July 7, 2010

The remaining reviews will be forthcoming... sorry for the delay

Due to circumstance, I was not able to complete all of the reviews by July 7th, but they will all be done soon.

July 6, 2010

Dionysus by Adam Gottschalk of Lord Jester's Inc.

Dionysus: The god of fertility and wine; a patron of the arts. He invented wine and spread the art of tending grapes. With a dual nature bringing joy and divine ecstasy and brutal, unthinking, rage... reflecting both sides of wines nature.

My first impressions: sweet, warm, sultry, primal, cognac, cigar, masculine, ripe Tuscan melon, sultry, exotic, gardenia and mocha, sweat, masculine, sexy...

Adam wrote about his scent in his blog: "...I know how and why it works, but the details of how it works is a conundrum. It works and that’s all I need to know. It’s got a distinct funkiness to it, and that’s just right. "

I couldn't have said it better, Adam.  It really does have a distinct funkiness that really works. It is so unique that at first I didn't  know what to make of it, but then I took a second sniff, and then a third... I was just so taken by it, but I couldn't put my finger on just exactly why.  It is true to the nature of the god it was named after... divine funkiness!

Adam considers this a unisex fragrance and I would have to agree.  It's qualities are such that it would combine with a person's own body chemistry and you might not realize it was a fragrance they were wearing... it smells like wonderful smelling skin on a person who had a few glasses of fine wine.  Does that paint the picture?  I hope so.
Nice work, Adam.  This is a perfect example of the reason I love natural perfumes.  They have the ability to smell so primal and yummy at the same time!

July 4, 2010

Graines de Paradis ~ Sharini Perfums Naturels

"a sweet floral-musk perfume fusing traditional enfleurage pommades and botanical musks..."

The perfumer states, "this natural perfume is completely unique" because it uses no floral absolutes and thus is hexane residue free.  Instead they used CO2 extracts and enfleurage (four of the enfleurages were harvested and prepared by Nicolas and Crystel themselves!)

There are 19 ingredients of which 98.6% organic certified and 100% of which have natural origin and without the use of solvent of any kind. The base is organic corn alcohol and organic orange blossom hydrosol.

You can view photos here: http://www.sharini.com/news.html

Top Notes:
white grapefruit
green mandarine
wild cherry and rooibos tea

Heart Notes:
white rose 
linden blossom
Tahitian Gardenia 

Base Notes:
Australian sandalwood

If the goal of this event was to create a Musk fragrance using only botanical ingredients this fragrance accomplished that goal beyond what I would have ever expected possible.  It is so very musky. Not in a cheap disco dance way, but in a rich, serene and beautiful way.

This sensual fragrance reminds me of the sweet scent of orange and gardenia blossoms wafting on a warm summer breeze while eating crème brule in a secret garden as I stare into the abyss of my lovers eyes.   (Too much??  I know, I know... but, seriously... that's what I thought of!)

I will just say right off the bat, the muskiness of this fragrance is not to be ignored! Initially it's flirtatious and coy as it sneeks peeks between the toasty-sweet toffee and flowers... taking its time before making a grand stand.  Then, it comes out in all its glory... both bold and seductive. A word of caution: This elegant and sensual fragrance sends a bold signal and should only be worn if one intends to back it up! :o)

To Nicholas Jennings, the perfumer: I applaud you! The effort it must have taken to source only orgainc and solvent free ingredients is an achievement in and of itself, but to also create, by hand, many of the ingredients through such labor-intensive processes is not to be understated!

Taking into consideration what went into the making of this perfume, each drop of this sweet elixir is something rare and precious. This is not only a gorgeous perfume, it's a labor of love.

Obviously, because of these labor-intensive process, this perfume is a very limited edition.  Only 25 numbered bottles exist.

