Like I mentioned in my last Narkiss post - I realized at this point in my process that I need to pick between one of two directions, and concepts. For the fifth round, I decided to focus on the puddle and mushroom concept.
Pairing down the puddle and mushroom, pine forest and break in the clouds imagery and sensory concept, to highlight the freshness even more. In this round I used pinewood, green spikenard, angelica CO2 and pine needle absolute along with pinemoss to create that Mediterranean pine grove feel, in all the winter wetness and rainy glory.
To that I added, of course, narcissus absolute with some supporting notes of balsam poplar buds, ylang ylang and jasmine for more floral presence, but still keeping it light and green. Top notes included cabreuva, to create an illusion of rain and wetness, and orris tincture for that wet soil, roots and violets after rain effect.
Base notes: Pinewood, Green Spikenard, Angelica CO2 and Pine Needle Absolute, Pinemoss
Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Balsam Poplar Buds Absolute
Top notes: Orris Tincture, Cabreuva, Szechuan Pepper CO2, Palmarosa
Ylang Ylang Extra, Bergamot
The result totally captured my heart. Although the narcissus is not so apparent in this one, it truly portrays the scenery of Mediterranean winter in the pine forest. Puddles, pine mushrooms picking, etc. My only reservation on releasing this mod was that it's echos too much the other fresh, woody underlined fragrances that I already offer in my collection, i.e. Orcas and Bon Zai.
This time I tried to illuminate the rustic, ambery, hay-like aspects of narcissus and bring to the fore the scenery of Mediterranean winter. Although relatively mild, the winter in this region is a very dramatic season: thunderstorms, hail, floods (especially in the desert). Kinda like the storm that is attacking the West Coast right now.
Just as fast as these storms appear, they also disappear. And then the mushroom pop up, the bulb flowers bloom, and nature awakens to life thanks to the power of water. The next day would be as sunny and bright as an egg yolk, and as the central cup of Narcissus tazetta.
To capture in a bottle that feeling of picking flowers after the storm, I used quite a lot of pine essences, which are a very wintery scent - pine moos, pinewood, and pine needle aboslute, with its slightly sour, off-note of crushed needles and crackling branches. The balsam poplar buds absolute accentuate the honeyed floralcy of the narcissus.
Base notes: Pinemoss, Pinewood, Spikenard (Green), Africa Stone Tincture, Clary Sage Absolute 74%, Pine Needles Absolute, Liatrix Absolute, Musk Compound
Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Coffee Flower Absolute, Balsam Poplar Buds Absolute, Orris CO2, Orris Tincture
Top notes: Szechuan Pepper CO2, Ylang Ylang Extra (Organic), Palmarosa
The verdict: Although I really liked this version, and how the supporting florals did to the narcissus, I felt lack of clarity in the concept. I felt that I had to *either* go fully with the wintery, puddle concept; *or* go fully with the dusky, mysterious olfactory concept that I first conceived when working with the narcissus absolute in the first round. Not both. So I had at least two more trials to go... Which I will tell you about next week.
While the starting point for this was clearly and simply winter, rain and narcissus, it strayed a bit and became more floral. A turn of events that was most welcome.
I began with a core statement of narcissus absolute, on a backdrop of wet-woody, mushroomy and unusual tree notes: pinewood, fire tree, green spikenard, pinemoss and a tinge of bourbon vetiver. To add more body to the narcissus heart, and make it more floral and less spicy-green, I've decorated it with a hint of rose and ylang ylang. Palmarosa and Szechuan pepper add a lift, and also a unique floralcy to the top notes. In addition, I've utilized liatrix absolute in the base, to give a diffusive sweetness. The latter made it feel too "perfumey" in an old-fashioned, powdery way*. So I had to start another bottle, again.
But I have to admit: coming back to it now, many months after its creation (it was made in early March 2014), the liatrix mellowed a bit, which is nice of her. It has a more distinctive, green-floral yet a little juicy-sweet and almost refreshing at the same time. Together with the Szechuan pepper, it gives off more of the crushed-leaves feel in the beginning, despite the lack of glabanum - which is a nice surprise in my book.
* Kinda like Rive Gauche or Je Reviens - great perfumes, but with loads of coumarin that makes them feel quite dated and heavy for today's tastes.
The Narkiss creation journey started as early as 2007, with a name, and a sketch based on the natural raw materials that W.A. Poucher lists in his 2nd volume of "Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps". These were composed much later (in 2011) into 2 mods that I refer to as "First Round" - because they both represent the same concept, and are in fact a continuation of each other. In fact, I didn't even bother making them in separate bottles*.
This round was all about exploring narcissus absolute, which I had in only extremely limited quantity, and just have fun with it. It was created in what I like to call "intuitive approach": just following my nose, and working with the essences that seems most fitting for make this precious extract truly shine. Perhaps it's not purely intuitive, because I did have a list of per-selected notes to choose from. But still, many of them were screened out purely based on what my nose and my heart were telling me in the process.
To start with, I didn't really have a concept in mind, besides that of wanting to work with narcissus absolute, and calling the perfume "Narkiss". I wanted to bring out the richness of this essence, and worked with notes that were some of the most elusive and unique on my palette: costus root, Africa stone, galbanum absolute, absolute from oak wood barrels, and last but not least - Jonquille (which extends the narcissus, being very closely related both botanically and in odour profile).
While the perfume ended up quite minimalist in the number of raw materials (12), the mood of this perfume is anything but minimal. It has a richness to it that really made me think of a candle-lit flower. A little waxy and golden, honeyed and glowing like beeswax candle; but also very richly floral and seductive, like a dim-lit bouquet in a vase. Romantic, but also mysteriously melancholy.
In my fear of destroying what I've created, I didn't add any top notes to my composition. And I also didn't touch it and didn't get back to it till several years later.
* This is something I often do - when I know that the mod is just a beginning of something else. This is also a good way to save space in my overstuffed archives of experimental scents, and also saves on the time of re-blending the first portion, only to be adding more things to it that I already know are lacking in the first formula. It may not be scientific, but it works for me.