Thursday, July 6, 2017
I'm not really sure how to start this, as I'm still rather reeling with the shock. On Saturday, the indie perfume community found out that our dear friend Laura, who has been decanting for NAVA for more than 8 years, passed away suddenly due to an illness. I'm not sure there are enough superlatives for me to describe this incredible lady, who made such an impact on our little world, but I hope, today, to do some honor to her, from my very fond memories of the friendship that she gifted me with.
I met Laura more than 3 years ago, when I was just starting my incredible discovery of the Nocturne Alchemy brand. I wasn't really sure where to start, and some kind souls pointed me in her direction, as she was decanting the current Limited Collection, as she always did. I found her Facebook group and Livejournal, and sent her an email. Hah! Gods bless her, she was gracious from the very first time I spoke with her. I told her that I was very, very new to NAVA and that I had never joined a circle before, could she offer a little guidance? And she did, she made things so very easy for me, and we started speaking regularly. I remember that she told me she loved my username! She was a big fan of the show The Walking Dead (see photo above, we are both Daryl fans, and I told her that my fiance is rather Daryl-esque in character). Well, that started us on a little path of long emails, and eventually we had a few phone conversations too! I always wanted to speak more with her but our schedules were opposite, so we only got to have a few marathon conversations on the phone. But I felt instantly connected with her, like we had known each other for years. I think Laura was one of those truly gifted and intuitive people who were able to make everyone comfortable, to make people feel really good while they were speaking with her. How incredibly lovely. I so enjoyed talking to her, about anything under the sun. And she knew my struggles with depression, without me going too deeply into it - and it always seemed to me that Laura was shining a light in my darkness. She always had something sweet to say, some kindness to pass on, something to make me laugh out loud. That was another thing - she had an absolutely fantastic sense of humor. I always enjoyed her posts on her Facebook or in her group. I enjoyed the little blurbs she wrote at the top of each circle for us as well. I'm remembering so many things she spoke of with such fondness, but overwhelmingly, it's her kindness, and the light in the dark that she held, I'm sure not just for me, but for many.
And she was an incredibly busy lady. She was professional, and organized, and she kept notes on quite a huge catalogue of NAVA perfumes. She started the NAVA Wiki after their fan forum was closed, and that in itself is quite the undertaking. Her journal has provided so many of us with notes for perfumes that we couldn't find elsewhere on the internet, she's left quite a legacy behind in our small world. She sent out the most wonderful packages. Everything was done just so, and there was always a little sniffie of something interesting, as well as something fun in keeping with the theme of that season or collection. My first package had tiny little pink umbrellas! I still have them and so many other little mementos from her in a little box. And I bought many a bottle or partial bottle from her sales entries, which was absolutely chock full of treasures. That was absolutely invalueable in helping me learn what notes I liked from NAVA, and whenever someone new asked about them, I would send them her sales page, saying that it's an excellent way to dip your toes in and find out what you like - because it was true.
I actually made her the graphic you see in my sidebar. She sent me the original graphic - so cute! - and I sent her what I had made, and she loved it. I had planned to make a few more for her in a variety of sizes, but I got sick and seemed to stay that way for almost a month after we moved, and hadn't got back into it. I actually had my graphics program open the day I found out she passed away, as I was going to get back into making my graphics - as you see, I'd redone my header for the blog, but not the css yet. I was planning on writing her a nice long email, because I know she'd been behind due to her internet being down, but was getting ready to start the new decanting for the grand reopening. I'm a little upset with myself I didn't get around to it. I think that we always live with some regrets when someone we love passes, and Laura made quite an impact on me, she was more than just a lady I bought perfume samples from, she was a very good friend.
Laura was preceded in death by the love of her life, her husband Bob. She talked about him quite a lot with me, and I felt really honored that she would share her story with me. That was very sweet and touching that she trusted her feelings with me, and I truly valued that. I know, now, that she is with her love, and her precious cat, and she is happy. Her heart is full. Her body no longer aches, she's not tired, or lonely, or missing her husband any longer, she is at peace. And that's all I could truly wish for dear Laura. I will hold you in my heart, dear friend, and remember the gifts that you gave me, and I will hold the light now. Love you very much. Wish you peace, Laura.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Hi y'all! I'm back at it again today. And crossing my fingers I don't get pulled away from the computer, so I can get this up for y'all. It's a gorgeous day out, and we haven't had any rain yet. I swear, we've been waterlogged here in Florida ever since hurricane season started.
So I think this review will be a little shorter - I'm sure you're all breathing a sigh of relief. Hey, I can remember when the internet was ALL TEXT, no graphics, no photos, just....text. Yep, true story. We've come a long way. Anyway, so today I'm covering the second release, which is when the Prehistoric collection name came about. There were six perfumes in that release. Of those, I have four - I'm missing Ankylosaurus and Caudipteryx. I actually had a full bottle of Ankylosaurus, and I traded it away (I think for Pumpkin #6, actually, if I'm remembering correctly!). I definitely have some regrets over that, I'm thinking I might want to try to get that one again if I can. Also, I'm kind of doing a *headdesk* moment over Caudipteryx - y'all, it's a chypre! Umm, why did I not get a bottle of this? Probably because I was too obsessed last summer over picking up my beloved Pteranodon and the others I didn't get in the first round, so in playing catch up I wasn't paying attention too closely for the note description of Caudipteryx. Anyway, so I have four perfumes to cover for you this afternoon, and two of them are quite complex, so let's just dive right in, shall we?
