While visiting Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco, the lovely owner, Antonia Kohl, introduced me to a new house based in Malaysia called Auphorie. The house was founded by two brothers, Eugene and Emrys Au, as an East-meets-West luxury perfume house that is both 100% cruelty-free and humanitarian. Pretty amazing, actually! Auphorie donates ten percent of all profits to carefully selected charities.
"Cruelty-free" means that the perfumes never been tested on animals, their individual ingredients have not been tested on animals, and none of Auphorie's third party associates test on animals. Cruelty-free status in perfumery is not common. Despite great advancements in synthetic "animalic" ingredients, as well as some very conscientious noses' best efforts not to use natural animal essences, the industry is still ripe with animal cruelty, such as truly horrific farming practices of civets and a history of whale poaching and deer poaching that goes back hundreds of years, at least.
Miyako, a winner of The Art and Olfaction Awards 2016, wows me with it's fruity yet earthy opening of dried apricots, swiftly followed by its fresh osmanthus flowers and its compelling and distinct note of rough, animalic leather. When the base creeps up, there is something distinctly green about it. A couple of hours into the drydown, I get an almost chocolatey effect that I find very comforting. I also notice something that smells like incense, as though it is clinging to the skin and hair after having walked out of a sacred temple.
This perfume is like a lesson in abstract art. There are so many notes tumbling around, weaving in and out of one another. You have the darkness of earthy notes and brightness of botanical notes contrasting one another with every fascinating inhalation.
Miyako showcases what perfumers can achieve with modern botanical interpretations of "animalic" notes. The leather note is huge and so believable! I did not see the notes ahead of time, but I when I smelled it, I knew it was leather, and I was surprised because I know Auphorie does not use real animal essences. Please try this if you love love love leather but you do NOT love animal cruelty.
Miyako takes me back to a memory of a thrift shop I poked around when I was last at Tahoe. Sniffing from a distance, the perfume has this old, worn-in scent about it, like the scent of clothes with just a bit of mildew, old books, and old leather jackets that might or might not have been worn by a smoker, but they have definitely been worn. If I put my schnozz close to my skin, I really pick up that beautiful, clean, fruity and sweet osmanthus.
Leather is definitely not my favorite note, but oddly I enjoy the (few) excellent botanical interpretations of it much more than the real animalic stuff. Miyako is one of those perfumes that feels like it becomes part of you, just like your favorite leather jacket. This perfume is beautifully done and cruelty-free. Projection is great. Love it!
Don't forget that 10% of profits go to charity.
At long last I found the perfect milky, creamy perfume that I was beginning to think only existed in my mind. Fresh Cream smells like a vanilla steamer--scalded, fatty whole milk with vanilla syrup. It hits your skin like a tame, creamy version of Buttered Popcorn Jelly Bellys. It's not that sweet, which was a nice surprise; however it does sweeten up in the heart. Also in the heart you can smell a touch of powder as well as some very obscure florals, but they are just right!
This perfume is all about creaminess and milkiness. It's more of a novelty scent for me. When I smell this, I think of being home on a rainy day, curled up on the couch with an ultra soft blanket and a good book. I'm not sure I would want to smell like this around other people, as I don't aspire to smell like vanilla milkshakes. This one is just for moi.
Fresh Cream reminds me just a little bit of those kinds of perfumes that smell like vintage powder compacts or broken Chanel makeup at the bottom of a purse, probably because of the floral and powdery notes, but then pour a scalding hot vanilla steamer into the purse and there you have it. Seriously love love love this stuff!
Sillage: Between low and moderate
Longevity: A few hours
If you like this try:
Palo Santo by Carner Barcelona
Dries Van Noten by Frederic Malle
Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens
Santal Carmin by Atelier Cologne
My Burberry kind of reminds me of Chloe EDP--what's not to like? This is a very pleasant, feminine, classic and classy fragrance. The notes that really jump out at me are sweet pea, freesia and greens. I guess there is a soft, synthetic musky undertone, and I like perfumes like that. Some might find the freesia-type florals a bit screechy, but I like them. I honestly don't notice any natural rose in this perfume, if there is rose in here it seems like an aromachemical.
I tend to like Burberry pefumes, and this one seems to fit in really nicely with their entire line. They always make rather safe perfumes, never edgy, but they do them well.
Bottom Line: My Burberry is really nice. It is perfect year-round, in any weather, and for any occasion. Great sillage and longevity to boot.
Raspberry, Violet, Rhododendron
Cosmétique Accord, Orris, Myrrh, Rose
Amber, Suede, Benzoin, Vanilla.
Let me start by saying that I obtained a sample of Incarnata after reading reviews on Fragrantica that this was the perfect lipstick scent, complete with the scent of powder and wax. Since I am obsessed with those particular types of perfumes, I knew I had to try this. When I put my sample on, it smelled like a big, starchy, powdery orris root. Not waxy, but that's ok. I could smell the raspberry. I was in heaven for literally ten seconds until the scent evaporated entirely and was replaced by an altogether different perfume.
The heart was almost completely green. I was like, Huh?! I was certain that somebody had accidentally poured Anatole Lebreton's green perfume, L'Eau de Merzhin, into the vial by mistake. All I smelled was mint! I scoured the internet for notes, and not only is there no mention of mint anywhere, including Anatole Lebreton's website, but there are no notes in any pyramid anywhere that would indicate that Incarnata could even possibly smell anything like mint. Mint is an awfully distinct scent!
