December 17, 2013
Ever since I first sniffed and reviewed Blue Jasmine last year, when the company was still called Bellyflowers, I have been keeping an eye on this perfumer. Elise Pearlstine not only educates us monthly with her posts about raw perfume materials; she has firsthand knowledge of these. This is evidenced by the skillful way with which she blends the pure essence oils and weaves them into gorgeous sheer olfactory tapestries of her subjects. A superb new fragrance joins this line, along with a reformulation of a classic floral scent. I have also chosen to shine a light on a hidden gem from Tambela’s Essence Collection.
Before I knew Ms. Pearlstine as an author and fountainhead of natural knowledge, I just knew her as Elise, the perfumer. She was a delightful person to talk with and her passion for life and the beauty of Nature just oozed from her and her perfumes. I didn’t just smell LIKE lotus, I WAS in a lotus blossom, so real were the energies and aromas emanating from my skin. Many natural perfumes, as some of you know (and dislike) are “muddled” and take a while to reveal their true beauty. Here, in these perfumes, each and every thread our weaver has twisted deftly into her finished works glimmers and simply glows with a pristine clarity and amazing depth and development.
Most of you are too young to remember Carmen Miranda. She was a Brazilian born Portuguese samba singer, dancer, Broadway actress and film star popular from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. Her signature was her often audacious headwear made of fruit, her snappy moves and brightly colored garb. Carmen Dances was inspired by the perfumer’s favorite Florida fruit, mango, and named for this passionate and talented lady. It captures her fruity top, her luscious moves and sweet floral heart while reflecting her passion and diversity in a heady and almost bawdy finish. After wearing this, I almost felt like Carmen herself was whirling around me, kicking gracefully and singing a happy tune.
As the band bursts forth with lively strains, of mandarin and Meyer lemon, and the rhythm section adds depth, with Iranian galbanum, Carmen Dances saunters onto the stage in a refreshing wave of mango water. Her undulating and lively dance enraptures me. As she opens her mouth and begins to sing, deep notes of tuberose find harmony with the softer sensual notes of jasmine in her song. Her voice is clear and distinctive, above the chorus of fruity floral back-up singers: boronia, osmanthus and black currant. As she works to her feisty finale, deep earthy tobacco, soft sandalwood and ambrette seeds accent the softly animalic muskiness of ambergris. This leaves the crowd, and this particular patron, on their feet clapping, whistling and howling for more. With each successive wearing, she performs just as wonderfully, but sings different tunes. Brava!! Sillage: good. Longevity: very good.
One of the many names for the osmanthus fragrans blossom is Tea Olive. This scent was in the Tambela line previously, but has been re-imagined, almost completely reconstructed and vastly improved. Not so much a doppleganger of osmanthus, but more an homage to, and built around, its sweet floral aromas. These luscious blooms open in the late autumn and winter and can scent the air for a great distance around the plants. An apricot-rich scent, sometimes slightly smoky, drips from these petals. Once again our perfume weaver has captured a breathtaking likeness of her subject, while surrounding her with a gorgeous background and elegant companions.
Japanese Ladies in the Imperial Garden (1920's Jacquard Tapestry)
This perfume does not rise from you, it settles over you in a glorious downpouring of yellow light, scented with finger citron (Buddha’s Hand fruit), mimosa, orange flower honey and sheer jasmine. This is one of the most unique openings I have ever experienced in a natural perfume. The main character here is Lady Osmanthus, flanked on either side by her dear friends the Marquesa de Ylang Ylang and Dame Immortelle. They are graceful and capricious at once. In the distance, ancient gnarled trees watch bees, heavy with pollen, fly over freshly rolled hay. Workers pick sweet nuts as the sun sets languidly and sweetly on an early fall day. Fruity and floral can’t even begin to describe this fragrance. Sillage: fair then close. Longevity: excellent.
Pink Pepper, from the Essence collection, is described on the website as “a symbiotic marriage of pink pepper with jasmine sambac”. Symbiosis is defined as: a mutually advantageous association or relationship. I expected the mild piquancy of the pink peppercorns. I did not expect the full twists of fresh black pepper. This adds an even warmer darker edge to the spicy opening. The floral heart of jasmine and rose, with a hint of osmanthus, adds a floral soft silkiness. Spices warm the creamy sweetness of the flowers.
The flowers smooth the intense dry sharpness of the spices. Each side is benefiting here, and my nose is beside itself with joy! As you view the entire picture, and Pink Pepper settles, it could be considered somewhat oriental. Benzoin, sandalwood and opoponax usually are. Here, however, they’re just warm and luxurious, never heavy. Spices erupt, flowers bloom and dance about and it all comes to rest on a regal base of sandalwood draped in lustrous gold fabric imbued with wisps of smoldering incense resins-and Elise has captured every opulent detail. Sillage: close. Longevity: good.
Disclosure: Reviews based on samples sent to me by Tambela LLC.
Thanks to Elise Pearlstine and Tambela we have two giveaways. For our US readers a 15mL spray bottle of Carmen Dances. For our International readers a sample set of all three fragrances reviewed. To be eligible leave a comment naming which one sounds best to you and whether you are a US or International reader. The draw ends December 21, 2013.
We announce the winners only onsite and on our Facebook page, so Like CaFleureBon and use our RSS option…..or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume.
-John Reasinger, Senior Editor