As a side note, if you missed my review of the first release, you can click here and it will take you to it, it has some pertinent notes about these perfumes. I want to go ahead and mention this again, though - these perfumes were designed to be "hatched" or layered, to bring out the complexity of the notes. They might seem a little flat or linear to you if you wear them alone, although of course you are welcome to do so. This is especially relevant to two of these I'm reviewing today, Giganotosaurus and Deinonychus. In addition to that, the notes again state that bits of resin may occur with aging, and it will enrich the perfume even more.
Deinonychus: Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, VA Cemetery Musk Accord, Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Sandalwood, Hungarian White Cedarwood, Kobalt SL (Vanilla Orchid of Cairo) and a drop of Egyptian Temple Oudh.
Okay, might as well get the two super complex perfumes out of the way right off the bat. No need to be intimidated, Niki, you got this girl! Haha. Erm. Well, see, when I know that something is particularly special, I get nervous about writing about it. I worry I'm not going to do it justice, so I won't properly capture what it's like for you. I'm going to give this a try though, as always! Hah. Deinonychus was a blind buy for me. Right off the bat, I knew I was going to get bottles of this, Giganotosaurus, and Velociraptor (BECAUSE IT'S VELOCIRAPTOR!! EEE. More on that later.) Okay, so looking over the notes, I see my beloved Egyptian Temple Oudh. Hnnnnngggggg I cannot express my love of this enough. It's eye-rolling good, life changing, and if you're into it? Great for a mediation perfume oil, it will totally take you out of your normal life and put you into that special place. Anyway, that's just one component. The other one that caught my eye was Cemetary Musk. Now, I've had some experience with this, it's also an accord used in my beloved Snow Amber, Underlord Akhenaten, and it looks like it's been in a few other LCs that sound pretty amazing, Zombie Grave Edition and White Zombie. Hmmm. Anyway, how to describe this musk that I like so much? It's sort of a sweet, dry, clean musk? Maybe sort of a light golden feel, or even a sort of gauzy white. It's deceptive, I mean it's a light and clean musk, but it packs more of a solid punch than say NAVA'S Egyptian Musk. As a note in these three scents that I have, it sticks around for a long time, which is what I mean by deceptive. I'm okay with that, I love that smell. So if you wear Deinonychus alone, it's a little more complex than some of the Dinosaurs. That's neat. You still won't get all of the nuances unless you add another oil, but I definitely get the Cemetery Musk right out of the gate, and I'm picking up the ambers in the undercurrent. They're so lovely, I really enjoy that sort of "freshness" of NAVA amber. It's quite distinctive. I've worn Deinonychus alone for an entire day, and it's pretty amazing, actually. I put it on in the morning, and then I made a trip to Clearwater. As I was walking around in a shop, something like 6 or 8 hours later, I got this lovely, smoky scent drifting up at me. I stopped dead in my tracks and tried to figure out what it was - bingo, Deinonychus. The Egyptian Temple Oudh just kicked in and the Cemetery Musk took a step backwards - HOLY WOW THAT IS AWESOME. I mean, I'm not kidding. So let's talk about layering. (I know, this is long. But it's complex and wondrous and it deserves a full review.) When you hatch Deinonychus, it's quite a changeling. Not as drastic as Giganotosaurus is, but depending on what you layer it with, you'll get more of the other notes - the Kobalt vanilla, the cedarwood, and the sandalwood all make appearances but if you layer it with a vanilla heavy perfume, Kobalt comes out even more to play. Honestly the two stars of this always remain the Cemetery Musk and Egyptian Temple Oudh, but layered all of the aspects come out and it is glorious. I'll give some examples below. By the way, the cedar in this is not at all pencil shavings - if you've not had the please of smelling Diamond, which you totally should by the way, you won't recognize it, but it's a light, sweet wood here, almost juicy, absolutely lovely.
TL;DR: CEMETERY MUSK PARTAAAYYY. Umm. Let me try to be a little more concise. Hatching Deinonychus, it's quite multifaceted, but the stars are always Egyptian Temple Oudh and Cemetery Musk. The vanilla, sandalwood, ambers, and cedar all make appearances.
