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March 2019

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I see skies of blue, flowers pink and yellow, lilac and white, tree branches budding with fresh green leaves, dainty little fruit-tree and big, porcelain-cup thick Magnolia blossoms everywhere! Yes, Spring is here…Persephone has returned!

Spring in March, still struggling with chilly mornings and evenings, but it seems like everything bloomed in only a couple of days. Time has come for me to pull out a fragrance I gave a lot of thought and occasional wearings during the past six months – Southern Bloom by Goldfield and Banks.

This perfume is very comforting every time I wear it, it felt like a warm hug during cold, Winter days, but now the timing to sit down and write about it was somehow right for me. Or maybe it’s because while enjoying the first sunny and warm late March days, I remembered that it isn’t Spring everywhere…

It all began when we met in September last year, during Pitti Fragranze in Florence. Dimitri Weber spoke to us over lunch about Spring in September and how he has to rush back to Australia because Brown Boronia fields were starting to bloom. Spring in September!

And Boronia flowers:

Dimitri, the creative director of Goldfield and Banks founded this brand in Sydney, Australia and he wanted to use native Australian ingredients as much as possible, giving importance to this specific terroir, making a difference.

He spoke with so much love about Australia, Brown Boronia flowers, fields on Tasmania’s Bruny Island, the harvest time – because the brand is working directly with growers. Then he pulled out a bottle of Southern Bloom perfume (harvest 2017), together with a tiny bottle of Brown Boronia Absolute, one of the most expensive ingredients in the world, at 100USD/gram:

Brown Boronia absolute, derived from concrete – is really different. It has a rich, multifaceted floral character. As much as I remember, it’s flowery with a touch of green, a bit dusky, never too sweet. I would say even a bit „dry-creamy“, like you are smelling the whole bush, not just flowers.

Southern Bloom is a limited edition fragrance – because the perfume itself will depend on the harvest, absolute being slightly different every year. It has been used in perfumery before, but Southern Bloom puts it in the heart of this perfume and weaves the whole fragrant story around it.

All the time after hearing this story about Southern Bloom, I kept thinking about – black swans!
I’ll explain: until the 19th century and discovery of black swans in Australia, all existing swans were thought to be – white. No one imagined that swans of any other color existed.

These beautiful birds also have their role in the Australian culture, representing „Australianness“. There’s more, a whole „black swan“ theory!

The idea of „black swans“ is mentioned in a quite famous book „The Black Swan“ – by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, ranked in 2007 by Sunday Times as one of the 12 most influential books since WW II. I remember reading it a number of times.

The impact of highly improbable is tremendous, we can all agree. The books also underlines that we humans tend to find simplistic explanations for unexpected events, but only after these happened.

The concept of Taleb’s „Black Swan“ is that highly improbable events have three principle characteristics: they are unpredictable, they carry a massive impact, and after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes these events appear less random and more predictable then they were. It’s a brilliant book, I suggest you read it if you haven’t yet. Black Swans are everywhere…even in the world of perfumes.

I digress, but this is where the story about Brown Boronia took me…Back to Southern Bloom with this extraordinary, „Black Swan“ note at its heart!

We have here high-quality ingredients from all over the world, elements of Australian terroir, the owner is Belgian-French, coming from fragrance industry….enter a Frenchman: the perfumer behind this fragrance is Melbourne-based Mr. Francois Merle-Baudoin, a 5th generation Perfumer from Grasse.

Southern Bloom is a floral-creamy-powdery fragrance, beautifully blended and finely balanced. Elegant, comforting, soothing – in a quite unique way. Longevity is very good, projection moderate: it becomes discreet, with a lovely drydown many hours later.

The fragrance shifts from the very beginning: at first, you are greeted by a bright fruity-slightly tart welcome. As you enter and walk along, it embraces you, it feels like you have walked into a cloud of creamy, soft pink petals, swirling gently around you.

This sensation of white flowers is just a little bit resinous and soon the fragrance transforms as sensual ylang-ylang and jasmine begin to flow. At this point I could feel milky strains of coconut appearing, weaving its way around flowers, and a string of orange-like tones.

Half an hour later the fragrance shows it’s greener side, becoming more earthy- green with the addition of dry, broken flower-bush twigs, adding depth to that beautiful powdery-iris sensation I enjoy so much.

The drydown is very beautiful: at this point Southern Bloom stays close to the skin, forming an aura that will stay with you for some time, very creamy and rich. You can still feel occasional whiffs of opulent flowers lingering over sandalwood, with a powdery-dry, a bit earthy iris dust sprinkled over them.

