Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief of ÇaFleureBon asked me to write about my fragrant awakening, and I accepted the challenge.
I had a chance to take a quick sniff of “the new one”, a perfume preview version sprayed quickly on my neck while I was attending an Unum event held in Milano, during Esxence 2018. There was something strange about it, even at a quick sniff…it caught my attention right there and then.
Diane wrote to me on one day, from the Champlain Valley in Vermont, USA. I admitted openly that I’m always curious about American niche, artisan and „naturals“. This is still a huge terra incoginito for me.
I also told her that sending samples doesn’t guarantee a review, that I do not have time nor will to write negative reviews, and that I’m not impressed by any or all previous reviews she might have got, blogs or vlogs or mentors she mentions (it’s all there, in the „Disclaimer“ section of my web page…).
She was quite assertive (in the most positive and charming way), I’m always curious, and weeks later (!!!), the sample vials were on my desk. Just in time, somehow, since I really got a little bored with recently worn samples.
Champlain Valley. I had to look it up on a map. During my numerous visits to States, the closest I got to Vermont is – Boston, and no, I was not aware (until now) that Diane St. Claire makes the best butter in the USA! It is even said that her butter is better than the butter from Normandy (and I know how THAT butter tastes!). Butter is a complicated product, trust me on that one, and hand-made butter, quality of which is depending on the sort of cows, the season of the year and grass they eat, each batch different – is hard to find these days.
Let’s say Diane is an artisanal dairy product maker. Niche butter? Oh, yeah! You know what we are talking about here if you’ve ever tried quality, home-made butter. Well, Ms. St Claire certainly conquered that particular niche. I’m pretty sure that’s not the only niche she shines in. Or will shine in.
How in the world did she get to make perfumes? Well, I would say that she set her mind on doing that. Making fragrances, scented images of her world.
From what I have learned, she approached perfumery as studiously as butter-making: reading, researching, learning, and practicing. For four years. It is not by mere accident that she came upon Ms. Eliza Douglas, trained in Grasse, NY based, and took classes with her. Years passed, mentors helped a little: Luca Turin and Christophe Lauamiel. The feedback they gave her helped her grow (oh! I’m so genuinely fond of people who take feedback for exactly what it is- feedback, and learn from it!).
Her story is very inspirational: she is a living proof that you can, provided that you are goal-driven and just as strong-willed – become a perfumer, even though you are geographically restricted, have no logistics to dig into top quality materials, no money to throw around and no eager investors. Thank you, Diane. This is beginning to sound like a typical American success story, forgive me. Only she knows what it took to make these perfumes happen, and only she knows how it is to expose them and herself to the world of perfumes now.
Three fragrances were launched in this year: Gardner’s Glove, Frost and First Cut. Naturals (80% natural raw materials), hand-made, portraiting the world she lives in. Authentic.
Diane is talking about her world, in olfactory language. From available information, certain revisions have been made, and the samples sent to me are, generally speaking, 20-25% concentration ones, up to now available in 13ml size, dabbers, not sprays, but that will change.
What pleases my nose the most is that Diane St. Claire, although working with natural materials, didn’t fall into the pitfall of natural-made perfumes – very often lacking either rhythm, performance, lasting or sillage.
If compared to some relevant other naturals, the longevity is pretty good, if compared to so-called „bombs“, well… then we are talking apples and pears. You simply have to give „naturals“ time to develop, let them breathe, connect to your skin: time is their valuable resource. Patience, my friends, patience is a valuable resource in the world of quick fixes and one-sniff judgments: there’s no superficial stardom here. Authenticity, grit, and sincerity: oh, how good it is to feel you!
Allow me to introduce to you this fragrant trio:
The Gardner’s Glove
„If you work amidst the thorn and bramble, you know that the gardener’s glove is a soft, pliable leather, worn down from work, in all the right places.
The scent carries the background fragrance of the glove-tanned, aged leather, woods and soil—along with the ambrosial elements of the garden—sumptuous jasmines, roses, green blossoms, and ripe fruit.“
There’s no bloom or fruit of your labor in a garden that comes without dealing with thorn and bramble. If you have ever done any gardening, you might know how satisfying that feeling is.
The Gardner’s Glove took me instantly to my small Mediterranean garden in the backyard of my small cottage on the island of Brac. I have tried to tame that garden, so help me God, I did. I smiled when first sniffing it.
