Imaginary Authors, Saint Julep (Josh Meyer) 2017

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   20 June, 2017

 

New Perfume Review: Imaginary Authors, Saint Julep (Josh Meyer) 2017

“I must speak a little upon the mint-julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100 degrees F., one of the most delightful and insinuating potations that ever was invented, and may be drunk with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70 degrees.” -Captain Frederick Marryat’s diary (1838)

Releasing on the twentieth of June, is the very latest in the Imaginary Authors canon; Josh Meyer’s tribute to the hot and sultry summers in the south: Saint Julep.

Whether it’s the cross-country road trip vibe of Kerouac in The Cobra And The Canary, or the über-macho Pamplona-run-with-the-bulls Hemingway feel of Bull’s Blood, Josh Meyer’s thoughtful and much-discussed Imaginary Authors perfumes exist to tell a story. You really don’t need to know the stories to love Josh’s perfumes, but if you’re a compulsive reader like I am then the genesis (or should I say genre) of his perfumes will feel familiar to you. You may think you’ve read or heard the story, but like the goddess Athena emerging fully formed and battle ready from Zeus’s forehead, these tales and their “imaginary authors” spring to life from the extraordinary mind of perfumer Josh Meyer.

Mining the rich and vast Southern literary tradition which gave us Faulkner, Williams, Capote, and Harper Lee among others Josh gives us a Mint Julep of a perfume that could easily have been inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Alice Walkers’ juke joint in “The Color Purple”, or a scorchingly hot and bright afternoon on a front porch in Carson McCuller’s “Member Of The Wedding” or “The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter”.

“Open the whisky, Tom,’ she ordered, ‘and I’ll make you a mint julep. Then you won’t seem so stupid to yourself…” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

The “plot” of Saint Julep according to Josh Meyer is this:

“On the outskirts of Clarksdale, Mississippi, at the end of a secluded dirt road sat a small ramshackle church. It was not a place of worship but rather where many went to seek refuge during impoverished times. Legend has it the structure was transported to the wild mint field by hand, hoisted on the shoulders of two dozen men. The outside remained simple and nondescript but the interior was aglow with Christmas lights, pilfered neon signs and a jukebox donated by the sheriff’s son. It was a distinctly secular place where locals who knew where to find it could share moonshine, socialize, and dance their troubles away. They called their ramshackle juke joint Saint Julep, and the oral histories compiled within paint a picture of that magical place where “the smiles were always free and salvation had the distinct smell of sweet mint.” -Milton Nevers, Author

Mint Julep as a drink, originated sometime in the mid-1700’s. The origin of the word julep comes from the Persian word “gulab” or “julâb” which means “rosewater”. The term mint julep was also used to describe a drink to accompany medicine to kill the medicinal taste and help with upset stomachs and ease sore throats. The mint julep, a cocktail made with bourbon, powdered sugar, water and mint, is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby horse race, and nearly 120,000 juleps are mixed sold at Churchill Downs racetrack over the two-day race period.

Saint Julep is a seemingly simple but actually very complex “one trick pony”, and oh what an astonishing and amazing trick it is. Opening with an arctic blast of herbaceous and citrus cool, it’s easy to believe that you’re taking an initial sip of an icy mint julep on an almost unbearably hot, humid, and languid southern afternoon. The bourbon note suggests not only the alcoholic aspect of the drink, but also a wood-like vibe that could easily be either mint leaves and stems, or the smell of heat rising from a planked porch, and slightly acrid like sweat on the back of your neck being cooled by being rubbed with a cooling ice cube. The sugarcube note serves to add a sweetness that helps to cut the bitter herbs. The cool minty scent rising from the cup mixes with the fecund blowsiness coming from the decades-old Magnolia tree helping to shade the porch. And the metallic bite and zing is the scent of cold liquid against the side of the traditional silver or silver-plated julep cup. Saint Julep is a saint I would happily pray to, even as a non-drinker. It encompasses everything I look for in a warm weather scent; easy to wear, intriguing, and like the feeling of air-conditioning on a steaming hot day, cool and oh so refreshing.

