Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Tannenbaum! (a joint blogging project)

I cannot remember the last time I had a Christmas tree; I think I must have still been living at home, and I miss that little plastic piece of green joy. Admittedly, I always wanted a real Christmas tree: I wanted to smell the fresh pine needles throughout my home, all the time - but my mother refused, claiming it would be a fire hazard. Sigh.

(the tree at the Mast Bros. Chocolate Factory)
One day, I’ll have a real Christmas tree: I’ll string it with garland and obnoxious ornaments, and I’ll place presents and cards underneath it. Even if I spend Christmas alone, I’ll get to luxuriate in the sight and smells of such a gorgeous living thing. But for now, I have a hilariously bad drawing of a tree taped to my bedroom wall (in the corner where I have lumped all of my Christmas gifts and cards), and a large collection of woody fragrances with which to assuage my want. 
I have always had a soft spot for woody accords in fragrances. I love them for the warmth they give to fragrances, the instant imagery I see in my mind while wearing them - forests, darkness (or light, depending), coziness, expanse, life, and death. Woody accords bring to mind both the divine and the irrefutably human: wood is a material for near-infinite possibilities, and this is evident even in perfume. 
With this in mind, I should probably let you all in on why I’m waxing poetic about wood: today is “O Tannenbaum!” Day - many of the lovely perfume bloggers who reside in the blogosphere are getting together today and posting about some of their favorite woody fragrances. Each of us picked three perfumes to do mini-reviews on; I will link all of the participating blogs below.
For my particular post, I decided to focus on three of my favorite Indie perfumers: Laurie Erickson, Mandy Aftel, and Roxana Villa. These women are incredibly talented and have cast a serious spell of magic over my life (and my wallet), and when I had to think about three of my favorite woody fragrances, their creations were the first to ‘pop’ into my head. The following three mini-reviews will take us from the photo-realistic to the purely dreamy, from the severe to the soft: all different interpretations of trees, of wood - a material we all seem to take for granted despite the magic that permeates its very being.
Sonoma Scent Studio’s Winter Woods: Laurie Erickson’s Winter Woods is an ode to every fantasy this citydweller has had about spending a white Christmas in a log cabin. I’ve always had a desire to spend Christmas by a fireplace, the smell of my kindling filling the air with a robust, thick smoke which would mix with my soft, ambered perfume. I would sit there for hours, cuddling someone close and just basking in the warm glow of the fire. Winter Woods smells exactly like this fantasy. At once incredibly soft and almost charred, it straddles a fine line between the masculine and feminine. An incredible combination of guaiacwood, cedar, birch tar, cade, and labdanum lend Winter Woods its irresistible thick and resinous appeal - and a decidedly sexy leather aspect. The fragrance lasts for hours, and as it wears the smoke clears somewhat and makes way for a lovely amber and sandalwood skin scent: just as sexy as the smoked woods at the beginning, but softer, sweeter, and a bit tamed. It is the dying embers in that fireplace, emitting a warm glow as my mystery cuddle partner and I get closer and closer…
Aftelier Perfume’s Oud Luban: Mandy Aftel originally created Oud Luban as part of the Clarimonde Project, an ode to one of the most haunting stories of love and loss I have ever read. The priestly Romuald was cursed to spend his life serving one love (the church) while aching for his other love (Clarimonde). Mandy’s interpretation of the story brings us this fantastic solid perfume, whose smell is both unique and familiar, old and new. Anyone raised in the Catholic Church can still smell the fragrant and heady mix of the wooden pews and the cloying incense burned during services: the frankincense smoke curling from brass censers. Oud Luban recreates the smell of the Church with a blend of frankincense, no less than eight varieties of oud, and an incredible orange note - the combination makes for a deliciously smoky orange lacquer while first applied to the skin. One can almost see Romuald on bended knee, praying for his damned soul. However, Oud Luban is all top and base notes - no middle - and the notes transition from piety to passion, a delicious and deep skin scent emerging. It is night, and Romuald’s head and heart are with his Clarimonde, his mind recreating the warm spiciness of her skin: benzoin and patchouli call to mind his carnal desires. Still, the fragrance never quite loses the austere woodiness: a brutal reminder to Romuald of his reality.
Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Q: Nobody does dreamy quite like Roxana: her fragrances are a call to an idealized, fairytale version of nature that is not unlike that of my childhood fantasies. Woodland creatures, fairy sprites, and the souls of the ancients live and dance together in the scented scenes that her perfumes create. To try her perfumes (I adore her solids, with their beautiful color-coded seals) is to find one’s ‘happy place’, to reacquaint oneself with the simplicity of the surrounding world. Her gift is to make art out of that which one usually does pay attention to: Q is a perfect example of this - who knew that the oak tree could serve as muse for such a beautiful fragrance? Q is a deep and twirling sort of woody scent, and while smelling it, it is easy to imagine oneself standing amongst the sturdy, tall trees. You pick up a fallen leaf and hold it to your face, feel the trace amount of dew which it has collected, and smell the sunshine and greenness. There is a beautiful hint of citrusy snap to Q that marries well to the fresh green powderiness of the wood accords; I wear it and I feel a deeper sensuality. There is an unmistakeable spice to the fragrance, and as it wears, Q reveals an animalic ambered base, an accord which smells to me of benzoin and labdanum. Bark, leaf, twig, sun: the oak is encapsulated, revered, and made magic. It shares the magic with me, and I revel in it.
I could go on and on, but why do so when so many other of my blogging friends have other lovely wood fragrances to share with you! Please check out their blogs - and their contributions to O Tannenbaum! Below - and feel free to share with us your favorite woody fragrances! 