It perfectly describes my struggle with Nature. My old gardening gloves kept in a shed. Soaked in red soil, traces of plants and pieces of wood all over them. Ones that have seen some decent gardening, well-worn but kept anyway because they are comfortable, fit my hands perfectly, cozy and reliable. Yes, they do have their own smell: I can find them in the tools shed easily, in a box on a top shelf on the left…they smell of simple pleasure that gardening provides.
It’s all about that moment when I am kneeling on the soil: sitting back, lifting my head to rest a little bit. Noticing flowers blooming at the far end of the garden, under a linden tree…bees are buzzing, and your senses sharpen. As you inhale deeper, you can feel the touch of rose-and-jasmine vibe at this fragrances’ heart.
It reminds me of my little garden in May, and my (failed) attempts to plant tomato sprouts. I am aware that this is too late a season to plant tomatoes in the hot Mediterranean climate, yet I’m doing it anyway: simply because I love the smell of those frail, soft plants. That bitter touch makes the final leathery feeling fresher than expected, strangely comforting, relaxing and refreshing. What a wonderful day!
- Top Notes: Meyer Lemon, Tomato Leaf Absolute, Galbanum, Bergamot
- Middle Notes: Jasmine Sambac Absolute, Jasmine Organic Extract, Apricot, Black Currant Bud Absolute, Linden Blossom, Lily, Rose Absolute
- Base Notes: Leather, Saffron, Patchouli, Ambers, Vetiver, Benzoin Resin, Castoreum, Fir Needle
„An homage to the great New England poet, Robert Frost, whose summer writing-cabin in the woods still stands a mere 25 miles from our farm.
Many of Frost’s poems are filled with olfactory imagery.
This scent follows the story of Frost’s poem, “To Earthward” which describes the transformation of youthful love, from “sweet like the petals of the rose” and “sprays of honeysuckle” to painful love, which stings like “bitter bark”, “burning clove” and “rough earth.”
This scent weaves together accords of clove and smoke; bitter woods and earth; sweet rose and rose geranium; sprays of honeysuckle and sparkling citrus.“
Oh, Frost! This fragrance is the one I expected the most from! My first thought: how bold it is to name a fragrance after the poet I love so much, one of the most celebrated poets in America!
TO EARTHWARD/Robert Frost
„I crave the stain
Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove….”
Love. The soft petal of the rose. And burning clove…
Sensual, erotic, romantic and seducing, a poem playing with rhyme and emotions.
The perfume? Forget the listed notes! They cannot bring you the feeling of this fragrance, not even close. This „natural“ is finely balanced: it sways like a hammock on an early Autumn day, from cold shades under a tree to warm rays of sunshine on an opulent, warm and rich Autumn day. Tantalizing, and my favorite!
The first impression of citruses fools you in believing that this whiff of freshness is the best you’ll get out of it.
Slowly but unavoidably, darkness arises: rich and opulent, smoky, earthy, and dark cocoon envelops you slowly, and you cannot be certain where will it take you…but it feels so good. It shifts like a shadow: clove to roses, roses to the damp earth, damp earth to cozy woody smoke, smoke to leaves in a forest, leaves to spice, spices to patchouli, leathery patchouli…
As you let go, let it breathe and work its way, this fragrance simply glides in such a comforting way. Last rays of sunshine at dusk, a comforting hug on a cold Autumn morning. Adult love.
- Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin Yellow and Green, Coriander, Petitgrain sur fleur, Meyer Lemon
- Middle Notes: Honeysuckle Accord, Rose Geranium, Elderflower Absolute, Petitgrain Absolute
- Base Notes: Cistus, Labdanum Absolute, Vanilla Absolute, Vetiver , Cedar, Smoke, Clove Absolute
„The hay harvest is the focus of every dairy farmer’s summer, keeping the fields regenerating and providing hay for the cows in winter.
The mowing and drying of native grasses, clovers, wildflowers, and legumes takes three days of sunshine and many hours of hard work.
This scent is of meadows, herbaceous and green, with wildflowers strewn throughout and splashed with radiant sunshine.“
As with all „naturals“ in my experience, First Cut is something completely different on a blotter than on my skin. Once again, I must say: please do forget the listed notes once you spray it on. Just follow your nose and your feelings, travel wherever it takes you, and this fragrance will most certainly push you down your own rabbit hole.