Perfumista Cat

Yesterday my cat started acting goofy. I had dried some English lavender and started an infusion with some grape seed oil. The container wasn't large enough, so I transferred it to a larger mason jar. In the process, some of it spilled onto my hands... So, I did what any person would do , I rubbed the oil and lavender on my bare arms as a little bonus moisturizer. Not too long afterwards, my cat (Ziggy), came up to me and started sniffing and licking my arms. I had to laugh because it made me think of that another reviewer who's cat went crazy over one of the Musk scents. 

Then, today I've been wearing Sharini's Grains de Paradis... getting ready to write my review on it. Again, my cat found the spot on my wrist and began sniffing... and then licking it! I think it is just crazy because I've had cats all my life and I know how picky they are with smells and such. They have a very developed sense of smell. Most things send them running. I think it says a lot about natural botanicals and such. Either that, or my cat is turning into a perfumista!

Kyle and Ziggy
A Man and His Cat

July 2, 2010

Temple of Musk by Strange Invisible Perfumes

"When formulating this perfume I was inspired by the essential notion of a heavenly creature." ~Alexandra Balahoutis, Perfumer

This fragrance baffled me.  It stretched me.  It challenged me.  For the longest time, I didn't understand why.  I loved it and hated it at the same time.  It made me feel things and think about things.  It reminded me of all the things I am truly passionate about.  

I finally realized the reason:  This perfume is Art. It is art in the sense that it is not an imitation of anything that has gone before.  It is a unique and fresh perspective.

After much contemplation and several scent strip and skin tests,  I came to the realization that this scent is not predictable. But really, it is not the predictable things in life that move us.  Predictable things are what we expect.  They are the "norm."

Every once in a while you come across something that challenges the status quo and makes you reconsider what you had come to expect as "the right way to be." I have to say, this fragrance was such an experience. 

It has been said before that art is a reflection of life. I have come to the realization that the most profound art are the pieces that cause the most disruption to our sense of balance. They are the pieces that cause you to rethink and to reconsider. This perfume is one of these pieces. It causes us to rethink what we know.  It moves us in unexpected ways.

In the artists own words, an interview with Alexandra Balahoutis on September 5th, 2005 on "Now Smell This"  blog:

"The (perfume) house was named for a line from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra: From the barge, a strange invisible perfume hits the sense of the adjacent wharfs."

"I wanted to make irrationally precious perfumes. When I was first collecting essences, the only ones I fell in love with were natural. When I smelled them I felt the immeasurable possibilities of interpreting them into compositions. They were rough, hypnotic, concentrated, and alive. I was so excited by the challenge of smoothing them into one another and taming them politely and respectfully. I just didn’t feel that potential in working with synthetics, nor did I feel the eagerness and electricity that a flavorist feels when they are completely inspired by the preciousness and rarity of their palette. Artisan wine makers and chefs, for example, are rarely beside themselves with anticipation to incorporate artificial flavors."

Temple of Musk

Perfumers Notes: 
"Selected hydro-distilled temple mandarin and organic black currant to brighten an otherwise unapologetic musk composition. Organic vanilla softens and reinforces the theme of something primal yet completely enticing, an idea so quintessential to the art of perfumery.  Last but not least, the myrtle in this fragrance is estate grown and hydro-distilled in Ojai, California at my family grove.  It is unlike any other myrtle I have ever encountered, possessing a strawberry-resin-like quality that makes me swoon. I hope that you enjoy Temple of Musk."

Four hours ago, I placed a small amount of Temple of Musk on the inside of my left wrist.  It started off bright and resinous... like no other fragrance I ever encountered.  It was so totally different than anything I ever smelled that I just didn't know what to make of it. Immediately, I thought of citrus peels... you know, as you dig your fingers into the surface and pith... the fine mist of volatile oils that spray into the air with a sharpness that makes your nose tingle.  Totally unexpected, yet totally intriguing.    It was like the feeling you get when seeing lovers kissing in public.  You are all at once uncomfortable, yet intrigued.  You want to watch, but you know your not supposed to. :o)

The initial fresh and sparkle of resin and fruit slowly evolves to a deep, rich seductive muskiness.  It is such a rich and unusual muskiness... nothing like you've ever smelled or come to expect... such a pheromonal muskiness.  Which, after all, is the point of musk:  It is a sex pheromone.