These transitions are smooth and the overall impression is refined, making this a very wearable fragrance. I wear it as a comforting fragrance and on my skin, it feels very feminine.

Southern Bloom, released in 2018, is the latest, first floral fragrance in the brand’s Native Collection, including Wood Infusion, Desert Rosewood, Pacific Rock Moss, White Sandalwood, and Blue Cypress.

Notes (as stated by the brand): Boronia Absolute -Tasmania, Jasmin Sambac – India, Cassis – France, Sandalwood – Australia, Vetiver – Indonesia, Ylang Ylang – Madagascar, Coconut Accord, Iris – Italy.

Southern Bloom, harvest 2017/2018 is available at Goldfield and Banks website and chosen niche perfume stockists, USD 249/100ml Eau de parfum, limited production.

It took me six months to ponder over this perfume, but the moment I first smelled Brown Boronia absolute was unforgettable…

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl

Southern Bloom perfume generously provided by Goldfield&Banks, opinions of my own. Terms as stated below:
Disclaimer

It’s funny how things in life sometimes take unexpected turns. Last summer, while I was staying in Grasse and frenetically driving around Cote d’Azur, I got a DM on Instagram. “Are you in Cannes now?” – “Not today, I was there yesterday…” I replied to Sulékó.
It turned out that Anastasia was there, at the Croisette, and she wanted to meet in person. Unfortunately, every second of my stay was planned in advance and we didn’t manage to meet in France.

Later on, we wrote to each other over months to follow, postponing our meeting for Esxence 2019 in Milan in April – where Sulékó shall exhibit this year.

The longer we talked, the more curious I got. In the meantime, I tested and wore Sulékó perfumes, and decided to bring you this brand closer by arranging an interview with Anastasia and Cécile! Let’s find out more about Sulékó!

Sulékó Paris
The brand was founded in 2013, and the name Sulékó recalls a Georgian poem, which became a very popular Russian song – “Souliko”. The poem is about a young man, seeking his soul mate. There are five fragrances in Sulékó’s portfolio, all created by Cecile Zarokian: Midi Eternel, Albho– its name is the Indo-European root of Lebed – Russian for swan; Vy Rosa -in reference to Tatiana, the heroine of A. S. Pushkin’s novel, Eugene Onegin (I was so fascinated by A.S. Pushkin in my teenage years that I managed to read Eugene Onegin in original, in Russian); Djélem is a Gypsy song which became the anthem of the Gypsies (to hear the song click here); Baba Yaga is the terrifying witch, which appears in many Russian tales…or is she so scary?

Sulékó perfume bottles are beautiful Limoges porcelain sculptures, created by artists Joelle Fèvre and Alain Fichot.

Anastasia Sokolow: The Designer

Tell us more about the way that led you to start your own perfume brand? Why did you pursue a path in perfumery?

– My first encounter with the universe of perfume creation took place while I was working at the Yves Saint Beauté marketing team in New York. I realized that this universe was not for the experts only who passed their secret knowledge on, from generation to generation… In fact, that world was accessible to anyone who wanted to explore it; also I realized that there is much more to explore that you might think and much more that should be shared with the buyers of fragrances.

Back in Paris, I took various classes and went through several training programs focusing on the many facets of the world of fragrances; at the same time, I was working at a major hair designer company on its international development programs. But I was hooked: I became a member of the French Society of Perfumers and took specific courses at ISIPCA – the school of perfumers. In just a few years of intense training and exploring, I noticed how much my sense of smell developed – I had opened myself to a whole new world. Scents became to me a form of expression and I decided that I should share my new philosophy of life with others in a more organized fashion.

What are your favorite dish and a bedtime story that your grandmother made/told you when you were a child?

– One of my favorite dishes from my grandmother is her “krendel” when it comes straight out of the oven. It is a sort of Panettone with vanilla, dry fruits, and fresh almonds…

My grandmother, when I was in bed, would tell me all sorts of Russian folk stories but I remember vividly her reading of Pushkin’s poem, “Lukomorye” which told about all the main characters of Russian folk stories such as Baba Yaga, Rusalka, Kaschey… Nature was shown as powerful, rich and beautiful, full of magic and mystery…

How did you meet Cécile? What was the (brand) story you tried to convey to her? How did you two click together?

– I first met Cécile at the opening of her exhibition IP01. I loved her work and her ability to translate illustrations into scents. A few years later, when I started working on my perfumes, I reached out to her. At that time, she had her own laboratory and worked with a major supplier of raw ingredients.