Don’t we all have at least childhood memories of the scent of freshly cut grass? Of rolling down a grass-covered hill? Well, I do, and this is why this fragrance made me smile: after initial burst of yummy citruses, it felt like being in my grandmother’s kitchen, smelling fresh and sweet at the same time: rosemary and basil might have triggered that feeling, I instantly remembered that big pitcher of cold home-made lemonade with basil on the kitchen table. What I enjoyed most is the immortelle-hay-tobacco honey-like accord!
What surprised me was an exquisite dry vanilla touch: very refined, functional in underlining the whole finishing touch, quite natural smelling in the best possible way. This kind of vanilla I’ll take any day!
- Top Notes: Bergamot, Yuzu, Rosemary, Basil, Tomato Leaf Absolute
- Middle Notes: Lavender Absolute, Rose De Mai, Rose Geranium, Immortelle Absolute
- Base Notes: Hay Absolute, Tobacco Absolute, Oakmoss, Vanilla Absolute
Just while I was finishing this review, Diane told me that her new fragrance is macerating! Casablanca: “rich, resinous, and juicy”:
In the meantime, she has also changed the bottles: instead of 13ml ones (65$), soon you will be able to order 30ml bottles! I tried to convince Diane to keep the 13ml ones as a travel pack offer, I hope she does! Samples will also be sprayers instead of dabbers.
St. Claire Scents made my day: these are honest, natural smelling fragrances with surprisingly good construction and obvious use of fine materials. Not herbal, not patchouli-oily or remedy-like, not „flach“ as some „naturals“ come, these fragrances do have interesting development phases, rhythm, and melody to them. Non-pretentious, down-to-earth, sincere, so…American, in a good, innovative way: I dare say that many high-end niche perfume houses in Europe should really take a sniff, just to remind themselves of long-lost sincerity! Back-to-roots niche, with honest core values, and I appreciate it.
The Plum Girl/Elena Cvjetkovic
Photos: The Plum Girl archive, St. Claire Scents
Samples provided by St. Claire Scents, opinions of my own.
Gold and scented pixie dust!
Just a week ago we were impatiently heading towards the Esxence fair in Milan, in anticipation of all it has to offer…ah! Sweet and fragrant memories!
I would like to share with you my impression and personal experience of visiting the 10th Esxence – The Scent of Excellence Fair in Milan 2018- for the first time.
The Plum Girl blog started just around a year and a half ago, so this was a kind of debut for me. First impressions about the fair itself? Here it goes, I give you a survival guide for Esxence:
A fair? I would rather call it an exclusive exhibition of the finest niche perfumes. The 10th edition of Esxence – The Scent of Excellence in Milan made sure that you feel like you are entering a sacred place when walking inside The Mall building. The Mall is located on Lina Bo Bardi square. She was an Italian born, Brasilian modernist architect, famed also for her furniture and jewelry design.
The contrast of a bright sunlit April day and the entrance hall dressed in black, featuring Esxence 10 years sign (gold!) accentuated the perfect Insta photo hot spot:
This black and gold combination, together with spaghetti curtains did its job. Like in all temples, you must walk through a niche or grotto before you enter the shrine itself.
I went down the hole. Ops! there goes my meticulously drafted plan of the first-day visit- poof! in air. Scented air. A lot of scents filling the air. I lost it, right then and there. A slight panic attack. I had just stepped out of my car after seven hours of driving, parked and plunged straight into heaven!
My thoughts: ok. I can do this. Just start slowly, from the left side and take it from there…you’ve got time before scheduled meetings…yap.
Feeling like Alice in Wonderland. Crazy Ice Age squirrel in a barrel of nuts!
Such an abundance! Any niche perfumes geek’s dream come true…
This is a world where most of the business cards are scented, “juice” doesn’t refer to a diet drink, sniffing is not an illegal activity and spriz…well, it’s not Aperol Spritz. Not here.
