Saturday, January 30, 2021

Sana Jardin Part 1: The Flowers -- Savage Jasmine, Berber Blonde, and Revolution De La Fleur

 See bottom for illustrator information to buy prints.

The idea of empowering the harvesters who pick the flowers that make the perfume that ends up in a bottle on a shelf three thousand miles away is not an untried idea. A few others have combined trying to do something good with making something beautiful. I received a  Sana Jardin discovery kit of perfumes for Christmas this year and let me state at the start, in case I lose you, I could be presented with a bottle of any of these eight perfumes I've sampled and I would be happy. More than happy! It is rare for me to like every single fragrance in a discovery kit but here we are. Are the scents totally groundbreaking? No, but they've taken high quality ingredients and made beautiful scents that rise above the standard with perfumes of similar notes, in my opinion. 

First, a short brief on Sana Jardin's history. Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed's early career was spent as a social worker in the United States, and she came to the belief that what these women needed was a way to have economic freedom, not charity. Amy was widely traveled and had a friend that lived in Morocco, where she learned to love the country and appreciate its beauty. She eventually formed the idea to create a luxury perfume company centered around empowering the women who were the pickers of these orange blossoms and roses in Morocco, and helping them to set up a business that would sustain them after the short picking season was over.

Amy Christensen Si-Ahmed with some of the Moroccan women pickers.

She calls this business model Beyond Sustainability because even after the picking season has passed, and when the women normally were out of work, they have been trained to set up micro enterprise industries by using the waste by-product generated from the harvest, which used to be discarded. The women use the by product to produce orange water and candles, among other things. The nose for the perfumes is Carlos Benaim.

The Sana Jardin line currently has eight perfumes but I am going to discuss them in three parts which I have titled: The Flowers, The India Trio, and Earth & Sky.

Living in Asia for nearly twenty years, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Bali. It is a beautiful spiritual place where no detail is too small if it brings beauty. Flowers are used abundantly to please the senses, and the these three floral perfumes took me back to that place and time that I've missed so much, especially in the past year of staying put. 

Berber Blonde

Garden in Medina

Perhaps this scent,  Berber Blonde, could be considered the backbone of the brand. It is a flower synonymous with Morocco, and this is where Ms. Christiansen Si-Ahmed found her inspiration. I've always thought that in some ways, orange blossom is orange blossom is orange blossom. In other words, it is a beautiful, easily distinguishable scent that does not change character too much. That is true here in that the orange blossom sings, joyous and ebullient.

Orange blossom is such an uplifting, happy scent. It is impossible to smell it and not smile. But as a perfume, how does it distinguish itself? By having a scent that is pure, strong, and long lasting. It is basically neroli oil and some musk in the dry down, but the sunny aspects of this scent have a lot of longevity, and it is such a beautiful quality of oil. Even though orange flower has a strong scent that is somewhat sweet, I think it is a floral that works for men. Have those who study depression ever considered scent therapy? This would be a good place to start. Sunshine in a bottle.

Savage Jasmine

A wedding dress in Bali composed of jasmine flowers.

Jasmine is my favorite flower scent, so perhaps it is not too surprising that Savage Jasmine is my favorite of the Sana Jardin florals, although I love them all. But this jasmine! It captures the magic of sitting on a patio in Bali as dusk drops, a fountain tinkling delicate music and perhaps a gamelan toning in the background, the carved stone statues casting weird shadows in the dim light. Like a curtain drop, the smell of night blooming jasmine infuses the air like a lover's spell.

I've been saving the photo I found above to use with the right perfume, and this is it. Can you imagine being married next to a river in Bali, rice paddy plateaus framing the background, birdsong in the air, and as you walk to meet your beloved you are in a cloud of jasmine, as your dress fashioned from jasmine blossoms moves gently with your movement.

There is not a lot going on here but jasmine. There is clove in the top and some musk and tobacco in the base, but really, jasmine is the star of the show here and it is some of the most realistic to life jasmine I've ever smelled in a perfume.

Revolution De La Fleur

A young Balinese girl wears a headdress of flowers for a ceremony.

