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sexta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2016

Scented Snippets New Fragrances Review: House of Matriarch High Perfumery / New At Nordstrom, The First Natural Perfumery in Nationwide Distribution

by: Ida Meister

Christi Meshell, nose and creator of House of Matriarch High Perfumery – has achieved a real First. Through incessant hard work, determination [not to mention great skill], and the extremely capable hands of Tim Girvin, she recently launched her line at Nordstrom in Seattle: the first luxury line of natural perfumery to be distributed nationwide. This is no small feat, as you can well imagine.

Christi in Nordstroms

Who is Tim Girvin?

Well, he's an expert in branding and design. Based in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Japan, Tim is responsible for all sorts of creative endeavors. I became familiar with him and his work via the perfume community about 10 years ago; he's a gentle, generous man of many talents [photography and calligraphy among them] to whom Christi entrusted the task of realizing her artistic vision. I'd say he's done a formidable job, but I'll leave it to you to come to your own conclusions.
Christi Meshell is known to many initially through her Blackbird fragrance [2012], a bespoke perfume created for the now ­ closed Blackbird menswear boutique in Ballard, WA. [Carmine is listed as her first composition for sale, in 2011]. It has remained a cult favorite, and Christi has been happily composing ever since: releasing her first collection in 2012-­13, collaborating with the 2013Achtung Project [artist Rich Barchenger / designer ARONHIX] on 8 oud­centric sacred fragrances, Baby Angels and Bohemian Black in 2013, her submission for Sally Taylor's Consensus Project [yes, the daughter of James Taylor, folks – and a delightful human being in her own right] in 2014 [Pristine], Peace, Love and Perfume's Disco Edition in 2015, Bittersweet Symphony [2015], and her Nordstrom's combined offerings, both new and old: Albatross, Black No.1 [FKA Blackbird], Coco BlancDevotion,Forbidden, Madrona, Orca, Sex Magic, and Trillium.

 

Some degree of cross­pollination is present, as newer compositions sit side­by­side amongst older favorites. Coco Blanc has quite a following [I'm a fan, as well as Lucy Raubertas of Indieperfumes renown]; it's probably one of the very few coconut­-redolent fragrances which isn't a cloy­monster and is an utter joy to wear. Blackbird reappears as Black No. 1, an edgy cult favorite; Sex Magicand Devotion hail from the Achtung line; Forbidden is a fantasy creature from Christi's earlier work.
Albatross, Madrona, Orca and Trillium are new and unique to the Nordstrom launch.
 

I'm reviewing each as they come to hand.
Orca [Amber]
No amber YOU have ever dreamed of, that's for certain. Enigmatically leathery, earthy, marine by nature: Christi weaves real ambergris with honey and resins on her aromatic loom like some clandestine Arachne. Orca is a fragrant tutorial on how it's
done; it shifts shape between the clarity of Pacific brininess and the primaeval terrestrial skein of longing.


Yes, it's an intimate fragrance. One must lean in, be invited into its presence; it isn't a clarion trumpet fanfare of a fragrance – it IS a deeply satisfying experience, grounding, soothing, truthful. Orca is a Waking Meditation.

The Legend affixed to it is that of Fall and Winter.

Albatross [Aquatic]
Would that all 'aquatics' resonated so well; since the advent of Issey Miyake, I shudder whenever that nomenclature is used – it so often signifies the Olfactory Icepick for me. If the albatross is auspicious and regal – then so is this perfume.
Christi was inspired by the Salish Sea, and every breath therein is bracing, bold.
Notes of cork, cottonwood, driftwood greet your nose; she's even found a way to evoke the image of the creosote utilized in shipbuilding and barnacles which cling tenaciously to the hull. Albatross begins brilliantly as it rides the air currents; underneath we sense that there are often storms at sea, and that there exists a cosmic duality in everything.

