March 27, 2012
Every year between the middle of March and its end, the ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Bacchus, their god of wine. It was a time to cut loose, dance in the woods, consume much wine and celebrate life by giving one’s self over to divinely inspired madness. Usually these festivals were opened by theater performances that taught divine wisdom through veiled symbolism not always apparent to the uninitiated. The god’s nature was two-fold: a bringer of wisdom and enlightenment, but also one who could bestow madness that resulted in much needed freedom for body and soul.
The semi-divine followers of the god of wine were many and varied. Satyrs were goat legged from the waist down and human from the waist up, except for the goat’s ears and tiny horns at their temples. The satyrs were constantly wooing nymphs and usually shown in ancient art as constantly aroused and always carrying, playing or dancing to the music of the panpipes. Pan himself was a satyr, an ancient god of wild places. Fauns were a Roman invention, similar to satyrs, yet they appeared younger and more handsome than their Greek counterparts and had the horns of rams instead of goats.
Maenads were the wild female worshippers of the god. Tearing their clothes, exposing their breasts, fornicating and dancing madly to the sounds of the drums, cymbals and the pipes they carried; the thyrsus. A small staff topped with a pine cone and wrapped in grape vines. Anything taken to its extreme becomes its opposite. It was through overindulgence and orgiastic madness that they sought wisdom and divine release.
As spring days lengthen, the sun shines warmer, flowers bloom, and the forests begin to open their leaves. It is inevitable that “Spring Fever” is not too far behind. The annual college celebration of spring break is actually a contemporary form of the Bacchanalia. I have been enjoying my own Perfume Bacchanalia this past week and wearing scents that are inspired by the followers of the god of the vine…
LALIQUE Pour Homme “Le Faune” is a flanker of the original Lalique Pour Homme and was released in 2000. It is sweeter woodier and more “wild” than its predecessor was. An opening of subtle citruses, aromatic greens and soapy lavender evoke images of wild sun dappled mountain slopes where nymphs danced and shepherds grazed their flocks. The heart of spicy pepper, dry geraniums and sweet warm anise embraces you (softly, but very firmly) and tempts you to join the revelry. The base unites earthy (read “skanky/dirty”) patchouli and heady musks with a sensual vanilla, and is surrounded with woody aromas of cedar and sandalwood. Le Faune is every bit as elegant as Pour Homme was, yet it is not afraid to run buck wild. It would be perfect for a fancy dinner out, but even better for a midnight tryst, later in the woods. This was released in EDT and EDP. This review is for the EDP, and it projects well and lasts an extremely long time and is one of the sexiest mass market scents I, personally, have ever smelled.
PERFUME BY NATURE “Pan” is an olfactive homage to the god by Ambrosia Jones of Australia. A completely natural perfume, this is described by the perfumer as “running wild on the mountains of Greece, a heady blend of pheromones and herbs both wild and exciting”. It is constructed around patchouli root oil (sacred to Pan) with a heavenly oak moss that brings to mind ancient oak trees in deep undisturbed forests. An amazing herbal blend of marjoram, thyme and rosemary (all indigenous to Greece) give this an aromatic yet completely sylvan feel. I also detect cypress and hints of teasing slightly sweet spices. Pan is extremely heady and (like the scent of the god himself) may drive you or others a bit wild. (The warning from Ambrosia says “If you do not want to get laid, do not wear this!”) This perfume is inspired by a character in the book “Jitterbug Perfume” by Tom Robbins, a favorite book of Ambrosia’s and one of mine, as well. This does quiet somewhat and become more woodsy and musky, but is just carnal enough to intrigue, but not repulse. Sillage: very good. Longevity: excellent.
ANYA’S GARDEN “Pan” inverts the classic “pyramid” and opens with a single deep cedar wood note that immediately whisks you away to a forest primeval. Then, as it dries, a fruity almost wine-like accord is blended with lavender and lotus (the flower that brings forgetfulness and dreams) creating a feeling of warmth and well-being bordering on euphoria. Pan is one of those ancient archetypes that are often forgotten today, as we go about our days with computers, cell phones and iPads. Here, the perfumer has reminded us (naturally, of course) that you can still get lost in musky sensuality and dance with careless abandon in the forest. Anya has taken a very brave step in creating Pan. Not only did she include labdanum (resinous and warm) with hay, grass and patchouli…she made and mixed into this perfume a tincture of actual billy goat hair! If any of you have ever smelled a billy goat up close, you know it is one powerful (and almost nauseating) aroma. Here the perfumer used just the right amount of this intense aromatic to give it the perfect animalic quality without overpowering you! BRAVA!! Were he to smell this, today, I am sure Pan would be proud. Sillage: outstanding. Longevity: very good.
BUD PARFUMS “Satyr” is almost ready for release will be available very soon. The perfumer has been kind enough to send me an advance sample. Satyr is a simply wonderful scent incorporating not only vetiver and myrrh, but also Australian fire tree oil (xanthorrhoea preissii). The tree is so named as it is extremely fire resistant and bush fires actually cause it to flower. The oil itself (also sent to me by Bud) smells warm, slightly boozy and somewhat creamy, yet gently floral and soft. This adds a wonderful counterbalance to the slightly medicinal resin of myrrh and the smoky grassiness of vetiver. Full and rich, Satyr is very virile, extremely sexy and yet manages to have a softer side as well. The projection is not wide on this; but once you smell it, it will haunt you with its rare and exotic beauty. Earthy and mysterious, without any of the “usual suspects”, and not overly animalic, Satyr has captured my heart. Sillage: average. Longevity: good
For those of you who might be a bit afraid of more animalic, earthy or darker perfumes I can only say this: Until you have walked on the wild side, you cannot begin to understand its beauty. It is spring…cut loose!
Disclosure: These reviews are from bottles and samples from my collection.
–John Reasinger, Weekly Contributor