I love water.
Seriously. And not in the "I'm athletic and water is the drink of life" kind of way. I mean in the "though I'm not into astrology, I am supposed to be a water sign and I do entirely freak out if I live too far from the ocean or go too many days without rain" kind of way. Seriously. My one year of residence in the high deserts of Santa Fe were miserable, and my loathing for Riverside was disproportionate because of the relentless sun. I even preferred Houston over Austin in part because Austin is too far from the ocean and the Lake is not prominent enough in the geography of the town to satisfy my tastes. FN1.
I am one of those people who literally prays for rain, and not because I am a dust bowl farmer or cattleman with a desperate herd. When I was young and they sent me to Girl Scout camp, while the other little girls were making lanyards and God's Eyes out of yarn and popsicle sticks, I sat in the corner, imagining I was a water witch, and trying to summon storms. The last year I went, I simultaneously 'became a woman' (FN2) and managed to bring a huge tropical storm down on us that washed out the road to the camp and closed it down for two weeks. Coincidence? Probably. But try telling that to an eleven-year-old.
So when I was approached to be part of the Primordial Scents Project a while ago, I immediately said yes. What's not to love? Elemental-themed perfumes for the water witch in my heart? Sign me up. While normally I despise aquatics, which is about what passes for 'water' in mainstream perfumery, I was deeply hopeful based on the amazing talents I saw involved in the project. I love a disproportionately large amount of beach/coast scents -- from Annick Goutal Songes to slumberhouse Sana to CB At the Beach 1966 to even a small bottle of Coty Sand & Sable -- but these are 'beach' scents or 'coast' scents, and what I wanted was the smell of water. I wanted the smell of rain, the smell of the ocean, of a lake, a river, a stream. You know those ridiculous face cleanser commercials where women splash water on themselves and half the bathroom as though that ever removed the smallest hint of make-up or soap?
I wanted that, but in a scent. And, as usual, the amazing men and women who traffic in the alchemic magic of perfumery did not disappoint.
First up: A Study in Water by Shelley Waddington of EnVoyage Perfumes
Study in Water was inspired by the element of fresh water. My goal in making this incredibly sheer, wet, and innocent fragrance was to retain the elegance, longevity and sillage of the most excellent of classic perfumes. ~Shelley WaddingtonA Study in Water is ahhh-mazing. Do you hear me, reader? Amazing. Like I've almost used my entire sample in less than three weeks and I've already set aside money to buy a bottle before the end of October. That amazing. The first time I put it on, it was that startling slap of instant love for me. I thought, "I should hate this," but while my head said, "Aquatic - bleck!," my heart was like, "Shut it, foo! I WANT MORE!" It's gotten under my skin in the best way.
Top notes: muguet, lime, green apple, bergamot, dew
Heart notes: rose water, jasmine, green leaves, neroli, muguet
Base notes: sandalwood, guaiac wood, cabreuva, watery notes, musk
I'm not going to tell you it smells like a glass of water. In fact, I just sniffed a cup in front of me to make sure. And yet, it does smell like water. Like water dripping from the skin of an apple, from the tip of a flower petal, running down grooves in polished wood. It's water that has taken on the essence of the flowers, fruit and wood listed in the notes, until it seems like an infusion of dew along so those items. Of the five scents in the set, I found A Study in Water to have the highest sillage and duration on my skin.
I really can't say enough good things about this scent. If you like the smell of rain, of the first morning dew, or something that isn't quite, but somehow is the closest I've ever smelled to real water, this is for you. Truly masterful.
You can by A Study in Water for $55.00 for .5 oz, or $80.00 for 1 oz. direct from the perfumer. While I'm on the subject of EnVoyage Perfumes, this is my third or fourth scent of Shelley's, and she never disappoints. If you're newish to perfume or new to indie perfume or merely looking to branch out beyond your local Ulta/Sephora/Nordstrom offerings and into the web based wilds, I encourage you to consider sampling her line. She continues to hit it out of the park for me.
If you'd like to try the entire Primordials Water Set, it's available here for $25.00.
For more reviews of the primordial water scents, try: EauMG; The Perfume Critic; Fragrantica.
The water is wide, I cannot get o'er,
neither have I wings to fly.
Give me a boat that can carry two
and both shall row, my love and I...
~ "The Water is Wide," Traditional Irish Folk Song
FN1. This is partly why I thought I could handle life in Madison. The city is surrounded by water, it actually rains there, and the great lakes, while a lesser substitute (sorry, Hilary S., but it's true), were at least within a few hours driving distance.
FN2. ...which by the way was the worst, especially since this was a swimming camp, I was eleven, and the camp counselors -- all 16-18 y.o. teenage girls -- did not understand why I was terrified of the tampons they kept shoving in my general direction so I could just get back in the water...