For the past year, I’ve been looking for a Canadian perfume brand, or a Canadian perfumer to write about. I’m not a big fan of Lise Watier and her Nieges scents, or any of her other scents, and there wasn’t anyone or anything else jumping out at me. A few weeks ago, I pulled my head out of my posterior and realized that Ayala Sender, the SmellyBlog scribe, was the nose behind Ayala Moriel Parfums in Vancouver BC. I “friended” her on Facebook and started following her feed. A thorough perusal of her Web site lead me to place a sample order, and since it showed up on Tuesday, I’ve been in constant swoon mode. I’ve long been impressed by the talents of Serena Ava Franco, Mandy Aftel, and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz; now, I am so happy to have discovered Ayala.
Everyone knows my taste in fragrance runs the gamut through all types and price ranges. I especially love oils and artisanal scents, and whenever I find ones that are worth mentioning, I want to scream about them from the nearest rooftop; or computer, as the case is here. It helps when the perfumer offers an exceptional sampling program, which Ayala does. I ordered 8 1 ml samples for $50.00 (USD). Ayala has quite an extensive range of scents, all of which are handmade from natural ingredients, so starting off with 8 seemed like a good number:
Bois d’Hiver: Notes of incense, spices and fir make this the perfect holiday scent. It has a cinnamony freshness, with a slight bit of incense hovering about, and the brisk green of fir in the background. Bois d’Hiver is a testament to Ayala’s skill, because the scent is simultaneously warm and spicy, yet has a definite freshness I find so uplifting.
Bon Zai: This is “zen” in a bottle. And goodness knows I’ve been needing some. Shiso leaf and agarwood combine for another crisp, yet warm composition that is both zingy and woody. It reminds me faintly of a good Earl Grey tea, but with more depth and warmth.
Cabaret: When I saw the words, “Rahat Loukhoum” used to describe this scent, I knew I had to sample it. Serge’s Rahat Loukhoum is one of my all time favourites, and Ayala’s Cabaret is far less gourmand than Serge’s, with more rose and a bit of powder peeking through. There’s a tad too much rosewater in here for my comfort level, but it would make a lighter alternative to the heaviness of Serge in warmer weather. Although I did find myself dipping into Serge’s Rahat in the height of the heat last summer. That just goes to show you how much I love a good gourmand!
Épice Sauvage: If love the deep, dark woody spiciness of a scent like Donna Karan’s Black Cashmere, this one is for you. I like to call a scent like this a “bear hug” because it envelops you in its warmth and spiciness the way a heartfelt hug from a loved one does. You can’t go wrong with atlas cedar, cardamom and honey.
Espionage: Arrest me and hang me for high treason. This combination of scotch, leather and cigar smoke dries down to a smoky, musky vanilla that is just sublime. I thought the cigars my cousin Simon brought back from Cuba a few weeks ago were the best things I smelled in a long time, but Espionage wins by a couple kilometeres.
Film Noir: I’m very, very, very picky about my patchouli, and this is one of the few I am willing to wear. Dark chocolate and myrrh accompany the patch and the drydown is yummy. This isn’t a dirty, skanky patchouli, rather one that is earthy, loamy and almost green. The dark chocolate compliments it really well, and myrrh adds just a touch of sweetness.
Finjan: This one reminds me of the Wood Coffee scent from Comme des Garçons defunct Sweet series. This is a spiced Turkish coffee gourmand that’s not as sweet as Wood Coffee was, but it has a bit of floral in the background that makes it very interesting. I also get a good bit of cloves and probably some cinnamon; very warming and comforting.
Immortelle l’Amour: There is never any mistaking the sweet maple-y smell of immortelle. It just depends if you like it sweet, or not. This is a sweet immortelle because it’s mixed with vanilla. So, if you’re an Annick Goutal Sables lover, you might not like this one. It’s got vanilla in it, so I’m down; there’s also some rooibos in here that gives it an herbal tinge. Speaking of herbal, Ayala offers this as a scented tea as well.
My sample package from Ayala was definitely the highlight of my week. Taking this short journey through her fragrant word has left me wanting more – more of what I’ve already smelled, and more of what I haven’t. Much as I love a good department store scent, or a fragrance from one of the more well-known noses we love, making this type of a discovery reminds me why I love fragrance so much. Perfumers like Ayala, Serena, Dawn or Mandy can leave you gobsmacked when you smell their creations. I needed a little gobsmacking, and I am so glad I found it in the form of fragrance. Ayala Moriel is a new-found treasure. To learn more, visit her Web site, Ayala Moriel Parfums.
Disclosure: I purchased an 8 scent sample pack directly from Ayala’s Web site.