Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Today I weigh less than a shadow on the wall, just one more whisper of a voice unheard.

Scent Spotlight on EnVoyage Perfumes L’Emblem Rouge and Giveaway

Shelley Waddington, perfumer of the EnVoyage Perfumes lines, reached out to me recently with an intriguing new offering. Like any good 'fumie, I jumped at the chance to review it.

EnVoyage Perfumes L’Emblem Rouge is part of the Rubicon Collection. This 100% natural scent is a "Deep, Lightly Spiced Rose Soliflor" and is described as follows:
The many meanings that cluster around rose – friendship, passion, love – are fulfilled in L’Emblem Rouge. It incorporates the full scentual and spiritual significance of the rose. Sensual rose set in soft woods, balsam and amber. A modern classic with a timely message. 
Top Notes: Cassie, Mace, Cinnamon, Bitter Orange, Juicy Grapefruit, Green Pepper, Iranian galbanum, Violet, and Cistus Heart Notes: Organic Iranian Rose Otto, Ylang-Ylang, Heliotrope, French Jasmine sambac, Violet, and Honey Base Notes: Guaiacwood, Sandalwood, Copaiba, Vetiver, Cedarwood Virginia, Tolu Balsam, Benzoin Siam, Tonka, Vanilla and Ambergris.
Did anyone call for a spicy rose? Because here it is with emphasis on the woods and spices. I get a lot of wood in the opening, which is a new aspect of roses for me, and I've got a lot of roses. Tonka and cedarwood provide a strong, gently sweet base that comes immediately upon application and feels almost like a dry chocolate powder dusted over rose petals. After a few minutes I also get some bitter orange and grapefruit, which was a unique twist on spicy rose. Over time, L’Emblem Rouge becomes a gently sweet, slightly edible, spice mix with what feels like a rose base.  Despite being a soliflor, the rose here seems less the focus but more the lead partner in an intricate dance.

I tried it next to Teo Cabanel Oha, Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance, DSH Perfumes Dirty Rose, DSH Perfumes Beach Roses, and DSH Perfumes American Beauty, and it was nothing like those . However, as I dug back through my bag of perfumey tricks, I did find a scent it reminded me of, and I think provides an interesting contrast - Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chyree.

Une Rose Chypree, on me, is a hot sticky (but lovely) mess of cinnamon, labdanum, and patchouli. L’Emblem Rouge has more sweet foodie citrus and wood. "Lightly spiced" is a good description because the spice aspect is gentle and less aggressive than Une Rose Chypree. Now while I love and admire Une Rose Chypree as I do most Tauer Scents, the truth is the gentleness of L’Emblem Rouge makes it infinitely more wearable by the average person. It's a strong, bold, and yet surprisingly accessible scent. Given my choice between a bottle of the each, I would have a difficult time choosing, but think I'd probably go for L’Emblem Rouge.

For any one who has ever thought all naturals were weak and fleeting, lacking both the oomph and staying power of synthetics and mixed ingredient scents, I offer EnVoyage Perfumes L’Emblem Rouge as counter-exhibit A. Beautiful blooming on the skin, moderate to high sillage, and long lasting, L’Emblem Rouge is proof positive that all natural scents can have long lives; a dose from a wand sample lasted on me in excess of six hours, though it stayed relatively close to the skin after about three and a half. Still, in a sprayer? Probably a scent I'd still be catching hints of after a long day at work.

On the whole, I find L’Emblem Rouge artfully composed, and well worth a try. It can be found here.

A beautiful scent alone is a wonderful thing, but L’Emblem Rouge is particularly special because of the generosity of the fine folks at EnVoyage Perfumes. A lifetime gift of five percent of all L’Emblem Rouge proceeds are donated to Broadway Cares, a leading nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization.

I am old enough to remember HIV/AIDS at the height of its prominence in terrorizing the American psyche. I came of age in the late 80s/early 90s, and I have crystal clear memories of the incredible effort put into educating my generation about safer sex practices. I am not HIV+, but I have known and cared greatly for people who were, a few of whom lost their lives to AIDS or AIDS-related complications.

Because of this personal connection, I am incredibly touched by Shelley's efforts. Any time I am having a bad day, it heartens me to be able to look around and think of all the kindnesses we do for one another that aren't necessarily required of us, kindnesses given freely to strangers who will never know us, who will perhaps never meet us, but whose lives are improved by the goodness inherent in our deeds. It is proof that human beings are probably capable of ending most of the strife and pain in the world if we can gather our collective will and marry it to our compassion and ingenuity. In this respect, we are truly and profoundly miraculous.

I can think of a lot of issues that need this kind of collective miracle, but the HIV crisis in Africa would be high on my list of problems that could be solved if we wanted. Yes, there are practical problems: trying to devise distribution chains for medication in remote locations; teaching people all across a continent from a panoply of cultures that are not slaves to time or regiment how to deal with a drug cocktail that requires a consistent routine; overcoming cultural barriers to learning preventative care and safer sex practices; even the basic difficulty of maintaining peace in order to make delivery of materials. These are just a few of the challenges.

Just looking at the meager list I have propounded, I acknowledge: it's a logistical nightmare of epic proportions. But so is the crisis. Too many people -- young and old, men, women, and children -- are dying every day from a disease that the western world has engineered out of terminal status and into a condition treated more as a chronic illness.

Those of us on top have this strange self-delusion that we will always be here. That unearned and unrealistic certainty has been called a lot of things in human history: manifest destiny, American exceptionalism, to name a couple. A good student of history realizes that the circumstances that make up the differences, though, could be reversed on us. Eventually, even Rome fell.  A significant earthquake along the West Coast, a biological agent released widely, or hell, a complete and extended lack of confidence in the market, could cripple an already limping country, and the hysteria and fear that followed could reduce our once great nation, frankly, to so much anarchic dust. In that circumstance, would we really want those with the ability to provide us aid and assistance in our darkest hour to decide that reaching out would be too logistically difficult to bother?

