Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Essentially Me - It Souks!

No, this is not an ego-trip gone sour, rather I'd like to share my impressions of the natural perfumes sold under this moniker by Alec Lawless. Lawless runs an essential oils business with his wife as well as creating bespoke perfumes and providing various perfumer`s equipment through Essentially Me.

A group of lucky basenoters will be sampling and reviewing the ready-to-wear perfume line and I'll be conveying my impressions here as I work my way through ten natural fragrances.

I must admit I have become rather turned off by the fragrance industry as a whole and see little hope for any improvement. The mainstream industry is all about pushing low-quality redundancy at whatever the market will bear while establishing ultra-expensive luxury lines selling what would have been considered a proper fragrance, no more, no less, in the 1980s at prices that start at about a month's worth of welfare payments and end somewhere around the price of a small automobile. Niche has widely degenerated into a fashionista racket with endless new style-over-substance editions of design-conscious flacons and silly brand concepts haphazardly concealing boring, primitive or simply more of those prefab industrial smells.

Paranoid IFRA regulations benefiting the aromachemical big players do not help either and it seems that the only pockets of resistance are small, often one-person perfume operations such as those of Andy Tauer, Dominique Dubrana, Mandy Aftel, Liz Zorn or Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, who are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the art and artisanry of perfumery, rather than merely making a living off of it.

This is a wonderful opportunity to delve into the olfactory universe of another such individual, and the first fragrance by Alec Lawless I have treid is called Souk.

Here's what Essentially Me says about it:
"This was inspired by travelling in the Middle East and India where there is much to celebrate from these ancient cultures. The haunting smells of the spice markets, the Arab love affair with the rose, fragrant gardens, precious woods, resins and incense. Sandalwood, frankincense and Cedar of Lebanon are blended with balsams to provide a complex woody heart. Rose Maroc, jasmine, orris and neroli bring floral tributes from surrounding lands. Citrus fruits, herbs and oriental spices bring nuance from the market stalls and the ancient mysterious opoponax suggests incense with help from frankincense and sandalwood. Deep complex and beguiling - the beauty is in the mystery."

My thoughts:
Are you going to Scarborough Souk? Yes that's right, the green-herbal elements in this unisex beauty balance the balsamic-spice so as to create an English oriental, the two fragrant worlds coming together nicely in the rose, which is, after all, so quintessential to both. A pleasing alternative to the French orient smarting under the syrupy heel of that charming despot Serge Lutens.

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