Layering recommendations: So now, let's talk about how to make certain notes sing, shall we? If you layer Deinonychus with the aforementioned Diamond, it becomes a Cemetery Musk (CM for short), Egyptian Temple Oudh (ETO), and Cedar party, with the sandalwood, vanilla, and amber as supporting cast. The woods in Diamond are so beautifully done, and they really go so beautifully with this, it's quite a stunning combination. The guy loves this particular combination. And let's say you layer this with one of NAVA's superlative vanillas. Crystal, Crystalline, Kobalt, Kobalt Dark, Ember Vanilla, OP Pakhet, Phantasm Kiss. Wait, let's hold off on Phantasm Kiss, that one is special. All of these other vanillas though, then it becomes a CM, ETO, and Kobalt party, with the ambers, sandalwood, and cedar as supporting notes. Now let's get to Phantasm Kiss. Wow. This is a good one, because it's got both vanilla AND ETO. So this really showcases how incredibly multifaceted Deinonychus is. You already know who's at the party here, I'm sure you're following along by now. So it's also especially lovely with Santalum, Santalum White, or Santalum Ombre for the same reason. You might try it with Ambre Ombre to really bring out the two lovely ambers - it's actually kind of jaw dropping good with Ambre Ombre, or White Ambre Ombre, if you want something a little lighter. Umm, let's see, what else? Oh, you could easily do Egyptian Musk, Crimson, or Kashmir with it. As far as LC suggestions? Sky's the limit. It goes well with almost any of the Oudhs I think. I don't think I've tried it with Labyrinth, but I've tried it with ETO, Copal Oudh, Samar Oudh, Inferno...Snow Amber, Holiday Egyptian Gold Amber, Embalmed Mummy, Underlord Akhenaten, Underlord Bastet, Blood Moon, Holiday Egyptian Gold Vanilla and Sandalwood, Under the Moon - really the possibilities are endless. This is such a workhorse of a scent, it's amazing.
Giganotosaurus: Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Ginger, Rosewood and Hungarian Teak.
Oh, girl. You had me at patchouli and rosewood. I was curious what the rest of it would smell like, but I knew I was getting a full bottle of it. Little did I know that I would blow through a half a bottle in six months! I actually saved this review for last, because as much as I love Deinonychus, I love Giganotosaurus even more. I have tried this with errydangthing. I mean it. And it's a total chameleon! With some perfumes, it turns light, feminine. With others, it deepens, becomes more earthy, woody. But I have not found anything I didn't like it with. It's been blowing my mind and I can't get enough. And the more I age it, the more delightful it becomes. I can't believe how the different facets come out with different blends. This; this is the reason I am such a fangirl for NAVA. I swear, they're magicians. They truly are. Now, you can wear this alone, or with another Dinosaur (see my note at the end of the review for more about this) and it is lovely. As it dries, it changes. More facets come out. At first, I get patchouli and amber, and hints of some lovely wood beneath. The rosewood comes out, and then the teak and cedar, and they are all playing together, as if they are creating a symphony. It's lovely, and sort of a yin and yang, both masculine and feminine, how in the world? I don't know, but when I do my layering experiments, this is further reinforced. It seems to somehow smell different with every perfume oil, even the SL vanillas - for instance, it's a little darker and more earthy/woody with Kobalt Dark, and sort of lighter and feminine with Crystalline. I don't know how to explain it other than telling you it's magical. I could keep going, waxing poetic, but I'm probably not very poetic, and I think you get the idea at this point. My initial plan last year was to get a backup of Cryolophosaurus, but I fell so hard for Giganotosaurus, I ended up panicking and getting a backup of that instead. Seth, you sir are a genius. First, you (and Bastet!) get me to dip my toes into the magical water of NAVA gourmands, and now this? I'm struggling for words here.
TL;DR: The most magical of all the Dinosaurs, in my opinion. This is extremely versatile and smells quite different depending on what you layer it with. It also is lovely and long lasting worn alone.
Layering suggestions: Oh boy. Here's where it gets crazy. I don't think there's anything I wouldn't recommend you try it with, because why not? I haven't had a bad experience yet. Tonight I'm wearing it with the incredible Byzantium Amber, and it's so lovely, sort of feminine. One of my favorite options is Labyrinth, a patchouli oudh, or Patchouli Ombre. Those are both rather heavy, earthy blends, and Giganotosaurus lifts them both, making the patchouli more wearable for those of you who might be a little nervous about a patch-heavy scent. Speaking of patch-heavy, Hessonite. Child. I understand Hessonite packs quite a punch, but please, try adding a dab to Giganotosaurus, you will thank me. So, everything else under the sun. Mummy Crypt. Holiday Egyptian Gold Amber, White Ambre Ombre, Santal Ombre, Black Raven, Bastet Amber, Gabriel, Pyewacket Cat, Anticipation, Carter, Enigma, Holy Grail, Cecilia, Horus Haven 2, Egyptian Temple Oudh, OP Baba, OP Hathor, Ozymandias, Under The Moon - okay seriously, just try it with everything. Hah!
Protoceratops: Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, Crystalline (Egyptian Vanilla Orchid stigma Resin), Kobalt (Vanilla Orchid of Cairo), Crystal Absolute (Vanilla Musk), Vanilla Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream Accord, Vanilla Caramel, Bastet Amber and Egyptian Sugar accord.