The concept of the veil of ignorance is a simple one: wherever souls come from, the part of you that is your consciousness was born into a particular time and place. That makes some of us inherently safer, healthier, and better off from the moment of inception by sheer dumb luck. That privilege isn't something that was earned, and it could have easily been someone else far less fortunate in your shoes and you in theirs. So imagine, for one moment, that just before your personal die was cast, you had the opportunity to distribute wealth and access and resources and education. Maybe you wouldn't make it exactly equal everywhere, but you'd probably at least ensure that the minimal needs of every person next to be born were met because you could not know which of those people would be you.

Americans are hard-working, but we are also lucky. We have innovated a lot of technology, particularly pharmaceutical advances. We owe it to those born into crippling poverty and resource inequality to meet the challenges that stand between them and basic necessities like food, clean water, shelter, safety, and health care. Not just in this country, but anywhere there are people in the world willing to accept it. I'm not saying we must force other cultures to conform to modernity or western thought to accomplish this; I'm not into naked paternalism or cultural colonization. I am saying, though, that we have a moral obligation to offer some of what we have and to assist those who need and want our help. And that we carry the burnt of that logistical weight, for surely their burden is already more than enough.

But enough politics and philosophy; back to the perfume.

Shelley Waddington has generously provided me a 1ml sample of  L’Emblem Rouge and a mini spray flacon of L’Eau de Emblem Rouge, the hydrosol distilled from the parfum reviewed above, to give away to one lucky winner. I'm adding a CD to the mix to entice you; and this won't be a one of the monthly mixes, but a specially made CD reflecting on the theme of the value and beauty of life and good health we so often take for granted.

Open to all readers anywhere. To enter please post below by: 12:01AM, Friday, September 23, 2011 Pacific Standard Time.

"Tomorrow leave the windows open
As fear grows please hold me in your arms
Won't you help me if you can to shake this anger
I need your gentle hands to keep me calm...
I can't believe you love me
I never thought you'd come
I guess I misjudged love
Between a father and his son.

- "The Last Song," Elton John

Ribbon image courtesy of freizeit.  Chart from the United Nations World Health Organization. Other images from creative commons.


AbsintheDragonfly said...

Such a beautiful post Diana. You made me cry, and everything you said is so true. We're so fortunate to have been born here, where we are. If only more of us realized it, and understood we have an obligation as fellow human beings to ease suffering and pain, since we DO have the resources.

WE can make a difference!


ccdouglass said...

Thank you for a very lovely and thoughtful post, and thank you for the draw.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I appreciated the "politics and philosophy". The review of a spicy, woody rose perfume felt like a bonus.
Rarely a day goes by that I don't realize the very good fortune of my being born and raised and living in Canada (even if it is on the West Coast where the "next big one" looms).

-- Lindaloo

Maureen said...

What a truy lovely and thoughtful post, and the review wasn't bad either. Thanks for the draw, I'd love to try this fragrance, as I have never tried any from this brand.

Undina said...

D., first of all, I want to say that I admire your social stand. I read everything you write, but sometimes I can't find proper words for the comment.

Second... Currently I'm struggling with natural perfumes: for the 3 I liked I went already through, probably, 20 I didn't really cared for. So I'm not sure now if I'm mature enough (in perfumista's years) to appreciate most of them. And if not, is it fair to "risk" winning something I might not like (when there are others who will appreciate those creations more)? I am entering the draw, but if I win and it doesn't work for me, I promise to find a new loving home for it.

Starling said...

It sounds like an intriguing scent. I am quite curious.

You know well, that I dedicated 7 years of my life to the political world of HIV/AIDS and STDs.

I am also moved by people who want to work on these very complex problems.

Re: AIDs in Africa. Economics has a strong influence and/or correlation with HIV rates too. (There is an interesting TED talk somewhere on this.) Which shows there has to be a strong motivation to want to live! This makes all the issues you raised very important as well as a host of other unknowns too. When we intervene on simply two or three of these, it's no wonder we don't see a huge effect.

I also debate the idea that we ALL have a "moral" obligation to help these people. This idea taken too far is somewhat dangerous. I do believe that those who feel the empathy to want to help will be helping something in themselves to reach out and try and make a difference. We might feel sorry for those who aren't moved by empathy/sympathy, but I'm not sure I'm willing to go far enough to morally condemn them. I'm not a fan of compulsory volunteerism.

A lovely, thought provoking post.

Candice said...

Such a thoughtful post. Sometimes we need to be reminded how lucky we are. Thank you for the wonderful draw.

Shelley said...

This was truly a thoughtful and inspired post, Diana. You really "get it" - both the fragrance and the cause. Thank you so much!

FeliciaG said...

I am so happy that proceeds are benfitting AIDS research. I adore Shelley's scents. I won a few of them and have yet to find one that was not stellar and had more staying power than any other nat scent I have tried. I say this frequently, there is no true comfort in denial. Thank you for the draw and thanks also to Shelley, for being kind and considerate:)

Maureen said...

Absolutely beautiful and thoughtful post. Please enter me in draw. Thank you.

Diana said...

Thanks to all for the kind supportive words.

Starling, as my only detractor and as someone I know in real life, I can see how careful you were with your response, which nonetheless parts of which have left me feeling alternately flummoxed, horrified, rageful, and mostly just sad for you.

After drafting several lengthy replies that don't really feel appropriate to post on an open site, I'll just choose to let the moment pass with only this the following comments:

Herman Melville: "Do not presume, well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed, to criticize the poor."

Martin Luther King, Jr. "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice..."

Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."