Esscentual Alchemy Part I – by Nava 18. I wish I were still that cute.

Fair warning, Posse faithful, you’re stuck with me today and Monday. The lovely and talented Musette is away on business and I will be pinch hitting. Talk amongst yourselves.

A few weeks ago, Amanda Feeley, the perfumer behind Esscentual Alchemy botanical perfumes, was kind enough to send me some samples of her scents. She had read the post I wrote about loving vanilla and citrus notes, and contacted me. She even created a scent in my honour.

I know many of us are iffy when it comes to natural perfumes. They’re different than what we’re used to smelling, and they can be prohibitively expensive for not very much. But, when you think about it, there really is something quite special about them. First, they’re not mass produced. Second, they have a distinctive “scent” due to their formulation and ingredients. But, when they’re done right, they’re inspirational.

Amanda’s scents inspired me right out of their vials. Some of the samples she sent me reminded me of scents I wore when I was younger (hence the moldy old image), and they instantly brought a smile to my face. When a perfumer gets it right, the scents evoke images, memories, feelings, times, places…things that can be recaptured. We’re not supposed to live in the past; we’re supposed to keep plodding forward. Every now and again it’s nice to rekindle memories, especially the good ones.

The picture above is of me sitting at the “traffic” desk of my old college radio station. “Traffic” is the term used for scheduling the on-air commercials. Since we were a college station, we didn’t run any. Instead, we had public service announcements (PSAs). Hey – someone had to do it. The memories I took away from this time are some of the best of my life. And Amanda’s selection of scents immediately reminded me of this time. Anyone who is familiar with Brooklyn, NY knows that Kingsborough Community College sits at the southeastern tip of the borough, not far from Coney Island. Part of the campus is actually on the beach. For some reason, some of  the scents Amanda sent me took me right back there. Thank you, Amanda.

Here’s a smattering. I’ll be doing Part 2 on Monday.

Vanilla Citron: Black tea, vanilla, mimosa and citrus. The tea note makes this one really special. It’s like sticking your nose into a tall, frosty glass of iced tea with lemon and lots of sugar. Just the way I like it. However, it’s not too sweet; it’s tart and tangy with just enough vanilla lurking in the background. Perfection.

Queen of Punk: Civet, tobacco, patchouli (not too much!), amber, cognac, rose, coffee, linden blossom, bitter orange, black pepper and mimosa. When we couldn’t get the music we needed from the record companies, a bunch of us (or just me) would hop on the D train at Sheepshead Bay station to go down to Tower Records in Greenwich Village. I always loved to stop in at this record store on West 4th Street called, “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll”. Of course, it’s no longer there, but the smell of this brought me right back to it. It was on the second floor and it smelled of musty used records, tobacco and coffee. If my father only knew how much money I spent in that place. Amanda says this is her dedication to the girl punk bands. This is spot-on early 80s Greenwich Village.

Blue Lemonade: Patchouli, vetiver, saffron, tuberose, osmanthus, ylang ylang, lemongrass, lime, tangerine, blue chamomile. The earthiness of the patchouli is tempered by the tang of citrus and lemongrass, making it smell like wet earth and grass after a summer thunderstorm. A slight hint of salt from the vetiver brings me back to the strip of beach at K.C.C.

Lime in the Coconut: Key lime hydrosol, toasted coconut tincture, lime. This one made me laugh out loud. It simultaneously reminds me of all the gin and tonics I drank before I was legal, and coconut ices from Ices Queen on Utica Avenue. Youth converging with adulthood; and Harry Nilsson.

I’m going to stop here today. I’ll save Amanda’s more “grown-up” scents for Monday. Have a great weekend!

  • Rappleyea says:

    These sound fun and fabulous! Thank you for sharing your great scent memories! Can’t wait to check in tomorrow for …. the rest of the story!

  • Ann says:

    Hi Nava — “stuck with you,” you say? Never!! You are always a pleasure to read.
    Enjoyed your photo and scent memories. That Vanilla Citron sounds lovely and the Blue Lemonade has definitely piqued my interest. Have a great weekend and looking forward to seeing you on Monday!

  • tammy says:

    Fun, fun, fun review! I especially love florals by natural perfumers; so much prettier than the main stream scents.

    Queen of Punk sounds fabulous!

    I have no doubt whatsoever that your 18 year old cuteness has transformed into grown woman beauty.

  • Marsha says:

    Nava – you wish you were still that cute and I wish my hair still looked like that!

  • DinaC says:

    I really enjoyed reading today’s post with all your scent memories. The descriptions of the NY neighborhoods, the college radio station, the record store…I could really picture them vividly and that sent me off on a sentimental journey of my own remembering places I knew back in the 80s. :-) I’ve never sniffed any of these, Nava, but your writing makes me curious to try them. Great photo of you, too!

  • FragrantWitch says:

    What a fab post, Nava! I love reading about other people’s scent memories- they provide such a great little window into someone and it always causes me to think about what scents trigger what memories for me.
    As a lover of citrus and vanilla, I now really want to try Vanilla Citron! Queen of Punk also sounds fab- is there a hint of ‘eau de eyeliner’ in there by chance? Heading over to Essential Alchemy now…

    • Nava says:

      Thank you!

      Not sure what you mean by “eau de eyeliner”, unless you’re referring to lighting up a Maybelline black eyeliner pencil. I never did that, but I know lots of women who did. If you like a tobacco note in your fragrances, I definitely recommend this one.

      • FragrantWitch says:

        That is what I meant- sorry to be vague! I was too young for the initial punk scene but learned the trick during a Siouxsie and the Banshees phase in high school in the late 80’s. Looking toward to Monday’s post!

        • Nava says:

          I was never able to pull off that look. There are some things I remain too chickens@#$ to try. :d

  • Monica says:

    Nava, did you KNOW you were cute at 18? I wish we could all see our cuteness objectively. I think all of my friends are cute at whatever age.

    • Nava says:

      No, absolutely not. And if memory serves, it’s a good thing that photo is in black-and-white because I believe I was horribly sunburned!

  • Monica says:

    O yeah baby! Queen of Punk! Wet dog is what I smell …hehe and I love it….that is and licking an ashtray. There’s something cool about the dirty funk of it. (I’m an Amanda fan) I haven’t tried the vanilla citron though, sounds yummy!

    • Nava says:

      Vanilla Citron is yummy.

      I don’t quite get wet dog from Queen of Punk, but it’s definitely funky!

  • :”>

    Aww this makes my cold ridden nose, feel even better! I’m so glad you enjoyed them, and I enjoyed reading your memories, and it makes me happy that they took you back to some great times!

    Thank you for such lovely words!