Notes: Sweet mint, tangerine, southern magnolia, bourbon, grisalva (an aroma molecule which can be ambergris, animal, dry, fresh, metallic.), Sugarcube, crushed ice.

Disclosure: Thank you SO much to Imaginary Authors and Josh Meyer for supplying the perfume.. The opinions are my own.

-Robert Herrmann, Sr. Contributor
-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

New Perfume Review: Anya’s Garden Strange Magic (Anya McCoy) 2017

 

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   17 June, 2017

 

Natural perfumer Anya McCoy has a new perfume, (her first since 2015’s Enticing), and like its namesake, Strange Magic, it is akin to a magical love potion, effusive, narcotic, and utterly enchanting. Intensely concentrated, two sprays were enough to make my head spin and my imagination soar to new and unforgettable heights.

When I finally came back to earth, it was in a fantasy moonlit leafy bower not unlike the magical location as described by Oberon in William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a play I fell in love with and memorized cover-to-cover in fourth grade….

“I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight;”

-A Midsummer Nights Dream, Act ll Scene 1, William Shakespeare

 

“Strange Magic is the first perfume to be composed of approximately 95% organic fragrant tinctures, and these tinctures reveal hidden colors in the flowers, leaves, and roots when placed in alcohol. I’ve tinctured for herbal purposes for forty years, and for perfume purposes for twenty years. It wasn’t until I dropped snow white Champaca flowers into alcohol a few years ago and saw the alcohol turn pink, then red, then dark red that I realized there were hidden secrets in some flowers – Strange Magic.” -Anya McCoy

Magic indeed.

 

Let’s start with the color, since the color of the tinctures and it’s hypermutable nature is so integral to the creation process and development of Strange Magic. In the bottle the liquid looks thick and lush, with an almost deep Imperial Topaz color; a golden brown shot thru with a near black blood-like vermillion. Like a luminous liquid dark chocolate: glossy, rich and unctuous. Once aerated through the spray it is colorless on the skin, but does show a very slight taupe tint on white cloth. The scent itself is quite linear and that’s an extremely good thing, you want this perfume to stay just as it is upon first application. Lush, intoxicating, an almost hallucinogenic surfeit of the white flowers which dominate and entice. White Champaca yes, but so much more when supported by creamy Ylang, indolic Jasmine, and a gardenia note that is simply breathtaking. In the first few minutes, the dusty hay and slightly absinthian bitterness of the chamomile mix with the sweetish and saline notes of the ambergris to lend depth and body to the abundance of florals.

 

Rich, fulsome, tropical and humid, Strange Magic has it all. In spades. A dazzling liquid incantation that shimmers and gleams as softly as the wing of a dragonfly. Nothing “Strange” about it actually. Just magic. Perfumed magic.

Notes and corresponding color: Chinese Perfume Tree: yellow flowers (Dark amber tincture), Orris: pale white rhizome (Bright coral, orange tincture), Chamomiles: white flowers (Blue oils when distilled), Gardenias: white flowers (Dark amber tincture), Jasmines: white flowers (Deep amber tincture (some, not all), White Champaca: white flowers (Crimson red to dark red tincture), Ylang ylang: yellow flowers (Olive green to dark green tincture), Cashmere Bouquet: white flowers (Deep red tincture), Vintage white ambergris from Vanuatu (Orange tincture)

Disclosure: Thank you so very much to Anya McCoy for supplying the sample. The opinions are my own.

-Robert Herrmann, Contributing Editor

-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

 

Sixteen92 Perfumes: La Llorona (Claire Baxter) 2016

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   16 June, 2017

 

Natural Perfume Review: Sixteen92 La Llorona (Claire Baxter) 2016

It’s been a busy 2017 for perfumer Claire Baxter of Sixteen92 Perfumes in Dallas Texas. After being nominated for, and ultimately winning this years’ Art and Olfaction award for Best Artisan Perfume, Claire’s life has been fast-tracked by having the niche perfume world spotlight shining soundly on her wonderful scents. Claire has been busy creating her Summer 2017 collection, as well as filling the multitude of orders that started pouring in after her win.

