Apothia Pearl Eau de Parfum

Since I´ve relocated to the Washington DC area, I´ve met a number of interesting, smart and articulate people, and we all have something in common: a love of fragrance. Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of attending an event at Art with Flowers, the wonderful floral, home décor and fragrance shop in Tysons Galleria in McLean Virginia. The event was in honor of the launch of Apothia´s newest scent, Pearl. Ron Robinson, the founder of Apothia was on hand to introduce Pearl, the fragrance created to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of his stores within Fred Segal, the famous Los Angeles area shopping destination. Pearl is the fourth scent in his Apothia collection, joining IF, Velvet Rope and L. It was created by perfumer Stephen Nilsen of Givaudan, whose other creations include Tom Ford Private Blend Moss Breches, Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Union Square and With Love Hilary Duff. Pearl´s notes consist of shiso leaf, plum blossom, peony, orris and warm golden amber.

I´ve dispensed with the pertinent factoids of Pearl early on because the most fascinating aspect of my introduction to this scent was meeting and chatting with Ron Robinson. My typical fragrance shopping experiences rarely include speaking to the individual responsible for a scent´s inspiration, concept and development. Usually, I get steamrollered by someone spewing rehearsed marketing jargon, or completely ignored. Generally, I prefer to be left alone while perusing scents; nothing is a bigger turn-off than a pushy sales associate who could just as easily be hawking kielbasa at Costco, rather than the current gift-with-purchase that accompanies whatever fragrance, cosmetic or skin care item they´re attempting to entice me with. To quote Jack Nicholson, one of my favorite actors, from the movie “As Good As It Gets”: “Sell crazy someplace else; we´re all stocked up here.”

Mr. Robinson articulated his fragrance´s missive in plain language without any phantasmagorical scenarios or far-fetched descriptors of the notes. He simply stated that Pearl is a fragrance he considers to be a “modern classic”, one of “quality”, utilizing only “a handful of high-quality ingredients” and created with “lots of care and direction”. After forty years in the business, Robinson knows his customers, and what they want. Pearl is representative of “how beautiful it feels to wear something elegant and simple, yet edgy and groundbreaking; just as a beautiful string of pearls is easy to wear with either your favorite pair of jeans or your sexiest black dress. Pearl eau de parfum is understated yet powerful.”

What I think is so appealing about Pearl is that it really is a well constructed, unfussy scent. It takes you on a journey from its initial burst of bright, energizing citrusy notes, flowing into an earthy base of orris and amber, with a tinge of musk. The transition from bright light to warmer depths is seamless. There is no jolting, in-between stage that can develop in some scents that have too many competing elements. If I was pressed to describe Pearl in one word, I would call it effortless; you don´t even need an actual string of pearls to appreciate this one. But, if you admire elegance and simplicity, then Apothia Pearl is a slam-dunk.

I would be remiss if I didn´t mention bits of a subsequent conversation I had with Ron Robinson two days after the launch event. He was charming and effusive and loves to dish about fragrance and fashion. He´s always on the hunt for things that are unique and special, as is evident when you visit his newly revamped website, www.ronrobinson.com. In addition to fragrances, beauty, skin care and interior aromatics (scented candles and diffusers), there are many unique items for men, kids and home. When I asked him what he thought of the subjective concept of reviewing a fragrance as one would a movie or a restaurant, he said, “I don´t like to judge”. Instead, he´d rather opine on what he believes is “quality” and “well-constructed”. He´s not particularly interested in “what smells good on someone else”, rather in “how well we relate to fragrance.”  Since Pearl is the fourth scent in the Apothia line, I also inquired as to his feelings about men and women having a signature scent. He said he considers himself a “modern man” who embraces “change” and is “open minded to trying new things.” He “enjoys variation” and believes that “being open to life is what we are all about.” I couldn´t agree more.

You can find Apothia Pearl at Fred Segal of course, and other locations listed on www.ronrobinson.com. 15 ml is $35.00 and 50 ml is $80.00. A sample vial is also available for $5.00. If you happen to be in the Washington DC area, stop in at Art with Flowers in Tysons Galleria in McLean Virginia. In addition to carrying the entire Apothia line of fragrances, candles and diffusers, the store is a whimsical treasure trove of home décor items, flowers, fragrances, teas, bath, body and skin care products. The owner, Bill Hervey, is gracious and accommodating, and will allow you browse to your heart´s content.

Image courtesy of www.apothiaaromatics.com.

  • Musette says:

    I’m going to Barney’s shortly (as in next week, I hope) will be on the lookout for Pearl – it sounds absolutely lovely!