The first day was meant to give me an insight and full coverage of terrain, on the second and third day I executed previously planned visits and meetings and Sunday was just a quick recap. I did make a mistake: being too overwhelmed, I mostly forgot to take photos. Which is fine, really, because I focused on meeting people, sniffing, sampling, networking and having very interesting conversations. Next time I’ll fail better…
Special thanks to Megan – meganinsaintmaxime and Jakub – Persefume! They are ever so kind, helpful and sharing. As Megan said when I thanked her: “Someone helped me on my first visit to Esxence. I am helping you. You will help someone as well. Isn’t that wonderful?”
You have a chance of meeting and talking to some of the most renowned people behind the perfumes you love! Art Directors, Noses, Creative Directors or Perfumers.
It gets even better when you don’t connect names and faces (I am a lousy perfumer/Nose groupie), this happened to me twice in Milan. Yep, I am learning from my mistakes. Even so, that turned out to be really cool because I was really relaxed while having a conversation with those two VIP’s (half an hour later, when I connected the dots, I was like: okeeey. Aha.)
This wonderful man I did recognize at once. I am a big fan of Aedes de Venustas and their new perfume is one that I fell in love with immediately!
Ralf Schwieger::: Perfumer (he doesn’t really like to be called a Nose…) and Musc Encense! for Aedes de Venustas. The list of perfumes he signs is quite impressive. I enjoyed our little chit-chat ❤️
Luca Maffei – sparkling personality, patience in presenting and renowned creativity, at Olibere Parfumes press launch:
If you are following my FB account, you can find more photos (the ones I managed to take – prepare yourself for the next Esxence) 🙂
The first day I wore heels for an hour. Spare flats were a relief. On the second day, flats were fully in action. Third and fourth day? Business Casual with -sneakers (I seldom wear sneakers if not practicing adequate sports activities…). Be gentle to your feet: you have 200+ stands to cover, starting at 10 AM until 5 PM …and all the fun doesn’t stop there.
Smile, sincerely. You are in heaven, after all.
Wait patiently for your turn at stands to talk to brand representatives. Schedule your meetings.
We are all here because of perfumes, right? Enjoy them!
Use wardrobe services. I dislike walking around with a bunch of bags in my hands. It’s not practical and I don’t think it’s polite to drag heaps of promo materials from one stand to another.
Note to Organiser: Chapeau! You did a wonderful job!
Thank you, Agnese from the Press Office for having patience with me: hug!
Note to Exhibitors:
Feedback: (as one of my friends, a public speaking coach, likes to say: feedback is feedback. There’s no feedback to feedback. The purpose of feedback is to improve things!)
First, allow me to say that in my corporate days I did create, organize and manage quite a few stands on international fairs and trade shows. On the other side of the stand, as an Exhibitor, so I pretty much know what I am talking about.
I met truly amazing, wonderful and helpful people who treated my Press accreditation with respect and did a great job in representing brands. Thank you!
On the other hand, a few brand representatives’ behaviors can only be described as simply rude, uninterested, arrogant and haughty.
As a coach, I see possibilities for your improvement, guys. Do prepare yourself for fairs and trade shows.Train/coach your brand representatives or hosts/hostesses. It pays back. Yes, things get busy, yes, it is tiresome to take care of a stand all day long, day in, day out and talk to hundreds of people asking thousand of questions, but – hey! This is brand building at it’s most direct form. Besides being press people, we are – customers as well, right?
First impressions are made in 7 seconds and last for a very, very long time. Do mind that bloggers and press people exchange their impressions and that a repeated faux pas might really affect your brand reputation. Do you boast about your brand’s core values? Live them. It’s called authenticity.
Esxence makes this world a better place.
It is truly an amazing, international display of fine perfumery at it’s best! Such a whirlwind of amazing fragrances. I highly recommended it! If I might help you next time I’m there – just let me know!
I am thankful for meeting so many simply wonderful people! That is the greatest benefit. Secondly, I did take home some new perfumes to review, for you! Some more should arrive by post, so this will provide material for more reviews for you to read!
Just follow #theadventuresofacuriousnose!
P.S. On one of the stands, their brand representative told me that I am a Meryl Streep look-alike. Maybe I am, but apart from looks I also share this statement:
“I no longer have the patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship, I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience”. -Meryl Streep
See, I didn’t write about perfumes at all 🙂
Will do, will do, soon…
See you next year in Milan!
The Plum Girl
Photos: ThePlumGirl, Olibere Parfums (Luca Maffei)
(I used storytelling drama structure principle, based on Aristotle’s “Poetics”)
No matter the date, day of a year or season, love is omnipresent.
