It has been raining every single day these last couple of weeks, and to me it felt almost like being in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Macondo (“It rained for four years, eleven months, and two days…“)…
I pulled out the sample of St.Clair Scents Casablanca (2018), wanting to be transported to “a garden in paradise”! I remembered what Diane said about it:
“I tried to conjure a way to transport myself to a place far away, a place with warm air and perfumed flowers and fruit—a garden in paradise with odors of mossy dirt, smooth woods with light green notes, and darker woods, sweating their rich, balsamic resins. In the evening, my garden would be bursting with intensely sweet orange blossoms, wafting their sultry notes of indole into the night air.”
I also wanted to give this fragrance a second chance. On my first testing and wearing, many months ago – we didn’t click. It wore me, turning heavily indolic. It was wintertime then, and I decided to let it wait for warmer weather, change of mood, “better skin” day, any subtle shift of different variables in this strange fragrance-experience equation that might make a difference.
My first love from Diane St. Clair collection was Frost, followed by Gardner’s Glove – the Art&Olfaction Awards 2019 Artisan finalist! You can find my review of both these extraordinary fragrances here, as well as more information about this small, Vermont based indie brand.
It seems that 90% humidity, 18C outer temperature, 1011hPa in the air, and nightfall combined with my “Summertime sadness” mood made Casablanca turn into an amazing glowing-in-dark beauty! What a difference a season made!
Casablanca! Not like the city (I remember roaming around Casablanca, Morocco so well!), not like the famous movie, although it possesses a certain classic, almost retro-vibe: I see it as a timeless dream, sultry and narcotic, with a touch of bitter-sweet “saudade” – a soul-deep longing. Of things that were, could have been, never happened or just exist in dreams. Saudade, sevdah, a song…Emina.
Summertime Sadness: I dream about sunny and warm days while wrapped in a big blanket, wearing warm socks and drinking hot Rosehip tea, feeling cold on a windy, cloudy and rainy day in late May, choosing Casablanca as my scent of the night.
As I entered this garden of Eden, I realized this isn’t the ideal, carefree, and child-like-innocent place (with ideal temperate climate) you frolic around naked and blissful – no, not at all. It seems so, in the beginning, when you inhale the intense smell of orange trees in full bloom, rich, fruity, natural, and bitter-sweet.
As you move on, it feels more like Eden after the first bite of the forbidden fruit: narcotic and sensual. Like you are sinking slowly, deliberately in a huge pile of the fatal-flowers trio: orange blossoms, jasmine, and tuberose, completely naked and aware of your carnal nature.
Temptations…temptations sprout from layers of dark, moist earth. with scattered pieces of spicy-woody patchouli tones, your nose picks up whiffs of dry, smoked leather, showing a more masculine side to it.
Tuberose generates a feeling like velvety dark curtains are closing in, shining deep mossy green, providing an almost palpable Chypre base, and yet every now and then a spark of bright orange blossom shines through!
So much is going on here, this fragrance smoothly glides from bitterness to sweet fruitiness, spicy-oriental accords to deep green Chypre vibrations, it shifts shapes with deliberately created ease – in which a lot of work has been put in – meticulously.
Casablanca is indeed an exquisitely done fragrance, playing with notes in such way that you sense them, but it is the overall composition that leaves you enchanted, wondering what really happened there.
Its longevity is strong (it woke me up the next morning), but it is not loud and crude: sillage is soft but noticeable, it follows your movement.
What an extraordinary fragrant adventure… I’m happy I re-discovered Casablanca: this is indeed a very memorable creation!
Suggestion: don’t stick your nose into Casablanca’s 50% perfume extrait (!!!) on your wrists, like I did the first time. That was a silly mistake I made out of curiosity. Casablanca is a mostly natural perfume: let it be, breathe, shift and develop as you move around, give it space and your skin so it can work its magic! It lasts for days on fabric.
Song that it reminded me of: Emina
Top Notes: Pink Grapefruit, Red mandarin, Black Currant Bud Absolute
Middle Notes: Orange Blossom Absolute, Tuberose Absolute, Jasmine Organic Extract, Ylang Ylang
Base Notes: Labdanum, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Hyraceum Absolute, Civet, Benzoin, Musk
Available online at St.Clair Scents, 30 ml perfume extrait/190 USD, or 2ml sample sprays/15 USD.
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, St.Clair Scents, Saatchi Art “In the Garden of Eden,” by Marina Podgaevskaya, Mauritshues Museum – Rubens and Jan Brueghel. (Casablanca made me think about Jan Brueghel Elder a lot…that refined play with darkness and light…yes!)
The sample was graciously provided by Diane St.Clair, opinions of my own.