Post by TinaG
One of the many blessings in my life is having whole new landscapes of experience opened up to me through investigation of fragrance. In a lot of respects I still feel very much like a “newbie” and can’t believe how lucky I am when friends drop the topic of perfume into a conversation, or hand me a sample, or take the long way round to lunch through a few shops to try new things. Portia kindly gifted me with a sample set from Olfactive Studio, who are a niche perfume company run by Founder and Creative Director Céline Verleure, with headquarters in Paris. The sample set included Autoportrait, Still Life, Chambre Noir, and Lumière Blanche.
Still Life by Dora Baghriche-Arnaud for Olfactive Studio 2011
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Yuzu, elémi, pink pepper, black pepper, Sichuan pepper
Heart: Star anise, galbanum
Base: Dark rum, cedarwood, ambrox
Usually when I am looking into new perfumes, I’ll do a bit of research on ingredients and accords and work out what it is that I “should” be finding. This time I decided to take a different approach, and to test cold, to see what story the fragrance was going to tell me. First perfume out of the box was Still Life.
Photo Stolen Fragrantica
On first spray I encounter a bright harmony of sharp and sweet citruses and peppery notes, containing something slightly resiny and green. Although the top notes in Still Life are full of pepper – pink, black and Sichuan, they are balanced as a supportive counterpoint rather than a triple-barrelled shotgun. After half an hour some warmer notes come through, and all of a sudden I have an image in my head of the inside of an old school desk draw, cedarwood with the ink and pencils and paper that it holds.
Photo Stolen Wikipedia
Traditionally in life drawings, “Still Life” subjects are typically fruit or flowers, but the warmth of the drydown as the citrus fades brings a feeling that the fruit bowl has now been overlooked, gently moved to one side for a subject with softer curves and skin. At four hours, I get a sense of focused calmness. There is a lot of wood and furniture, sunlight falling thick with dusty flecks through a closed window, and a female model posing half reclined on a soft sofa. But there is such an intense presence of that moment in time – she being relaxed, daydreaming but enjoying being observed, and the artist who is showing appreciation of her curves with every stroke of the pencil. However, the purpose of the moment is also its totality, and there is no sense of time passing – there is no before or after, no anticipation of “what next”. Just this rich, warm, sensual atmosphere captured in a bubble of time.
Photo Stolen Ben Sutherland Flickr
So, here I am in the middle of the day, overwhelmed and slightly disorientated by the strength of the image that this fragrance has managed to evoke. But how? How has that kind of beautiful false memory been triggered? One of the basenotes in Still Life, ambrox, I’m not at all familiar with so I do some research. Perfume Shrine describes ambrox: “(ambrox)…oscillates between an impression of ambergris (salty, smooth, skin-like), creamy musky & labdanum-like …something that smells warm, oddly mineral and sweetly inviting… approximating a person’s aura rather than a specific component…” Wow. That quite accurately explains how this story unfolded for me with Still Life. What a wonderful ride.
Further reading: Olfactoria’s Travels and Scentrist
Olfactive Studio has €85/50ml
LuckyScent has $195/100ml
Surrender To Chance has $20/the boxed set of four 1.2ml manufacturers samples