Neil Morris Vault Fragrances Now Available Online

Remember how I was drooling over Neil Morris' and Ida's collaboration, Burnt Amber?
Well, now I know where you can find it - it's up on Neil Morris' website, as well as many other of his Vault Fragrances (most of which I haven't tried yet).

This collection includes interesting concepts, such as a series of florals for men (gardenia, lilac, and rose, nevertheless), and of course the formidable Parfum d'Ida.

I don't like to make promises, but, yes, some of these will be reviewed in SmellyBlog in the foreseeable future. In the meantime - check them out for yourself!

Burnt Amber

Amber, originally uploaded by pmarella.

I always loved amber notes, yet somehow find most amber-oriented perfumes to be too much of a good thing, almost over-satisfying. In Burnt Amber I found a balance that makes it at once luxurious and impeccably wearable. Burnt Amber may seem at first like nothing new – the idea of marrying the smokiness of burning incense resins with rich sticky balsams has been explored before (for instance: Ambre Sultan, Ambre Narguille).

The main difference is that Burnt Amber this actually works. Perfectly. The notes in Burnt Amber blend convincingly, creating an illusionary world where sweetness is dry and smoke is moist… In one breath, oozing honey, balsams, labdanum and storax crystallize themselves into incense resins burning with thick, lung-invading smoke that uplifts the spirits and hugs the heart.

Burnt Amber is one of Neil Morris’ vault perfumes, which are only available in person (not even through his website just as yet…), and is the second perfume he co-created with Ida Meister (known to most as by her Hebrew name Chaya Ruchama). Ida tells me that she insisted on the inclusion of a plum blossom note; and while I cannot quite recognize such note (in all honesty, I don’t recall ever smelling plum trees in bloom), I do experience some wine-like fruitiness that is not overtly artificial like most fruity notes tend to be nowadays… Burnt Amber is more than just a comfort scent – it’s a feel-good perfume. I’ve worn it even during a flue yet I can still enjoy wearing it now that I’m in good health. It has about it an extravagant simplicity that can take you confidentially from the red carpet to that dirty sheepskin by your fireplace (or anywhere else where you like to just kick back and relax with no glamorous pretences).

About The Muse...

The Inspiration of St. Matthew, by Caravaggio, courtesy of Wikimedia.org

The relationship between an artist and his muse is as complex as the relationship between lovers. And a very unequal relationship at that… The play of distant admiration and intimate knowledge; nurture versus complete oblivion; give and take, rejection, acceptance… The muse, unreliable and fickle, and like a true diva, wants to be worshipped and taken care of with nothing in return, except for providing inspiration… Sounds almost like an abusive relationship, and well, it might as well be if the artist gives the muse more importance than she deserves. If he thinks his livelihood is dependant on her… The artist has to acknowledge that the muse is part of him. Part of his art. And it is the unpredictability from within, that unknown well of consciousness, connected to the far deeper conscious of the universe, that inspiration may spring.

As far as real-life muses go, my experience with them has mostly been that they are ungrateful for the most part… Perhaps being a muse makes the human ego explode to unmanageable proportions... Perhaps I just had bad experience… It might have been my dream all along to be a muse myself; a dream I have fortunately neglected as it is even more frustrating to engage in such a complex relationship with a mortal man than with a mythical, muse.

Perfumer Neil Morris, however, seem to have lucked in that field and have found himself a real, flesh-and-blood muse that loves him as well as the creations she inspired in him – enough to even promote them herself… The package from Ida Meister (AKA Chaya Ruchama) came in the mail unexpectedly, and I opened it in the post office, a bit at awe to have found out I received a kiss in the mail… Only than did I look at the name of the sender on the parcel and it made perfect sense. Chaya Ruchama has come trough as a passionate and warm lady online, and I hear her correspondence is not where her warmth ends.

Out of the 6 vials she sent me of Neil Morris “Vault” perfumes (which are NOT available via his website), two were perfumes that Chaya Ruchama took part in developing – the first one, Le Parfum d’Ida, a vintage aldehydic floral - she gave a helping hand unknowingly that this is going to be named after her… The second, Burnt Amber, has won me over immediately with its smoky resins and sweet amber that is decadently rich sans the tooth ache that accompanies so many current fragrances…

If it wasn’t for the cold I was suffering from I would have written more, but I would like to save it for another time when I could confidently comment on its development and notes. For now, all I can say is that despite my cold I am enjoying it tremendously and can’t wait to fully experience it. Hopefully by the time my cold leaves me alone there will be still some left in the vial…

Non-Celebrity Perfume

Haven't even finished compiling my wishes for 2008, and one of them is already coming true. There will probably still be too many celebrity perfumes in 2008, but at least this story of a perfume inspired by a real woman and a non-celebrity might warm your heart.

Thanks to Ida Meister and Neil Morris for helping to shift the balance of power from faceless jus to one with passion. I haven't smelled Le Parfum D'Ida yet, but having been inspired by a lady of our own breed - the infamous perfumista who bears the screen name Chaya Ruchama frequents SmellyBlog as well as my own virtual shop - I see no reason for it to be another run-of-the-mill olfactory disappointment... She also happens to be a nurse by profession, a mother and a wife, and the chances you'll see her on the front of a tabloid flaunting her love interest or drug abuse are near to none.
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