Strange Invisible Perfumes is a natural perfume line that prides itself in using the finest botanical ingredients. It was created in 2000 by Alexandra Balahoutis (interview on Now Smell This), who was on a quest to learn the art of botanical perfumery. The line consists of several perfumes that “defy classification” for being representations of botanical essences, with only natural, organic ingredients and fixatives. “We aggressively pursue essences that are organic, wild-crafted, pesticide-free or biodynamically cultivated, and the choice to include them is always based on availability”. Besides the choice of ingredients, Alexandra also favors the use of hydrodistillation, a method that “both honors and captures the soul of the plant as it gently lures the oil from its cellular material, allowing for the use of plants previously considered too delicate to distill.” (Information from the press release).
I first became familiar with the line a couple of years ago, just starting out as a perfume maniac. As you might guess, I was rather underwhelmed – I found the line too weird and ungratifying. The top notes were bizarre and borderline repulsive, the best part was hidden in the drydown that took a while to unfold. Just recently, I got intrigued by them again, as I’ve learnt that the best things in life come with waiting, i.e., in this case, for the drydown. Below are my impressions of just three fragrances, for the time being.
L’Invisible – oakmoss, resins, ylang-ylang, blood orange, hibiscus, vanilla, Moroccan red rose, Sicilian lemon. With rather sharp citrus top notes, the scent unfolds to a hay-like, softly mossy ylang-ylang and rose blend. There’s a distinct herbal quality, with some underlying oiliness that reminds me of the smell of some plant oil. It takes a while to settle on skin and really grows on you. It could be easily classified as soft chypre. L’Invisible is probably my favorite from the line and is quite easy to like.
Tosca – mimosa, jasmine, basil, Parma violet, tobacco leaf, musk, blood orange. Starts out herbal-medicinal with very little appeal. Tosca is said to be a Mediterranean scent, with its character truly showing, once again, in the drydown. The composition is centered around mimosa that’s tea-like in contrast to its typical powdery character. It’s very much a summer countryside perfume, with emphasis on herbs and hay moreso than flowers. It’s quite unconventional and may not be liked by many. In the very drydown, the scent reminds me a little of Armani Pierre de Lune or Parfums de Nicolai Mimosaique.
Etrange – Far Eastern flowers, resins, ginger, benzoin, seaweed. “Etrange meaning strange in French, an aromatic tribute to the lost alchemical art of eighteenth-century perfumery”. Very aromatic ginger and seaweed with an apparent aquatic accord in top notes that takes a resinous turn as the scent develops. In my imagination, this is what the bottom of the ocean smells like – sort of dirty, green, gooey. The drydown is accentuated by soft, honeyed amber. Etrange is a perfect scent for the daring, impetuous kind.
Image source: www.barneys.com
20 comments November 14th, 2006