(Forgive me if this post ends up brief – my computer seems to be dying and has crashed three times, losing everything I’d written. Nyaaargh!)
My mother seems to have assumed that the death of my gran meant that she had to fulfil the role of family mystic. My gran was a little bit witchy – I mean that in the nicest possible way – and her favourite saying was ‘Whatever happens is what was meant to be’. Now my mother has said this phrase at least in every other conversation we’ve had in the past three months. I don’t engage her in the philospohical complexities of predestination theory, no. I normally just agree. If I’m in a slightly more contrary mood, I might ask her what she actually means, only to receive the gnostic reply: “It’s what your gran said, and she was never wrong”. So there you are. My mum: wise woman, or daft old bat. You decide. I don’t care; I just love her to bits.
Therefore, in the spirit of family spiritualism (er?), I decide to dangle my hand into the box of samples and see what I draw out. And strangely enough, a pattern emerges.Let’s go on a whirlwind artisanal journey across the continent of North America sniffing out what’s what. I’ll try to do a sentence summary of each sniffter as we go, just for good measure.
Let’s start in New Orleans. Here in the UK, winter returned this week, after a couple of weeks of balmy spring heat. I could do with the humid languor of the South. Hové and Bourbon French have a small but avid following over at Perfume of Life, and M kindly sent me a couple of samples so I could sniff them out. Hové’s Spanish Moss is said to be warm, exotic, mossy and green – I was expecting a real chypre. And it is that, perhaps, in the final drydown, but it starts out as a floral feminine number, which is more a night in the idealised tropics than anything else. Expecting to see ancient gnarled trees collecting and dripping humidity, he instead was given a tour of her flower garden by dear Miss Caroline.
Waving to Patty below us as she busily decants, we land in Boulder, CO. I’m not really familiar with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and her prolific approach to perfume creation brings out the cynic in me – surely nothing can be that good if it’s made that quickly. My lovely friend Lou mailed me three samples along with a whole host of other goodies a while back, and it gave me a chance to judge for myself. The Silk Road has a wonderful name – it takes me back to my atlas studying days (see an earlier post), perhaps imagining myself as a Mongol tribesman traversing inhospitable moonscapes as he heads, on horseback, for the wonders of Samarkand. All I know is that it’s supposed to be a tea scent, and it does have a tannic hit in the opening. But it makes me think of other things entirely. Muddlehead Michael believed he could buy his Asia ticket in the headshop. All he got instead was a highly decorative bong.
Further north now, travelling up the Rockies, and across the border to Vancouver. I’ve been meaning to explore natural perfumes for some time, simply because my knowledge of this area is almost as woeful as it is of classic Chanel, and Ayala Moriel is my gateway perfumer into this unknown land. My favourite so far is Espionage, a gloriously smoky number with notes of leather, orris and tobacco. It is delightful – subtle, sensual, skin-clingy. A perfume for lovers, but with an edge. The corners of Slim’s open mouth twitched into a smile, her exhalation enveloping Steve with the smoky warmth of her lungs .
Let’s leave the mists and greenery of the north Pacific coast for the democratic sunshine of southern California. San Diego. Chayaruchama has hinted at the wonders of Ava Luxe, and favoured me with two from her broad but select range. Royal Parvati has wowed me. It’s one of those instant loves, with almost the complexity of a Mona di Orio – and certainly some of the naughtiness. It’s a sandalwood scent with a full array of spices and perhaps a hint of coconut – not enough to send you into the horrors of Comptoir Sud Pacifique overload – but the right amount to make the scent fall magically between oriental and gourmand. As my skin devours sweet notes and makes dry scents chokeworthy (it NEVER used to be this way), I find this truly delightful. It’s a must try. L became increasingly distant: his eyes glazed, drool pooled on his chin, and the olfactory nose glue meant he was unable to detach his face from his wrist for several hours.
If you’d like to be the recipient of these samples, let me know in the usual way.
Winners of the Hermà¨s draw are: Steve H and Gail S. Steve – you have mail. Gail – please get in touch through the contact us link!
[Doris Day image courtesy of http://muhlemann.ch; Spanish Moss courtesy of http://philipbutler.com; the stunning Bacall courtesy of http://businesslife.com; Silk road image from http://runes.typepad.com; Parvati from http:// gilihaskin.com]