There are moments in the lifespan of a brand when someone gives it a new direction. When it succeeds it gives perfume lovers an opportunity to re-evaluate your previous impression. In 2015 Greg Black took over as the CEO of Clean Beauty Collective. He realized that trends were bending towards the way Clean had made perfume for years. Instead of playing the solid hand of historical releases he made a bold choice. He launched Clean Reserve. He made a wager that he could position Clean’s eco-friendly transparent style of fragrance as a trendsetter.
You can count me as a skeptic when I first heard of this. The last eighteen months of releases have made me a convert. Mr. Black has assembled a team which isn’t just making variations on Clean perfumes of the past. Clean Reserve is pushing that foundational aesthetic into some new places. The spring release for 2019, Solar Bloom, is a great example of everything which is going right at Clean.
It has taken some time since the inception of Clean Reserve in 2015 for the creative team to fully embrace there was a change. By the release of the Avant Garden Collection last year the shift in style was near complete. Which is why when I received my sample of Solar Bloom I was expecting something different than another spring rose; and that’s what I got.
For Solar Bloom perfumer Annie Buzantian works with the brand for the first time. The brief was to capture “dawn’s radiance as the warmth begins to caress the skin”. When I read that I expected a dewy fresh floral. What was in the sample was something quite different; full of the sparkling lightness of sunrise. Mme Buzantian creates a perfume of sunny citrus and floral flares with one brilliant twist at the end.
It opens on a shimmering citrus mixture of bergamot and mandarin. The citrus has a green quality to them which is freshened-up with freesia to provide only a tiny smidge of dewy floral. The citrus transform to orange blossom in the heart also freshened-up with some jasmine. Then Mme Buzantian begins to put things on a different track. First change of direction comes with coconut water. It adds in an aquatic sweetness as complement to the florals in the heart. It doesn’t remind you of the beach as much as a richer version of orange blossom although the coconut water is detectable on its own if you look for it. A green vetiver provides the keynote in the base. Then in a final clever move Mme Buzantian uses “charcoal” to provide a grounding. The charcoal presents itself as a musty mineral-like scent. On its own it would be not so great. In combination with the vetiver it is like having grains of sand within the fronds of vetiver. As much as I enjoyed the coconut water in the heart the charcoal, or whatever it is, adds an earthy effect completely different from patchouli. It is a much lighter way of introducing that into a base accord.
Solar Bloom has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Solar Bloom is another reason Clean Reserve is becoming a creative success story in this new world of fragrance. I applaud Mr. Black and his team for having the courage to rethink what Clean can be.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.