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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Anya's Garden Moondance and Starflower: fragrance reviews (& a draw!)

When the well-trodden becomes anew there is reason for joy. If certain white flowers have always seem unatainable to you, if you found yourself avoiding tuberose for reasons too complicated to unfold, all naturals indie brand Anya's Garden has two aces up her sleeves: Moondance and Starflower, two unconventional new fragrances that ~in typical Anya style~ will surprise you!

In the words of Anya McCoy in Moondance "water mint is underfoot as you dance among the violets and tuberose, as apple herb and roses sing softly".
The ethereal touch of violets opens with a trompe l'oeil touch of the mint: is it there or isn't it? "This is not the direction toothpaste is going", I said to myself, when testing, as the familiar cold-on-a-hot-tongue feeling of industrial-strength fake mint didn't register. Yet, prompted by my desire to locate it, after reading the notes, I paid more attention and it is there if very subtly: But how strange! It only maxes out the dryad feeling of the woody-orris violets into cool green pistas! Herbal scents are difficult to harness, because they seem to project at a frequency that registers them either in the culinary (lamb chops roast) or the marginally aromatherapeutic: think tisanes and hot compresses. Yet, in Moondance the chamomille reminds one of nothing of the sort. Instead it fuses with the Rose de Mai absolute and the natural alpha ionone isolates (i.e.violet) into a synergistic ritual dance in the forest under, you guessed it, a full moon. Tuberose only hints at its presence, if you're not specifically searching for it, you might not realise that it is delicately weaved in here: its bombastic nature is well-behaved for once, like a loud, overactive child who is mesmerised briefly by the shooting stars into silence, as furry animals watch from a distance (Anya used hyrax tincture and hyrax absolute to render this fuzzy animalic comfort blanket). The general ambience is not unlike Isabel Doyen's creation for Les Nez The Unicorn Spell (which is similarly unisex) and lovers of the latter should definitely give a try to Moondance! My only gripe would be its relatively short lasting power, which means that you could use it on a scarf or ~even better~ a leather band on your wrist (How utterly charming! Why should Kurkdjian have all the fun?)

If your tastes do not run into the timid, but you're set for no-limits throttle, full-on speed, then Starflower is more your thing, and by Jove, ain't it mine! Anya McCoy presents floral gourmand Starflower as "candy flower, dreamy and steamy, almond cherry, chocolate and tuberose bring Mexico to you". A Mexican delicasy doesn't even begin to describe it, as luscious chocolate, allied to beautiful, slightly camphoraceous but oh-so-good-it-hurts patchouli (and possibly a maple touch) tempt the taste buds before the nostrils claim all the pleasure. There is nothing of the sanitised patchouli that mainstream brands churn out by the bucketload aiming at the fatigued nose-velcro of urbanites burned out on the Angel-doused armpits of commuters. This is the spirited love affair of rich essences which do not succumb but to the skillful hands of a certain Miami shores artisanal perfumer. The result in Starflower is oddly animalic, deep, incredibly lasting for an all-naturals perfume, and somewhat buttyric: Indeed a CO2 butter essence is hiding under the narcotically-scented tuberose (rendered into her edible vestige, posing for a screen-test with Marcolini and melting into a pool of cream). Anya reveals: "I first became aware of its use in ice cream from an 18th Century book Encarnación's Kitchen: Mexican Recipes from Nineteenth-Century California, and further research showed its use in other sweet desserts. My perfume musings got me to thinking, well, let's see how it would pair with vanilla and chocolate, two other tasty and fragrant offerings from Mexico." I can only say that Starflower should come with a cautionary label attached: "Restrain application or you're seriously risking at having your arms (or other body parts) nibbled on!"

A small precaution if I may would be to sample Moondance before indulging in Starflower, so as not to suffocate the more ethereal into the more full-bodied, much as one would do when tasting wines of different attributes, and cork-off them for a couple of minutes before sniffing (as all-naturals are famous for being too intense to fully grasp at first).
Moondance and Starflower are
available from Anya's Garden, in parfum extrait ($75 and $60) and an Eau de Parfum ($125 and $100) or $5 per sample.

