I read a review of a Jessye Norman performance I’d attended at Chicago’s Symphony Center – in it the reviewer talked more about the audience than Miss Norman, saying she could’ve sung the Yellow Pages and we would’ve given her a standing ovation. And he was right. The love for Miss Norman was so LARGE that she actually had to shush us from all the hootin’ and hollerin’ . I swear, every time she blinked somebody clapped! And so it is with Musette and Agraria. My love for them is deep and abiding so if you are thinking you are going to get some unbiased review today, ha! Move along, nothing to see here, etc. I am unabashedly the Agraria Fangirl of the Universe. And I’m telling you up front, they sent the new Air Essence diffuser to me but it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d bought it with my own simoleans – the review would be the same. So..with all that out of the way, let’s get on with it!
I’ve got several Agraria reed diffusers in my house and for the bulk of my space the heavy, squat bottles & reeds work just fine. Rottweilers couldn’t care less ’bout no reeds and the only way El O could knock one over was if he dusted a piece of furniture..so I’d say we’re safe over here. But the reed diffusers are not for everyone. If you have cats, small children, cats, klutzy mates (or are klutzy yourself), or you have cats, those reeds can spell disaster, getting knocked out of the perfume bottles and often taking the bottles with them! I love the living daylights out of Bitter Orange fragrance oil..but not all over my walnut parson’s table! Here’s an excerpt from my email convo with Jim Gentry (we’d been talking about refills (no) and more cat-friendly diffusers (yes!)
“Interesting how you mention cat people. One of the goals when designing the perfume bottle almost 10 years ago was to keep it squatty (but pretty) and solid and heavy enough that a cat would have trouble turning it over. We always thought the taller apothecary bottles were dangerous. And we also include a tray because it makes it more finished, but more importantly to protect the surface where you place it.”
My last post on home scents got everybody talking about what works/what doesn’t in home fragrance design and for a lot of you, the reeds are just a deal-breaker , especially in the taller apothecary-style bottles. That conversation with Jim Gentry from Agraria introduced me to the next generation of fragrance diffusion – sola flowers. He offered to send me one. I said no. Hahahaha! Yeah, right! I said YES! so fast…the Flash couldn’t have typed that YES! any faster (and that’s why I posted the disclaimer up above). I have sniffed all but the newest scent, Golden Cassis, so he sent that one.
It came while I was still bedridden, so I had El O unpack it. His comments were hysterical (“wow! that’s …who the hell PACKS these??”)…Agraria’s diffuser packaging is very…involved..and if you don’t recycle, it can seem wasteful. So recycle, okay? But there is method to the madness – it’s GLASS & OIL, baby! – and they have excellent suggestions for reuse (the inside base is pretty (Agraria’s signature green) & sturdy enough to hold my precious Amouages – it’s got some depth so I actually prefer it to the perfume tray they used to sit on. Anyhoo – it comes in a buncho parts, from the mirrored tray that holds the bottle to the carefully packed Sola flowers.
So ..enough on the packaging. Let’s talk about the flowers, then we’ll get to the scent. I am not particularly klutzy (she says) but I do wear a lot of long sleeves. And scarves. And those sleeves have taken out my fair share of reeds. These new Sola flowers are too cool – you can cut them down so they are nearly flush with the heavy crystal bottle – when flush they are not that interesting to felines or small children and drapey sleeves can’t get caught in them. But what about these flowers, you say? What dey made of! Well this is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen…they’re made of…TAPIOCA (aka Balsa wood – yeah, okay, it’s not tapioca pudding (you know I so wanted it thus) – it’s the dried peel of the tapioca plant. But it’s still cool!)! The wicks are cotton and as the fragrance wicks up into the stem and flower …and here’s where my inner magpie just went bonkers with delight: the flower begins to take on the COLOR OF THE JUICE! Oh, snap!
I love that once you put the flowers in that’s it – done. No worrying about turning the reeds or wondering if the reeds have done their duty and it’s time to retire them. The flowers are, supposedly, good for a year (wait – let me confirm that. well they say ‘it should’ because I’ll bet you their lawyers made them (good call) but I’m thinking they’re about right – the bottle is huge and the flowers don’t have to suck up that much liquid at any one time – they stay pretty moist and fragrant. Mine has been going along for a couple of weeks now and the juice is a little less than an inch depleted (yes, I kept checking – because this is a review! and I knew you’d ask! I can see this going the distance)
So I’m am just loving this new design (I put the reeds in an apothecary jar next to it to show the height difference (you can cut the the flowers as low as you like) – plus, I feline-tested it: once the flowers are saturated with scent, Cats Don’t Like It.)
So, let’s talk about the new scent, Golden Cassis. When El O opened the bottle my first thought was ‘oh. okay’. Strangely, the fresh orange note didn’t register (could’ve been the meds – plus I was eating a bag of Cuties every day (really!) so I couldn’t have identified another orange scent if you put a gun in my nose)…and galbanum often leaves me cold. I thought “oh. okay”. And I wondered what I was going to do with a ‘meh’ fragrance from my beloved Agraria. And then, about 3 days into it, I was crawling through the dining room and I thought ‘wow’ what’s that gorgeous smell??? – I couldn’t immediately identify it – it was just ….. really pretty….then..SOLA! Unlike Bitter Orange & Cedar Rose, which pack an olfactory punch right out of the box, Golden Cassis takes a few days to really get settled in – and galbanum is a challenging note for me anyway – but Agraria blended this so nicely that the ‘niceness’ becomes the beauty of this scent. Since most of us are heavily into perfume the idea of an overwhelming home scent might be unwelcome – Golden Cassis is actually a gorgeous, understated perfume, perfect for a perfumista’s home, or anyone who wants a quietly gorgeous background scent. You galbanum lovers, who are not hopped-up on Vicodin and barbiturates, will ‘get’ this in a flash!
Would I buy this? You betcha. In fact, I will be buying my beloved Bitter Orange from my beloved Rose at Saks, just as soon as I can make my way down Michigan Avenue without terror. And if I had the space I would buy the Cedar Rose as well. They are $110 at SFA and other luxury retailers like Neiman-Marcus and Bergdorf’s as well as online retailers. I’d buy the Jasmine, too, just to watch the flower turn blue – but I don’t have the space for all of them, alas. AirEssence is big – not gross-big but this is not for a tiny powder room. I’m hoping they decide to revamp the Petite Essence, perhaps using a slightly smaller Sola flower in a bud vase style. I think the Sola flowers ‘throw’ more scent than the reeds…and who doesn’t want that!