It is easy to like the predictable, but its the new and different that wakes us up and causes us to reconsider what we know to be.

beyond expectations
I listen from the inside
moving to my beat
outside the boundaries
there, I find a place
where uncertainty and joy
make art with their existence
the contrast offers
delicious acceptance
as all the shades
take their rightful place
clarity replaces
the voices of others
Peace is born.

~Chris Morrison

Musk Nouveau

Charna Ethier
Natural Perfumer

(W. T. Benda)


Perfumer's Notes: "Musk Nouveau is a nostalgic blend of aged patchouli, angelica and oud made new with the introduction of champaca, night blooming jasmine and a dash of coffee. Kissed with a boozy sherry top note and spicy black pepper.  It's sure to please dames and gents alike."

Since I'm not familiar with some of the components, my first impressions are thus: sophisticated, evening, sultry, unisex, musk, warm, wood, exotic, Mediterranean, figs and powder.

This is what I would call a power perfume.  Not for the faint of heart.  Nothing "girlie" about this one... its all femme and confidence...  I would even say unisex.  Its a fragrance that makes a statement...  It says: "You've come a long way, Baby!"  This one needs to be worn on a night out on the town, and will do the rest of its work when you come home later that night.

Its top is sweet and sexy.  The marriage of the jasmine, champaca and sherry give it a hint of ripe fruit.  As the night progresses, it evolves into it's spicy, grassy, woody notes of black pepper, coffee and patchouli.I absolutely love this fragrance! "It had me at hello!"

OlfactaRama: Mystery of Musk: An Introduction

OlfactaRama: Mystery of Musk: An Introduction

July 1, 2010

Verdigris by Bellyflowers

Perfumer: Elise Pearlstine

Top Notes: fir balsam, green mandarin, clary sage & ylang ylang

Heart Notes: lavender, clary sage, violet leaf & opoponax

Base Notes: patchouli, ambergris, labdanum, african stone & benzoin

My first impressions: green, fig, hay, spice, serious, pheromonal, warm, masculine. This was before reading the perfumer's notes.

"Musky and green, rich and sexy, Verdigris is inspired by fertile, verdant vegetation and the erotic smells of life.  The unusual mating of green scents from lavender, clary sage and violet leaf with opoponax in the heart complement the herbal green top notes and soften as the musky, earthy base unfolds." ~ Elise Pearlstine

 I find this fragrance to be irresistible.  It is sensual and pheromonal... in a most basic sense. I picture a basket filled with figs, goat cheese, some soft bread with a chewy crust...   and a perfectly aged bottle of Pinot Noir... in a forest meadow... on a blanket...
The top notes of this fragrance are at first flirtatious. Its juicy "fig" drew me in by teasing me and and trying to make me smile.  Then... when my guard was down, its seductively green fir and lavender notes caught me off guard... they breathed, warm and moist, on my neck...  then kissed me on the lips.  There was no turning back...

Sensual Embrace Eau de Parfum
by JoAnne Bassett

Notes: Clementine, Rose de Mai, Jasmine, Tuberose, Orange Blossoms, Ambrette Seed, Amber accord, Tobacco, Vintage Mysore Sandalwood, Pathouli and others...

Without reading the perfumer's notes beforehand, my first impression of this wonderful perfume was of Oranges and Gardenias.  I wasn't far off!  It was actually the clementine and tuberose!

This is an elegant, feminine fragrance.  It speaks the language of attraction and desire. I was instantly taken by it.  It is sweet and sultry...  like a cool breeze on a warm evening.  The word I would use to describe its initial impact would be "juicy."  As the evening progresses, it dries down to the more earthy, sensual notes of musk, wood and amber.  A special fragrance for a special evening...

