.
Pink Marshmallows in the Morning by Banks Botanicals 2014
Pink Marshmallows in the Morning by Suzanne R Banks
Based on coconut oil and glycerine, 100% natural and as eco-friendly as possible to find, Suzanne adds a dazzling fragrance that is marshmallows and Australian bushlands all rolled into one. The bite & twang of boronia and eucalyptus set in a sweet base that is so unusual that I find it doesn’t really compare with anything concrete but may bear some links with pink marshmallows. Naah, it doesn’t really but when you smell it you’ll understand why it is so named.
One of things I really like about Pink Marshmallows in the Morning is the enormous burst of fragrance as you wash your hands that goes a long way towards masking any unsavoury human de-catering smells. Yet once you leave the bathroom it disappears in a couple of minutes, meaning you won’t compromise your fragrance choice for the day.
Something else I love is the simple, no nonsense packaging. No boxes, just the recyclable plastic bottle and a pump that screws up. Plastic is so much better in the bathroom where I am often barefoot and the tiles are unforgiving of dropped glass. Also, ALL the ingredients are listed on the side of the container and Suzanne makes sure everything she puts into her products are the most harm free she can find and fair trade.
The price is particularly reasonable too. Normally $25, I got a great discount because I bought 10 bottles at only $20/bottle and I went and picked them up. Because Pink Marshmallows in the Morning is a Hand Wash and not alcohol based fragrance Suzanne can send to the world, but postage from Australia is a bit pricey.
Pink Marshmallows in the Morning from Suzanne R Banks FaceBook. Send Suzanne a message if you’d like to purchase. You won’t regret it.
What is your favourite handwash? Would you try a 100% natural and as eco-friendly as possible hand wash if it smelled amazing and cleaned your hands?
Natural perfume is a term often reviled by perfumistas. It’s an interesting conundrum because people say they are looking for something different and unusual, a fragrance to blow away the cobwebs of humdrum yet when offered something completely outside their sphere of reference it seems that they only want something different that’s pretty much the same. Is it the human condition in a nutshell? Roxana makes fragrances that are completely and utterly different, they are attached to no familiar trope, speak of the earth and plants that they are produced from and have a connection to the powers of the plants themselves. When I wear a fragrance by Roxana it’s as if I’m an active participant of the world’s natural green spaces.
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Woody notes, herbal notes, camphor, geranium, leather, tarragon, basil, clary sage, mimosa
Impromptu, even dabbed, opens larger than life. That it is so real, earthy and alive is so totally unexpected after wearing designer and niche mainly. You have to let your nose recalibrate a bit. Deep earthy green, like a sexy swamp lady, I smell moss, river water and weed, herbs, torn fig leaves, mown lawn and compost, and some spices. You’ll not find anything this wild, untamed and confronting at your local fragrance counter. Impromptu is the good stuff.
Impromptu opens angular, green and spiky. Challenging and unashamed it wraps tender green shoots around your heart and sets root in your soul. Spicy woods and still a herbal tint fill the fragrance heart and much of the ferocity has left. Imagine hiding in the wood shed next to the kitchen and someone is cooking curry, there is also a smoky fire somewhere nearby maybe it’s a wood stove.
A couple of hours later and still my skin is thrumming with a woodsy green but now the spiciness is cut through with leather, old shoe leather, some well loved and oiled boots. Further in my skin throws a beautiful amber that takes Impromptu into a warmer, friendlier environment. Not sweet but resinous and shiny, woods that have been waxed shiny in a room lit by the warmth of a fire.
Mandy Aftel is one of the best known & most loved Indie perfumers on the planet. Not only for her stellar fragrances but also for her books on fragrance (Essence & Alchemy and Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent) and her natural perfumery school. My every dealing with her has been so lovely, she is one of the greats and has the most beautiful presentation in her packaging. The whole Aftelier product is so luxurious and getting an order is exquisite fun opening it all up. My favourite way to buy Aftelier is the A Trio of Miniatures in a Silk Pouch that is also in a tin. I use these miniatures as gifts when I’m travelling, giving one to people who I particularly love or who have gone out of their way, and they are always accepted with real pleasure.
Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Yellow mandarin, Siam wood, saffron absolute, vanilla absolute, lapsang souchong tea essence (tea leaves smoked over pinewood), coumarin, ambergris
After reading her review I was chatting briefly with Victoria over on EauMG and … Portia: .. the EdP felt like a magical Shalimar restructuring. It’s my favourite so it was really nice to smell the Ultimate Smoke Shalimar with extra twists and nuance.Victoria: .. a big yes to Ultimate Smoke Shalimar because that’s accurate! The EDP reminds me very much of like modern, smoky Shalimar, like Shalimar roasting marshmallows over a campfire.
Vanilla, warm, comforting, sensual and alluring. The simplest of scents yet also incredibly complex. In Vanilla Smoke Mandy Aftel has added spice and heavy resins that are cut through with the strong smoky tea note of lapsang souchong, When I read the note list before trying Vanilla Smoke, and before reading any other reviews, I thought it was going to be a very dense, hefty, thick scent. One perfectly chosen to warm and sweeten winter nights but too gluggy and oppressive for the warmer months. No Way! Somehow Mandy has managed to lift it and gift it air, while being fully and gloriously fragrant and the opening is mildly ferocious in a VERY good way, there is a floaty sheer-ness that makes it feel free. I don’t know if you remember those 1980s video clips where it was dusk or dark and smoke billowing around some half naked male dancers and a fabulously made up songstress in an over the top gown belting out a power ballad with a dance backbeat? Vanilla Smoke has all the glamour, fun and over the top outrage but softened for a modern market.
Vanilla Smoke is dry and desiccated, elegant and totally immersive up close. From further away, or on someone else, it wears less dry and you get to smell that lovely vanilla shining through the smoke. Another reviewer wrote sumptuous and I concur, perfect word for Vanilla Smoke.
I’ve enjoyed exploring indie natural perfumery so very much the last few years, and I have recently been graced with the opportunity to experience the transcendent art of JoAnne Bassett. Today, I am focusing on my favorites from my lovely samples.
First up is Marie Antionette, a brightly refreshing perfume that opens on my skin with the freshly peeled orange rind from a delightfully fine neroli essential oil. The majestic floral heart hovers roundly beneath the shimmering neroli/lavender, a bouquet composed of sweet jasmine sambac, soft white rose otto, creamy tuberose, and candied ylang ylang. The overall fragrance maintains a glittering herbal tone while the uniquely green basil note gently sings. A light resinous base of frankincense and labdanum tenderly holds down the fort without weighing down the soaring, luminous composition. The fragrance spirals back to the opening as it fades, with a quietly diffuse citrus breath.
Next, I am loving Malmaison, described as an aphrodisiac by the artist. The heartbreakingly gorgeous jasmine sambac stands out on me the most, lifted by a sweetly radiant citrus that actually reads more like a sparkling ice wine. The supporting notes swirl respectfully in the background, a complex aroma that exhibits a balance of white floral, aromatherapeutic rose and lavender, and freshly soft orange blossom. As the fragrance dissipates, it can oscillate smoothly between its meditative and revitalizing qualities depending on the focus of the wearer.
Magie D’ Or, or Gold Magic, is a joyride of a morpher during the drydown. The opening blast of pink pepper is so unbelievably enthusiastic, it’s like a thrilling cliff dive. Then, a hint of cinnamon romances along with the sweetness of juicy clementine, all orbiting around a beautiful herbal-floral nexus featuring rose, lavender, and jasmine. It all dries down to a smooth, divine base of resonant patchouli, deliciously thick benzoin, and golden frankincense. Magie D’ Or is satisfying, and hums with peaceful positivity. I am especially enthralled with the deep, viscous end stage.
Lastly, let’s just obliterate all self-control and serenity, and tap into our deepest, sexiest desires with Sensual Embrace perfume. The flower petals strewn about exude a tender heartthrob of jasmine, rose, and a hint of other white flowers. The blossoms are more of an accent than a focus, because the center of this fragrance is a woody masterpiece that is so masterfully composed, it begs to be simply enjoyed rather than analyzed. I am swooning over what must be vintage aged oakmoss, highlighted and balanced by smooth musky sandalwood, dry crackling cedar, dark chewy tobacco, and warm familiar amber. Not a beginner’s fragrance, but fantastically alluring to me, and most definitely unisex.