When I first reviewed Claire Baxter’s winning Bruise Violet for Cafleurebon back in April, the perfume had just received the nomination. We were thrilled when she went on to win the award, and I recently had a chance to catch up with Claire and ask her about the effects of winning such a distinction. Here’s what she told me……

“Simply being named a finalist was a huge surprise, so winning was a tremendous — and quite an unexpected — honor. As an independent perfumer, I work alone; I don’t have a team of art directors or a client to whom I am beholden. As an artist, that’s liberating — but quite often it’s also a little terrifying. I create things that I love, and I put them out into the world with the hopes that others will love them, too. But I never really quite know for sure. Will they love it as much as I do? Is it good? Is it good enough? Should I have added more of this, or less of that, or…? This is the kind of stuff that will keep you up at night if you let it. Bruise Violet was one of my favorites from the moment I began creating it, so seeing that others also liked it, and seeing it recognized in a group with so many other great perfumes and perfumers was exciting, and humbling, and surprising, and just really super cool.” -Claire Baxter Sixteen92 Perfumes on her A/O Best Artisan Fragrance win.

Claire Baxter’s catalogue has a bevy of wonderful and unforgettable perfumes and oils, Bruise Violet not withstanding. One of my favorites is a scent right out of myth and legend called La Llorona.

Named after the Hispanic mythological version of the “Woman In White”, La Llorona (the weeping woman) has been woven into the fabric of the West and Southwest since the days of the Conquistadores. She is the water-bound spirit of a woman who having been lost in love and abandoned at the altar, drowns her children in a river, and haunts the waterways, crying and searching for her lost children while looking for new children to spirit away. Not unlike the threat of the boogeyman, kids who misbehave are often told “La Llorona will take you away if you’re not good!” Almost every culture in the world has a Woman In White story, most notably featured in British author Wilkie Collins 1850 novel of the same name, a classic gothic-style ghost story told in the then-popular penny-dreadful style.

The idea of a perfume based on La Llorona is fascinating, being a story that has been told time-out-of-mind to the children of the western USA and Mexico. So how to translate that to perfume? Claire Baxter has done so brilliantly.

Given the connection to flowing and shifting waters, it should be no surprise that Llorona is a misty, watery, aquatic, and mentholated lovely floral that hints of melancholy and sadness. Imagine a week-old wedding bouquet of flowers left on a muddy riverside as a tribute or memento mori. Spiced with pepper and bitter with citrus, the florals feel soft and sweet but faded and past their prime, dead and forgotten. There is a definite aqueous vibe, the ebb and flow of moving waterways, not unlike the now dead blooms sitting in a vase whose water need to be changed or thrown away. The smell of wild reeds on a muddy bank surrounded by flowers breathing their last. La Llorona like the woman in white, is haunting and beautiful with a scent that cajoles, begs and entices you to dip your toe onto her swiftly flowing grief, and so is a  fitting tribute to a woman grieving, weeping, and mourning the loss of love and loss of her children.

Notes: Bulgarian and Egyptian rose absolute, pink and white pepper, pink grapefruit, wisteria, cashmere wood, pale amber.

Disclaimer: The perfume oil and opinions are my own.

 

-Robert Herrmann, Contributing Editor

-Art Direction: Michelyn Camen, Editor-in-Chief

 

 

The Forgotten Flanker…..

IMG_3093Photo by Robert H.

 

Ombre Rose Fraiche by Brosseau is not known by many perfumistas, which is a shame because it’s a really lovely scent! Very much like OR but with the patch removed and a ton of added “fraiche”.   It wasn’t that popular when first released in 1997, and so it was only in production for about a minute and a half, sadly.