Okay, I almost passed on this. Almost. I was looking at the notes and thinking, I can't wear that. It will come off as too sweet on my skin, I tend to make foodie blends too foodie. This is one of the reasons I love NAVA. Always expanding my horizons. I read a review from another blogger, and she said it was not overly foodie, so I though huh - maybe I can sneak in a bottle of this last minute. I somehow managed it, and Protoceratops showed me that I can start to branch out a little on foodie blends. This is...delightful. If you wear it alone, it's kind of an ice cream, waffle cone, buttery vanilla. However! The ambers lift this up and keep it from going too far into foodie territory. It's a little more light, and clean. Not overly caramelized, like some foodie vanilla blends do on my skin. And that Bastet Amber is the icing on the cake, I LOVE that stuff. It's incredible, so there are a melange of ambers in this to lift this up. And do you see what I see at the end of the notes? Vanilla Ice Cream Accord? WHAT IS THAT? I needs it. I do. Because although this is lovely and light, I'm catching whiffs of that, and it smells delightful. So, around the time that this was released, they very kindly included a sample of Bastet's Ice Cream Accord. There was no plan at that point to release a full bottle of it, but it was an instant hit. It's SO good. It's definitely a foodie blend, but I actually slather myself in it! Unfh. It's like vanilla ice cream in a fresh baked buttery sugar waffle cone. It's like walking into an ice cream parlour and being hit with that delightful smell. Anyway, not a review for that, but just so you know, if you want to emphasize the ice cream aspect of this Dinosaur, that's your best bet. They ended up releasing three versions of Bastet's Ice Cream Accord over the holidays last year. Anyway, back to Protoceratops. If you wear this alone, when you first put it on, you get a good whiff of the ambers - Bastet Amber really brings these to the forefront in this blend. As it dries down, it starts getting more creamy, and the waffle cone starts to come out a little bit. Yum. The amber is still there, so it never gets that overly foodie aspect. It's quite well balanced. This is pretty lovely alone, but when you pair it with other blends, it's really a star. Mmmm, that sugar is lovely, like a crust of sugar, that shows up when layered.
TL;DR: Lovely, lovely creamy vanilla ice cream with a sugared, buttery waffle cone. Lifted away from the foodie category by the addition of Bastet Amber, it's perfectly balanced - if you are nervous of foodie blends, this is a fantastic option for dipping your toes in.
Layering suggestions: Go crazy. This one is easy! Any of the vanillas go well with this. If you're lucky enough to have a bottle of the now discontinued SL Moonstone, that's a great choice, as it's a little more foodie, but it also easily goes with Crystalline, Crystal, Kobalt, or Kobalt Dark. If you want to ramp up the ambers more, add some Bastet Amber. I like it in the summer with Santalum White or White Ambre Ombre. I've worn this with some of the Tea Service blends and it's fantastic, like Coconut Milk or Sweet Santalum Milk. I have paired it with tea blends too, Black Oudh Jack, Underlord Bastet, Luxor Lemon, White Tea Vanilla. Try it with OP Pakhet or Tawaret. I've worn it with any number of fruit blends too - Ophelia, Egyptian Peach Blossom, Black Crystalline Black Fig, Raphael, Fig Noir Ombre, (I have a lot of NAVA fig!) Ichabod, Black Crystal Candy Apple. I like it with Vamp, Victorian Candy Cane Crystalline, Selket Anti-Venom Rez, Coconut Cockatoo, Adele. Offbeat but also works: Anticipation, Nag Champa Seahorse, California Redwood Crystal Musk, Holiday Egyptian Gold Amber, Halloween 2017. If you have a coffee blend, such as Seth's Secret Sweet Vanilla Bean Black Coffee, Protoceratops adds a lovely cream and sugar element. Over the top? Sure, Bastet's Ice Cream Accord, Spooktacular, Orb, Poison Pumpkin, or any of the 31 Pumpkin Library! This one pairs so well with all kinds of blends.
Velociraptor: Resinous Amber Accord, Limestone Amber, Black Musk Absolute, Black Amber and a drop of aged viscous Velociraptor Kashmir red musk.
Oh, sir. OF COURSE I HAD TO GET YOU. Anyone who knows me knows my fondness for Jurassic Park. So no matter what the notes were, I HAD to have him. Hah! Well, remember our friend Utahraptor from the first collection? Velociraptor has emphasis of the Black Musk, rather than the Kashmir. This is absolutely glorious. Yes, you still smell the Kashmir, because of course, there's no way that Kashmir is going anywhere without getting noticed! But it's not the star of this show, and that's okay, because NAVA's take on Black Musk is perfect - it's not too heavy, it's balanced in just the right way. Often, black musk blends can be too overpowering for me, but never with NAVA. The amber in this is definitely noticeable too, with the addition of Black Amber. This is lovely to wear alone, but when you hatch it with something else, it really comes to life! This one is not shy. It's definitely as potent and long wearing as Tyrannosaurus and Utahraptor, so bear that in mind when applying. If you don't mind that, slather away - I do!
TL;DR: This Dinosaur is the opposite of Utahraptor, in that the Black Musk is the star, but don't worry, both Kashmir and Black Amber show up as well.
