September 8, 2010
I can hardly believe that it’s been nearly two years since I was fortunate enough to meet Roxana Villa [and Master Gregorio, also known as Greg Spalenka, her brilliant other half] at the October 2008 Sniffapalooza in NYC…
To sit, and sniff, and discuss, and break bread.
Far from the madding crowd.
Rox talks the talk and walks the walk.
And I love her for this- among many, many other reasons.
She launches herself whole-heartedly into each endeavor with a full heart and a willing spirit.
Her perfumery is no exception.
She is a perfectionist, romantic visionary for whom botanical is best.
Two of Roxana’s newer compositions are Peace and Gracing the Dawn; she was kind enough to send them last week.
Life is a remarkably circuitous, quirky thing.
Perhaps I ought to have realized beforehand – but last year, I participated in Roxana and Greg’s Peace on Earth project.
Musicians, poets, artists, and scent enthusiasts alike joined in the creative process.
Several of us were sent tiny drops of ‘chords’- and asked to connect our scent memories to these, and jot down our musings.
My dear friend and critic / mentor- Maria Browning- allowed me to hijack her blog.
Later on, Rox combined some of these precious, exorbitantly costly organic essences into an exquisite finished perfume.
She describes them thusly:
“Champa supported by both White and Blue Lotus. The base is a very rich, earthy chord with Tobacco and Vanilla. There are over thirty pure, plant essences combined in organic, food grade, grape and grain alcohol in the liquid perfume extract.”
For me, Peace is a profoundly comforting scent of ethereal beauty and intricate floral delicacy which enmeshes seamlessly with a firmly grounded terrestrial base.
Neroli teases the nose with its freshness.
The tobacco, sandalwood, and vanilla speak to us of all that is substantial and fine; white and blue lotus-
Especially blue!- are precious and dear to us, reminding us that we are entrenched in the primordial soil, yet yearn to reach heavenward.
Champa, so very sacred to India- emits a spicy floralcy redolent of magnolia- while retaining notes of orange flower, ylang ylang, and tea rose.
It was a true pleasure to encounter all these various elements now combined into a fully-rounded composition.
Any time is the time to experience Peace– but perhaps none so appropriate as this season of change and renewal….
Gracing The Dawn
This fragrance was nascent in Heather Ettlinger’s marvelous project in March 2008, on her blog Memory and Desire.
It was the first collaborative experience I’d ever witnessed- so thrilling, asking all these independent perfumers to interpret Ezra Pound’s poem:
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
~ Ezra Pound ~
At the time, two years ago-
Roxana chose to represent the diverse elements by utilizing these substances:
For the Three Graces: pepper orchid, Indian champa, and lotus.
For earth, she chose mitti, patchouli, vetiver, Kewda and black musk attar.
For the bough: cedar, oak and Cabreuva wood.
For the Dawn: ginger, howood, pink pepper, ambrette.
Minute quantities of pomegranate and apple were to be included, representative of Venus.
Today’s description on etsy feels somewhat different; in the literature I received Gracing the Dawn is characterized as a ‘floral chypre, with main notes of wood and violet.”
“The perfume is velvety and sultry evoking a vintage from days long gone or perhaps an alternate dimension where we glimpse luminous winged sprites on a wet, black bough.
A myriad of exotic essences are artfully woven in this composition including Cestrum nocturnum, Night Queen, from South India. The main notes in this botanical medley include violet, mimosa, wood, and Italian bergamot.”
Musky, dark, and complex, there is a bittersweetness that alludes to the burgeoning light.at daybreak.
Violets tinctured from her mother’s garden are featured, an added touch of loveliness, fey and clear-voiced.
Roxana never waxes heavy-handed; however rich her compositions may be, they delicately balance all the nuances of color and scent.
One can clearly trace the damp earthiness of the Pound verse in this softly shadowy fragrance.
It is distinctly different from all her other oeuvres.
I urge you to try these unique botanical perfumes.
The marriage of Heaven and Earth is a very sweet one indeed.
Roxana : courtesy of her website.
Roxana at 2008 Sniffapalooza, alone and with Avery Gilbert: courtesy of talented Michael Friedlander.
Lotus Eve image, Peace Charm, Gracing the Dawn picture and bottle, fresh violets: all courtesy of Roxana Villa and Greg Spalenka.
Golden Nag flowers-pure-incense.com
Nag flower and sky- nadiras-frag.com
–Ida Meister, Senior Editor