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Ayala Moriel Parfums
This is not just a grin: it’s a green grin... Green grass, green flowers, a green world waking up in the spring. A reviving, fresh scent, composed of the finest flower essences: Bulgarian and Turkish Rose, Indian Jasmine and Tasmanian Boronia, which is reminiscent of freesia. Grin is elegant and refined yet playful and romantic – like stepping into a flower shop, rolling in the grass and sniffing a meadow full of flowers!
Top notes: Galbanum, Violet Leaves, Green Pepper
Heart notes: Boronia, Rose, Jasmine
Base notes: Vetiver, Oud, Oakmoss
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Ayala Moriel Parfums
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
- Ezra Pound
Perfume In A Poem March 2008: 15 perfumers were invited to interpret one poem. Hanami is my contribution to the project.
Top notes: Cabreuva, Frangipani, Mimosa, Rosewood
Heart notes: Pink Lotus, Magnolia, Tuberose, Violet Leaf, Oleander
Base notes: Haitian Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Cassie, Siamwood, Vanilla CO2, Copaiba Balsam, Bakul Attar
Fragrance Families: Wet Woody Floral
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Ayala Moriel Parfums
Velvety, deep aromas of aniseed notes with a warm base of woods and iris along with cool, green notes of violet leaf and boronia create an unusual, mysterious perfume of extreme individuality: enigmatic and reflective as the sky after sunset.
Top notes: Anise, Neroli, Tarragon, Caraway
Heart notes: Boronia, Carnation, Orris Butter
Base notes: Amber, Frankincense, Himalaya Cedarwood
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Ayala Moriel Parfums
l'Écume des Jours is inspired by the perfect symmetry and profound beauty portrayed in Boris Vian's most praised novel by the same name. Cheerful Pianola top notes of cassis and freesia lead to Chloe’s deadly Lung Water Lilly. The melancholy base of green moss and watery marine seaweed reflects the tragic conclusion of the tale. l'Écume des Jours is a strange perfume of unusual harmony that inspires appreciation for the simple beauty that is found in all things – especially the Jazz of New Orleans...
Top notes: Cassis, Boronia, Green Pepper
Heart notes: Rose, Lotus, Tuberose
Base notes: Seaweed, Cedar moss, Sandalwood
Fragrance Family: Floral Green, Floral Aquatic, Marine/Oceanic
Everything about Coco the fragrance is regal and at the same time artificial. It brings me back to a long gone era when people would dress up to go out and be seen (and smelled) in public, and would take an extra effort going to a grand event, be it the opera or the cinema (remember those?). A whiff of Coco eau de toilette throws me immediately to a concert hall at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art with my grandmother. Back in the 80s and 90s when Coco was in vogue and so many ladies would wear it on a night out, clad with big chunky jewellery, bling leather purses, and shoulder pads, of course.
The review here is for the parfum, which I have smelled a couple of decades ago and experienced as very almondy, and it did not string that chord of listening to chamber music in my youth; so I have never quite fallen for it. The eau de toilette never was quite “me”, despite this fond place I had for it bringing back memories of quality time spent with Ms. Ruth Moriel in Tel Aviv.
So here I am in 2022, 38 years after this perfume came out, re-evaluating my relationship with it as part of my research of the Opulent fragrance family for my students. I have scoured the web (because, like concert-going, perfume shopping in this day and age is prohibited, unless one is bio-branded by a vaccine); plus Coco is no longer is available widely, being replaced by its many flankers and imitators). I dove head first into a vintage flacon that arrived from Russia in a weathered box, yet the flacon inside was sealed and in pristine condition, inviting me to viciously peel away its skin-like seal and cut the black cotton string. The golden juice within the cut-glass bottle smells like a jewel, and with ease that greatly surprised me, I was tempted to dab and re-apply as I write and marvel at it.
What strikes me at first is its structure, and how despite its singular, unique elements, it is after all a classic Opulent-Spicy perfume, with the mellis accord of patchouli-eugenol lubricated by balsams, fleshed-out by florals, and uplifted by a generous dose of citrus, of course; and how it echoes the magnificent Opium which preceded it by seven years. Both have that mandarin opening, bright and rich orange blossom to match it, sheer cool-warm spiciness, and finally, a pronounced opoponax resin that is so addictive, plum-like and rich.