One word: LOVE. So many meanings, shapes, and manifestations!
Some love to love, some love only those who are in love with them, some love often, some once in a lifetime.
Love can be strong and devouring or sweet and gentle, differ in intensity, be divine or torturous.
It has many shapes: love for one’s family is different from the love of being in love or love for money. Not to forget, self-love matters as well. A great deal too, because how can you give love if you feel no love for yourself?
Love. One word.
Greek language, however, used three different words: Eros, Phileo, and Agape. These describe different kinds of love.
Eros is sensual love, erotic, hunger-satisfying, pleasure-driven.
Phileo is above carnal yearning. It describes a feeling of a friendly kind of love, aimed toward everything that attracts or pleases us, emotional and unpredictive, but kind and gentle.
Agape is unconditional love, self-giving and uttermost happiness that results in it. An active kind of love, moving, making us do things for others with expecting nothing in return. It is constant and stable, able to love even when no love is returned, freely given. Respect, tolerance and kindness mark it, and yes, it gives a feeling of complete fulfillment.
Olfaction, the oldest sensory systems, but probably the least understood and taken into consideration, has an important role in our feelings. Various researches have proven that the sense of smell affects partnerships and social behavior. Feeling of love as well…How does love smell?
Nose IS a sexually interactive organ. Nostrils flare, breath deepens or gets shorter and quicker drawn. The French, of course, take this matter very seriously: they have a word for the scent of a woman when her perfume mingles with her body oil: „cassolette“ (from the diminutive form of the French word „cassole“, a small container).
The scent of a Woman…
What about Scent of a Man? It made me wonder and think about it.
If cassolette, is it then cassole? Which perfumes would match my feelings?
I am not talking about perfumes he wears, I am talking about the scent you feel surrounding him like an aura, a body scent of your beloved imprinted in your mind. I see him in scents and colors, eyes wide shut.
Did you ever wear your partner’s clothing to bed? I do. He is away, I miss him, so what do I do? The same thing as one study confirmed: 13% of men and 52% of women have slept dressed in the clothing of the significant other, because of the smell! I sleep in his T-shirt…do you?
What does my love smell like, I asked myself? I thought that will be a difficult question, but it wasn’t.
Early in the morning, just after the morning shower, my love smells just like Acqua Celestial by Maison Francis Kurkdijan.
Color of light blue, fresh and sharp morning sky with a touch of Spring approaching, just like now in February when the season of Mimosa has begun. With a touch of lime freshness and a bit of musk hidden beneath. Phileo.
As the day goes by, the notes of his skin turn into L’Air du Hiver, by Jean Claude Ellena for Frederic Malle: a smooth operator, he is. Gentle Iris and Heliotrope, powdery yet fresh and as it dries down sweet honey moves gently forward. Like his hug, enveloping, gentle yet strong. A soft kiss. Agape.
And his T-shirt, the one I sometimes sleep in? Pure Nassomato Duro. It gives me goosebumps. Eros at it’s best.
The scent of that special place under his collar-bone, his elbow pits, skin, feeling dark, fiery and animalistic, very masculine (although I love wearing Nassomato Duro as well, it is unisex…or do I wear it because it reminds me of Him?).
Description of the perfume says oud, leather, wood, and spices but for me…it smells very sexy. Reliable. Desirable. Strong and impressive. Wild. Now I’m blushing. But that’s just me. And his T-shirt…
When we talk about romantic love, one perfume couldn’t possibly capture all phases we go through.
Love inspired many perfumes, and perhaps the most famous story is the one about Christian Dior who commissioned perfumer Paul Vacher to create a modern fragrance, and giving him this brief: “Make me a fragrance that smells like love.”
Miss Dior, an elegant green chypre that became legendary. Millions of consumers all over the world fell in love – with this perfume, and many interpretations followed.
Francois Demachy, the Nose at Parfums Christian Dior, explains: “Making a fragrance that smells like love is a renewed challenge. The composition has to be exciting and stirring, somewhat wild, and yet accessible. To that end I sculpted its florals facet, emphasizing the power of its Roses in order to make it sensual and suggestive. I also doted it with extremely lively and exuberant notes, so that it would be instantly expressive and attractive. Lastly, I eliminated any dark, earthy notes. It had to burst forth like love at first sight.”
