Thursday, October 7, 2021

The Scent of Friendship: Dusita Anamcara

Many years ago when I lived in Singapore I took painting classes from a South African woman who lived in one of the grand old Black and White historical houses, distinguished residences surrounded by the ever intruding jungle. Although I found out I didn't have much artistic talent, that didn't lessen my enjoyment of these weekly visits. The instructor had huge wall size replicas of  several impressionist artworks, painted (and copied) in Vietnam. The painting above, Luncheon of the Boating Party, covered a whole wall near where we worked. It was painted by Pierre Auguste Renoir and he included many friends as well as his future wife in the congenial gathered group. I loved the way they all looked so happy in each other's company and the joie de vivre evident in the scene, and this illustrated the idea of friendships I wanted to achieve.

Friends became an even more important touchstone last year, when the pandemic kept many separated from loved ones. The Facebook online group, Eau My Soul, led by Christi Long, helped keep loneliness at bay those long months by bringing like-minded people together for perfume discussions. Ms. Long launched a project with input provided by the "Soulies", as they call themselves, to create a perfume that captures the scent of friendship. This was not the first time the group had launched a perfume, but this project seemed to grab the feeling of the moment and finding the perfect perfumer was imperative. Enter Pissara Umivijani of Parfums Dusita Paris. Anyone who has had dealings with Pissara has felt the warmth of her friendship and her kindness. In addition to creating stunning perfumes, she interacts very regularly with her customers on fragrance forums, always chiming in when someone asks a question about or compliments a Dusita fragrance. Customer service seems too cold a term for the interest and enjoyment she takes in knowing her customers, so she was the perfect choice. The forum members suggested notes and image ideas for the fragrance, and eventually all the ideas were turned over to Pissara who had the task of bottling friendship!

In time the perfume was created, and sample vials were sent to Soulies to inspire suggestions in naming the new creation. Anamcara was the name picked by Pissara and her team from hundereds of entries from Eau My Soul members. Anamcara is an old Gaelic term that translates to soul friend, and it speaks of a friendship between two people that is deep and without limits, and where each can show their true self. Three members came up with this name, and really hit upon the perfect descriptor for the new scent.

Pissara said there are many delays in bringing out a new fragrance, and although she knew Eau My Soul members were anxious, the perfume had to be perfect. Many months later I was lucky enough to virtually attend the September 11th introduction of Anamcara in an online presentation. Attendees were sent a box with a small bottle of Anamcara, as well as three accords which make up part of the fragrance. Pissara had asked us not to smell the accords until the Zoom call online. I happened to be in Krakow at the time Pissara presented, so in the same time zone as Paris. It was dusk where we were, but there were participants from all around the world in many different time zones.

Pissara shared with us her vision of Anamcara, the story of its creation, and most interestingly to me, she shared with us some of the famous accords she is known for that grace her scents. The first was a Tea accord, and it is has a strong fruity and juicy feeling. To me this is not a polite cup of green tea, spare and lean. It is a honeyed and warm, and I can see the reflection of the opening of Anamcara in this accord. For me, this is where the magic lies.

The second accord Pissara called Bouquet, and it is predominantly tuberose, but the softest, creamiest tuberose. All the rough edges of the flower have been smoothed out. This is like tuberose milk, if you will, and many of us agreed this would make a lovely perfume on its own. Notes of jasmine peek through and add to the sweet depth.

Last was the Rainforest accord, and it is just as special as the name sounds. Earthy, woody, grassy, with spicy nutmeg kernels, it thrums on the skin with the life of a rainforest. Pissara said she wanted to bring in the fact that animals can be a part of friendship too, and a rainforest teams with life. This is the lady who has five dogs, so she knows where of she speaks!

Pissara Umivijani and Bambi. 

 I think it is this last accord they gave me memories of her scent, Moonlight In Chiangmai. There is a moment in Moonlight that shimmers with magic and I can see a thousand lanterns lit by candles lift  into the night sky. That same magic is here, although not an exact replica of the scent note. There is just an olfactory memory in Anamcara that remind me of Moonlight In Chaiangmai. Pissara told us that there were elements of her teakwood accord that made Moonlight so special in Anamcara, and the same jasmine is used.

It was interesting as the group tried the accords and scent together, how many different experiences we had. Several mentioned strong tuberose scent on their skin, but for me the first thing I smell is honey! 

At the first spray of Anamcara on my skin there is a rush of lush honeyed orange blossom. For those who crave honey in a scent, this smells like the sappy, lush stuff that would send a bee into delirium as it buzzes around the flowers. The honey gathered from this hive would be the most eye rolling delicious orange blossom honey ever spread on a scone or toast. Honey notes can sometimes translate to a most unfortunate urine smell in perfume, but here it is honey in its natural state, as pollen dust and the sweetness from the flowers. This first rush of smell for me is almost delirious, a rich and honeyed orange blossom ambrosial in its wine-like deepness. Blood orange, which I have always found to be a "happy" note, adds to the succulence. Official notes in the opening are: blood orange, orange flower, and a freesia accord, so there actually is no honey. It is just the combination of the blood orange and orange blossom that give that effect.

Once the sweet lushness begins to lift I can smell the fruity tea, with florals dancing beneath. Pissara said she wanted to evoke the feeling of friends meeting over a cup of tea ... tea and sympathy, if you will. The ripeness of the fruity notes are now not quite as bright, but it is still an uplifting, optimistic scent which seems to give feelings of joy and happiness. The other feeling the scent evokes is comfort, and Anamcara reminds one of the feelings of comfort friendship can provide.

When I smelled this several times there was one image that kept coming to me.

Piglet recognized the value of a good cup of tea and honey when comforting his friend Pooh! Who couldn't use a friendship like these two? This is my favorite stage of the scent, but what comes next is also beautiful. Next I smell light florals on my skin and it amazing the way the perfumer is able to subdue tuberose, a flower I love but that can take over a scent fairly easily, and draw out its sweetness and softer floral side. The official notes are the tea accord with notes of peach and apricot, vanilla, rose de mai, tuberose and jasmine. At this point I do not smell one flower in particular, but rather a melange.

Finally the perfume fades to a softer scent of subtle woods -- sandalwood and cedar, as well as patchouli and vetiver. At this point the fragrance is much quieter on my skin and slightly smoky. After such an explosive start, it fades away to a whisper of fragrance in the end. 

Pissara Umivijani and the members of Eau My Soul have created a warm tribute to friendship and I have found myself craving its fragrant hug that seems to wrap you in its embrace.

Top photo Google image. Anamcara photo from Parfums Dusita website. Pooh images from Google. My own photo of Pissara Umivijani. Thank you to Parfums Dusita for the sample of Anamcara. Opinions are my own.