Coco stands alone, somewhat snobby in the best Chanel tradition, but with a lot more presence and boldness than any of the other ones from the same house. It is Opulent indeed, in a way that is almost out of character for the house that prides itself with austere, orris and aldehyde-clad creations. It is definitely a Chanel with shoulder pads, at the opera or a gala concert, clapping hands quite enthusiastically but making friends only with few, who would mostly keep her company while she smokes.
And the smoke is, indeed, the part that makes Coco stand out. Cascarilla, a Caribbean bush whose bark is used to flavour cigars, give it a peculiar note that could be either charming or off-putting. Either way it is intriguing. But I will let you decide. It alludes to tobacco and leather, and creates interest. Ditto with the angelica note - this one is not green, but rather smoky and musky, adding another element of surprise. Because otherwise, it is a rather conformist Opulent-Spicy, just equipped with a cigarette.
Every time I dive back into my Coco flacon, I come back with another impression. At one time I’m noticing a lot of linalool and tropical floral notes, reminiscent of suntan lotion — but that’s just the surface, and won't last long enough to make Coco a Floramber (although some may be tempted to call it so, or even call it a “Spicy Floral”, which is in my opinion a misunderstanding of the genre - Opulents always have copious amounts of florals, but that does not make them a floral perfume). This aspect of Coco implies softness, femininity, fun… This is just a mask though for what comes next. Or perhaps just a sign of an unfocused composition.
Another dab may bring to the fore its intense tuberose-orange blossom notes, bold and artificial in the manners of the 80s (Poison and Giorgio spring to mind, the former even more so because of the prominent tuberose-opoponax accord). It is saved from being vulgar by tonka bean, which creates a soft-focus effect that also helps pull all the elements together, as well as mellow woody notes of sandalwood and vetiver, which give creaminess and depth. Which makes me finally understand the connection between the original and its Noir flanker - which is a sort of a Fruitchouli, dominated by vetiver and jasmine and dark fruits. Both version have that fruity aspect, by the way, of stewed and spiced plums or poached pears in a spicy wine.
Yet somehow, despite all these different directions pulling my attention, Coco manages to stay balanced and beautiful, and somehow this array of seeminglyy mismatched notes maintains tension and presence all the way to the drydown. It is not linear per se, but in each phase, the same melange of both classic and quirky notes emerge, for another round of card games.
Coco may be a bit indecisive, but that is only because there are so many beautiful things to explore. And that’s precisely the character of Coco parfum — contradictory, over-indulgent, a loud fragrance that commands respect even if it could have been just as easily been ridiculed.
Top notes: Frangipanni, Mimosa, Mandarin, Coriander,
Heart notes: Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Cascarilla Bark, Allspice, Tuberose, Honey
Base notes: Opoponax, Angelica, Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Benzoin, Musk, Civet
Many years ago, I've found a coffrett of four vintage Coty eaux de toilette, and among them was l'Origan. I didn't know the significance of this perfume till now, while researching the history of Opulent and Floramber perfumes for my perfumery courses. And so it happens that for a few days in a row, I'm immersed in this perfume and enjoying its softness and mystery.
Because Coty as a brand went so far from its original vision after its founder's death, it is very hard to find its original fragrances and truly understand the greatness of Coty as a perfumer. His marketing genius is evident, because bottles and visuals are easier to preserve than scents. And his impact on the modern perfume world is unquestionable. But it was not until now that I understood the depth and breadth of his genius.
To understand this, we must begin with the choice of raw materials. At the turn of the century, floral absolutes became possible, along with aromatic synthetics besides coumarin and vanillin. Raw material suppliers began experimenting with floral bases, leveraging the precise tonalities of synthetics to accentuate the aspects they desired to showcase in floral absolutes, thus creating many imaginative floral bases. I've been fortunate enough to smell some of such bases in person. They have depth and complexity that is impressive and very pleasing to the nose, especially when compared with the sickening fragrance oils that are now offered by the truckloads. Yet back in the day, perfume houses perceived them as being too strong and artificial.