  • All I a redhead

  • Another Perfume Blog

  • Beauty on the Outside

  • EauMG

  • Eyeliner on a cat

  • Fragrant Reviews

  • Muse in Wooden Shoes

  • Olfactoria's Travels

  • Parfumieren

  • Redolent of Spices

  • Scent of the Day

  • Suzanne's Perfume Journal

  • The Candy Perfume Boy

  • Undina's Looking Glass

  • 18 love notes:

    Anonymous said...

    Mmmm... I love Winter Woods too! Every time I see it mentioned, I want to pull it out and wear it immediately :)

    mandy said...

    Thank you so much Joey for choosing Oud Luban, what a marvelous review! I really enjoy the rich poetry of your writing.
    xo Mandy

    MarciaF (Beauty Info Zone) said...

    This is a beautiful post. Your writing skills are magical. I don't ever wear fragrance and yet you mesmerized me. Have a very Merry Christmas, tree or not.

    Suzanne said...

    Joey, I hope that someday you get the chance to have your Christmas in the country in the log cabin. (With a very special mystery someone by your side.) But I would agree that SSS Winter Woods is the next best thing to being there.

    I enjoyed all three of your evocative reviews. Lovely!!

    Illuminated Perfume said...

    Thanks for including the perfume Q in your contribution to this even Joey. xoxo

    jen said...

    Damn, Joey. Now I have to go try these (I do have a sample of Winter Woods lying around here somewhere - must hunt it up tomorrow!). PS: I hate the hassle of a big tree- your paper one sounds ideal!


    Julie said...

    Joey!!! Of course you wrote about 3 indie scents for your blog post :) I have tried the SSS and Aftelier, just need to try the ENTIRE Roxanna line. Wishing you a beautiful Christmas!

    Victoria/EauMG said...

    "It's a fire hazard." This is what I've told my husband for years.
    Great post, Joey. You've reviewed 3 perfumes that I haven't had the chance to try and they all sound wonderful.
    I love woods perfumes. I've always been drawn to them. It all started with sandalwood...

    olenska said...

    Oh, man-- I've been wanting to try Winter Woods, and after reading your review, my last defenses are shredded. What's holding me up?!... I hope your dream tree comes to you. (Early on, my husband & I couldn't afford a Christmas tree, so we decorated a coffee table with lights & garland and put the presents ON it instead of UNDER it.)

    JoanElaine said...

    Oh my, what a great post.
    I admire your spirit - hanging a picture of a Christmas tree on your wall! I hope you get to have your dream Christmas tree soon.
    My husband surpised me with one - our first in eleven years!

    I love your choices. I have tried Winter Woods and the lovely Q. What fun it is to sit with a few little pots of Roxana's solids and sniff away the hours.

    Winter Woods smells okay on me, but it is gorgeous on my best friend. I got her a purse spray as a little xmas surprise. I can wait to give it to her!

    Mandy's Oud Luban is on my wish list. I think it's gonna be love at first sniff.

    Anonymous said...

    I love your reviews, Joey. You always find some little detail to call attention to that I have missed before or that draws me in to your review. In this case, it was your description of Romauld's mindfulness of his "second life" or his reality. The idea of the woods standing in for reality is apt and genius, both yours and Mandy's. Thanks for the review.

    Anonymous said...

    Great post Joey!

    Oud Luban sounds pretty awesome, I really need to try the Aftelier's, there are a few on my sample list now!

    I've also found that almost anything by Sonoma Scent Studio is excellent :D

    Unknown said...

    Thanks for joining us in O Tannenbaum! Winter Woods sounds perfect, I love smoky woods and amber. I need some of that now for dark Canadian winter days.

    Undina said...

    Joey, I hope that next year everything works the best way for you. And you should definitely get yourself a real Christmas tree - maybe a small one in a pot?

    You and I share not only the participation in this project but also one of the perfumes we reviewed - Winter Woods. I missed that you chose it when we were putting down our choices and later when I noticed it was too late to change my choice. But I figured that two reviews for the same nice perfume from an indie brand cannot hurt. I like the way you described it.

    Tthe other two perfumes are going on my "Tannenbaum to try" list.

    Lavanya said...

    Lovely post, Joey! I so identify with your craving for a christmas tree- there is something so magical about the sight of it. you are so cute for taping a drawing of a tree to your wall!! I finally ended buying a (not-real) tiny christmas tree the day after christmas..:D..(because ofcourse all the stores were closed on Christmas day when I finally decides to buy

    WInter woods sounds lovely- I really need to try it. I've never tried any of Roxanna's 'fumes- I love how you describe them as idealized versions of nature- will order samples soon- which are your favorites?

    Lavanya said...

    ow- my comment got eaten up so posting again!!

    Such a lovely post, Joey! I can totally identify with your craving for a christmas tree. So cute of you to tape a drawing of a tree on the wall!!. I finally bought a tiny (not-real) tree the day after christmas (because ofcourse the procrastinator in me had to wait till christmas day to decide to buy one, and ofcourse all the stores were Hope you get your real tree soon.

    Winter woods sounds lovely. I need to try that.
    I also really should try Roxanna's perfume- I love how you describe them as idealized versions of nature- that sounds like something I would like. I will probably order some samples- what are your favorites?

    Lavanya said...

    sorry for the double post- i thought my comment had gotten eat up..:0

    Cathy of Eyelaash Growth Products said...

    What a lovely post. Keep sharing such good blog. Thanks!