Revolution De La Fleur is as its name suggests a beautiful profusion of floral blooms. There is a very clear frangipani note in the opening, but a cascade of distinct florals follow. Interestingly, they each seem to have their moment, as if entering the stage for their curtain call curtsy. This is mostly a white flower bouquet, but a note of rose underneath seems to ground the exuberance of the other floral notes, which include ylang ylang, jasmine, and neroli.

This is an uplifting floral bouquet and the longevity is pretty tenacious. It brings me back to so many happy memories, day-tripping through Asia. Anyone who is looking for a new floral scent reminiscent of tropical beach vacations, look no further.

These three Sana Jardin floral perfumes are distinguished by having the scent of pure and strong ingredients, and I would be happy to add any to my collection. In the next post I will look at the scents that remind me of the years I spent in India. Here at The Fragrant Journey, my favorite perfumes are those that take me back to happy memories in time, often on foreign shores, and these three scents certainly do that in spades.

For more about this brand see Sana Jardin Part 2 and Sana Jardin Part 3

Top painting: This beautiful painting is from the website She is known for "illustrating detailed, colorful windows into the worlds of women everywhere." Go to her website to view beautiful paintings and rugs for sale. I'm in love with her work!
Thank you to Nick and Nina Lesiuk for the Sana Jardin perfume set.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Eris Green Spell

Back in the summer of 2020 I signed up for the crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo run by Eris Parfums to produce a new scent, Green Spell. My reasons for participating were: 1) I have a lot of respect for what Barbara Herman has done with her Eris brand, 2) I saw that Antoine Lie was the perfumer and I love everything he's created for Puredistance Perfumes, 3) Green scents are a favorite of mine, and 4) I was in a city that was quarantining, and joining in with this project on another continent seemed like a fun idea, to in some small way help birth a new perfume.

I should have known better than to have preconceived notions as to what Green Spell would smell like. Ms. Herman has created her brand with perfumes displaying a bold presence. Her initial fragrances: Night Flower, Belle De Jour, and Ma Béte, gave more than a nod to fragrances of yester-year and didn't shy away from animalic notes. I expected Green Spell to follow suit, something in a vintage vein à la Ma Griffe, Vent Vert, or Bandit. All I needed to do to correct this erroneous impression was go to the website and read the words of the perfumer, Antoine Lie:

"Green Spell by ERIS is a blast of happiness, an homage to nature that is sparkling and joyful."

This scent is about nature at its absolute greenest. We all interpret scents according to our own life experiences, and Green Spell did trigger an immediate memory from my rusty brain files. In the early 90s I lived on the island of Borneo and it was an ecological wonder. Our little town hovered on the edge of the ocean but you didn't have to go far to be at the edge of the jungle; it encroached everywhere. I had young children so couldn't disappear for days at a time, but I knew friends who would go on week long expeditions where the guide would literally chop his way through parts of the jungle with a machete. Sadly the beautiful rainforest is disappearing and since I lived there more than half has been plowed to make way for palm oil plantations. But at that time we did get to experience going deep into the jungle and it was exhilarating. It was a green wall, and once you entered its space, it breathed and throbbed with energy like a living being, which it was.

The New Yorker: The Lost City of Z

That sense of fresh, vibrant green is what I get in the opening of Green Spell. The notes used are a collection of all the freshest and sharpest: black currant absolute, galbanum, violet leaf, narcissus absolute, vetiver, fig leaf accord, and tomato leaf accord. Normally a green perfume will feature a couple of these; black currant and violet leaf are the ones I see most often. Here we get the whole kitchen sink and the results are a green scent that is bitter, alive, and biting. The tomato leaf especially is evident to me and adds a particularly fresh stringent note. 

After an hour or so the fragrance noticeably softens. The bitter notes fade and Green Spell becomes a softer ode to the color green. The scent gives a feeling of brightness, freshness, and new life from Mother Nature. For me, as I am very influenced by seasons, this fragrance will make the perfect entry to spring, but for those tiring of snow and cold, Green Spell might give you fresh hope for the spring to come.

Here is a video from Eris Parfums on the introduction of Green Spell.

Top Photo: Perfume sample my own.