I can’t stop humming: And as we wind on down the road / Our shadows taller than our soul / There walks a lady we all know / Who shines white light and wants to show / How everything still turns to gold…And she’s buying a stairway to Heaven.

White on layers of white, flying high into thin air. I’ve been going through a rough patch lately, and Stairway to Heaven felt like a wound-soothing, comforting, and delightfully sensual medicine for my soul. Sleeping on my great-grandma’s white lace sheets helped too. Here is my full review, previously published in Cafleurebon.

Freedom, the sort of intoxicating, comforting, inner-happiness feeling – this is all I can think about while wearing Jul et Mad‘s Stairway to Heaven. Freedom is represented by many levels and tones, different structures, and various depths of white. Shimmering whiteness with swirling soft undercurrents, like invisible wavelengths of light, cool at the surface but those that simultaneously warm your skin from deep within.

Madalina Stoica Blanchard and Julian Blanchard experienced that atmosphere, freedom, and saturation of senses by the beauty of Nature during their hike to Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. They also witnessed a sense of being so far away from home and yet belonging, and inhaled the thin air that made them feel lighter and stronger at the same time. Madalina told me that, in a most strange way, her first olfactory impression of the Himalayan air was one of the first snows in the Carpathian mountains of her homeland, Romania.

Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven Himalaya Base Camp

Stairway to Heaven is inspired by their adventure and composed by Cecile Zarokian who signed the brand’s previous release – Aqua Sextius (2014). Five years later in a creative process that lasted for over a year, Cecile spins contrasts of warm and cold/ fresh and deep to capture, as the brand writes: “dual whiteness: pure and immaculate, yet warming and enveloping.”

The only request Madalina and Julian had was concerning the musk accord: they wanted to achieve a beautiful, powerful, multi-faceted, unisex musk, something that would be close to the natural smell of the original animalic musk that came from glands of the Himalayan musk-deers,  forbidden to use today.

The Himalayas! The highest, utmost vertical spots above the horizon of planet Earth, mythical snow-capped ridges of chains of mountains, the majestic Roof of the World, the Summit of Gods is one of those rare and special places that are bound to make you instantly feel humble and small compared to the vastness and eternal grandeur of Mother Earth. A Stairway to Heaven. A place that might make you cry in awe of its breathtaking beauty, the might of Nature you feel intensely in the core of your bones, and because of the many sad ways we humans continuously find anew to tarnish it.

Cold Musks in Stairway to Heaven Jul et Mad

I’ve never climbed the trek leading to a Himalayan base camp. My highest reached point ever was at about 2500 m above the sea level in the Alps but camping in the deserts of Sahara or deep-sea sailing is my cup of tea that leaves me breathless: I feel free there and more in touch with myself and Nature than anywhere else, with an almost Avatar-like bond with Earth (I almost wish I had that Na’Vi consciousness-connecting blue tail).

Free from the material world, free to contemplate deeply, feel beyond the limits of senses, ruminate, lose myself, sit in silence for hours, observe the three-dimensional darkness of the sky when there’s no light pollution at all, feeling fully grounded, anchored and floating at the same time, inexplicably content, hit by intense joi de vivre generated bliss. We all have our Stairway to Heaven, right?

Stairway to Heaven is one of those perfumes that pull you in their ambiance so gently that details of singular perfume notes or accords seem irrelevant, it’s the overall atmosphere that matters the most.

The first streams of light that wake your senses up are aldehydes, pointy like snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, sharp like breathing the thin air high up in the mountains, crisp like crystallized ice, strangely addictive, the deeper your breath is the dizzier you feel, although strangely alert at the same time.

This glowing whiteness is softened by a slight touch of dry orange peels similar to the sensation of clean, soft, tenderly kissable skin of a freshly bathed infant, cuddling and relaxed after a bubbly bath, the most gentle and addictive baby-skin scent.

Stairway to Heaven Brand Perfume Photo

As it develops further, the fragrance holds on to this impeccable aldehydic-sparkly whiteness, and the structure changes becoming sheerer and softer, more like walking through strands of fluffy white clouds, their soft, dispersed edges soaked in sweeter, slightly flowery-fruity tones with an ever so discreet, resinous touch that adds depth and warmness to this newly discovered facet of white.

As if the composition of white light is slowly revealing the colors of the rainbow that create it, allowing various hues to surface.  I felt a touch of cold orris rising as if dug out from under transparent layers of ice, layered upon frozen petals of a single pink rose and tender heliotrope flowers closed shut by chilling, dry floral whiteness lingering in the background.

Aldehydes in Stairway to Heaven

All these transitions and different textures glide smoothly and shift effortlessly in waves rolling deep, pulling back, and moving forward in a steady rhythm. The whiteness is smooth, diving in and hovering above the skin like skiers in skin-tight suits carving powdery snow above thick layers of ice in a downhill race, all the way to the drydown finish line.

The steadily flowing string of aldehydes in Stairway to Heaven is felt at all times, a current of white that invites other elements to revolve and swirl around it, revealing different elements of white – similar to when you shine a beam of direct light on a diamond: every single facet will reflect the light differently, but the overall effect is depth coming from within, clearness and shine that is captivating.

Skin close, the drydown of Stairway to Heaven feels like a big plush duvet made of finest goose feathers, and this reminded me of my great-grandmother’s huge oak hand-carved chest where she safeguarded clean and neatly folded bed sheets, pillows, and covers with hand-made white lace she patiently weaved as a young girl for her dowry, keeping it stored away safely over many years until my grandmother handed them to me, just before I got married.

Stairway to Heaven Mini Perfume Bottle

Soft, musky whiteness caressing the skin is later warmed up by shaves of white woods, a very dry vanilla bean sensation, and a pinch of something gray and almost peppery against the last remaining sparkles of aldehydes tuning quietly down, bathing in these warmer tones, remaining for hours an addictive and elegant, musky-hypnotizing second-skin scent featuring an accord composed of, “8 different white musks” and their different shades and nuances, adding a lingering depth and seductive warmth.

Seemingly simple but with a meticulously polished structure that projects a skin-enveloping bubble of multifaceted tenderness lasting for hours!

White on layers of white, flying high into thin air. I’ve been going through a rough patch lately and Stairway to Heaven felt like a wound-soothing, comforting, and delightfully sensual medicine for my soul. Sleeping on my great-grandma’s white lace sheets helped too.

Listed Notes:
Top: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Sweet Orange
Middle: Bulgarian Rose, Orris Butter, Red Berries, Heliotrope
Base: 8 White Musks, Vanilla, Patchouli, Ambroxan, Cashmeran, Incense (oliban), Dynamone (gunpowder note)

Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven marks the 6th chapter of the brand’s High-Luxury collection Les Classiques. Jul et Mad Nea was a co-winner of the 2016 Art and Olfaction award.

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos: Elena Cvjetkovic, Jul et Mad private photo archive, Unsplash

The 7 ml sample of Stairway to Heaven was sent to me by Madalina of Jul et Mad via Cafleurebon, opinions of my own.


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