I told her about my language of scents, explained to her the story behind each of the perfumes that I wanted to create and how in my view each story should be “translated” into scents and detailed the ingredients that should be selected. She was able to fully immerse herself into my universes and my way of conceiving perfumes. Cécile is sensitive to Arts: she shares my view that a fragrance is not only about scents, it is also about texture, rhythm, colors, and emotions. I enjoyed working with Cécile —it was real teamwork, a real constructive dialogue.

How do you intend to separate yourself from all the niche brands and offerings that flourish today?

Sulékó is one of the very few brands which combines artistic craftsmanship and perfume and which seeks to trigger all the senses; our sculpture-bottles were created as a visual and tactile reflection of the perfume: you slide your fingers through the bottle of Vy Roza and it is as if your hand is touching fresh grass; you linger on the soft curvy sides and you are caressing the soft petals of a rose! Sulékó highlights the riches of French artistic craftsmanship in the creation of perfumes and in the design of a unique porcelain bottle.
Our bottles and our perfumes are the results of the work of a man/woman and not the result of processing by a machine.
Sulékó also collaborates with artists to explore the links between scents, colors, textures, and movements; an example of such collaboration, “Baba Yaga, a movie for the senses”, was presented by Sulékó at Osme, during Art Basel. The perfume then fully becomes Art.

Which scent do you relate most to Russia?

– Our perfumes are all inspired by Slavic art and culture and they involve many scents …
Russia is such a wide and diverse country that it is very hard to pick just one scent representing it without it making a bit of a cliche…but I would say the scent of wheat fields in summertime.

Your favorite perfume and why?

– Aside from my own creations, I use several perfumes which I love, one of my favorites is Chanel N°22 created by Ernest Beaux (a Russian perfumer of French descent). To me, it is a classic. It is timeless. It is rich and light at the same time, it is full of youthful energy and joy with a hint of solar sensuality.

SULÉKÓ perfume bottles are porcelain sculptures. Why such a high level of bottles-art?

– Because seeing beauty makes us happy!
I believe that holding an object, which is unique, handmade using traditional know-how, creativity, attention to detail and passion is precious.

I also think that nowadays more and more customers want to buy authentic products, products with a story, a meaning, that will enrich their everyday life. With these bottles, our customers uncover new artists, learn about their art and how they reinvent centuries-old know-hows while adding a contemporary touch. There is something fascinating about the work of clay, knowing that men have been working this material for thousands of years, creating beauty with earth and fire. That is actually why we chose the name «Talisman» for our travel spray, there is something primeval about porcelain biscuit.

By buying such objects, customers get involved in the preservation of unique traditions and know-how and will enjoy bringing beauty to their home!

How would you define the current state of Russian Haute Parfumerie?

– Russian Haute Parfumerie was at its high at the beginning of the twentieth century before the Revolution. Nowadays, a few Russian perfume brands are emerging; maybe it is a new beginning, a resurgence of Russian Haute Parfumerie…Sulékó believes that for sure, in its own original way, it is a part of that resurgence.

Please define perfumes that represent different seasons of the year in your collection, Sulékó Spring, Summer etc?

– One can easily connect specific smells, notes, scent ingredients to each season. Spring shall bring into your mind the watery freshness of lily of the valley and hyacinths, luminous and light scents! If I mention fall, you will most likely think of the scent of dead leaves and the dark, earthy, woody scents of a forest after the rain.
Furthermore, we do live through phases in our life, which influence our state of mind, these phases are not necessarily linked to our age and can be qualified as seasons; many poets and writers have used seasons as metaphors to describe their state of mind and their emotions. Fall, for instance, is used to describe a state of « spleen », when sadness and melancholy prevail whereas spring is synonymous with new beginnings, it is a celebration of life and everything luminous and joyful. Therefore, we can say that within each Sulékó season, scents meet emotions and create a specific language.

Each Sulékó perfume, because of its scent ingredients and because of the emotions, which it translates, can be classified in one of the four seasons; it is a small facet of one season. This is a very intuitive classification of perfumes. We currently have 5 perfumes: *Albho– is part of Sulékó Winter, Vy Roza is part of Sulékó Spring, Djélem and Midi Eternel are part of Sulékó Summer and Baba Yaga is part of Sulékó Fall.

Do you plan any new releases soon?

We have several creations in the pipeline and will be happy to tell you more about them soon!

Cécile Zarokian: The Perfumer

Cécile Zarokian graduated from ISIPCA, she was trained for four years in Robertet, at first in Grasse, then in Paris. She was still a trainee when she created her first fragrance, Amouage Epic Woman.
In 2011, Cécile decided to found her own company, CECILE ZAROKIAN SARL, and to set up her laboratory in Paris, in order to be able to dedicate her entire time to working freely as an independent perfumer.

