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!
UGH. NO NO. I don’t need another lemming.
You said galbanum…
“heh. you said galbanum, too!” 😀 xoxoxoA
What an evocative description in scent! Thanks for the contest.
Thanks! But no contest on this one. Just me, yarblin’ on….
Holy cats…a new lemming. I love the Agraria’s line. I adore both Balsam and Bitter Orange. The room sprays and the burning sticks are staples for me. I am intrigued by the new design. I have never been a tassel girl but I could definitely find a way to work this in to my decor. Oh, and you reminded me I need to try Cedar Rose too!
Brooke, the Cedar Rose is gorgeous! The tassels are just a whole lotta fun – they don’t ‘throw’ anywhere near as much as the diffusers but they can be repeatedly refreshed with the scented oil, so that’s a plus.
Those are just lovely, thank you for reviewing them! Balsa wood… who’d have guessed? The Bitter Orange is sounding very tempting…
When I first read ‘tapioca’ my skittery mind immediately went to the idea of pounding tapioca pearls (or pudding) into flowers. Because I am Just That Nuts. The dried peel of the plant makes much more sense – but isn’t nearly as fun to imagine 😀
Oooh…they are so pretty! Don’t know if anything could discourage my daughter’s devil cat from trying to eat anything that looks remotely like a flower. I get the feeling I would end up taking “The Count” (her appropriate name) to the vet emergency room or some such thing. But that galbanum sounds heavenly!!
Once they are saturated with the scent, Sherri, the flowers seem to be totally unappetizing to cats (my dogs don’t eat stuff like this so I have no idea if I dog would eat it – but I doubt it). They are very, VERY strongly scented, oily and …did I mention VERY STRONGLY SCENTED? LOL! I tried it with a friend’s cat just so I could see how a nibbly, nosy cat would react – quick sniff and he was out of there. Too much perfume!
If you like galbanum you would love Golden Cassis!
Yay, darling! I have seen these around the Internet (but not in the flesh — they weren’t out yet at Saks/NM’s several weeks ago), and was wondering about them, so now I know, thanks to you! I, too, am hoping they’ll do this design in the petite size as the big ones would just overwhelm my powder room. My den is another story, ha! but not sure how I could smuggle in / disguise this one. DH would be sure to notice and ask about it and then I would be in the doghouse big-time 🙂
Hi, sweetie! Actually, he probably wouldn’t. I showcased it in that photo but in reality, they’re pretty innocuous, even in the full-size! Mine sits on the parson’s table in the entryway (which is actually part of the LR, alas, no matter how hard I try to make a dedicated space. Alas. )….anyway, I walk past it at least 100 times a day and don’t notice it. I’m sitting right across from it right now – and it’s clustered with some photographs, keys and a bunch of mail. And I can’t really see it. It blends very nicely with your environment….unless you want it to stand out!
but yes, way too much for a small room. Here’s hoping Agraria reads the comments and….:-)
Good to know that it’ll blend in fairly well. And oops — forgot to thank you for mentioning the refills to them. Did you get any indication of why they said “no”? In this day and age of recycle and re-use, it would seem to be a no-brainer to have refills. Plus you might lose business because many/most folks aren’t going to keep shelling out the $100+ for a new one every time.
Seda France does glass refill bottles of their diffuser scents and that’s where I’m going (either there or to the Thymes Frasier Fir refill) when my Agraria balsam runs out.
Just not their ‘thing’, alas. I agree – were they to sell refills and replacement sola flowers I’ll bet they’d double their repeat business, especially in our Brave New World of reduce/reuse/recycle (and they would build a whole Next Gen of customers, especially those who look to see if there are refills, etc, on things like this (and a lot of us do) – perhaps when Jim hires me to market the company I can help push that idea! 😀
These sound and look lovely. I’ve always avoided reed diffusers for just the four footed reasons you mentioned. Looks like a trip to Saks is in order. Post-holidays,though. I’m not brave enough to hit the stores in the next 2 weeks.
I’m with you, Spiker. I’d rather eat a cold rat than go into anything other than the grocery or a feedstore (you would LOL! at Black Friday at Farm King). Plenty of time to get your Agraria on, after Christmas!
The look beautiful Musette. I can’t imagine them in my home but I can imagine gifting them, so many people use reeds and wall socket things. These seem like the Rolls Royce of ambient scent.
I think they are, Portia. And I can imagine one of these in a private room in your home. They are lavish but don’t take center stage (which is reserved for you!) xoxoxoA
oh, brother…I love galbanum, and have yet to see it as a note in a diffuser. Just what I need, another lemming!
this really is pretty, Caroline – the galbanum comes on little cat feet (you know I couldn’t resist 😀 )this is definitely one of the quieter diffuser scents, which I think is particularly nice for smaller homes.