Albatross' Legend is Spring and Summer.
It seems to me that every fragrance I've ever smelled of hers [and thus far, I've smelled them all] captures an aromatic chiaroscuro which reflects the perfumer herself: sunny, joyful, playful, yet profound. The perfumes open up and release so many aspects, emotions in the process. They dance upon the skin and evolve. At the foundation lies a heart of darkness; it's a generous heart, but only somewhat  fathomable – and this, to me, is her fragrant fingerprint.

Forbidden [White Floral]
White Floral, indeed! As if that could possibly define Forbidden. Surely, you are joking.

Forbidden is a love potion, pure and simple – but that's all that's simple about it. It's actually an incredibly dense powerhouse of perfumed magic with a wild, unfettered
tuberose/wild mushroom/papyrus heart, introduced by absinthe and damiana. Nothing tame here. Woody, mitti­-infused snake leather [Christi's homemade snakeskin tincture] provides a darkly erotic foundation for this out of control, riotous floral. It feels retro to me in a 1970s rebellious vein. Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane would be absolutely [sic] at home in this.


Forbidden is suggested for all genders; its Legend is All Seasons. Must be the Season of the Witch.
 
Black No.1[Leather]
Woof. The Cult Favorite.
Small wonder that the previously-­named­-Blackbird was named the “Sexiest Scent” at the International Artisan Fragrance Awards, that Men's Journal listed it in their Top Men's Fragrances, that it was viewed as the Best of the West by Sunset Magazine.

Notes: Fir, seaweed, leather, agarwood, cannabis, pine tree.
Maybe more. Or, to quote Christi: “hundreds of exotic natural essences”.

I only 'read' cannabis briefly; Black No. 1 is mainly about the Leather on my skin. It's a beautiful biker's sort of leather, the outdoors person's sort of skins. True, authentic, ruggedly individual. It fits the Pacific Northwest, but it would fit anywhere, to my thinking.
What a piece of work.

The Legend for this perfume is All Seasons.
 


Sex Magic [Precious Woods]
Sex Magic appeared first in the Achtung project; ardently inky at first sniff and cedar­abundant [Christi utilizes13 varieties of cedar], it became one of my favorite perfumes. Christi describes her choices of wood thus: “Unquestionably vivid and sonorous, these woods sing with the ancient resonant voice of the aboriginal didgeridoo”, and cites their decidedly Tantric potential. Mysore sandalwood, oud, moss, violets, pine, leather, amber and choya laban are at play here, if one can call it that. The choya and oud are so very smoky and rich that there needs to be the balance that creamy gold standard Mysore and amber provide. Violet's voice moves from plaintive to ghostly, but its presence is felt throughout Sex Magic's development. This is a choral perfume, a Balkan one with very different time signatures, tonalities and hues.

Sex Magic evolves into a shivery whisper of wood tinged with periwinkle. Just when you think it has vanished, think again; its longevity is significant and the fragrance pops up when you least expect it.
The Legend for this perfume is Spring, Fall, and Winter.
 
Devotion [Incense]
Devotion is the Queen of Incense.
From my Fragrantica research:
Notes: myrrh, incense, leather, oud, amber, ambrette, African gaia, teas, vintage French opoponax, exotic spices and Hawaiian vanilla.

This is one of those profound perfumes which take awhile to unfold; Christi advised giving it twenty­four hours to play out on the flesh, for goodness' sake!
When I reviewed each of the Achtung Project fragrances, I always gravitated to Devotion like a homing pigeon. For those who admire /enjoy April Aromatics' Calling All Angels, you might like to sample this: it's not as sweet as Tanja's incense, but it is truly otherworldly and long­lived. Devotion smolders, and that aspect is primarily where these two part company. Each is sacrosanct in a different manner.

[I happen to love and own them both, by the way]

Devotion's Legend is Summer, Fall, and Winter.

Trillium [Fresh Floral]
Christi's idea of what constitutes a “fresh floral” is unlike anyone else's.

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