Layering suggestions: Oh, this is fun. Try it with any musks, I actually love this with Egyptian Musk, and of course it's beautiful with SL Kashmir. I like it with the SL Vanillas, but I also like it with Santalum, Myrrh Ombre, Ember, OP Osiris. I love it with the Oudhs like Egyptian Temple or Copal. Absolutely amazing with Kadmium Amber or Eternal Egypt Decade. Try it with the Holiday Egyptian SLs like Frankincense, Myrhh, Gold Amber, or Gold Vanilla and Sandalwood. I also like it with the Nag Champa Seahorses - all three, but particularly NCS Kashmir. I've worn it with Pandora Enigma, Egypt 1, Mummy Crypt, Blood Moon.
Something that I forgot to mention in the previous review and I need to edit is that these are lovely when you pair them together! And I've done this several times with different combinations. Pteranodon with Protoceratops or Deinonychus, Velociraptor with Utahraptor, Diplodocus with Giganotosaurus, Protoceratops with almost anything! Hah.
Another thing to mention, if you have eNVie Saphir, many of these are stunning when hatched with Saphir. Definitely worth experimenting with - I have Saphir, Ambre Saphir, and Encens Saphir, and they all do well with the Dinosaurs.
Phew. So, that wasn't quite as wordy as part one, but it was still wordy huh? I certainly hope my layering suggestions gave you some ideas for hatching these! I think some people may not be aware that these were designed with that in mind, although I do think they are lovely alone as well. None of them, alone, seem to be a single note, because of the ambers. Anyway! We are now two days away from the grand reopening, and I'm at the edge of my seat. Have a lovely evening folks!
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Hello, everyone! I've been wanting to write some reviews for a while now, but we moved, and then I promptly came down with a really bad case of bronchitis, that did not seem to want to go away. I ended up with two different antibiotics and almost went to the hospital at one point, but it's mostly dissipated finally. Well, then I had to put my house together and get everything situated here, and I'm sure anyone that has moved understands how much effort that takes. I haven't moved in over four years, and I felt really bad about not getting my house organized! And here I am, going on and on. Anyway, I had intentions of reviewing Seth's Dinosaur Collection for quite a while, but I think it's particularly relevant now. Nocturne Alchemy is reopening in 4 days, on June 30th! *squeeing and flailing* I'm so excited to see the site redesign. Also, they've been working on new label art, and from what I understand, they'll be adding new scents to the various Permanent Collections. So much fun. I'm sure it's going to be beautiful. If you'd like to keep up with them in the meantime, they have been posting fun things on their Facebook Business page, including a sneak peek video of the new logo, which is absolutely elegant.
Well, I started this last night, and ended up having things to do that needed my immediate intention - so I had to put it down and come back to it in the morning! It seems like that's the way things have been going lately, so now this review is even more timely. Before I delve into it, I want to make mention that I had an email conversation with the NAVA crew, because I wanted to address some of the rumors I'd seen going around since they'd been closed. I saw that folks were concerned that they wouldn't be reopening, because they've been gone so long, and I also saw that many were worried that the catalogue as it was known might not be returning, so I wrote to see if they'd give me something to share with people - and they did! Such lovely, kindhearted people, and that is the reason I am such a huge "fangirl". I mean, don't get me wrong - they make the most exquisite perfume oils, and of course that drew me in, but once I began to see how much heart they pour into their company, and how much they care about their customers, that really made me fall head over heels. Honestly, in the world of indie perfumes, NAVA is a pretty good sized company. They've been making perfumes for 10 years now - actually, as it's June, they're into their 11th year, and they have a pretty extensive catalogue! So in their own words, I'll use a direct quote here from Nocturne Alchemy.
NA will return June 30th. We asked our customers last year what they thought of the old NA site. Constructive criticism concluded that it was dated. The truth is, we knew this and had been looking for the right host site for the past two years. We knew it would take time to migrate and create a new site but we'd have to be 100% involved and the focus of a new site would mean we'd have to shut down the old site. In the process, we decided to recreate the art for the labels of the Permanent Collection (we call it the PC because we view perfume as you would at an art gallery, where there is a Permanent Collection and a Limited Collection or the temporary exhibit if you will). In the past six months we've taken some much needed time off after a decade of perfume making, perfume soul-searching, travel for more unique perfume, and also back in the Studio for months now working on new PC, new art for new labels and a new look for NA. It took two years prior to opening NA in 2006 creating a small collection of PC and Limited perfumes, designing labels, the site...the fact that we can do this in six months, means we are at the top of our game. We know what we want to create but you can't rush art. NA will return June 30th. Find us on Facebook to stay up with current information. The PC and Studio Limited will return, as well as the beloved VApothecary line that has been rebranded under Nocturne Alchemy to facilitate cohesiveness at the new site.