Coty was a self-taught perfumer, and as such he was more open minded to working with those new, suspicious materials that the established fragrance houses have rejected. He formed business relationship with Chiris, a raw materials manufacturer in Grasse, who happily supplied him with absolutes and floral bases, and Coty was daring to use them early on, with La Rose Jacqueminot, and shortly after in l’Origan.
The choice of name is puzzling to me, as my understanding it means oregano. And there is no such note in the perfume as far as I can detect. If you know anything about it please do comment.
L'Origan opens with herbaceous-anisic notes of tarragon, underlined with carnation that has been dusted lightly with powdered sugar, violets and roses. There is also an orange-blossom sweetness that is both juicy and candied, but does not burst too loudly, toned down by both powder and sweet-spicy notes.
L'Origan smells overall a little aromatic but also candy-sweet, along the lines of l'Heure Bleue, but without the melancholy touch. However, it does sadden me to speak of it in these comparative terms, when clearly l'Origan preceded l'Heure Bleue by seven years. It seems to me that l'Origan was, unknowingly, the sketch for l'Heure Bleue, and like no less than two other Coty creations - it has burst the door open for an entirely dynasty of fragrances: Florambers, AKAFloral Ambery, or soft florals, up till recently titled "Florientals" or "Semi-Orientals".
It may or may not be the first perfume to be intentionally treacled down by its creator, that is, to be used in functional fragrances: Coty used l'Origan to scent his famous face powder, "Airspun", which is in production to this day. I can't decide what it's more, creepy or exciting, that the same face powder is being used for around a hundred years. Another brand that is famous for its perfumed makeup is Guerlain (their powders, mascaras, lipsticks - everything - are scented with a powdery-rose-violet fragrance with a decidedly retro vibe.
L'Origan spun a whole generation of soft, powdery and sweet-warm florals, which is why it is hard to talk about it without thinking of so many other perfumes, and the list is long: l'Heure Bleue (Guerlain), l'Air du Temps (Nina Ricci), Parfum Sacré (Caron), FlowerbyKenzo (Kenzo), Si Lolita (Lolita Lempicka). Less close relatives that made a mark in perfume history are Samsara, Oscar de la Renta, Loulou and Poison.
Top notes: Coriander, Orange, Pepper, Peach, Bergamot, Neroli
Heart notes: Carnation, Spices, Nutmeg, Orange blossom, Violet, Ylang-Ylang, Rose, Jasmine
Base notes: Benzoin, Coumarin, Incense, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Civet, Virginia Cedar, Musk
I would have given anything to be able to peek into François Coty's mind at the moment he created Émeraude. I imagine him leaning over this organ, and thinking to himself: "mmm, what could I pair with bergamot instead of oakmoss to make it truly shine... why, vanilla, of course!".
Creatively speaking, the inspiration for Émeraude is the gemstone, minimalistically cut to show large surfaces of deep, smooth, shiny green that has a mesmerizing effect, like gazing into a deep lake in the forest. Emeralds seem to exude both elegance and mystery. The simple rectangular shape in which they're usually cut, which require very little additional adornment in the jewel, may make them seem austere, but this is not true. They have warmth, richness and depth of an evergreen forest, and are just as timeless.
Likewise, the perfume when smelled afresh (as much as humanly possible exactly a hundred years after its conception, and smelling dozens of reiterations of the concept it laid out) is a perfect execution of that abstract concept. Émeraude is simultaneously bright and deep, with the bergamot-vanilla accord making it smell like something new, exciting, fresh yet luxurious. The bergamot alludes to an eau de cologne freshness, and I am also smelling noticeable lemon notes; perfectly balancing and uplifting the vanilla, which is not at all gourmand or confectionary, but rather smells sophisticated and mysterious. The reasons these are blended so seamlessly owes to a classic floral heart of jasmine and rose, and the vanilla is further smoothed out with sandalwood and patchouli that pull out its woody and animalic aspects, making it more perfumey than confectionary. There may also be a smidgeon of civet but in the most delectably subtle amounts.
