November 17, 2010
While the list of “outlaw” ingredients is as long as Santa’s “Naughty or Nice” list there is really one ingredient that has been restricted by IFRA that has caused the most angst among perfumistas, oakmoss. Oakmoss is a characteristic component to the chypre base and a result of the IFRA ban has had perfumers figuring out how to make a chypre without oakmoss. One of the things I was looking forward to when I heard about the Natural Perfumers Guild Outlaw Project was seeing one or more of these talented perfumers assay an oakmoss fragrance.
JoAnne Bassett is one of those talented perfumers and her submission is called “Amazing” and her beginning point was oakmoss absolute. Over the course of her composing “Amazing” she ended up adding in 31 more “outlaw” ingredients until she ended up with a surprisingly balanced fragrance considering the almost stream of consciousness way it was constructed. Perhaps one shouldn’t be so surprised because even if the creation of “Amazing” might seem like a fortuitous confluence I rather think a perfumer freed to just let her instincts flow freely can create something “Amazing”.
The top of Amazing is an exotic spicy citrus sirocco, dry and redolent of notes of grapefruit, cinnamon, and ginger. The heart turns deeply floral as verbena bridges the top into the jasmine, rose and cassie. You might think that mix would be oppressively heady but Ms. Bassett really has kept control of her creation and it never becomes out of control. Instead it floats as light as a floral cloud which is nice because it allows the base and the oakmoss to become the star of the show over the last half of the development. Galabanum signals the transition and then a very intense green oakmoss comes to the foreground and it is deeply satisfying to encounter the real thing again; like welcoming an old lover home. The oakmoss Ms. Bassett uses is quite wonderful to experience and while there might be 31 co-stars once Amazing reaches the base there is only one.
Amazing has excellent longevity and average sillage.
Ms. Bassett has done a quite beautiful job of setting the fragrant diamond of oakmoss into a constellation of other “outlaws” and letting all of them sparkle with energy. In the end it is going to be the independent natural perfumers who will still show the way when it comes to “outlaw” ingredients like oakmoss. Thankfully when the reprobates are as talented as Ms. Bassett its worth hanging out with the troublemakers.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by JoAnne Bassett as part of the Natural Perfumers Guild Outlaw Project.
Editor’s Note: Look for a “Behind The Bottle” wherein JoAnne Bassett talks about the design process behind Amazing.
-Mark Behnke, Managing Editor