Authored  by renowned nose Anne Flipo.

Notes: Bergamot, melon, orris, LOTV, jasmine, rose, musk, cedar, and sandalwood

 

 

Giovanna Antonelli New edp’s (2017)

Originally published on http://www.cafleurebon.com   5  June, 2017

 

New Perfume Review: Giovanna Antonelli: 411 Intenso (Julie Massé), 611 Extremo (Cecile Matton), 811 Absoluto (Mathilde Bijaoui) 2017
Perfumes fronted with a famous celebrity face (a.k.a Celebuscents) often get a bad rap, or ignored completely many times with good reason. So what happens when a celebrity who is passionate about fragrance works with world-class perfumers using only top notch ingredients? Small stunning miracles, as attested to by award winning Brazilian actress and producer Giovanna Antonelli. You may not have heard of her here in the states, but in Brazil (a country roughly the size of the USA’s lower 48) she is theatrical royalty. After a chance meeting with the actress, and having fallen in love with her indomitable spirit, Brazilian designer Edson Fernandes along with his business and life-partner Lionel Guignard took a chance, and promising to create world class perfumes pitched the idea of a fragrance line to Ms. Antonelli. Despite having turned down numerous fragrance endorsement possibilities in the past, and excited about direct engagement in the project, Ms. Antonelli with her love of perfumes, agreed.
Thus was born a new Parisian fragrance company called COURTOIS/mourot, one of the first niche brands created for Brazil by a Paris company, and its first namesake fragrance range inspired by Giovanna Antonelli, is haute parfum all the way. All three of the perfumes in the brand new Giovanna Antonelli range are inspired by Giovanna herself and her love of the number “11”, a reoccurring number in her life that has come to represent “amor, alegria, abundância, felicidade, é boa sorte” (love, joy abundance, happiness, and good luck)

411 Intenso edp
“This eau de parfum was inspired by the Palais-Royal, a landmark of Parisian life, which although a bit antiquated still feels like a profoundly contemporary setting imbued with the spirits of Molière, Colette, and Cocteau. Home to La Comédie Française, romantic gardens and shops both old and new sheltered under arcades, it remains one of the most charming corners in the city of light, naturally chic, without ostentation. Giovanna reminded me of the Palais-Royal; a woman in love with beauty, feminine, a little theatrical, who appreciates beautiful classical things and appropriates them by modernizing them.” -Perfumer Julie Massé
Julie Massé, perfumer at Mane, is no stranger to fine perfume having created Prive Armani’s Pivoine Sozhou (with Cecile Matton), Si Le Parfum, and Si Rose, Fleur Universelle and Terres Aromatiques for Lalique, and fourteen of the sixteen scents for Shay & Blue London including the now-iconic Salt Caramel.
411 Intenso opens with a sharp rose and fresh bergamot, nose-tickling pepper, spicy and sweet but quickly turning dry, slightly dusty and summery yellow as the chamomile creeps in giving it a hint of the classic and old-fashioned perfumes of bygone eras. For awhile it borders on the comforting green and herbal astringent aroma of an ice cold glass of tisáne, condensation droplets running down the sides, served by your favorite “black-sheep-of-the-family Aunt in a sun-warmed afternoon kitchen. The scent of the highly polished wooden table, centered by a vase of wild grasses and flowers, woody and arboreal, dust motes dancing on the shafts of golden light streaming through the open windows, a waft of your Auntie’s sweat covered over by her heady peony and floral-scented splash cologne, and filtered through her vintage yet SO au courant Hermes scarf. Haunting, wistful, and beautiful as a daguerreotype seen through the sheerest bridal veil lens.
Notes: Rose de Bulgarie, Bergamot, Pepper, Chamomile flower, Jasmine sambac, Ylang ylang, Peony, Patchouli, Amber, Vetiver, Sandalwood.