Speaking of the Eau de Cologne reference, I do believe that Émeraude and the ambreine accord were born out of a popular formula "Amber Water" — a sweet eau with vanilla, ambergris and tonka at its base (Poucher, 1959). I am yet to find out historically what came first, but it is very possible that this is the precursor for Opulent Ambery just as much as Honey Water is the precursor of the Spicy Opulents.
Émeraude (launched in 1921) represents the moment in history when an abstract concept gave birth to a whole new genre of perfume: Opulent Ambery. The name is a bit misleading and confusing, as this family of fragrances is not reliant on the amber accord, but on something else entirely: the Ambreine accord.
As usual with Coty at the height of the brand and the perfumer’s career, the packaging, marketing and imagery in the advertisements is impeccable: the various designs of the bottles were usually rectangular, enclosing a green-hued jus, thus resembling a cut-emerald. The illustrated women consistently wore elegant emerald-green gowns and opera gloves, exuding elegance and confidence. The boxes and packaging for the myriads of ancillary products that ensued (Coty perhaps was the first to match up cosmetics and make up with perfume) — scented powders, bath oils and more — are covered in intricate art-nouveau pattern resembling a Persian rug, and in stark contrast to the simplicity of the bottle design. Was that an afterthought, to attract consumers who were smitten with Shalimar’s exoticism? Or was that part of the design all along?
All in all, an array of highly coveted items that women would most likely purchase for themselves rather than wait for a suitor or a husband to lavish them with fragrance (well before Estee Lauder's Youth Dew bath oil stunt).
Top notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Orange, Rosewood, Tarragon
Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang
Base notes: Vanilla, Benzoin, Amber, Opoponax, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Civet
P.s. Émeraude and I met first in a thrift store, and it reminded me very much of Shalimar, which is what I was also prepared to smell as this was common knowledge among perfumistas. This was back in the day before the social media curse, when we spent hours deeply discussing fragrances on various fragrance fora. It saddens me that I speak of Coty's perfumes always in comparison to others who followed his footsteps. Émeraude is truly the first Opulent Ambery perfume, but it is Guerlain's famous Shalimar that took over the show in the long run, with its bombastic marketing and also the leading house in creating the "Orientalist" movement in perfumery. Future flangers of Shalimar actually smell more like Émeraude - Shalimar Eau Legere comes to mind.
I'm super excited about getting the Winter Subscription boxes out. These boxes are an opportunity for me to give my best, and share other aspects of my creative life.
There are a few regular subscribers who have signed up for the whole year, and I just love putting together these gifts or care packages for them! And then I'm always thrilled when someone signs up just for the season, out of curiosity. The first three of these new subscribers will receive an additional gift - a 4mL roll-on bottle of a winter Zodiac Parfum Oil - Chiron for Sagittarius, Ancient Root for Capricorn and Aqua Aria for Aquarius. Maybe one of these will be yours this time?
This is the third subscription box I'm putting out, and in the spirit of the holidays, it is especially luxurious and brimming with creativity. I like to keep most of the contents a surprise until after I send them out; but with this one I couldn't keep it all a secret. Aside from the Zodiac Parfum Oils, which are to be expected, I also concocted a special new product especially for my subscribers: a Beauty Unguent made from Balm of Gilead fruits. This is a new product at the shop as well, and available in 3 different sizes: 15mL (1/4oz), 30mL (1oz) and 50mL (1.6oz). There is also a new winter nerikoh, titled Snow on a Bough. This all ties in the the monochromatic aesthetic of the wrapping - an eco print of dark, tannin leaves on lovely linen, bringing to mind the winter hibernation of deciduous trees and shrubs.
But don't worry! The darkness of the season will be brightened by the contents of the box! Skin care to keep you nourished and hydrated and your skin glowing, and fragrances that will make your heart smile. And there is also candy I've made especially for you, from wild honey and herbs from the mountain I live on.