So, there you have it! In addition to completely redesigning the site from the ground up, including a different type of "shopping cart", they've been working on all kinds of wonderful things. I am not sure I will even know where to start on Friday! I'm certainly looking forward to digging through the new site - bad pun intended? And now, I have to apologize. As I said, I'd meant to get this posted a few weeks ago, but life sort of threw me under the bus, and I just couldn't give it the proper time it deserved, as the Dinosaur collection, and the eNVie review, both deserve a bit more depth than just reviewing a single perfume. I'll be working on the latter today, to get it posted up hopefully by tomorrow.
So, roughly two summers ago, Nocturne Alchemy released the original Dinosaur collection, which was Seth's baby, as his other passion, from his early childhood, was dinosaurs, and he wanted to do a collection with that theme. I must tell you, it's been one of my very favorite collections, and I'm only missing a few of them. Last summer, they released a Resurgence, and added some new perfumes to the collection. It's alternatively been called the Prehistoric collection, but the name "Seth's Dinosaurs" has kind of become the popular name among the fans, and often gets shortened to "the Dinos". A little note about this collection: "These dinosaur perfumes are created with the beauty of resin in mind for each of them. The concept to this perfume, the label and the respect of the dinosaur is built on imagination. If you look at the label, there is an egg to the left. It is the same color as the Dinosaur. Apply the perfume on wrist and inner elbow and allow the scent to bind with your chemistry. Once this has occurred, inhale. This conceptually, is the egg. To allow the dinosaur to hatch, we wanted you to go to your Studio Limited Library and pull as many as you want, especially your favorites. The magic in layering the dino's with your Studio Limited Library will give your library a new NAVAlchemy aspect of layering and creating your own personal Dino scent. The fun in NAVAlchemy and hatching the dino eggs is all up to you!" - note from Seth. So, I've seen a few comments floating around the internet that say these oils seem to be rather linear, or flat - and I hope that people will read this, because if they don't realize that these were created specifically to be layered, then they'll miss the beauty of these. I do like them on their own, but I find that when they are layered with other perfumes, the beauty and versatility really shines through. I was never adventurous about layering until I was introduced to these beauties, and they really taught me to branch out, because the possibilities are quite endless. What's interesting is that a lot of the SL (Studio Line) is also fantastic for layering, so I'll make some suggestions for these together for you to try. I believe, from the hints that they've been dropping on the Facebook page, that we'll once again be graced with new Dinos this summer. I don't know if it will be happening with the grand reopening, or at some later time in the summer, but it seems that we'll be getting new Dinosaurs to play with! I cannot wait.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Ahhhh, long, long time no talk, huh? I have to blow the dust off and get back to work! And what better time to get started, than with news about a new release of Icon perfume oils from NAVA. I'm super excited, and I know so many other fans are as well. But maybe you're unfamiliar with this line of treasures from Nocturne Alchemy and VApothecary, and you're wondering what Icons are?
Well, they are a collection of oudh-based perfume oils!
I have been a bit intimidated to write about these, because honestly, I don't think I have the scent vocabulary to maybe do them proper justice - but I didn't do it last year during the release of the second collection of Icons, and so when I heard there would be a third, coming very soon, I knew it was time for me to give it a try.
Before I get started with my personal review, I want to mention as always, that I am by no means a scent expert. I'm passionate about my love of indie perfume, no doubt! But one other thing I want to say is that everyone's skin is different; so what may work on my skin, may not on yours. There are sometimes notes that are loud on my skin - for instance honey, I tend to amp that note to the point where I can smell nothing but honey in a perfume oil on my skin. I've had a few successes, with honey, and I'm glad, because I love it. I've had trouble even with hormones affecting the way notes work on my skin. These sort of "your mileage may vary" warnings apply to everything I review.
I'd honestly never had oudh in a perfume oil before NAVA, and for me, I was in for a treat. It's become one of my favorite notes, I just enjoy it so much. But I've always liked deep, resinous types of perfumes - I guess it shouldn't have been a shock. I've been given permission from NAVA to share with you the story of Oudh, and the House of NA, in their own words! So I hope you enjoy reading this and learning about it as much as I did.
"The story behind Oudh and the ICONS by the House of NA:
Agarwood Oil was once as expensive as gold. It was considered a gift from the Gods. What is Agarwood? It is the basis of Oudh.
On our continuing journey around the world, educating ourselves is an everyday rule. We search amazing perfume distilleries in far off lands like Egypt, India, Australia, and Hungary, as well as places not so far away like Canada and within our own state of California. Within this journey it takes a ‘nose’ to ask the right questions, to find the secret markets that harvest this sacred wood, and to become an observer as much as a student of the olfactory traditional methods of creating these dark and smoky wood revelations.
During this time in our perfume journey, we came to the need to produce our own Agarwood, most recently in India. In India we found a very small organic sustainable Agarwood Farm and founded our own place within it. The Aquilaria does not yield perfume all by itself; there is a process and art of infecting the tree with parasitic ascomycetous mould, and in a sense the Oudh comes forth much like Frankincense tear resin comes from a Frankincense shrub, except Oudh is born when the tree begins to die. As the tree is taken over by the fungus, the tree begins to generate an anti-fungus by creating the oil we call Oudh. During this part of the process we take from the tree to create the precious perfume note Oudh. We use an inoculation to create this effect in the roots and trunk of the Aquilaria species, thus producing Agarwood and ultimately harvesting the Oudh after inoculation spreads into the trees, but without killing the tree as the farm we use is sustainable.