611 Extremo
“611 Extremo is inspired by the Rio Botanical Garden blossoms at the foot of the Corcovado peak in the very heart of Rio De Janeiro, the Carioca city. Under the watchful eyes of Corcovado’s 100 foot tall Christ The Redeemer statue, the park is filled with majestic trees, exuberant tropical plants, and collections of rare orchids, this is a haven of serenity just a short distance from the vibrant beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. As a true nature lover, Giovanna wished to dedicate a perfume to this extraordinary green space where she loves to walk with her children. The heart of Giovanna is pure Carioca, joyful, generous, and radiant. She inspired me to create a fragrance dominated by a vibrant urban tuberose, a fragrance with sensual and spicy notes that leave an unforgettable trail.” -Cecile Matton, Perfumer
Cecile Matton is another world-class nose you will know from creations such as Armani’s Pivone Sozhou (with Julie Massé), Josephine Baker for EldO, Baby Doll for YSL, Valentino Gold, and Elegance Animale for Lalique among others.
With 611 Intenso Ms. Matton has created a perfume as lush, tropical, humid and heady as Rio itself. Having spent a fair amount of time in the Rio Botanical Gardens, I can speak to its green, shady, and wooded beauty, meandering paths, lakes, footbridges, Japanese garden, and multitude of stunning tropical birds. Of the 345 park acres, only forty percent is “park-developed” the rest kept in wild forest creating one of the critical green lungs of the city. This perfume is all about the tuberose, from start to finish the tuberose note is present and persistent, while the other notes lap at its edges, helping to create a context for the buttery and almost candied aspects aspects of the moist and dripping tropical bloom. If you love Tuberose as I do, this glorious almost-gourmand celebration of tropical Brazil will definitely want to be in your collection.
Notes: Rhubarb, Pear, Bergamot, Tuberose, Egyptian Jasmine, Hawthorn, Licorice, Iris, Benzoin, Vanilla.

811 Absoluto: (Mathilde Bijaoui)
“Immersed in the heart of “SamPa”….. A Gigantic urban jungle, Sao Paulo is a very creative and cosmopolitan city open to the world: a tropical New York. “Sampa” (as its inhabitants lovingly call her), exudes a formidable vitality mixed with “la dolce vita”. Giovanna wished to salute the part of her that goes by “Gio”, the ideal of a “Paulista” epicurean hedonist who reinvents herself constantly and relentlessly. To that end I created a powerful perfume because it is here that the heart of Brazil beats the strongest! I wanted a voluptuous, intoxicating, and full-bodied signature that reflects the temperament of fire, both magnetic and sensual, and whose silky floral heart is gradually unveiled.“-Mathilde Bijaoui, Perfumer
Last but not least, we have perfumer Mathilde Bijaoui who has given us unforgettable scents like EldO’s Tilda Swinton Like this, Sex Pistols, and Bijou Romantique, Penhaligons’ Lily & Spice, Jacomo For Men, and Jo Malones’ recent Myrrh & Tonka among others.
Like SamPa herself, this third fragrance 811 Absoluto is big, brassy and blowsy, a take-no-prisoners green and slightly epicurean floral that carries its own jet stream wherever it goes. A study in contrasts, this is an edp on steroids, at once flighty and girly, but also gritty and street smart as a proud Paulista who is as comfortable in a “fio dental” monokini on the beach, or a severe suit in her CEO office, calling for a small coffee or cafezinho, for her clients. The jasmine and honey provide a deep slightly indolic sweetness, while the balsamic notes, patchouli and amber keep it grounded, sexy, and altogether help to provide the “in-control realness” of a “Brasileira Capaz!” To which I say “Tudo Legal!”
Top: Bergamot, Pepper, Clove, Lavender, Green notes, Jasmine, Honey, Balsamic notes, Patchouli, Amber, Musk, Vanilla
Disclosure: Thank you SO much to COURTOIS/mourot for supplying the perfumes. The opinions are my own.

-Robert Herrmann, Sr. Contributor