Gardener’s Glove, Frost, and First Cut encapsulate the philosophy and world of their creator, Diane St. Clair, who was profiled at length in Part I. On an olfactory level, they are nature-based bouquets (with roughly 80% natural raw materials or essences) that embody the smells of the world around her — the gardens, flowers, meadows, grass, hay, woods, and earth — but they are also extensions of her artisanal philosophy, a philosophy which has made her gastronomy and the Michelin world’s Queen of Butter:
What happens when The Queen of Butter, Diane St. Clair, a woman who makes the most coveted and expensive butter in the world, carried in some of the most famous temples of Haute Gastronomy like Thomas Keller‘s French Laundry and Per Se and sought by other Michelin-starred chefs (who are frequently turned down), decides to turn her attention to fragrance? The result is St. Clair Scents, a new indie perfume house that applies the same artisanal philosophy and naturalistic aesthetic to fragrance that Ms. St. Clair uses to make the best butter in the world. Today, I’d like to focus on the intersection of artisanal gastronomy and artisanal perfumery to tell the unusual tale and journey of Ms. St. Clair. At the end, there will be a brief scent summaries of her new trio of fragrances: Gardener’s Glove, Frost, and First Cut. Next time, in Part II, I’ll review all three fragrances properly and at-length.
What really fascinates and intrigues me is Ms. St. Clair herself. Perfumers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, particularly the self-taught ones who make artisanal perfumes, but I’ve never encountered someone whose background is in gastronomy or luxury food. Nor have I ever encountered someone who is already an established rock star in their own world — nay, a superstar in their particular niche — who then decided to start from scratch in a completely new field, taking on the challenging, insular, and often exclusionary world of perfumery, learning and doing everything themselves from the ground-up, all without deep pockets or wealthy investors. Not until now, not until Diane St. Clair.Continue reading
Willy Wonka would probably have loved Areej Le Doré‘s new Russian Oud. The chocolate and candy magician in Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book was noted for transforming sweet items into something fun outside of its usual structure. The same can be said for Russian Oud which puts an oriental twist on the famed sweets factory or, to view it in a different light, takes Willy Wonka’s magic factory and places it firmly in the Orient. Imagine Willy’s river of chocolate, but now slash it through with caramel and treacly labdanum toffee and transport it to Ali Baba’s cave of oriental treasures. The cave lies deep in the heart of a Hindi oud mountain, its carved walls emitting gusts of black smoke and heavy brown muskiness. Willy Wonka’s gourmand river now runs alongside tall river beds made out of resinous, smoky red sandalwood and brown-red earthy patchouli, and is watched over by Oompa Loompas clad in birch tar leather, their skin orange from a thin patina of spices, and Ali Baba’s forty thieves clad in myrrh and more leather. Together, they stir the molten river of chocolate, toffee, and caramel with long paddles made out of creamy sandalwood, oud wood, and buttered oud calfskin, sending it down into the heart of the mountain where it finally winds its way into an ambered pool of caramel muskiness flecked with a pinch of cocoa.
Today, I wanted to take a closer, more detailed look at Russian Musk, the new parfum from Areej Le Doré. Though my mini review in the New Releases post covered the broad basics, I always think specifics are more helpful, particularly for a fragrance like this one which will automatically, inevitably, be judged and compared to its much-admired, popular predecessor, Siberian Musk.
Russian Musk is a pure parfum with the following note list:
Top notes: Russian Fir and Pine, Lemon, Bergamot, and Mandarin;
Heart notes: Orange blossom from Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and France; Indian Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Nutmeg absolute, Clove and Cinnamon;
Base notes: legally-obtained wild Siberian deer musk, co-distilled by Russian Adam; Agarwood (oud) oil from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand; Rose absolute, Fossil Amber, Patchouli, Vetiver, Cypress, Tree Moss resinoid, and Oakmoss absolute.