The original ICONS collection began five years ago in 2012 when we walked through souks looking for that special Egyptian or Arabian object that was Iconic to these places. Looking through barrels of fresh dates, inhaling the subtle and sublime of incense, feasting our eyes on bowls and bowls of exotic and colorful spices, pouring coffee Arabic from an Arab Dallah, touching the silk of magic carpets and hand-woven Prayer rugs…within all the iconic thoughts of these exotic places, scent was always a fixture at the forefront of everything we did and continues to be at the forefront of everything that we do today. It was then that we decided that we, as a company, needed to create a palette of exotic Oudh that not only uniquely represented NAVA, but also would allow us to introduce these ICONS of perfume into our world of perfume oil. Our Oudh is not marked up like all other suppliers, they are a rare specialty created by NAVA and offered far below typical competitive pricing in the global Oudh market. We have used Oudh (this spelling is Arabic, you may also see ‘Oud’ or ‘Aoud’ as the spelling), in some of our blends before, but we wanted to create our own Oudh that was distinct enough to offer to our customers. There are only seventeen species of the genus Aquilaria and of these only eight are known to produce Agarwood and after inoculation produce Oudh.
In the Souks in Egypt and Arabia and even in India, there is plenty of marked up Oudh for sale everywhere. Go to a high end fragrance house and ask how much alcohol-based Oudh is. You might be shocked at the price that is mostly alcohol, although it is understandable why Oudh is so expensive considering the time and effort and artistic precision it takes to create an Oudh and the precious nature of the endangered trees. In our best efforts, we have harvested organic Oudh that has not been harmed by chemicals and solvents; in fact, our trees are safe from animals and man alike, protected within a temple property, and taken care of as if a sacred gift from the Gods.
Why is our Oudh not as expensive as high end fragrance houses? We do not put alcohol in our perfume oils; we simply use the Oudh as a blending tool and offer a beautiful collection of resin blended oudh for this set of magical scents.
These are limited to 99 bottles. Once these sell out, we will no longer carry them because each lot of Oudh is unique to its particular Agarwood harvest. Each Agarwood reacts differently to the notes that we have introduced in this Resin Collection, and each batch of Oudh oil is one of a kind. We've set aside 50 of each of the perfumes for our Facebook friends during the interim while we migrate our store over to a new vendor online. Once we go live (late Spring), we'll offer the remaining 49 bottles x 4 at the new home of Nocturne Alchemy.
We wanted Oudh that was both pleasing to the Oudh connoisseur's nose as well as pleasurable to be worn alone or layered with another NAVA. Only the smallest drop can bring about the essence of what these Oudh compositions were created to be. If you are new to Oudh, try a tiny drop and understand how long this oil will be part of your perfume library because it is built on becoming more supple and elegant with the age of time. Only the SMALLEST drop can bring hours of an otherworldly experience. This is for true perfume connoisseurs.
There are many ways to wear these, we recommend the usual pulse points but the discretion is in how much. Oudh is quite potent and will wear down on the skin, but you will find they are sometimes sticky and quite viscous. These resins have been expertly blended and will become better with age. For ICONS III, we understood a lot but we were still learning, so when we took to explore India, we found that a lot of Oudh was exported and a lot of trees died because of this. We wanted to only continue this journey for exotic oudh if the trees were sustainable. We found there were other people that thought as we did, so we bought our own trees and harvested our own oudh and with ICONS III, we used the makhalat method which is blending raw Oudh with the most beautiful notes NAVA has found in the world (Resin for this collection), and have collected over time. ICONS III Resin is our testament to the finest ingredients, sustainable Oudh and housed in a beautiful marble-esque bottle."
Absolutely amazing, and I'm so very glad I was able to share this story with folks. I love to learn, and my passion for perfume has led me on such an interesting journey.
There's no doubt these are special. So far, there have been two releases of Icons Oudh, and the third is just around the corner. The Icons I'm going to be reviewing today are from the previous two releases, and are no longer available for purchase; you could possibly find someone selling one in the NAVA Marketplace, the secondary market, on Facebook though!
We'll start off with my precious Egyptian Temple Oudh, which was from the Icons I release. Notes are: "A more intense Oudh that softens over time on the skin. Egyptian Agarwood Oudh is represented here and it is recommended for first time Oudh enthusiasts to inhale from the bottle softly or fan the open bottle toward you with your hand to catch the nuances of smoking embers, dried honeycomb and sandalwood."
In the bottle, ooo it's smoky. Mmm, smoky, and a sort of vaguely rubbery smell, and wood. My bottle is pretty aged at this point, so it's quite thick. I've decanted it into the marble-esque bottle you see in my photo, because it's very hard to get out of the 5ml bottle with the reducer cap. Wet on my skin, the smokiness intensifies, and the faintly rubbery smell gets a bit stronger for a minute. But that starts to dissipate almost immediately and the stickiness of the oil sinks into my skin. This is not fresh, unburnt incense. Immediately, I am transported to a temple, where piles of incense are smoldering, smoking. It's unapologetically strong, potent. Absolutely intense and gorgeous. I get the feel of the oudh, the sandalwood is in the background. My fiance is a big fan of this one, he likes all sorts of dark, woody scents, and this one is quite commanding.