Cécile has been very busy lately. She created an impressive list of perfumes, and I’m a fan of quite a few she did for various brands. Let me just mention Uer Mi OR, Jacques Fath, Puredistance, Evody, Masque Fragranze or Jovoy Paris. You can find the complete list here. And I’m a fan of Cécile’s big smile, fast spoken French (too fast for me…), and bubbling personality. I’m looking forward to more of her creations, and seeing her again, soon! Let’s see her side of the Sulékó story:

You are a very busy lady. Why did you accept to create for Sulékó?

– I was very interested in the universe of Sulékó. Anastasia told me what she had in mind for her brand, the story behind each perfume. Her approach was different and I was passionate about her briefs, fully detailed with very inspiring ideas.

„Baba Yaga“ is a scary story. What is Baba Yaga to you? What is the purpose of this fragrance?

Baba Yaga is the witch that frightens lost children in the forest, kind of the bogeyman of Russian fairy tales. But in particular cases, she can be seen as a dark force who scares you but in a way she’s forcing you to face and overcome your fears. And it’s the same for the fragrance, it was very challenging to create an edgy fragrance that would be a bit dark but not too much because at the end you have to light it up. A bewitching dark scent that still has to be pleasant because it’s a perfume after all and you have to want to wear it.

What would you say is specific about Sulékó, the point of difference in concept?

– A lot of attention to every detail. The story, the raw materials, the handmade ceramic bottles, the perfume, the distribution, education…being able to explain the whole creative process behind each perfume, every step of the way, directly to the customer.

Which fragrance from this line was the most challenging for you to create?
Baba Yaga definitely. Because of the above reasons, racing on the edge…

What defines Sulékó to you, in short?

– A unique brand embodied in its founder’s personality, with a very artistic approach and niche distribution.

Now, let’s take a closer look at these four fragrances:

Baba Yaga

My first memory of Baba Yaga character dates to my early childhood and times when I was reading Russian Fables and Tales, every night before sleep. The book was a gift from my mother who thought I should read stories and books coming from different cultures, to widen my horizons. My favorite story from this book was the one about Vasilisa The Fair, and to this day I remember her words of wisdom: “Mornings are smarter than evenings.”

Baba Yaga didn’t scare me at all, although always portrayed as a mean, (allegedly) child-eating witch. I thought of her as of a strong, independent, no-nonsense woman, living on her own, helpful to those that deserved her help. Dark, intense, different… then the rest. Daring. Powerful and aware of her strengths, dressed in black, uncompromising, everything I was not (at that time).

Baba Yaga (the perfume) begins its spell with a sensation of a dark yet crisp Autumn day somewhere deep in the forest. Multicolored leaves are ruffling as you walk, clouds turn darker and the forest starts to murmur, branches of big, old trees making a crackling sound. This bitter-fresh opening is now tainted with a pinch of cinnamon and a healthy dose of nutmeg, brownish-orange, resembling oak leaves you are walking upon.

Berries protrude – red berries on layers of dark pepper. A spell is cast, with black pepper rising in the air, sprinkling away nutmeg and introducing a bitter orange. It sways from bittersweet to sweeter tones, still spicy.

With time it begins to feel like you are lying on the ground in this dark forest, on soft layers of black earth, leathery-patchouli blankets, and moss-covered oak branches, still feeling traces of spices that sprinkled your clothes, with bursts of nutmeg and pepper rising every now and then…Intriguing.

Djelem

Warm Summertime evenings, light cotton dresses imprinted with flowers, music, dance, loud laughs and an open fire crackling in the dark.

These images are portrayed by spicy notes, hay, amber, vivid red carnations and cloves, and that feeling of freshly mown hay is addictive!

The hay settles and warms everything up, relaxes its vividness by becoming more powdery, yet never too heavy…

Gypsies have stopped singing and dancing and are now relaxed and simply- happy!

Vy Rosa

Vy Rosa: an ode to great A.S.Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin…The first verses of this fragrance are starting with sweet springtime freshness of lilies of the valley, very white and green, clean and light, almost soapy. The heart of this fresh, bright, soft smelling rose is surrounded by this bouquet until it becomes more bitter-woody, a bit too bitter for my taste.

Albho

Albho, a word for swan, Lebed, labud: a cold breath of Winter, grace, and elegance. Russian Winter. It took me back to St. Petersburg, my evening walks along Nevski Prospekt, the sight of frozen Neva river and the warmth of the Hermitage Museum hallways which I roamed for days.