Love at first sight. This is what it’s all about. Is that all? No. There are many phases of love. Different authors seem to disagree on a number of stages, these tend to range from three to twelve stages of love!
Let’s just take a closer look (or sniff?) at the ones I singled out:
Phase – one: falling in love is characterized by physical symptoms like flushing and trembling, excitement, obsession, and fantasy. Obsession. Flushing. Lust. I immediately think about rose-themed perfumes, even some rose-oud combinations. Well, this is the Eros phase, so feel free to find the perfume that represents it in the best possible way, or puts you in the right mood. If you are looking for a rich, well balanced and blended Ta’if Rose Perfume, just enough fresh, spicy and dark at the same time, Ormonde Jayne‘s Rose Gold might be what you are looking for. Do an experiment, sniff something new, niche, artisan or indie: your perfect phase-one perfume will find you!
Building trust and becoming a couple is the next phase: it’s all about communication, empathy and listening. Can you think of perfumes that make you feel trustworthy, self-confident, and positive? You might even consider wearing these as typical “office fragrances”, or maybe incense based ones will do the trick for you?
A most recent perfume that gave me this feeling is “Volume 1 – Intelligence & Fantasy” – The Beautiful Mind Series, created by Geza Schoen in collaboration with Christiane Stenger, Memory Athlete, featuring a fresh invigorating opening followed by exotic tiare, a gardenia native to Tahiti – and very rare.
The drydown is calming, cashmere/cedar and musks – reliably soothing. ISO E Superpowers it up, so it does resemble in some way Molecule No. 02, but this perfume is more masculine peppery. It is also very unoffensive, unisex, and quite complex.
Phase 3 of love is about building true commitment and loyalty. Attachment. Feeling connected. A soothing feeling, making you feel secure and cared for. The most gentle hug, refreshing and uplifting smile, woody, earthy or mossy notes – seek the perfume that makes you feel like this.
For me, this is all about fougere-group perfumes with green notes, or one of the fragrant pearls coming from Parfums Dusita: Erawan. This is a beautiful fragrance, exhibiting the exceptional talent of Pissara Umavijani. Lush hay note is blended softly with perfect vanilla.
It moves and shifts into woody notes, but you can also feel flowers protruding gently, quite addictive. This is a very natural and unisex fragrance, very multifunctional.
Scents of love! There are so many…
I hope you will find perfumes that reflect your feelings perfectly! Perfumes you’ll fall in love with.
Elena Cvjetkovic/The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl Archives, Ormonde Jayne, Dior Official, Parfums Dusita, The Beautiful Mind Series – official photos.
I had a dream, not long ago.
I found myself in the wood of dark and tall oak trees, cold and leafless, and the air smelled of damp wood, wet leaves, moss, and rain. At first, this place felt threatening, no path was visible in the fog surrounding me. Yet, as I walked on, carefully placing one foot in front of the other, I faced a clearing in this forest and begun to hear birds chirping in the trees, and felt a ray of sunshine touching my face. I felt relief and determination to find my way out. When I continued to walk my own way, not feeling lost anymore, I suddenly and unexpectedly came upon a clearance.
There was a field amidst high trees before me. The trees were dark and gloomy but the field I saw was a field of spring flowers! Colors of yellow and white and lilac, Crocus, Hyacinth, Primrose, and Snowdrops protruding from the fresh green grass, what a sight! I was happy. I woke up smiling.
Now, Mr. Freud surely would have analyzed this, asking me more questions about this dream, and what my feelings were while experiencing all events and images described.
At the turn of the last century, Sigmund Freud published his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, arguing that our dreams are nothing more than wishes that we are looking to fulfill in our waking lives. Born in Freiberg, when he was four years old, Freud’s family moved to Vienna, where he lived and worked until he fled Austria in 1938.
My line of thought that morning: ok, I am spending a vacation in Vienna, I should do some planning in advance. While I’m there I will visit the Freud Museum because I never managed to do so on previous visits. And I will explore perfumes, of course.
This led me to reading everything I could find about WienerBlut perfumes and ta-naaa! There it was. The perfume Freudian Wood! Bingo. And yes, this blog falls under my caterogoryWhat’s Up In Da City- Vienna.
