“Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Your magic binds again
What convention strictly divides;
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides.” – Friedrich Schiller
Oh, what a joy: Friedrich Schiller for a read, Beethoven for my ears, Klimt for my eyes…and Atelier des Ors White Collection for my nose!
There I was, walking the streets of Vienna early in the morning: from Graben, alongside Wiener Staatsoper (Opera House) towards parks surrounding Museumquartier, moving on to Secession Building at Friedrichstrasse 12.
Its doors were closed, at 10 AM temperature was rising above 27C: the building of Secession is currently under construction and small groups of visitors, not larger than ten are allowed to enter and see Beethoven Frieze by Klimt. I waited patiently.
Three months have passed since I first had a chance to sample Atelier Des Ors White Collection! I was selfish, I must admit: I needed to test them on my skin, to get to know them, and yes! I became a fan. I smell great, I thought: here you go, my perfume, I am taking you to see the source of the idea standing behind this collection!
When art forms meet…miracles happen! Perfume as an art form? Here we go with that question again. Allow me to quote Mr. Chandler Burr:
“Works of art must elicit emotion, thought and some reaction. At their best they make their audience perceive reality differently than they did before experiencing the work. Works of scent do all these things brilliantly.”
Art, craft or design: whatever your opinion on perfumes is, what is certain is that they engage senses, elicit emotions and that olfactory art is a wearable art form! We are wearing art (in the best cases, yes)!
I first encountered the White Collection by Atelier des Ors during a closed presentation held at Esxence – The Scent of Excellence in Milano earlier this year. As much as I was impressed by a new addition to the previous, „Black Collection“ line – Bois Sikar (you can read my full review here), which left me thirsty, I was eager to discover what stands behind white packaging of the new, not yet disclosed line.
Mr. Jean Philippe Clermont and Ms. Megan Paki were all smiling while talking about the new collection: smiles reaching beyond eyes and stretched lips, genuine smiles: you could feel their joy and excitement! This was contagious! There it was, right in front of me: an idea, a story, a perfumer, fine ingredients, and a niche house: all elements you might need for a great new olfactory experience!
I took the samples home, wore and tested them for months on my skin. Even that was not enough: I had to travel in order to research deeper, to get to know my perfume better. I had to see the source of the idea, I had to hear that music, I had to read poetry, preferably in original (German). So I did and when I completed my quest, this is when I can share my review with you.
Nuda Veritas, Crepuscule de Ames and Choeur des Anges, a triptych in white bottles and boxes:
White is where it all starts, which is obvious if you look at the presentation of perfumes. White is paper we write upon, blank is the screen before we start typing. A void we aim to fulfill with our own creation. A new beginning…New hope!
Gold. Klimt painted with gold, gold flakes in bottles are Atelier Des Ors signature detail.
Orange. The connecting element between perfumes in this triptych, created by perfumer Marie Salamagne, is present in citrus notes: mandarin, neroli and orange blossom form the atmosphere.
Joy. The main idea is human quest for joy, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Beethoveen Frieze (1902.), a monumental work of art, taking its theme from Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
Vienna. This is where I went, to see and feel this masterpiece once again, to the Secession Building in Vienna. I walked in, wearing my „Choir of Angels“. This is where it all finally made perfect sense to me, this is where I connected with these three perfumes on a much deeper level.
Joy. Daughter from Elysium (heaven). Aren’t we all in search of joy? Isn’t that the deepest desire of all human beings, happiness? Let’s take a quick look at the protagonists mentioned:
Friedrich Schiller died in 1805. At the age of 45. During his lifetime, Schiller was a close friend of the famous writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. What was his source of joy? If you look at his biography, clearly it is not when he was a young man attending a Military Academy. We can only guess that he was happy when he could do what he was best at writing.
Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” was used by Beethoven for the choral movement of his Ninth Symphony. What made Ludwig Beethoven a happy man?
We do know that he was an exceptional composer who struggled against deafness.
Interesting is that many of his most accomplished works were created during the time he was – deaf. In a note dated October 6, 1802, and referred to as “The Heiligenstadt Testament,” he writes: “O you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you and I would have ended my life — it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me.” Art. Contributing. Creating.
Gustav Klimt. A painter, raised in poverty. Scandalous at his time, a lifelong bachelor with countless affairs. It is said that he fathered 14 children along his way. What made him happy?
I think his most famous quote might hide an answer to this question: “Whoever wants to know something about me—as an artist, the only notable thing—ought to look carefully at my pictures and try to see in them what I am and what I want to do.”
Beethoven Frieze: a starting point for these three perfumes, a monumental work of art. Thirty-four meters wide and two meters high, currently under restoration. A masterpiece of art. Let’s see how each perfume relates to it, the way I see it:
NUDA VERISTAS: The naked truth. This is the beginning on the quest for happiness. She is pure, arms streched out, the floating female Genii. Her eyes are closed as she reaches out to the world, to embrace it, to be embraced.
It opens up with gentle citruses, bright and optimistic. You can almost feel the softness of flower petals touching your skin, cooling it down. I don’t know why but my first thought was: I wish I wore this perfume on my wedding day! What a perfect bridal!
