What a mad world we live in, with a million different things to distract and dissuade us each day. How can there be so much information, politics and bureaucracy, with so little meaningful result? Oh, what would we do with our lives had we the time, space and money?!
I know that I'll do all I can to find time to paint - my 'thing' is painting landscape and, to quote Stevie Wonder, 'everybody's got a thing, but some don't know how to handle it..'.
Maria McElroy (Owner/creator and 'nose' of Aroma M Perfumes) has a thing, namely perfume, and she does indeed know how to handle it! Maria created the popular 'Geisha' series of perfumes, based on colours and moods. More recent launches are Vanilla Hinoki and Camellia, so when I noticed that Maria was arranging a draw for samples, I entered, but being a generous soul she said 'well, you didn't win the draw but I'd like you to try these anyway' and with characteristic generosity sent a couple of samples across the Atlantic.
Returning to the theme of a hectic world, when the samples landed through my letterbox a few days ago (I do love the sound of perfume dropping through my letterbox in the morning, to misquote the General from Apocalypse Now! Quite distinguishable from a phone bill) I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in the whole process of trying the perfumes on skin, allowing associations to drift into my mind. I consider it therapy as much as pleasure, I suppose the two are inter-related!
Aroma M perfumes contain a high amount of natural essences or absolutes; they're created not just with the idea of perfume in mind, but also relaxation, or mood enhancement.
I'll offer my impressions of Vanilla Hinoki and Camellia below, but if you'd like to read my interview with Maria McElroy, click Here, also for reviews of her excellent Geisha Noire, Amber Rouge and Violet, click Here and for Geisha Green, click Here.
People loved the scent and of course asked if it might be made into a perfume, so of course Maria obliged with this new perfume, launched in 2014.
Described on Fragrantica.com as an all-natural, smoky, balsamic white floral, this immediately impressed itself upon me as a gracious scent, slightly reminiscent of soapy bath-time (and I do enjoy soapy perfume if the soap in question reminds me of triple-milled Crabtree and Evelyn luxury soap!)
This also has what one reviewer described as the scent of 'lush red roses and a room filled with burning candles'. I love that description. The heart of the perfume is Japanese Camellia, with jasmine, neroli, geranium, gardenia, rose and frankincense, the last contributing perhaps to the smoky candle impression.
It's soothing, quite intense on opening. Into dry down I noticed the jasmine and incense notes more, and I found that it blended with skin in a lovely silky way, with subtle animalic hints (I thought it might be the honey-like effect of Grandiflora jasmine, which I love when it's blended well with accompanying notes).
I also really noticed the high quality rose, which reminded me of the rose in Frederic Malle's Un Rose, which also features large amounts of high quality rose.
Also somehow reminiscent of those gentle retro rose-scented creams. I'm reminded of the idea and mood of L'Artisan's Drole de Rose, which I also enjoy, though Camellia is more natural.
I was amused by the Fragrantica review by a man who observed; 'if a woman wearing Camellia would walk by me, I can only close my eyes and utter "Oh God, please rewind, over and over and over". Yes, I can actually see why that might be the effect, ladylike as this perfume is, the association with bath-time and skin could be enticing...!
Traditionally, woods in perfume tend to be associated with male perfumes, but it seems there's been a blossoming of woody perfumes for men and women recently, not just niche or independent and less conventional perfumers, but also mainstream.
Being drawn to woody perfumes, I've tried quite a few, and so it seemed to me that, unique as it is, Vanilla Hinoki seemd situated (mood-wise at least) between Van Cleef and Arpel's Bois d'Iris and possibly Tam Dao by Diptyque - in as much as it has the soft sweetness of Bois d'Iris, but also the natural woodiness of Tam Dao. The sweetness in Vanilla Honoki is entirely natural, no yucky candy floss or fudge, needless to say!
As with wood, there's lemon and then there's lemon. This lemon reminds me of amalfi lemon in a classic Roudnitska perfume (he of Dior fame, Au Sauvage and Diorella etc), but also the lemonwood-sweet effect in Annick Goutal's wild, evocative and natural Ninfeo Mio; lovely, rich, deep, almost oily lemon, lasting, refreshing and relaxing.
The drydown of Vanilla Hinoki is where I notice cedary pencil-shavings loveliness. The perfume is both tonic and relaxant, and it lingers most delightfully on clothes, in a way that few perfumes (those with synthetic lasting musks for example) do.
Thanks again Maria McElroy, for these perfumed, poetic moments of pleasure - good associations with all that's right with the world!
I've just returned to the city from a lovely trip to the Hebridean islands of Scotland, and these perfumes evoke the right mood to paint and recreate what I found there. So I'll leave this post with a silvery Rowan-Tree on the Isle of Harris, and a poem by a poet I met up with from the islands called Ian Stephen...
Should we plant a rowan here
at the sea-loch side?
The seed of red berries