In the beginning, there were Eve and Pandora. Different cultures, different Genesis stories, both women being parts of the original creation, both giving in to temptation and curiosity.
In the beginning, Diane St.Clair says there was the painting of Pandora by John William Waterhouse that inspired her:
Eve and Pandora. Are they so different? What’s the red line connecting them? Without diving deeply into philosophical or any other academic analysis or interpretation of any aspect of either or both, Pandora is by definition a combined effort of many gods – “beautiful evil” – a punishment with or without the famous jar. She was meant to create a disturbance.
Eve seems far more sympathetic simply because she wasn’t created with a deceptive nature, to begin with – she was originally intended to be a – gift. Temptation made her eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge, “opening” her eyes, and she acted independently.
Both were told not to do something, and they both did it in spite of all the warnings, out of curiosity. They reached out of the box. Both were punished and left with only one thing: a glimmer of encouraging hope.
Temptations, temptations: just think about your perfumes. Aren’t we all curious about this or that new perfume, tempted to buy yet another bottle after more or less careful consideration, pick yet another apple from this or that branch of the large fragrance tree, to sniff and explore what’s inside those pretty jars? There’s a little of Eve and Pandora in all of us.
My temptation came in form of two little vials, about two months ago, raising my curiosity and expectations: Diane St.Clair’s fine, artisan perfumes (you can find my previous reviews here and here) are representing finely something that I refer to as “honest niche perfumery”, bursting with originality and creativity, with a heavy percentage of naturals and quite complex and alluring compositions.
Pandora and Eve belong to the new “Audacious Innocence” collection, and although being sibling fragrances that share most of the listed notes, they are also a fine example of how different proportions of the same materials used by a knowing and inspired hand can result in the creation of two totally different perfumes!
Beautiful illustrations that accompany the presentation of both perfumes are the work of talented Italian artist Massimo Alfaioli.
Let’s go to Eden first. Eve seems to be standing under the fruit-bearing apple tree planted amidst the garden of Paradise, and the first wave of scents rolling in towards her on an Autumn morning is carrying a promising brightness of citruses, bringing delicious sunshine upon the earth. The garden is exhaling deep, green breath colored by tomato leaves on dewy earth.
While the scent of red apples is merely lingering above Eve’s head, a fine mist of flowery notes rises from the ground: a contrast of rooty orris and light purple lilacs adds an almost vintage, feminine allure brightened by fresh, pinkish rose buds and just an innocent touch of sweet ylang-ylang, feeling like a corridor leading to another dimension. I found this stage simply beautiful, so carelessly feminine at its core: there’s a lot going on, smaller ripples of fragrant waves of tonka, vanilla, and carrot seeds are blended smoothly, rolling on the inside in a relaxed, spicy and comfortable rhythm. Beautiful.
Rewind and start all over again, this time with Pandora – she waited for the night to open the jar: the first scent trail surfacing from the dark inside is that of almost bitter-spicy citruses with vetiver, dark and full of shadows right from the beginning, just like the background of the Waterhouse’s painting. A completely different atmosphere is felt, slightly smoky with labdanum and opoponax lingering around and slowly making space, for now, more rooty layers of orris butter. Deeper tones of burgundy-colored and spiced-up lilac are sprinkled upon this dark potion, and it feels at its heart very bold, and yet somehow secretive. Apples surrounding Pandora seem softer and almost overripe – in contrast to the ones coming from Eve’s apple tree that felt bright red and fresh, and the floral facet that Eve openly displays is almost hidden here. Alluring.
Turning back to Eve, hours later, for the drydown: I still feel citrusy vetiver feeling green and softened by fluffy oakmoss, flowers are still present but swaying their blooms somewhere in the distance, and a liquid-gold flow of musk is a steady undercurrent. It seems that even with her back turned to the garden, Eve’s walk towards its exit in a very optimistic, beautifully smooth, and seductive way – without an effort.
Pandora’s drydown remains true to its original nature: dark and mystical, revealing hidden thoughts present from the beginning. Labdanum and opoponax rule sovereignly and gracefully here until the end, and only when I buried my nose deep into my wrists I felt small flecks of gold-colored vanilla adding an almost oriental feel to it.
Temptations, temptations: if asked to choose one, I’d have a hard time. These are both very beautiful fragrances, telling different stories and eliciting different feelings and emotions. Maybe I’d wear Eve as the scent of the day and Pandora as the scent of the night, Pandora for business meetings and Eve for romantic encounters, or the other way around! Maybe Eve is a little bit more feminine, and Pandora masculine leaning.
They are both powerful but the way they exercise their strength is very different: Eve conquers with gentleness, soft fingertips and smooth hands, an innocent smile, eyes wide open and sparkling optimism, while Pandora is bold, determined, focused, and gracefully self-conscious – and they are both equal attention-worthy and beautiful.
Here is the list of shared notes for Eve and Pandora, as listed by St. Clair Scents:
Top Notes: Both share top notes of Apple accord, Cedrat heart, Bergamot, Mandarin Red and Tomato leaf.
Middle Notes: Orris butter, Lilac accord, Bulgarian and Turkish rose absolute, Ylang-ylang, Jasmine sambac and Carrot seed.
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Double distilled vetiver, Tonka, Woods, and Musk.
Pandora also includes base notes of Opoponax absolute and Labdanum natural extraction.
Eve and Pandora are available at St. Clair Scents website, 30 ml Extrait de Parfum (35% perfume concentration) /200 USD, 13 ml Travel Bottle/100 USD, 2ml samples/17USD – test before you buy.
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, St. Clair Scents
Samples were kindly sent to me by Diane St. Clair prior to the official launch, opinions of my own.