Bowie, Suffragettes and April Aromatics’ new release Purple Reign (2015)

I was just sitting down to write this post, when I heard the sad news that David Bowie had passed away.

Despite it being a chock, it might not have hindered my writing had it not been because ever since I first sniffed the final version of Purple Reign back in December, the song accompanying me upon wearing it, has been curiously not the classic Prince song but David Bowie’s Suffragette City. And so it became a different task altogether, more melancholic and slower than I could have anticipated. Suffragette City is from Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album.image

”Oh don’t lean on me man, ’cause you can’t afford the ticket
I’m back in Suffragette City
Oh don’t lean on me man
‘Cause you ain’t got time to check it
You know my Suffragette City”

The suffragettes, which are in the title of the song, even if what the song is actually about seems to be still up for discussion, would make the colours green, white and violet their own, the first letter of each colour making up the same letters as those of the slogan; Give Women Vote. To begin it was a secret language; women would wear jewellery in these colours, ranging from the more affordable enamel jewellery to the stones emerald, diamonds/ pearls and amethyst to signal their stand point to other like-minded.

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Purple Reign is about purple flowers, but to me it feels also very emerald-green and even has a pearl like lustre, reminding me of Suffragette jewellery. It also feels to me like the most ‘natural’ smelling perfume yet from the hand of perfumer Tanja Bochnig, which I feel like stating here as a guide for how to understand my description below. Obviously a natural powderiness is not like that of powder bomb Teint de Neige, and the faint lilac is nothing like the photo-realistic but also screechy flower created in a lab. The palette here seems to embrace the natural materials, removing itself from the ideals of non-natural perfumery entering into its own natural habitat.

 

The purple in the opening is like the scent of ‘ploppy’ unseeded sweet grapes. Later on it is purple like tiny glimpses of amethyst through the fragrance, a jasmine dressed up as a lilac sniffed in the distance. A tiny bit of powder, like dry ice lighted up purple at a concert, more than actually sweet.

The green of the violet leaf together with the natural osmanthus gives the perfume a sort of muted emerald haze experience, like walking on fluffy clouds in a green dream. Not green as in acidic, fresh or grass-like, it also doesn’t smell of moss, yet has some of the quality of touching moss on a spring day.

Pearls like dewdrops and a feel that the fragrance has lustre between the layers of natural ingredients, each adding their additional hue in the Reign of Purple.

Notes: Natural Lilac tincture, Violets, Lavender ,Osmanthus petals, Jasmine flowers, Orris Root, Opoponax.

Perhaps due to its focus on heart notes Purple Reign changes with its surroundings, on some it will turn sweeter, powdery, on some greener perhaps floral.

I’m thinking how someone wrote about David Bowie that he had been compared to a Chameleon, but he didn’t change with his surroundings rather the surroundings changed with him.

Purple Reign is unisex as when David Bowie takes on Ziggy, The Thin White Duke or any of his other androgynous disguises, not least the (much maligned) Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, and it is as this reincarnation of Goethe’s Erlkönig, with heartfelt lyrics, that he croons:

“It’s only forever, not long at all…”

 

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Pictures are mine, collages made by me with various photos.

 

 

 

Perfume, Perfume and Money to Buy More Perfume- No 1 Frankincense Neal’s Yard Remedies

Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

-Matthew

I’ve had all the best of intentions and even loads of ideas, but it seems my head has been too crowded to get any of those down on virtual paper.

To get a sense of calm and focus there is nothing quite like the scent of incense. After I worked out that I am actually allergic to the smoked version of frankincense, I’ve kept a little distance from incense perfumes, but of course incense perfume need not smell smoky at all. In fact incense has that wonderful cool, clean property and can be anything but smoky and indeed very soothing.

As today is Three Kings Day (Epiphany) it gives me another good reason to get out my incense perfumes; Frankincense, gold and myrrh, and gives me the chance to share one of my favourite perfume picture captions.

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Before Christmas I did some rehearsals out in a somewhat alternative space, meant for independent theatres as rehearsal space. Now, of all places where I might encounter perfumes I did not think to do so there, least of all perfumes of quality which I hadn’t even heard about; Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No.1 Frankincense by a company which I only knew for its skin care, Neal’s Yard Remedies.

Obviously, I had to test it.

The perfume is natural and 97% organic, and it struck me that a lot of the (soli-) incense perfumes that agree with me are natural. I already wrote about the cosy Winter Kitty and the enlightened Calling all Angels, and I’m sure there are many more which I have forgotten at the moment. In the mixed category I especially admire the ascetic Armani Privé Bois d’Encense and the swirly smoke of IUNX’s L’Ether, however I feel that in natural perfumery incense tends to smell less smoky and have a more zen-like quality.neals yard

On to Pure Essence Eau de Parfum No.1 Frankincense* which opens on notes of neroli, bergamot and pepper. It’s a pleasant, albeit familiar, start which quickly gives way to the crisp incense. Incense with its dry tartness should perhaps come across as distant or overly sharp, but something about it here is mild and forgiving. Perhaps it’s the lavender which makes it so, even if I wasn’t overly aware of the lavender in the fragrance itself. Reading the notes I was surprise to find a simple recipe yielding a graceful composition. The base notes are patchouli, vetiver, myrrh and balsam copaiba, but neither patch nor vetiver are very pronounced. Rather, the base is a mild soapy myrrh reminding me a little of the soapiness of Serge Lutens’ La Myrrhe. The resins are balmy enough to give the base depth, warmth and perhaps even a golden hue to the lightness of the myrrh. Overall there is a perfumeness and light which incense perfumes often lack. I was not only surprised at finding this little gem, but even more so at how it found its way into my perfume heart; Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold all in one modest little perfume.

As it is the last day of Christmas you can listen to the recitative about the presents from the Three Magi and the following Choral from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio here.

Happy New Year!

 

*My review is based on the bottle in the picture found in the bath room at the studio. I don’t know if it has changed over time, or of course when the bottle was bought and donated to the light and humidity exposed bath room ;-). I do think I will get myself a bottle sometime in the future, and will update if the new bottle is in any way different.

As always feature picture and photo by me.