If a solid perfume could be known for a dark Patchouli reincarnated with an earthy resinous oozing down a silver tree bark, it’d be the very dynamic, the very musky, the very animalic Figure 1: Noir ($60.90) by Roxana Illuminated Perfume.
Illuminated Perfume is my neighbor. No, literally, Roxana lives but a stone’s throw away from me in the hearty but insular Val area of Los Angeles. This matters to me as I don’t know what it is about Californians and their particularly experimental style of natural botanical blending, but there’s a very select group of niche perfumers who launch some pretty exciting scents that are plush with a modern feel. I'll swear these remote, wild grown materials and savory essences have an almost transparent quality of freshness with a heightened intensity that I rarely see in others.
It’s same here with the well made and distinctive solid perfumes. For instance, take Figure 1: Noir with its touches of earthiness and minerality; it’s an acutely resinous scent with a second skin musk that is grows from eccentric touches of Green Vetiver, Sandalwood, Black Cumin and Orris. A wonderfully intriguing Patchouli plays to the counterpoint of this rapturous garden of essences. For the earthy Patchouli fan looking for a non-hippy pungency, this will satisfy the yearn for something with a plummy richness without getting too heavy.
Chiaroscuro ($85); created in the same vein as Figure 1; Noir, this is similarly a rustic rendition of an indolic Jasmine and Myrtle, which sneaks in a touch of not-so-innocent Spikenard. The sweet, almost candied opening quickly makes way for Vanilla and Chocolate lending a honeyed freshness to the mid notes. Extremely well-balanced, the ethos of the scent centers around the eminently wearable Jasmine that isn’t the usual squeaky-clean floral I’m used to sniffing.
The solid versions tend to unfold sweeter than their liquid counterpoints, if that matters to you. What mattered to me is how the graceful chords of Roxana’s scents are direct, uncomplicated and truly enjoyable. Using obscure essences and homegrown beeswax (Roxana sometimes uses the wax from her own beehives) proves once again how these deliciously daring botanical perfumes easily rebel against the notion that those synthetic ones are better in form and expression.