It opens with cool mints, like when you inhale sharply cold Winter air above the surface of water, rivers or lakes, underneath a pine tree. Woody and balsamic notes take over, it becomes warmer, suaver. A nice play of cold-warm transitions, ending in quiet, subtle and balsamic tones. I enjoyed its drydown, it was so comforting. This fragrance has an inner beauty, poise and elegance, while darker tones are lurking underwater. Like looking at a swan gliding across a lake so clear that you can see its feet pedaling under the surface. Quite different. My favorite.

You can purchase these perfumes at Sulékó online shop here. Prices vary according to chosen combinations/bottles. The sample-set is available for 15EUR.

Dear Anastasia and Cécile, thank you and see you soon – at Esxence Milano 2019!

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl/ Sulékó/Cécile Zarokian
Samples were provided by Sulékó, opinions of my own.
Disclaimer

Nomen est omen, so let’s start from the name. AENOTUS is a non-existing word, Puredistance says that it stands for the notes of the winds blown by Aeolus, the „keeper of the winds“ in Greek mythology:

„In AENOTUS the cool notes of Aeolus are fusing with the soft, sensual warmth of the South. And the classic (Latin) ending of the word Aenotus suggests the depth and maturation of time.“

This word is made up, but the wind this perfume made me think about – exists! Oh, it does! Of all the winds you can experience on the Adriatic Sea, in Croatia – Maestral is the Master of winds.

It’s the most desired wind during Summer months: it blows from NW, in the afternoon, rather soft and gentle. Not strong and cold, like Mistral in France! Alongside the Adriatic Sea coast and islands this benevolent, friendly wind brings refreshment, strongest just when it’s most needed – in July and August.

Maestral announces nice weather, it cools down the stone walls and houses, promising a good night’s sleep. What I find special about it is closely connected to my vacation time on the Island of Brac: since Maestral blows from the North-West, it doesn’t bring the scent of the sea on my micro-location. It rolls down smoothly across the land, through lemon and orange treetops, staying low and close to the red earth in the garden, in my back yard. Yes, AENOTUS instantly reminded me of – Maestral in my garden…perfectly fitting that description of the „sensual warmth of the South“!

Puredistance describes the concept of AENOTUS as follows:

„A perfume that would first refresh and then – unlike the 1000+ perfumes that are fresh but quickly fade away – transform into a sensual but subtle (skin) scent. A refined and silently seductive perfume that doesn’t give away its personality to everyone instantly.“

Puredistance is a luxury niche perfume brand that I respect and value: they are indeed worthy representatives of the best niche practice, the „niche“ in perfumery – as it should be… They don’t release dozens of perfumes each and every year. What they do is pay attention to perfume creation, ingredients used, leave enough time for perfecting each perfume released, have simply beautiful, elegant presentation and packaging, and – in my opinion – do things „the right way“ regarding their sales&promotions activities. Respect.

Yes, I respect their small family business producing perfumes I am fond of: you can read my reviews for Sheiduna, Warszawa (The Fragrance Foundation Top 5 rated Review/Editorial Excellence, 2018) and Opardu.

This is why I have been waiting patiently for their new release: March 1st, 2019 was the day of AENOTUS launch worldwide. I’ve been expecting it for quite some time, knowing that the fragrance has undergone several iterations, knowing its name, yet the launch was being postponed over and over again. Now it’s here:

What made this whole story even more interesting to me is that the new perfume was always meant to be the signature scent of the founder, Jan Ewoud Vos:

“More than ten years ago I founded Puredistance and I really love all eight perfumes we have done so far, but I missed my own signature scent in our collection. Three years ago (May 2015) I decided to start up the process of creating one. I came up with the name Aenotus and asked Antoine Lie in Paris to create my signature scent.”

I must underline that Jan Ewoud Vous and Antoine Lie (the list of his creations is truly impressive, let me just mention that he signed many perfumes I find wonderful, like some created for Comme des Garcons, Etat Libre d’Orange, Maison Trudon, UER MI, etc…) worked together on this fragrance for three years!

Antoine Lie already had this experience with Puredistance while working on WHITE: that lasted over a year…and he is the perfumer behind Puredistance Black and Warszawa as well. I guess this time it was even more complicated to reach the level of desired satisfaction, even though time or the price of ingredients weren’t limiting factors. Like all the other perfumes in the collection, this is an extrait de parfem, with shocking 48% perfume oil! Well, hello citruses!

