If you came of age in the late 1970’s there was a book which was omnipresent among teenagers and young adults. Unlike today where it would be a series about vampires or dystopian futures; this book was a new iteration of astrology. The book was called Linda Goodman’s Love Signs and the red covered trade paperback was read by many. What set it apart was she broke each sign down into gender characteristics and even gave advice on which signs went together. I still blame her for being unable to convince one of the women I wanted to date for turning me down because I was a Scorpio. It couldn’t have been me, right? I have been reminded of this as Alexandra Balahoutis of Strange Invisible Perfumes has finally finished her perfumed take of all twelve signs of the zodiac. She left my sign, Scorpio, as one of the last five. I thought I’d have a little fun with this review comparing Ms. Goodman and Ms. Balahoutis’ impressions of my sign.
Ms. Goodman says of the Scorpio man, “He's sizzling underneath his deceptively controlled manner.” Ms. Balahoutis seems to agree as she opens Scorpio with a sizzling flash of cinnamon. This is the cinnamon of candy red-hots. They look sweet until you put them in your mouth. Same for the cinnamon here it builds in presence until it smolders.
Ms. Goodman says, “Just behind his frosty reserve is a huge pot of boiling steam that bubbles and seethes continually.” Ms, Balahoutis uses a very cool frankincense to provide a cooling effect to the cinnamon. It takes a little bit of time but Scorpio eventually slams that frankincense “frosty reserve” over the bubbling cinnamon.
Ms. Goodman says, “The dark, magical and mysterious power of Pluto turns desire into reality with cool, careful, fixed intent.” Ms. Balahoutis uses vetiver as that green woody “reality” at the core of Scorpio.
Ms. Goodman says, “Normally, Scorpio will surround himself with luxury.” Ms. Balahoutis also brings a sense of luxury into the base with a mix of cognac and leather. This is definitely the luxury version of both of these accords. You can almost see the Scorpio man lounging holding a snifter on a leather couch inviting you in.
I am narcissist enough to say that my favorite of the Zodiac series is Scorpio but it is mainly because Ms. Balahoutis has used some of my favorite notes. Now I need to go see how my Virgo wife feels about it.
Diaclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Strange Invisible Perfumes.
On a trip to Central America in the late 1980’s I spent a week following the very nascent La Ruta Maya which was meant to connect up all of the Mayan ruins. Nowadays the route is marked out and all of the sites have been refurbished to look their best. When I did this there were few road signs and when I would ask for directions I was most often met with “No se” (I don’t know). It made it a bit more of an adventure than I had planned. The one site I was looking most forward to seeing were the ruins at Tikal. You might think it was the historical significance that drew me to this amazing site. You would be wrong. I wanted to go because this was where they filmed the final scenes in Star Wars, the first film. While I had geeky reasons for wanting to see it the effort was worth it. There was a long trek through the jungle from the closest place I could park the jeep. This was as close to being Indiana Jones as I would ever get as I followed the trail markers until I emerged onto the plain that houses the temples. What I will never forget about that day was the smell of the jungle and the plain. When I received my sample of the new Strange Invisible Perfumes Emerald Moss and dabbed some on I was immediately standing on the edge of the jungle overlooking the temple plain.
When I read what inspired natural perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis to compose Emerald Moss it turns out it was a similar experience. She visited an old yerba mate plantation in the jungles of Argentina. Years later she would source a mate extract which she would use to build Emerald Moss around. Ms. Balahoutis was fascinated by the deep green color of the mate extract and she has kept the color of Emerald Moss an eye-catching emerald green. One of the things which always separates independent perfumers is their dedication to unique and precious materials. The materials in Emerald Moss are in such small quantities that it is part of a new Reserve Series and as such are limited editions and will only be produced intermittently. If you look at the name and are expecting oakmoss and such you should recalibrate your thinking. Emerald Moss is the heat and humidity of the jungle canopy with trees covered in lichens growing on their trunks. It is a perfume of the wild places.
"Tikal12". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tikal12.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Tikal12.jpg
Emerald Moss opens with a blast of mandarin and ginger. For my taste orange and ginger are a great pairing as the lushness of the mandarin is energized by the zing of ginger. It is the anticipation of exploration. The mate comes next and because this is a hydro-distilled mate it carries a lot less of the rough edges that mate often has when used in other fragrances. In Emerald Moss it insets itself in between the mandarin and ginger growing in presence. Over about an hour the mate finally takes complete control. Once that happens you will understand why Ms. Balahoutis wanted to work with this raw material. It has an incredible depth as if you look around into the jungle and all you see are trees. Then like my trip all of a sudden it blossoms into this brilliant open magnificent presence as you encounter majesty. I would dearly love to smell some of this mate extract on its own because it is just not like any other mate I have encountered. Ms. Balahoutis realizes she is working with a special ingredient and as such uses a light hand for the final stages of Emerald Moss’ development. A bit of rose and lavender pulled my focus to these sweeter characteristics of the mate. In the base she uses the Indian vetiver distillation called khus rus to take the mate and turn it into something more familiar as some of those rough edges come out. It leaves me standing on an open verdant plain surrounded by soaring temples and I smile.
Emerald Moss has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
When an independent perfumer like Ms. Balahoutis gets ahold of a one-of-a-kind ingredient like this mate extract this defines the soul of niche perfumery. There are no other perfumes that smell like Emerald Moss because there are no other perfumes that have this mate extract in them. It is a Mayan temple in the jungle exemplifying the past in the present.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Strange Invisible Perfumes.