The Mystery of Musk Project - A Natural Perfumers Guild Project

The day has arrived!  It is July 1st and the reviews begin. Let me start by saying "bravo" to all of the Perfumers.  It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to experience each and every one of them.  And now, a list of the participating Perfumes and Perfumers (in no particular order):

Belly Flowers Perfumes: Verdigris
Perfumer: Elise Pearlstine

Anya's Garden Perfumes:  Kewdra
Perfumer: Anya McCoy

A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes: Tallulah B.
Perfumer: Jane Cate

Sharini Parfums Naturels: Graines de Paradis
Perfumer: Nicholas Jennings

Providence Perfume Co.:  Musk Nouveau
Perfumer: Charna Ethier

Parfums des Beaux Arts: musk eau natural
Perfumer: Dawn M. Spencer Hurwitz

Perfumes by Nature:  Craving
Perfumer: Ambrosia

Artemisia Natural Perfume: Drifting Sparks
Perfumer: Lisa Fong

JoAnne Bassett: Sensual Embrace 
Perfumer: Joanne Bassett

Lord's Jester: Dionysus
Perfumer: Adam Gottschalk

June 24, 2010

Let the Reviews Begin!

Learned something new.  Here is a "hashtag" that will lead you to Basenotes Mystery of Musk reviews. (Apparently someone didn't mention to the Basenote folks that the reviews are supposed to start on July 1st, so... Hold on! Here we go!)


June 23, 2010

My New Name?

I've finally decided on a name for my line: "Joie Botanicals."  It is the french spelling of the word Joy, but even if American's  mispronounce it by saying the English version it will still have the same meaning!  Any thoughts before I make it official???

My first attempt at Enfleurage:
Lemon Blossom

June 22, 2010

I don’t mind saying I am new to perfumery.  As luck would have it, I was chosen to be one of the forum evaluators for the Mystery of Musk Project.  You can read more about it here: http://anyasgarden.blogspot.com/2010/06/mystery-of-musk-natural-perfumers-guild.html

To begin with, I tend to be “a right brain person.” Meaning, I let my senses take me away to places where words seem unnecessary. Life can be stressful and my lovely culinary, olfactory, visual and intimate experiences are a time where I let myself flow to life affirming places… places that energize my soul and remind me that life is beautiful and precious and that none of this should be take for granted. In doing so, I float on the emotions of joy and pleasure being generated from these most miraculous sensory experiences.  At times, I even close my eyes; allowing myself to go into my own world of colors and sensations. Like I said, when I am in that place, words can seem so unnecessary.  It’s like... to take the time to find the words to describe the experience is such a distraction from the experience itself!

Unfortunately (or fortunately), for this Musk Project, I am required to find words to describe these most delicious fragrances that have begun arriving at my doorstep every few days.  I must find the words to convey abstractness... these hues of olfactory indulgence.  What an exciting challenge! It is such a rare opportunity and privilege.  It is one that I most willingly take on! 

Soooo, I said all of that to say this: Today, for the first time, I sat down at my work area to begin to attempt to put words to my impressions.  One-by-one, I applied a fragrance to a scent strip.  (I have received 7 samples so far.) Noting the time and name of each one on the strip.  For each fragrance, I did a little brainstorm, writing down the words as they popped into my head.  I didn't try to think too much.  I just wrote my first impressions... whatever they might be.

I continued on, sniffing each unique scent every few minutes... noting the time and my continuing impressions... trying not to let my initial impressions interfere with my current ones. (From what I understand, this is called "the dry down.")

That was step #1.  I plan to do this a few times more on a few different days and as the remainder of the artisian perfumers send out thier scents.  I will not look at my notes from the previous days.  It will be a fresh perspective. In the end, I want to see which impressions remain consistent.  From that point, I will (along with all the other bloggers and forum members) do a separate write up of each individual fragrance and post them here between July 1st and July 7th.