„Cool, sensual & refined“ – this is the tagline for AENOTUS. After three weeks of sniffing, wearing it and thinking about it, this is how I feel about it:

I’ll start from the drydown this time.

The final phase of perfume, its character when „all the guests have left“ is something that matters to me. While initially testing AENOTUS, I first sprayed it on a blotter and left it standing on a paper clip, on my desk for two weeks – just like that

When I came back to it, I was amazed: its drydown was still simply beautiful! It is obvious that expensive ingredients used are making their final statement: a yellowish dry-earth colored oakmoss can be felt, smoothed out with silky musks, tainted with a pinch of patchouli, just a light, transparent veil of its dry, slightly spicy feel. Much to my surprise, occasional whiffs of mint-tainted citruses rising could be felt as well, even after such a long time! The drydown does feel sensual, but its sensuality is restrained in a most elegant way, tranquil, never too open or in plain sight. Germans have a great word for it: zurückhaltend...and this makes it even more attractive.

I’ve been wearing it occasionally for two weeks now.

On my skin AENOTUS opens with a platter full of freshly cut citruses, displayed in such a lavish manner that I couldn’t repress a loud sigh, almost drooling over all those mouthwatering lemons, oranges, and mandarines sprinkled with that specific, slightly bitter yuzu twist. I haven’t smelled citruses so lush and exuberant, and so…edible – in a long time!

After this bright and optimistic prelude, hues change: now you can see and feel leaves that came from the same branches from which all those delicious citruses were picked from. It’s getting thicker green, like lemon tree leaves, crisp and shiny in sunlight, like in a Mediterranean orchard of lemons and oranges. You can also feel that this green has a tinge of a wild mint plant growing under a lemon tree, hidden beneath white stones, just as if you have stepped on, crushing its small, dark green leaves, while approaching a tree to pick fresh fruit.

After a couple of hours, all those yellows and greens become cozy. Relaxed, in a musky way, slowly warming up in slow motion, and this is when you can observe cool and warm tones starting to mingle, leaving a soothing trail of calming warmth, musky skin warmth…leading to the drydown as I described it above.

I wrote The Wind of Change: this fragrance is different than all the other perfumes in Puredistance range up to now. I see it also as a sign of „returning to old values“ trend in niche perfumery, in the sense of taking the time and creating quality perfumes that „sing“ – not shout and scream at the top of their voice – out of tune, nor meek wannabe niche pretenders, either.

Those that give you a reason to think about them, listen to their whisper and murmur, make you daydream, take you places, make you feel good about yourself. The sort of fragrances you wear for yourself and not for somebody else, to express yourself and not to impress others. Intellectual, pensive fragrances, beautiful works of art, fine and timeless creations.

Time will show, but AENOTUS has all the elements that can easily make it a – classic.

Notes (as listed by the brand): Orange, Mandarin, Lemon, Yuzu/ Mint, Blackcurrant Bud, Petitgrain/ Oakmoss, Patchouli, Musks. On my skin, sillage and longevity are moderate, if sprayed on clothes – prolonged.
AENOTUS is available at Puredistance website or at Exclusive dealers: 17,5 ml=175 EUR, 60ml=295EUR, 100 ml=490EUR, 2ml Perfume Extrait Giftset=89EUR.

Click here to see the video about AENOTUS.

P.S. I met with Jan at Esxence in Milano (wearing a light blue jacket matching Aenotus colors) and we talked for quite some time. That helped me understand his signature fragrance better: quiet waters run deep…”The Dutch prince of classy perfumes” does sometimes leave his castle hidden somewhere in The Netherlands to mingle with crowds: cool, composed, well-educated, aware of fragcomm but keeping his distance. His passion is not bluntly exposed, his dedication firm and aligned with his personal values system. It all made sense…

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl, Puredistance
The sample was provided graciously by Puredistance, opinions of my own.
Disclaimer

When I published an Instagram post a couple of days ago, talking about Aroma M collection, I wrote: „Artisan perfumers are „the salt of the Earth“ – their creativity, independence, inspiration, and passion are a strong, moving force.”

So, may the Force be with me… I’m always delighted to meet artisan perfumers and enjoy fragrances they create!


Recently I received a samples pack from Aroma M Perfumes – the Geisha Collection. I guess you could say that Maria McElroy work is riding the wave of the „greener age“ in perfumery, where sustainable resources are vital, ecology being a new luxury, and fragrances are not only beguiling, but help alleviate daily stress and promote wellbeing, but she is present since 1995!

