August 29, 2016
Christi Meshell of HoM
In 2015, Christi Meshell, perfumer and elemental force behind House of Matriarch, released to the public a very personal perfume made for a private client, who incidentally was recently married (fittingly, both brides wore black): Bittersweet Symphony.
Anne Hathaway for Interview September 2011 Photography by Marcus Piggott and Mert Alas (reminds MC of Christi)
Part of the House’s Liquid Music collection, and one of Christi’s lesser known fragrances; the complex aroma was inspired by The Verve’s 1997 song of the same name and encapsulates a glorious ennui which hallmarked the “naughties” (90’s). . Allow me to refresh your memory:
Bittersweet Symphony video Richard Ashcroft
‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
You’re a slave to money then you die…
…But I’m a million different people
From one day to the next
I can’t change my mold…
Tanga Moreau photographed by Peter Lindbergh 1997
While I find myself still undecided about the lyrics of the “urban hymn”- Bittersweet Symphony Liquid Perfume takes me on a decidedly tender 5+ hour journey through my memory banks. Five hours. Minimum. Specifically designed by House of Matriarch to take it’s time to develop on the skin- Bittersweet Symphony is as life- it takes a bit of time to evolve from bitterness to something softer and sweet.
Natalia by Lindsey Drennan for Fashion Gone Rogue
Taking another cue from 90’s zeitgeist, Bittersweet Symphony contains odd folk raw materials- henna, dong-quai and spikenard open the melody in a way that, yes, is “bitter” but not off putting. In fact, these plants themselves are more given to pacify than repel- yet their aromas are mostly unrecognized and certainly underutilized in perfumery. A certain sort of olfactory shock is bound to ensue. Sort of the way when you saw your first body piercing you were somewhere between disgusted and fascinated, if not a bit turned on.
90s fashion image by Bernadette Newbury
Bittersweet Dutch processed cocoa gives literal meaning to the name, although bears no resemblance to semi-sweet morsels. Christi asks it to “break it’s mold”- which it does with the harmonizing of “a chorus of blended teas” and refrain of spices. Eventually, there are woods, smoky or smoldering, aided by oud and amber- offering tenderness to the symphony, as even the orchestral section of the song assuages and brings a soaring lightness to the angst ridden.
Notes: henna, dong-quai, spikenard, teas, Dutch chocolate, woods, amber, oud
-Einsof, Natural Perfume Editor
*disclosure: my sample was provided by House of Matriarch for review.
Art Direction: Michelyn who is a 90s chick
With thanks to House of Matriarch, we have 15mL Bittersweet edp ($88) for a registered reader anywhere in the world. To be eligible please leave a comment with what you enjoyed about Einsof’s review, where you live, if you know this song by The Verve and if you have a favorite House of Matriarch fragrance we would love to know. Draw closes September 1, 2016
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