Dry, after just a dab on my pulse points, it's really the same. It has incredible staying power, even after I wash my hands several times throughout the day I can still smell it on my wrists. It is indeed fantastic on its own, but as a layering perfume, it's a virtual powerhouse. I love it with so many options - much of the Studio Limited line, like Kashmir, Crystalline, Diamond, Santalum. It's a great base to hatch the Dinosaur collection with, like Giganotosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Diplodocus, Pteranodon. I've tried it with several limited collection oils, Adele, Anticipation, Witch Cauldron. I like it with some of my OPs, Pakhet, Hathor. And with other oils that have oudh as a note like Phantasm Kiss or Horus Haven 2? Wow! The possibilities are endless.
As far as how strong it is, this one isn't shy - with just a dab, it lasts forever, and isn't hard to find - I often get compliments, or hear people asking if someone is burning incense, hah!
Okay, so that is one of my most prized oils. I have a little dab of Leviathan, from the first collection too, in a bottle, from a friend who knew I'd been wanting to try it. And so I'll give you my review of it. Notes are: An Amber Oudh. NAVA Oudh blend with guiacwood, rosewood, patchouli, nagarmotha, agarwood, atlas cedar and cardamom absolute. The opening note is naturally sweetened Oudh by the Amber notes.
In the bottle - bright amber, woods, and oudh. Wet on my skin, I get the slightest hint of a creamy cardamom, and it's already melding with the oudh, giving a slightly sweet tinge to the edges of this. As it dries down, this is a stunner. The amber feels bright and airy, kind of sweet, and the oudh and woods are a nice balance. I don't catch much of the patchouli, as this is one of those blends that is well balanced, and it's a bit hard to pick out individual notes. I keep huffing, and catch a slight hint of the cedar, and the rosewood, but again, it's so beautifully put together it's really hard to pick up the individual notes, but I definitely get the amber and oudh.
This is just incredible. As I mentioned, I don't have much of this, so I haven't tried layering it, but again as with Egyptian Temple Oudh, I can only imagine what a powerhouse it would be.
This is just incredible. As I mentioned, I don't have much of this, so I haven't tried layering it, but again as with Egyptian Temple Oudh, I can only imagine what a powerhouse it would be.
Next up, Labyrinth Oudh, from Icons II. The notes are: "Black Patchouli Oudh. An aged true earth Indonesian Black Patchouli wood oil, viscous and sweet and only gets better with aging; blended into a deep Indian Oudh with hints of our originally named: Arabian Oudh and Egyptian Temple Oudh (from the original ICONS series) and a drop of California Redwood Absolute."In the bottle: Mmm, kind of a dark patchouli? And unmistakable oudh. I'm not getting that faint rubbery smell here. Wet on my skin: I'm getting the sweetness of the cedar, it's melding with the dark patchouli, which is a bit herbal. The oudh is just a bit smoky, mostly woody feeling here.
It's not as thick as my Egyptian Temple Oudh, and has a bit of reddish color, before it sinks into my skin. Dry, this is potent, unapologetic, patchouli. Beautifully done here, it is still a bit sweet, and it's melded with the oudh. It has incredible staying power. As with my experience with other Icons, it's quite strong, and a little goes a long way. This is another layering powerhouse. I have worn it with Crystal, Giganotosaurus, Santal Ombré, California Redwood Crystal Musk, and several others, including some of the Dinosaur collection. Very versatile! Giganotosaurus is actually quite an interesting combination, because it becomes a sort of feminine feeling scent! I tried layering it today with Black Raven, a favorite of mine from the VA side of NAVA. It's a wonderfully dark combination.
I have sniffies of a few other oudhs, from both Icons I and II. I could give you guys a little impression of those in another post, if there's interest! These are all lovely, oudh based oils, and the layering possibilities are truly endless. They are shipped to you in the usual 5ml bottles, and are accompanied by the faux marble bottles, which you can decant your 5ml jar into. I like using the fancy bottles, because these oudh blends get quite thick with aging, and it's easier to access and apply them in the fancy bottles. As with some other special lines from NAVA, like the OPs, these benefit from resting after they arrive, and aging as well - they definitely get richer and more potent with age. There will be 4 new Icons arriving at the site when they reopen, as NAVA has been closed, remodeling their website. I've been quite impatient, as I'm sure many fans have been - I miss them, and I cannot wait to see what the new website looks like.
Okay, I'm going to go ahead and nervously publish this. I must say, I hope that I've done these little beautiful treasures justice. Oudh is a special note, and to have oudh based perfumes has been a real treat for me! I look forward to your feedback, either here or on Facebook, as always. And I'm sorry for my absence!