Natural ingredients are a strong new direction, so if you are just getting acquainted with „naturals“ – please be patient. Natural oils evolve on the skin in a more discreet fashion, it’s all about you and your skin, not impressing anyone. It’s about their intimate relationship with your skin, they blend with your personal aura, rather than change it. Of course, there will be synthetic elements, musks or fixatives for example, but the point is to embrace what naturals bring: the ritual. Since they are mostly soft-spoken, you will probably need to apply more than once during a day, enjoying the personality of your fragrance that evolves and adapts, shines and breathes together with you.

Maria McElroy, an American born painter transferred her color and texture blending talents to the art of fragrance blending.

Her fascination with Japan led her to learn the art of Ikebana, Koto, and Shiatsu (tea ceremony) during her seven years stay in Japan. She found her inner Geisha there, added that to her aromatherapy studies and started the company in 1995.

What you might notice in her work is a fascination with Japanese traditional incense use, as in Kodo – the Japanese Incense Ceremony.

Let’s take a closer sniff at some I chose to wear. I added a haiku poem to each fragrance, reflecting how I experienced it:

Geisha Marron

It is fresh, white, uplifting: an ode to a traditional French perfumery. Lily of the Valley, Muguet. I really loved its sharp freshness, tender magnolia, again, a connection with Japan being made through white Japanese Magnolia. The citrusy notes are sparkling fresh, a bit volatile, making it sweet-and-sour. Marron stands for chestnut blossom, with its fresh yet honey-like scent, very softly performing on my skin. This fragrance really stood out for me, I only wish it could last longer…When a fragrance is so fine and interesting, I really don’t mind reapplying! Patience…easy does it! (I broke the sample vial…)
Hello Spring! Life is beautiful!

The spring breeze

Is blowing.

Amezaiku.

(amezaiku:A candy fashioned in human and animal forms)

Geisha Rouge

The color of red. A red kimono. Red lips, a white Geisha’s face. The color suits well this fragrance, it reflects its warmth. The incense is simply lovely, very gentle and softly spicy. I feel cinnamon and clove, giving that deep dark orange shine to this composition. Clove is a bit prominent in the beginning, later on, it settles on dry tobacco shreds. It’s more like a just soft touch of tobacco, little smokey, surrounded by ambery notes. Opulent and exciting, sweet and spicy, a nice, warm scent for Autumn days…

I want to see

And to meet you

With stepping on the thin ice.

Geisha Blanche

A non-color, a tone. White. Geisha wearing a white wedding kimono, poised and elegant. But if you take a closer look, you will see her collar revealing the most sensual part of the body: her neck. Her moves are soft, slow and dignified…A burst of cool, fresh white flowers, sweet as the first Spring blossoms, ever so delicate yet their scent fills our hungry nostrils with hope and optimism. An abstract white floral, calming and easy to wear. Like a fresh Spring early morning…Good timing, Spring is here!

Flutteringly,

Floating in the breeze,

A single butterfly.

Geisha Noire

“What will Geisha Noire do for you: combat stress, clear the thought process, undo the inhibitions, assist in meditation and prayer.“

What it did to me: well, I could understand what „undoing the inhibitions“ was supposed to mean. This is a thick, sensual fragrance – a spicy-oriental featuring clove, amber, and sweet tonka bean. It moves and glides in waves of soothing, embracing hugs, in a quite addictive way. It lasted and performed well on my skin.

Burning the fallen leaves,

The warm winter day is

A certainly…

Geisha Vanilla Hinoki

What a lovely, lovely Morrocan Vanilla core! I couldn’t stop sniffing it: a Vanilla to my taste, never too sweet, never overwhelming or boozy, with a beautifully layered accent of smoky and green to it! My definite favorite! Quite sophisticated, comforting, relaxing and with a good staying power. Notes: bergamot, hinoki, lavender, leather, patchouli, amyris and hinoki wood. I am still amazed by this good quality, non-foody, incense tainted- vanilla! Bravo, Maria!

The butterfly touches

and go around the base stone

And the glass give off the smell.

Geisha Botan 

Botan is Japanese for peony: beautiful, big, yet short-lived, fresh smelling flowers. I’ve learned that it is known as the „King of flowers“ in Japan, a symbol of good fortune bravery and honor.