Have a look at JoAnne Bassett’s website, there are many precious essences to lust after. And those artisan-made glass bottles are just to die for – I’ve got it bad. 😉
Well, that’s it for now! I hope you are enjoying a lovely day wherever you are, and that your perfume brings you great happiness.
I am passionate about fragrance to the point of insanity. I love it all – mass market, niche, oils, cheap thrills, luxurious extravagances, synthetics, naturals, whatever! If it smells beautiful to me, I love it, and it’s a simple as that. From Bath and Body Works to Amouage.
I became intrigued by natural perfumery several years ago, when my scented journey touched upon Ayala Moriel, Aftelier Perfumes, Ajne, and April Aromatics. I became enchanted by the intense emotional responses I experienced with these all-natural masterpieces. The fragrance art was just so vivid, it was like standing in a breathtaking landscape rather than looking at a photograph.
One day, I came across a perfumery called Providence Perfume Company. They had just opened a brick-and-mortar shop and it was within my realm of feasibility to visit in person. I jumped in my car on a day off…. little did I know, my existence would be profoundly impacted by Charna Ethier’s little oasis of pure euphoria.
The first Providence Perfume Co. fragrance that made my heart explode with delight: Beauty Elixir Oil.
Beauty Elixir oil is genuinely the scent of my spirit – an exquisite orange blossom aroma blessed with honeyed apricot and tender jasmine. The orange blossom olessance featured in this potion is absolute perfection – Charna spared no expense choosing the finest material possible. It is zesty without being sharp, fresh without being soapy, and sweet without being cloying. The aroma opens up to reveal newly blossomed jasmine flowers, and sun-ripened apricots heavy with succulent ecstasy. A barely-there green accent from the neem oil grounds the fragrance, a golden thread keeping me from floating straight up into the clouds and off for good.
That same day, I sniffed the gorgeous Providence Perfume Co. perfumes lined up for display. I left with a bottle of: Hindu Honeysuckle eau de parfum.
Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Bergamot, jasmine, rose, coriander, vetiver, ambrette (musk mallow)
Hindu Honeysuckle moves me to tears with joy, a perfume that showcases the most summery, pure, sweet jasmine sambac absolute I have ever had the pleasure of sniffing. The luscious white flower is juxtaposed with an unexpectedly exquisite vetiver, whose smokiness is tempered and brightened by a sparkling bergamot. The overall fragrance is exhilarating to me, and possesses two distinct phases. First, the perfume opens with the unabashedly floral honeysuckle accord, as bewitching as the true nectar. As the top notes fade, the vetiver becomes more noticeable, a dark hay-like essence that harmonizes exceptionally well as it anchors the top notes. I adore each and every second of this carefully balanced work of art.
I have since learned many precious lessons about perfumery from Charna, and I was even fortunate enough to attend her weekend perfumery course last year. My appreciation and understanding has exponentially skyrocketed thanks to her patient, altruistic knowledge sharing. If you are curious about natural perfumery and don’t know where to start, I highly recommend her amicable new line of perfume oils, as well as beloved favorites Rose Bohème, Branch and Vine, and Tabac Citron.
Here I have a sampler of an Australian Natural Perfumery AROMANTIK. It was sent to me by the company to try and if I liked the work then to talk about. Well, the jury is back and like? No way, I am loving AROMANTIK oils. They are earthy, deep, interesting and beautiful and I am incredibly impressed wit their smooth rounded fullness. After 5 minutes on your skin they could be from the very best niche house, here is an Australian small batch independent perfumer to be proud of.
AROMANTIK: Natural Perfume Oil Sampler
From the AROMANTIK site: AROMANTIK is a natural perfume studio started in 2010 by independent natural perfumer & designer Sally Woodward-Hawes. All of our products are hand-blended in small batches using only the finest natural essential oils, resins & absolutes sourced from all over the world. Sally is a professional perfumer with the Natural Perfumers Guild – the world’s largest trade association dedicated to natural fragrance.