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. ~Anais Nin

June 8, 2010

"The Musk Project":

There are those who just do not understand the mind of one who would choose to go to such great lengths to create a purely botanical musk scent when synthetic alternatives can be inexpensively and more accurately created in a laboratory. 

I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but as one who considers herself a naturalist at heart, I will attempt to address what I believe are some of the most important reasons a perfumer might choose to create a botanical version of Musk rather than using animal or synthetic ingredients.  

It's at the juncture between expense and availability, after all, which the natural perfumer and synthetic perfumer seem to part paths. For it is no secret that natural perfumes contain ingredients that are more costly than and don't last near as long on the skin as long as synthetic perfumes.

The Allure of Musk:

The truth is, we really cannot help but be drawn to Musks. We have an inate attraction to it. It contains those soft, sultry, pheromonal (and fixative) qualities so desirable in our perfume creations (and on each other!).

It truly is a wonderous thing how all of the odor components in nature (including the animal scents) evolved over the expanse of time... and with no help from us whatsoever!  Following the laws of attraction and reproduction, Nature has crafted these complex, multi-layered, once-living aroma molecules and then we borrow them to compose our own little fragrant symphonies.

The Ethics of Musk:

As a natural perfumer, I not only have admiration for the complexities of nature’s creations, but my artistic choices also have ethical motivations.  When available, I choose to use sustainable, cruelty-free, organic, fair-trade and environmentally-safe botanical essences as ingredients in my perfume.  For me personally, this ideology borders on the spiritual.

Unfortunately, for the natural perfumer, the special scent of Musk has the nasty habit of trying to elude the our palette. In its various forms, Musk has either become extinct through greed and cruelty or it has polluted our ecosystems in the form of man-made molecules that don't readily break down. 

The Challenge of Musk:

The fact that the scent of Musk is, in all reality, an animal product, it can be quite a challenge to find botanical substitute. But, as a natural perfumer, most of the fun in what we do is exploring the possibilities.  We are on a search for the perfect composition using notes from the many botanical oils, absolutes, concretes resins or tinctures we gather from around the planet. The ultimate acheivement is when you find just the right combination... when you smell it, you just know... ahhhh, this is the one! It's like you've just touched the hand of God. (Okay... wait for it... It’s a most "scentual" experience! :o) 

The bottom line is this: Metaphorically, natural perfumers are swimming upstream in the world of high fashion and fine fragrance.  But, it must be understood that not only are natural perfumers fully aware of the limitations of their craft, they embrace them.  For to them, there is a much bigger picture in their view. This is a challenge natural perfumers celebrate because they have placed not only the art, but also the conscience of perfumery before profit.

To quote Booker T. Washington: “Nothing worth having is ever easy...   Excellence is to do something common in an uncommon way.”

June 6, 2010

Ambrette Seed

Today... My little tiny bottle of  ambrette oil came in the mail.  Oh my.... I am in heaven.  What to blend with it???


What is Musk and why is it so sought after?  Well, probably because it is one of the most sexy, sensual, pheromone-inciting scent ingredients in all of perfumery! Not only that but, it is a great fixative… giving perfumes a long life on the skin. Musk odor is not only highly sought after in perfumes, but in everything from laundry soap to air fresheners.  

The use of musk in fragrance dates back to antiquity.  Musk is the name originally given to a substance obtained from the gland of the male musk deer.  It has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and, because of its scarcity, is one of the most expensive animal products in the world.  No other natural substance has such a complex aroma. It is usually described abstractly as animalic, earthy and woody. (1)

Unfortunately, to obtain real musk oil, the deer is killed and its gland, also called a "musk pod,” is removed.  This practice has, over time, driven this animal almost to extinction. It is now on the endangered species list and is protected.