This optimistic, bright opening very smoothly transitions to reveal a bouquet of flowers, dainty white jasmine flowers like tulle of my wedding dress.
Later on, musks and patchouli give a golden touch to all this whiteness, never too heavy, just adding it spice and an aura of glowing skin.
It lasts above average, I would say ten hours on my skin and it retains this optimistic, fresh, and translucent glow.
Optimism in a bottle, for sure.
A bright, sunny morning, full of promises: I hear myself singing „What a difference a day made…24 little hours…“
Top: Bergamot, Orange flower petals
Heart: Jasmine sambac, Chinese jasmine absolute, Osmanthus absolute, Tiare flower
Base: Patchouli, Tagete absolute, Ambroxan, Musk, Oakmoss
CRÉPUSCULE DES ÂMES: Twilight of the souls. Enter Sickness, Madness and Death! All the „Dark Side“ elements inside us and the Frieze shows images representing our sins and passions which we have to overcome in order to achieve happiness and joy. On the Frieze you can see figures of Lasciviousness, Wantonness and Intemperance (with a large belly).
This twilight can easily seduce you, this is where you can get lost…if suffer I must, may it be from this fine perfume!
Twilight it truly is. What a change of mood, comparing to Nuda Veritas! Yes, a citrusy note is present here as well but this time it is ripe, succulent, seductive.
I feel spices adding depth to it, developing subtly like in all the Atelier des Ors perfumes. There is no abrupt movement here, yet this perfume is strong and dark at its core.
I see the color of deep, dark blue night skies and a full moon, somehow blurred with clouds of hyraceum – giving it almost animalistic masque.
It encompasses me when I wear it, moves and glides on my skin like a heavy dress made of purple silk, giving me that dark womanly feeling although it is the most masculine one in this collection. Bare skin, desire, and hidden strength: temptation and seduction in a most alluring form, drawing you in deeper and deeper.
Top: Mandarin, Cardamom, Clary sage
Heart: Hysope, Incense, Pimento berry
Base: Hyraceum infusion, Patchouly
CHOEUR DES ANGES: Choir of Angels. Humanity’s yearning for happiness is fulfilled by arts, thus giving a kiss to the whole world, this is a moment when we all become brothers, as Schiller wrote. A kiss that feels like angels are singing…a dramatic climax of the Frieze!
It simply made me happy, on the first sniff, back there in Milan.
Just like that, simple, childish, carefree happiness – that was my first thought, without analyzing notes or thinking about its structure. I felt embraced by it, physically embraced, I felt beloved and somehow…safe.
The simple joy of living in a bottle, soothing ambrosia, nectar of gods…Like radiant rays of sunshine, touching my skin with a golden film of honey, making me glow from inside out.
It makes me smile every time I wear it, that kind of smile that generates from my deepest inner self, a perfect smile.
When you first inhale Choeur des Anges, it’s like inhaling a breath of some divine being: orange pulp offering your nose sweet and ripe pears on a golden platter. Honey too, the divine nectar of Gods is served: yet carrot seeds provide it a vegetal touch, making that connection between Heaven and Earth.
Hours after applying it subdued into ambery shades of warmth, still touched by the brightness of mandarines. I enjoyed drydown enormously because it did draw out ambery tones with a fine dose of dry spices.
Should I call it a citrusy gourmand? Fruity floral? Whatever. It certainly is a quite sophisticated and finely crafted perfume.
Happiness in a bottle, this is what I will call it. This perfume is the one that made me hear the melody and words of Ode to Joy when I looked upon the walls inside the Secession Building, a perfect match on that day and occasion. Angels were singing: „Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium…“!
I was wearing this beautiful perfume, looking at Klimt’s masterpiece, singing Ode to Joy…I felt the sheer joy of living and gratefulness for everything that made me feel happy on that day.
Top: Blood orange, Blackcurrant, Pear
Heart: Orange flower absolute, Carrot seeds absolute, Osmanthus
Base: Cedarwood, Amber, Provencal Honey.
These perfumes made me think: what makes us happy? What gives us the joy of living?
Researches have been made: the most famous and quoted one is the 75 years long Grant and Glueck/Harvard study with two key conclusions: happiness is a feeling of love! Good relations keep us happier and healthier. Simple as that.
You can also take a look at TED Talk „What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness“ by Robert Waldinger here.
The study also shows that everyone is motivated and therefore happier by a blend of:
1. Doing good for others: contributing, 2. Doing things they are good at: self actualisation, 3. Doing good for yourself: physically, financially and emotionally.
Contributing is a great source of joy: artists such as Klimt, Beethoven or Schiller felt the ultimate joy in creating works of art, that was also what they were best at.
Bottom line: happiness is a choice!
As for me, I know one thing: fine perfumes bring me joy and bliss of happiness.
Sharing what I feel, the experiences I have with different perfumes, thoughts, and emotions – makes me even happier…
I hope you will find your daily dose of bottled joy among perfumes from Atelier des Ors Black (read my review here) or the new, White Collection.
Follow me for more reviews to come!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Atelier des Ors. The modern interpretation of Klimt by street artist Dcypher.
Samples provided by Atelier des Ors
Opinions are of my own.