There are 8 fragrances in the sampler and today I am testing two, one on each hand: The Blossom Thief and Love & Strife. You lucky ducks are getting a first hand run through of the thrill of wearing a fragrance for the first time. Come along, I hope you enjoy meandering through my fragrant thoughts.
AROMANTIK: The Blossom Thief
AROMANTIK gives these featured accords:
Jasmine Grandiflorum Absolute, Natural Gardenia Accord, Tuberose Absolute, Natural Musk Accord, Ambrette (musk) Seed, Amber
From the AROMANTIK site: NEW! An ethereal & sensual fragrance built around jasmine & musk, with hints of gardenia, tuberose & white creamy blossoms in full bloom. Auspiciously finished on 1/3/13 this lush & intoxicating fragrance exudes an undercurrent of carnal sensuality.
OK, so imagine it’s early summer. You walk into a florist, the air is cool compared to the outside and there is only the light from the front window. In the couple of moments that it takes for your eyes and head to adjust: this is the smell. The smell of the death of flowers, the last fragrant gasp they give screaming their murder to the world. Jasmine, green, sappy, breathy backed by a chorus of white flowers, interestingly there is no mention of lily because I get a lovely big whack of it. I also smell peony, but a bunch of them not a perfumers reminder. The Blossom Thief smells expensive, luxurious and elegant and though it opens quite like many natural fragrances, after 10 minutes you feel swept up in a beautiful high end niche fragrance that is more nuanced and interesting than more than half of the stuff released last year that I got to smell. WOW! I was completely unprepared for something so devastatingly beautiful.
AROMANTIK: Love & Strife
AROMANTIK gives these featured accords:
French pink grapefruit, Bulgarian rose absolute, night blooming jasmine sambac blossoms, certified organic Madagascan ylang ylang, amber, orris root, ambrette ‘musk’ seed
From the AROMANTIK site: Traditional rose, the flower of eternal love, VS. narcotic night blooming Jasmine, the flower of lust & desire… Inspires love & intimacy and if you’re lucky, a bit of strife!
Gosh! Straight out of the gate I get spicy clove and citrus, not definitely grapefruit but it does have a wonderful sweet/sour quality and then through it weaves a beautiful jasmine and ylang duet that is outrageously breathy and full of naughty and sexy mischief. I also get a whiff of sweet biscuit dough with grainy sugar. The rose on my skin is completely submerged in the other notes for nearly the first 20 minutes, everything else seems to need its moment before giving the rose centre stage. When the rose moves in she is a sweet, musky, vegetative creature that sweeps and glides around the white flowers, in and out of hiding, shy and yet commanding. Interestingly for a natural perfume oil nearly 11 hours on I am still fragrant with a very pretty wash of something indefinable that even in the cool stink of waking up manages to smell quite alluring, I thought it must have been Jin, but no it was the hand I was sleeping on. Excellent.
When we talk about essential oils, it’s often an umbrella term for many different kinds of aromatic liquids.
These are usually water/steam distilled, and this is the most common way to date that oils are extracted. All the oils you would commonly buy today would be steam and water distilled and this process is simple, traditional and dates back through the past century.
These are usually made flowers or very delicate plants where a chemical extraction process is used (see my article Absolutes? Not Absolutely) but they resemble essential oils in viscosity and are used in the same way as essential oils. They tend to be more concentrated then essential oils.
Oleoresins and Resinoids
These are highly concentrated liquid extracts that are a combination of resins and aromatic oils. The plants they come from have a high resin content so they fall into their own category. Once again they can be used in the same way as essential oils.
CO2 Extraction is also called Super-critical CO2 extraction and it produces a couple of plant products – extracts or selects, and totals.
A relative newcomer in the world of extraction, the name makes it sound bad but it’s not! There are lots of good things about this process and I’ll try to sum it up briefly and succinctly.
The extraction process uses carbon dioxide heated to a degree where it has both liquid and gaseous properties- this part is the super-critical part. It’s less hot them steam and water distillation so this is a bonus as it doesn’t change the plant materials as much. It’s this liquid form that extracts the volatile plant material. Aromatic oils, resins and other cellular materials like pigments are extracted by the liquid CO2 which evaporates easily, leaving a substance that more closely resembles the plant.