As a result of this, since the late 19th century, nearly all musk fragrance used in perfumery has been made through synthetic processes. Although, most recently even the synthetic “musk” molecules have become a problem because they have been found not only to have carcinogenic properties, but also because of the inability to break down easily they have been discovered in human and environmental samples and are accumulating in our ecosystems.  As we speak, there is a heated public debate on the use of these synthetic materials with many of them being banned or restricted. (1)

 (1)  Rimkus, Gerhard G. (Ed.); Cornelia Sommer (2004). "The Role of Musk and Musk Compounds in the Fragrance Industry". Synthetic Musk Fragrances in the Environment (Handbook of Environmental Chemistry)Springer.ISBN 3540437061.

June 5, 2010

The Mystery of Musk Project #2

TOOLS OF THE TRADE:            

Some of the Natural Ingredients one might include in a musk accord:

“Cruelty Free” Animal Sources: 

Ambergris, Beeswax, Hyrax, Goat Musk

Botanical Sources:

Ambrette seed, Angelica Root (Ambrette seed and angelica root are the only botanicals that contain macrocyclic musk, like the musk deer), Sandalwood, Labdanum, Vetiver, Spikenard, Oud, Vanilla, Musk Rose, Black Currant, Jasmine, sambac, Patchouli, Cumin, Black pepper, Costus, Seaweed, Carrot Seed

Natural Perfumer's Guild Mystery of Musk Project

Natural Perfumer's Guild Mystery of Musk Project
In celebration of the 4th anniversary of the Natural Perfumer's Guild…


President of the Natural Perfumer’s Guild, Anya McCoy, has initiated an event in cooperation with BaseNotes which 12 natural perfume artists are selected (in a random draw by a third party) to participate in a cooperative perfuming project.  In this project, the scent of MUSK will take center stage.  This project is being called: The Mystery of Musk. 

In addition to the 12 perfumers and their creations, 8 bloggers have been selected to evaluate and then write about their impressions of the 12 unique, musk perfumes. In addition to the above “pros,” Anya has also graciously opted to select 5 members from Basenotes Forum and another 5 members from the Yahoo! Natural Perfumery Forum to participate as well.


In this event, each of the selected perfumers will create their own version of what they consider a quintessential musk scent using only natural ingredients! In Anya’s words, “It's as if 12 artists are invited to exhibit their paintings on a (single) theme… The viewers are shown the beauty and diversity of the different interpretations on a theme. It is a great experience for the artists and the viewers.”

As a special treat, one full bottle will be sent to each of the bloggers from one of the perfumers as a giveaway. Also, one Basenotes forum member and one Natural Perfumery forum member will also receive a full bottle as a giveaway. (The bottle size at the discretion of the perfumer, and may vary from 4mls upwards.)

Soooo, mark your calendars and join the blogs, because during the week of July 1st-7th, 2010, 18 reviews of the 12 creations will be posted on the blogs and forums (see below) for everyone to follow along!  This should be a very interesting and entertaining experience for all (not to mention we might all learn a thing or two!)


The Perfume Artists:
Adam Gottschalk – Lord’s Jester
Alexandra Balahoutis – Strange Invisible Perfumes
Alfredo Dupetit – BioScent by dupetit
Ambrosia Jones – Perfume by Nature
Charna Ethier – Providence Perfumes
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz – DSH Perfumes
Elise Pearlstine – Belly Flower Perfumes
JoAnne Bassett – JoAnne Bassett Perfumes
Lisa Fong – Artemisia Perfume
Nicholas Jennings – Sharini Parfums Naturels

The Bloggers:
I Smell Therefore I Am - Abigail Levin
Indie Perfumes - Lucy Raubertas
Bitter Grace Notes - Maria Browning
Olfactarama - Pat Borow

Yahoo! Natural Perfumery Forum Members:
Marla Robb
Chris Morrison – Scents Ability
Alfred Eberle
Lisa A

(Still waiting for the list of 5 from BaseNotes)