  • Kate says:


    Lovely review and agree that simplicity and elegance describes Pearl nicely. I love the way the subtle orris and musk appear midway and in dry down. I imagine this will be a lovely spring and summer fragrance in the hot Washington, DC summers. Lets all meet up again at Art With Flowers soon! :)>-

  • Elle says:

    Pearl sounds absolutely lovely. *Must* try. Soon. Thanks for posting about it! And I seriously am considering driving up to D.C. one weekend just to go to Art With Flowers. Have always only heard wonderful things about the place.

  • mi-cuit says:

    Speaking of people who share a love of fragrance, I stumbled into an out of the way perfume shop where I noticed a bottle of Eden (Cacharel) in the display window, something that should not be possible in my country. 20 minutes later, I leave the store with my wallet considerably lighter, a bottle of Coriolan (Guerlain, discontinued) and Cristobal (Balenciaga, also long discontinued). The owner travels the world and stocks up on the things he likes. Great place.

  • Disteza says:

    I got to AWF later in the afternoon, and held court with Ron for a good 15 minutes while discussing the various re-formulations needed for such a diverse product line (lotions are up next–YAY!), and the shame and torture of musk anosmia. Pearl is probably the most agreeable of the Apothia scents one me; it doesn’t immediately turn into a sugar bomb or vanish into the ether. I’m not sure that I’m getting a bottle yet, but this is the first of that line that’s a definite maybe. BTW, did anyone else succumb to temptation with the 50% off candles in the back of the store? I think I got one of each of the Modern Alchemys and whatever Joyas were left. And here I thought I had kicked my candle habit! :((

    • Nava says:

      It’s worth another spin when you get around to it. I’ve been wearing it all week and really enjoying it.

  • violetnoir says:

    Ron Robinson and his Apothia boutiques in Brentwood and at Fred Segal West Hollywood were in the vanguard of introducing niche fragrances to Los Angeles and the broader perfume community. It’s good to hear that you enjoyed meeting and talking with him last Sunday. He is a friendly and warm person, who is passionate about what he does.

    Art with Flowers sounds like a wonderful place! I will have to go visit them the next time I am in D.C. I also need to test Pearl the next time I am at Apothia.

    Thank you for the lovely review!

  • So sad I missed out on this event but great review!!!

  • March says:

    I missed the fun weekend 🙁 but I tried Pearl in LA (among a couple other things) and got the same impression you did, which quite appealed to me. I have all sorts of heavier classics and oddball niche things; it’s difficult to find an “easy” fragrance that doesn’t seem too young/sweet/fresh to me. As you note, it was seamless, smooth and well constructed. I’m going to have to pay a visit to AwF to test drive it again.

    • Nava says:

      Did you happen to get accosted by any paparazzi? If you did then in my opinion, the trip was well worth it. :d

      Yes, you definitely need to try Pearl agin.

    • Melissa says:

      I have the same problem with florals, citrus fragrances and lighter fragrances in general. Too sweet, too lemony, too young, too boring, too flowery etc, etc. Pearl somehow hits it perfectly for me. And even though I bought the larger bottle, I was so happy to see a 15 ml size.

  • Melissa says:

    Ditto to everything you and Louise said about Ron, Art with Flowers and Apothia Pearl. There is very little that I can add to what has already been written. Well, one more thought….. Spring/summer scents are tricky for me. I often like them for a couple of hours until I begin to crave something else. But Pearl, which I believe is perfect for warm weather, kept me interested for an entire day. The crisp, bright opening is delightful and the drydown is warm but soft. Elegant, effortless-all good descriptors. Thanks for the great review!

  • Louise says:

    Lovely write-up of what was a really lovely afternoon. We do have a wonderful group of perfume pals here, and the friendships extend beyond the shared love/obsession with fragrance. We did miss March, however, who had some totally lame excuse about needing to be in L.A. that weekend :((

    I need to retry Pearl-I got a sample only because I was already set to purchase a bottle of Malmaison (now there’s a lovely carnation scent, purportedly discontinued, some wonderful Rose Otto body oil.

    Ron is genuinely nice, and remembers his clients and their scent preferences. Maybe a year ago, I asked about the availablilty of another Apothia, and within 3 days a small package arrived at my doorstep. He is a fabulous salesman, but without push or artifice.

    We all need to support Art with Flowers. They are the only shop of their kind around her (niche scents, beautiful decorations, amazing floral arrangements), and the economy must surely be pinching them. Bill and Jose are wonderful people, and have become friends to many of us:x

    I’m off to spray my Pearl sample now, and wish all a very Happy Weekend!

    • Nava says:

      Thank you. I went for the 50 ml bottle of Pearl and have been wearing it all week. Although smelling Malmaison has me thinking… I’ve never been a fan of carnations, but I’ve always heard good things about it. And that body oil rocked on you. 😡