Imagine a garden filled with lush pink peony blossoms, a feast for your eyes and for your nose! The soft, rose-like scent is rising as the wind gently ruffles pink petals. Now imagine how well peony blends with roses, Morrocan roses (did I mention that Maria sources her ingredients from Morroco?). Inhale deeply once again and feel the forest surrounding this garden, adding deeper and more velvety tones to this image. Enter vanilla, that beautiful vanilla I mentioned when describing Geisha Vanilla Hinoki, but now its denser and darker, adding a honey-like breath of its beauty, spreading it over buttery sandalwood, leaving us only to inhale deeper and feel that mossy base everything is set upon. This is a peony-rose-themed fragrance I would turn to when I’m on my annual rose binge, definitely!

Notes: Peony, Morrocan rose, sandalwood, Morrocan vanilla, Bourbon vanilla, woods, lichen, oakmoss, musk.

What peonies!
one poem per flower
will not do.

The Geisha color-named fragrances are wrapped in traditional Yuzen paper from Kyoto.

Check out the prices for perfume oils and eau de parfum at the Aroma M website here.

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl, Aroma M Perfumes
Samples and general information provided by Aroma M, opinions of my own. Haiku poems quoted are written by famous Japanese poets.
Disclaimer

Esxence– The Scent of Excellence is due to take place again (the eleventh edition) in Milan, from 25th to 28th April 2019, at The Mall (Piazza Lina Bo Bardi), and The Plum Girl is a proud media partner!

Last year I reported live from the event, as well with many reviews that followed – you may want to read my report here.

What will this edition of Esxence offer, covering more than 5000 square meters of The Mall? The majority of brands come not from Italy, but abroad, primarily Europe, but also from the United States and the Middle East. The number of brands is growing each year, the waiting list gets longer and longer, but shall we see/smell innovative, breathtaking perfumes? I certainly hope so! Please, challenge me!

Where is the artistic perfumery going? What are the upcoming trends and brands? This is the place where we’ll be able to feel the pulse of artistic perfumery today, in four hectic days.

I’m hoping to find at least five exceptional perfumes this year, ones that will push me into a state of olfactory bliss!

The concept for this edition is Inspiration Flow: linking two terms in the Italian language (inspirare and ispirare) – inhaling and inspiring.

Flow…of emotions, thoughts and memories: the flow I write about in my perfume reviews. Alas, the moments when I’m completely taken away by a perfume are becoming rare, I do need this energy boost!

Let’s talk about money. These are the figures: “At world level, the share of the alcohol-based perfumery market enjoyed by Artistic Perfumery as a whole is approximately 10%. In Italy, the total turnover for artistic perfumery passed the threshold of €250 million in 2017, corresponding to 12% of the turnover in alcohol-based perfumery and 2.5% of the total Italian beauty business. As this sector has the potential reach 2% of the beauty business turnover in every country, it has a real chance to develop several billion euros of turnover and give a stimulus to brands that keep faith with their original mission and/or are extremely innovative and committed to research.

Well, it seems like some serious event coverage planning is a must: this edition of Esxence shall be even more demanding. Note: forget the heels, pack comfy sneakers…because this is what awaits us:

The Mall: I think I mentioned the 5000m2 of exhibition space. You can check out the brands list here! Impressive, isn’t it?

The Experience Lab: not far away from The Mall, in the elegant setting of Villa Quarzo will be hosting the Experience Lab, the first event dedicated to the most important indie beauty brands/cosmetics.

The Milano Fragrance Week: to be launched from 22th to 28th April, promoting olfactory culture and interest in perfume as an art form – covering the entire city of Milan. That means a lot of walking, running around from one event to the other, from Porta Nuova to Garibaldi and Brera, featuring exhibitions, installations, traveling workshops, concerts, and interactive events…

Add meetings, round tables, workshops, presentations and launches of new perfumes, cocktails, parties, dinners….and you have a rich agenda demanding some careful planning, which I mostly do in advance and in detail – and then mostly give up all my plans after the first day!

Go with the Flow. Inspiration Flow!

https://youtu.be/kDtrrZXJcMQ

This year you can also participate, even if not attending Esxence in Milan: a webinar is organized, in partnership with Les Parfumables and the young perfumer Alex Lee – a virtual interactive workshop that you can now apply to!

I’m looking forward to visiting the Osmotheque stand again this year (oh! This time I promised myself to take a closer sniff of all their treasures exhibited!), as well as finding out who will win the Art&Olfaction Awards, the prestigious acknowledgment for independent artistic perfumery.

Some new perfume launches have been announced as well, so keep an eye on The Plum Girl Instagram/Twitter/Facebook account! I will be reporting from Milan as much as possible, with daily live stories, interviews, events and presentations coverage!

The Plum Girl
Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: The Plum Girl, Equipe International
Information provided by Esxence /Equipe International Press Release
Disclaimer