Blood Orange & Vetiver

Blood Oranges by INGLESsamuel_CD2/10
Blood Oranges, a photo by INGLESsamuel_CD2/10 on Flickr.

Striking contrast between the brownness of vetiver and the robust red pulp of blood oranges is at the same time a surprising yet obvious pairing. Like red desert mountains set against azure blue sea, the contrast is most welcome.

Vetiver’s tart coolness stems partly from the presence of some citrus-like molecules in its oil. But in this composition, like most everything that comes from Soivohle's atelier, there’s more than meets the nose at first sniff. To begin with, rather than opting for a locale that produces a cleaner and leaner vetiver oil, the perfumer picked a smoky, rich one reminiscent of barbecued meats on a South Asian seashore weaving velvety streams of smoke into thick drapery.

Nutty nuances are further warmed by a dusting of red cinnamon. And tinctures of other unidentified woods (which seem to be the signature of this perfumer’s natural line) add body and mystery that makes the perfume smell less ethereal and more of a tangible object, like a piece of driftwood or old furniture.

As for the blood orange – you’ll find it in there but it’s not nearly as prominent as the vetiver. It’s there just to add a drop of blood, a hint of redness… The dryout is surprisingly dry and mossy, even though I’m quite certain the oakmoss is there mostly for fixative properties.

Top notes: Blood Orange, Cardamom
Heart notes: Cinnamon, Nutmeg
Base notes: Vetiver, Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Vanilla

Purple Love Smoke

Violet Smoke by crankykoopa
Violet Smoke, a photo by crankykoopa on Flickr.

Purple Love Smoke is the most accurate way to describe this perfume. And only goes to show you what a powerful outcome and wonderful possibilities there are when a scent artist has a complete freedom with their art form.

Like all of Liz Zorn's natural perfumes, Purple Love Smoke has an intense yet subtle complexity. Even when you smell an ingredient, you can never be quite sure if it's there or not. There are a lot of different facets and aspects to this perfume and it evolves on the skin and keeps changing. Even at the point when there is non to be detected by the nose, you might still feel its presence.

It opens with an intoxicating candied sweetness that would have been overpowering and sickening if it wasn't for the fact that it is accompanied by an entourage of its exact opposite: smoke and mystery. What would have been a fruity bubblegum of the worst kind in the hands of a celebrity-controlled laboratory is instead intriguing and fabulous.

The initial notes are mysterious yet familiar; floral yet warm and spicy. It has a fruity sweetness not of one particular note, but bring to mind the sweetness of pink magnolias on a warm April day, drizzled with sunny maple syrup and a dash of rum. It's like the girly version of a single malt scotch: one that is redolent of red fruit, berries and perhaps some other unfamiliar exotic fruits mingling with the peaty, smoke-like qualities of highland scotch. It's also strangely reminiscent of a bakery, but not of a particular pastry, though rye and caraway come to mind; and also reminds me of antique teak furniture and hand-printed ethnic textiles in a dark room. What I'm smelling in the dryout is mostly immortelle absolute, with its maple and curry-like qualities, and more-than-decent dose of real vanilla absolute.

A couple of years ago, I ordered a few samples from Liz Zorn, and Purple Love Smoke was one of them. Now that I've finally spent some time breathing it from my skin and have wrapped my head around it - I see that it's been discontinued, which is a shame. But who am I to speak? I'm just about to discontinue more than half of my collection and I should know more than anyone else that the reason for discontinuing a scent are as complex as the relationship between an artist, his pieces and the audience. Not to mention the scarcity of some raw materials, and the gradually diminishing space as time goes by. In short: it's inevitable. I'll savour the little sample I got and enjoy its fleeting beauty as long as I possibly can.


Vanilla Beans, originally uploaded by Daniel Hurst Photography.

Vanillaville -noun - Metaphor for the ficticious place people that are married live, since where they live there is only 1 flavor, vanilla, which represents their spouse.

Soivohle' Vanillaville is a quirky vanilla that is everything but what the name implies.
It is what I was hoping that Jo Malone’s Vanille Anise would deliver, or what I imagined that Vanille Galante would be before I smelled it and learned it has very little to do with vanilla and more with Easter lily... Of course, coming from Liz Zorn, a true artist and an independent perfumer, it is cutting edge and surprising - and rather than smelling like vanilla caramels (turn to her Pink Praline to satisfy your sweet tooth). More than anything else, it reminds me of Ardbeg Uigeadail scotch, with its salty licorice and vanilla aroma.

Vanillaville does not begin with a love affair – but rather with a quarrel between dry woods and Sambuca (anise liquor) – not unlike chewing on a dry piece of licorice root. The initial sweetness does not seem to have anything to do with vanilla – but rather reminiscent of a Chinese five spice blend dominated by star anise and the hot/cold confusion of Szechuan peppercorns. Absolute vanilla is turned up on its head – revealing its dry woody aspects first, and its vanillin sweetness only later on, which eventually merges with an endless drone of raspberry ketone (which could be the natural isolate) or perhaps it’s from a particularly fruity oud essence – which lasts well beyond 12 hours and only at this point one might remember the humorous name and realizes that the quarreling couple we met in the prologue have made up and decided to live happily ever after.


In Waterflower I have found a serenity that is rare. Inspired by the spiritual and sensual symbolism of the Lotus, this quiet perfume captivates with its unusual combination of notes, subtle elegance, clarity and complexity.

Lotus of three colors (pink, blue, white) is at the centerpiece of Waterflower. Lotus in its concentrated absolute form is sweet, somewhat powdery and with an underlining mystery that is hard to describe. That depth and dimension can be easily attributed to the dark murky waters from where the root brings power to the rest of the plant, giving birth to the pure beauty of the flowers. Liz Zorn plays on these qualities and expands on the theme beautifully, adding carefully measured doses of contrasting elements – the warm spiciness of cloves, the bite of pink pepper, and a woody yet sweet base of sandalwood, vanilla, ambrette and chypre.

Waterflower, albeit not particularly watery, creates a unique mood that to me is reminiscent of the caress of cherry blossoms’ petals on a warm spring wind. The sweetness of vanilla and lotus is apparent yet well balanced with the woods and spices and musk, and become more apparent upon dry down. Waterflower is pretty but never prissy, and delicately floral and powdery without ever becoming moody. It’s a perfect poem.

Notes: Blood Orange, Pink Pepper, Clove, White Pink and blue Lotus Absolute, White Lotus Concrete, Pandanus, Beeswax Absolute, sandalwood Mysore, Vanilla Absolute, Ambrette Seed, Chypre Base
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