„The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.“ – Sigmund Freud
Let me paraphrase you, Mr. Freud: I would say that scents are the royal road to our olfactory memories, conscious and unconscious! Also, nowadays we have aromachology, the psychology of understanding how we react to certain smells.
Yes, the fragrance designers are well aware of the power of scents, or as Proust put it, little Madeleine cookies planted in our memory. Scents have evocative powers. By stimulating the olfactory pathways to the brain’s limbic system (which processes smell, mediates mood and stores memory) a fragrance CAN bring back or forth a sense of energy, sensuality, confidence or exhilaration!
Wien, Vienna, Beč, the city I love to return to. What are the scents that define Vienna to me? As I walked the streets surrounding Stephansdome, it was a mixture of humidity in the air coming from Danube, Christmas Market hot Gluehwein and punch at the corner of Kaertnerstrasse, the scent of warm plums served with Kaiserschmarn coming from a restaurant I passed by, the smell of the carriage horses strolling around in slow pace and fresh-baked Sachertorte at Demel‘s.
Olfactory impressions aside, I did visit to experience specific scents from Vienna, focusing this time on WienerBlut collection, one fragrance in particular: Freudian Wood.
The term WienerBlut was coined in 1873 and describes the unique blend of archness and hedonism attributed to the Viennese. It implies never-ending nostalgia, the longing for turn-of-the-century Vienna and its unique atmosphere. It’s the essence of Vienna, lifestyle and spirit of the city, although you might know the term because of the waltz or operetta by Johann Strauss II, an album by Falco, a song by the Austrian metal band Stahlhammer or a song from Rammstein. I will remain by these positive interpretations of this term, sticking mostly to the one which translates it as Viennese Spirit.
Perfume making has a long tradition in Vienna, blooming in the times of the Habsburg monarchy. Lavender water variations, Kniže as an Imperial Court supplier, even today a timeless classic. WienerBlut was founded in 2009. by Alexander Lauber and creates fragrances based on original formulas and frags of 19th century Vienna, bringing back these imperial period scents but with a modern twist.
It is a small company, niche-oriented, featuring an Austrian perfumer, Yogesh Kumar. The first fragrance line was introduced in 2009., some perfumes were discontinued, but the new lineup is truly worth a sniff.
They are niche by every possible definition, being authentic and minding the quality of the ingredients, sporting a Nose and a certain degree of sustainability.
The packaging concept is simple, the bottle does not take attention away from the perfume and overall packaging is more about the content and less about the frills. My cup of tea.
As I wrote to Alexander, he recommended that I visit KussMund, located in the center of the city. So I did, and a wonderful place it is, check the link. With a very helpful and perfume storytelling SA. Here you can find the whole WienerBlut collection:
Allow me to focus on the perfume Freudian Wood- created by Mark Buxton. This is what I came for, right? This is the official description by WienerBlut:
„In the world of Freud, wood stands for
sexual desire in general and the female
bosom in particular. A milky fragrance
that captures intimate skin feeling –
with animalic and lactonic notes
vibrating around a luscious woody core.
Notes: Ambrette Seeds, Cypress, Milk,
Cumin, Costus, Mimosa, Sandalwood,
My olfactory impression: This perfume is composed of intriguing notes, playful and powdery at the same time, with a very sensual woody aftertaste. It is seductive in a refined and elegant way. The first note that strikes me is Mimosa but it is layered upon Cypress, which is rather surprising in a good way. Then milk rises, almost buttery milk, warm, combined with Cumin making it creamy and caressing, soft and gentle as the skin on skin. Ambergris plays softly but quite strong and sandalwood is present but not loud. It is like a dream after which you wake up smiling: sensual, warm, encompassing but providing joy of life feeling and making you feel good in your own skin. Longevity is very good and sillage noticeable. I feel I could wear it all year round, morning to evening. It works very well on me in cold weather, and I can’t wait to test it on a warm Spring day.
What can I say? It was worth my trip. To Vienna and to WienerBlut I shall return…Oh, wait! Did I tell you about Sale Marino?
There I go again: unable to determine which one I like the most! Have fun exploring these fine perfumes!
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, installation photographed at the Sigmund Freud Museum by Austrian multimedia artist Peter Kogler
Samples provided by KissMund Wien