Monday, September 26, 2011

And I knew in the crystalline knowledge of you...

Perfume Challenge Week 36: Monday, 9/19/11, to Friday, 9/23/11

Sally Owens: "All I want is a normal life."
Aunt Frances Owens: "My darling girl, when are you going to realize that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage!"
Sally Owens: "Well, it's what I want."

~ "Practical Magic"

This week I focused on five scents from Anya McCoy's perfume line Anya's Garden. My favorite review of her line of 100% all-natural scents is from state of the [car]nation, and begins: "Natural perfumer Anya McCoy is a witch, which obviously should be understood as a compliment." I don't know Anya personally, but it is my understanding from her blog and what I know of her writings that part of her approach to natural perfumery is to reach out and connect to the power of the natural world that surrounds us. There are a lot of approaches to perfumery, and there are a lot of different ways to practice magick, so it is interesting to see the two intertwined in an effort to create wearable scent art for those who aren't necessarily practitioners of the craft, but might enjoy its philosophical approach to scentscaping.

The first, Pan, is described as "[a] romp in the fields of Gods, magnetic and soft, seductive and a day in the sun that goes on forever. Notes: Lotus and lavender in the top notes, and the remaining notes are cedar, ambriene, hay, patchouli and goat hair." The opening on me was a touch of lavender floating on a heady mix of oakmoss, patchouli, and hay. I do not get a lot of cedar, but after about an hour I get an earthiness mixed with an animalic quality. It really reminds me of home, and wore quite lovely on me all the way into the six+ hour drydown.

Next I tried, Kaffir, which is "[l]emon lime with a Thai twist, floral and leather and warm wood. Thai lime leaf, jasmines, yellow aloeswood." This is an intriguing scent. I definitely get Thai lime leaf, warm wood, and leather. It has a sourness to it the I find refreshing in its rarity. After about thirty minutes the sourness weakens so the lime leaf is really the primary note. It really is warm; it sort of glows on the skin. I do necessarily know if it is a great scent on me, but I'm thinking I might put some on David after he falls asleep tonight. (That's not weird, right? <g>)

I was curious about RiverCali because I've traveled all over California, including the Cali desert. The scent is described as "[p]ink pepper and roses float over citrus and musky vanilla that takes you to a lush desert oasis." Pink pepper and citrus bites at my nose before it floats away, leaving a vanilla musky scent behind. The rose is very faint and colludes with the citrus, sharp and yet somehow sticky sweet. It's like finding a vanilla rosewater cupcake with white chocolate frosting covered with a thick coat of dust, topped with chips of polished wood. I know I should not want to lick it, and yet I want to. Wonderful.

Temple seemed like it would be nice to try since we were having what I suspect were some of the last few hot days for a while -- "[o]range juice surprises you, spices warm you and exotic Oud soothes Oud and oranges, just what it says on the label. On me it is more Oud than orange, so if that's what floats your boat give this a go. I'm Oud ambivalent, so I'm not the target audience and freely admit that. The orange part is very nice, though and completely avoids the gross synthetic 'orange' I find in a lot of perfumes. Score one for natural perfumery on that front.

Finally, I chose Starflower, "[c]andy flower, dreamy and steamy, almond cherry and lemon and foodie seeds and chocolate make tuberose the star of Mexico, an edible, sexy delight." Almond cherry, dreamy and steamy, is right. While there are moments the notes blend together in an almost maple syrupy mishmash of sweetness, the next moment they seem to separate out again so you can experience all the different aspects, which keeps this interesting to sniff at for hours.  The chocolate here seems like a by product of the mixture of almonds and cherries, with strips of candied lemon rind on top. It's the foodiest of the five, and of course, deeply enjoyed by me.

On the whole, the five scents are a wonderful example of the depth and breath of natural perfumery. Leaving aside my Oud-y moodiness, I enjoyed the other four enough to think I'd be pretty pleased if any one of them showed up on my doorstep. I wish the top and middle notes stayed with me longer, though the base notes are nice enough and last for hours. If Anya is going for an elemental balance, both in the individual scents themselves, and across the line as a whole, then I think she's probably on the right track. If you've never tried naturals or are interested in experiencing some truly unique creations, I have good news: you can get a set of all five, plus five more lovely scents from Anya's Garden, for $65 right here.

"Drove me through the mountains
through the crystal

like a clear water fountain.
Drove me like a magnet
to the sea...."

~ "Crystal," Stevie Nicks

Images: Witch Time by Helena Maroqui, starflower from from deviantart. Perfume generously provided by the perfumer.


JoAnne Bassett said...

What a great informative post. Anya's scents are unique. I love the different qualities of each one you sampled. Lovely review!

Undina said...

I tried all of these perfumes and realized I wasn't ready to natural perfumes. I plan to re-test all of them in 6-9 months to see if I develop my nose to get a better appreciation of natural creations.

Anya said...

Thanks for the lovely comment JoAnne. Same back at ya ;-)

Undina, you are very savvy and honest: natural perfumes are a completely new aesthetic, very different from mainstream perfumes. They're "quieter" and evolve more distinctly on your skin. I hope you get to experience many more natural perfumes from other companies, and see what we're all about.

Noёlle Smith said...

I would like a vanilla rosewater cupcake with white chocolate frosting served alongside Anya's fragrances at my grand opening. I think I will make this happen.