CO2 extracts more closely aromatically resemble the whole plant, whereas essential oils are specifically the volatile oil component of the plant.
CO2 extracts may be better scent wise, or less attractive. It depends on the plant.
Some CO2 extracts that are now available are – ambrette, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, clove, nutmeg, caraway, fennel, ginger
cocoa, coffee, vanilla
evening primrose, rosehip
chamomile, champaka, ginger lily, jasmine, juniper, linden blossom, patchouli
arnica, calendula, lavender, hops, St Johns wort,
angelica root, orris root, kava
agarwood, frankincense, galbanum, myrrh, spikenard
I don’t use CO2 extracts extensively in my practice yet, as many of the extracts are semi-solid and aren’t easy to work with. It seems some of the extracts are better suited to using in creams and lotions. As I move more into the area of natural perfumery I know I’ll use some of the extracts more often. I haven’t actually spent the time looking at the analysis of each oil, which will indicate the therapeutic property of the “oil”.
According to Nature’s Gift, “totals” are a secondary product of the CO2 process: “are usually thick and pasty due to the beneficial fats, resins and waxes they contain that come from the plant material itself. These totals are soluble in essential oils and vegetable oils. …. These potent extracts are wonderful for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The Calendulas extract, for example, in a dosage of 2 grams extract to 1000 grams ointment is effective for it’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity.”
None of my suppliers in Sydney provide these “totals” and I don’t have first hand knowledge of how they work – but it sounds interesting!
While I was in LA during May 2013 for the ScentSation bus tour my buddy Tom Pease, who was the most wonderful guide and friend you can imagine, took me up into Roxana’s 1950s ranch style home in Woodland Hills, tucked away in the Santa Monica mountains outside LA, that she shares with her artist husband Greg Spalenka. It’s a fabulous community that grew up around the idea that near the madness of LA there could be a corner for artisans, like a hippy commune but that is way too simplistic. It was near the beach and away from the excruciatingly high LA prices so a gentler, more romantic and artistic lifestyle was born. There are still pockets of the lifestyle remaining but in reality the area has become an outside suburb of LA.
Roxana and Greg are throwbacks to a simpler time and their home is a very comfortable and inviting place full of both their art where Tom and I were introduced to Matte which is a green tea drink, art, fragrance, bees and joy in living. Can I also tell you that this portrait, while looking a bit like Roxana, does not do her beauty any justice, it has captured the outline but completely bypassed the gorgeous elegance and friendliness that is Roxana.
Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Amber Accord, Jasmine, Rose, Spice and Mandarin
One of the things I have to tell you straight away is that if you have only ever worn department store or designer perfume then Roxana Illuminated Perfumes are going to be a complete revelation. No mass production fragrance can ever match the nuanced, natural depths and heights of a handmade, independent fragrance creation. Though both are beautiful and both have their pros & cons there is something of the magical re-engagement with the earth and our place within it that happens when I put on a Roxana Illuminated Perfume. It’s like being hardwired to the energy around me, showing me that I’m part of the infinite bigger picture.
How does Aurora wear on me? The opening is warm, sweet, balsamic and spicy, the pictures in my head are honeyed outback Australia, floral, scrubby, red earth, sap from trees, leaves, humus, animals fur, the moment between day and dusk, the warmth of the happy memory of love, the bittersweet of absolute freedom, the joy of achievement, the eternal story and intertwining of a life well lived. All these emotion pictures have fleeted across my inner eye as I sit at my desk sniffing and typing.
The initial blast has burned down and I am left with the beginnings of a sensual, sweet floriental. The flowers are overlaid with an earthy melange that reminds me of freshly turned, healthy humus and walking through pine needles on the way to the beach, there is a salty breeze blowing through that and then all of a sudden at about the 1.5-2hour mark Aurora becomes a soft silky alluring fragrance that stays around as a sweet murmur for another hour or so, sometimes when I wear Aurora it is still smellable next morning as a wash of peaty resins. Quite a good scent life for a natural, which are notoriously short lived especially on my scent hungry skin.