I was so sure that I got the wrong perfume sample that I asked my cousin to bring back a full bottle of Incarnata from the Jovoy boutique in Paris. I was still convinced that Incarnata was my perfect lipstick and powder perfume.
When I opened the box, I was shocked to find what looked like real bird feathers in the box (see photo above). Soft and beautiful as they are, they belong on a bird! Finding real feathers in the box gave me a feeling that I can only describe as unsettling and depressing.
I sprayed from my full bottle, and once again, the starchy orris root was so intense, and I was in heaven, only to, once again, have my hopes and expectations shattered seconds later. The full bottle behaved in an identical manner to the sample. Let me be specific. The heart is totally vegetal. It smells like a mix of ambrette, mint and a just a hint of celery-like angelica. There is absolutely nothing waxy or lipstick-ish about it. I can't even say I like it. It's just weird! It's a green, musky scent with a balsamic undercurrent that smells like benzoin. The heart is far less powdery than the orris bomb that hits you in the first few seconds.
After about two hours, I detect a scent that I can liken to suede, if trying hard to make the notes fit the perfume. But it's very, very subtle.
Incarnata has a lovely, smooth, balsamic base that I enjoy very much. There is not much vanilla in it. The creamy sweetness smells like benzoin. The ten-second opening and the balsamic base are my favorite parts of the perfume.
I don't like to blame the perfumer when things don't turn out the way I expect based on other people's descriptions and reviews. At times like this, I go directly to the perfumer's website to read their own description and see if I can reconcile my expecations with the perfumer's intentions. Here is the decription of Incarnata directly from Anatole Lebreton:
A puff of bright powder on amber and vanilla taffetas. She awakes with a natural blush. A line of rouge on the lips, an iridescent dash of raspberry over the cheeks, a flush of fresh flowers round the neckline and adorned she is. Her make up brings out her elegance she incarnates herself; Now she can play at turning heads all around
If I had seen this description of Incarnata before reading any reviews, my expectations would have been quite different. I would have expected something powdery and floral, with a touch of raspberry. Nowhere does the perfumer claim this to be the scent of waxy lipstick--and it isn't. The only thing I can not reconcile is the vegetal scent of mint and angelica. It just doesn't make sense to me. It doesn't fit in. And actually, I smell nothing floral. I have indeed smelled rhododendrons (or azaleas or whatever they are, exactly), and they do smell floral, perhaps like lily? But not like mint.
One final comment--I love myrrh! I smell opoponax (sweet myrrh) in Incarnata. Opoponax has been used in perfumery for thousands of years because it is much sweeter than the traditional myrrh that is used in church. Just for fun, I pulled out my opoponax essential oil, and Incarnata indeed smells like opoponax.
I feel like I dissected this perfume to death, but it is a good example of what hype can do to people. At the end of the day, who knows, maybe all of these people genuinely don't notice the vegetal, minty, heart, and somehow the top notes last hours and hours on them? I doubt it. I feel like a lot of people just wrote their initial impressions and didn't really take the time to get to know the perfume, as I have done.
I will conclude by saying that I do like Incarnata, but it is an oddball. I can't say for certain that it will become a great love, but I will enjoy it a bit more before potentially swapping or selling it.
Natural Perfumery and Animal Cruelty in the Perfume Industry With Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery
Here is my life story in a nutshell. I have always loved nature. I got my bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Conservation Biology. I am a certified Western Clinical Herbalist, and I have a private practice called Starseed Gate. With my love of perfumery, it only seemed fitting that I would want to explore the world of natural perfumes. I am becoming increasingly concerned about animal cruelty, and lately I have been daydreaming about making my own cruelty-free perfumes.
When the opportunity arose to take a class with natural botanical perfumer (and fellow cat-lover) Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery, I jumped at the chance. The class was held at Homestead Apothecary in Oakland, CA, a clever shop that carries all sorts of medicinal herbs and related preparations.
Photos ©2016, Elizabeth Ready, All Rights Reserved
I had so much fun learning about Laurie's personal style of creating perfume. Every one of her perfumes comes from the heart and represents something she is working on within herself on a deep, spiritual level. I also enjoyed having Laurie's guidance on creating my own blend. These days I go pretty crazy for woods, so I sought to make myself a lovely woody fragrance. I would say that for my first real attempt, I was very pleased with what I came up with. Here is my formula (***It should noted that essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil, such as jojoba. Essential oils are potent. Many of them may burn the skin or cause photo-sensitivity. NEVER apply essential oils to babies, children or animals):
My creation, in equal parts, in jojoba oil:
Top: Rosewood (Bois de Rose)
Heart: Atlas Cedar
Honestly, I must say that my little blend smelled like the creamy, nutty scent of 100% natural sandalwood that I so desperately love. I need to play with this combo more!
We also made an alchol-based atomizer spray. I played with my formula a little bit and added a touch of neroli. To be honest, I like my blend best without the neroli, despite the fact that orange blossoms are one of my favorite scents on earth.
I just want to take a moment to say that Laurie's creations not only smell amazing, but the packaging is so gorgeous. Kind of "shabby chic" meets romantic vintage. I love finding fun gifts for special occasions or for a sweet surprise for someone special (daughter, friend, etc.). The Purrfumery produces some absolutely adorable scented lockets, for fragrance on the go, and I have a feeling I will need to get my "paws" on one soon, LOL. Check 'em out, in addition to her wonderful line of perfumes at Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery!
If you are reading this, Laurie, it was delightful to meet you and be around your beautiful and inspired energy. I look forward to our next meeting. Oh--and you rock purple hair like nobody else ;)