Anya had the generosity of sending me two ample samples of the expensive scents for a lucky reader, along with those I sampled for reviewing. Enter a comment if you want to be in the drawing!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Natural scents and perfumers, Tuberose scents

Painting The Fairy Lovers by Theodore von Holst via touch of vaudeville. Women of Mexico Girclee print via fashionfling.blogspot.com.

86 comments:

  1. Anonymous14:17

    Hi, I would like to enteer the drawing, thanks. Alica - alica@cleis.net

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  2. I'd like to enter as well. I've been reading such great things about Anya'a creations.

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  3. Roberto C.14:48

    Hi , I'd love to enter in the draw, many thanks.

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  4. Mint is becoming very interesting to me. But the Starflower sounds remarkable.
    Please enter me in the draw.

    Thanks!

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  5. Dear E-
    I found these absolutely [sic] intoxicating...
    Some of my favorite work ever.

    What a gift.

    Lovely post, dear one.

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  6. rachael15:03

    Wonderful review, these sound lovely. I would love to be included in the draw. Thank you so much!
    -Rachael

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  7. Rappleyea15:07

    Between your praise, E., and then reading Chaya's, these sound like wonders not to be missed, especially for me, the Starflower. You almost had me salivating on that one!

    I'm a bit concerned by the comparison of Moondance to The Unicorn Spell as that one had a violet note that grew into Godzilla proportions on me. Same thing happened with OJ's Woman. I'm wondering though if it might be iso E super paired with those violet ionones that is causing the blow up?

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  8. Anonymous15:26

    Please enter me in the draw. I've been working my way through the tuberose fragrances and haven't quite found mine yet. Starflower sounds like it could be it!

    Karen M.

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  9. Stephan16:00

    The comparison with the Unicorn Spell makes it "Mysterious" or is it "Moonwalk" rather than Moondance?

    Thanks for entering me in the draw.

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  10. I've never tried Anya's fragrances and I would love to do so. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

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  11. Great reviews! Anya has done it again, which comes as no surprise. I fell for MoonDance instantly--it's a gentle mystery, and I can't imagine a more beautiful pairing of violet and tuberose. StarFlower smells fantastic, but it's a little too delicious (I think) for me to wear. And by the way, I get a maple note, too.

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  12. Please enter me! I was just trying to decide what scent to take on a trip to Oaxaca...

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  13. I'd love to win a sample.

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  14. Hi E, it's so strange, when I sniffed and blogged about these last week, I found MoonDance to be the most longlasting of her scents on me, perhaps this is where my ambivalent relationship to tuberose comes from, it sticks to me like glue! Tuberose, along with jasmine, vetiver, and cedar, are all the banes of my sniffing capabilities ; ) Amazing how different we all are, no? XXX

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  15. Please put me in the draw.
    Barbara

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  16. Anonymous20:47

    Dearest E,

    Oh, pretty please, enter me in the draw. These sound fascinating even though I run in the opposite direction when faced with tuberose.

    That animal comfort, however, sounds perfect.

    Natalia

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  17. Thank you for giving us this opportunity! I would adore being entered in the draw to sample such interesting-sounding scents.

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  18. Starflower sounds gorgeous, and the accompanying painting goes perfectly with the description. Thank you for holding this draw.

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  19. I've been staring at her website a few times, eyeing her perfumes. I'd love to try a sample!

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  20. Both of these fragrances sound wonderful! I have love all of Anya's scents that I've sampled, but I've never sniffed these! I am especially interested in Moondance, since I love The Unicorn's Spell. Please enter me in the drawing!

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  21. Elizabeth03:53

    Well, I have tried several of her scents and only found one that I really liked, which was Pan. Please enter me in the drawing, as I would love to find another one I like!

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  22. Anonymous05:58

    Awesome review! The gourmand aspects of Starflower got me drooling a bit. I would love to be entered in the draw too :)

    ~ Gustav

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  23. Fernando13:58

    Very interesting reviews! I'd certainly like to give these a try. And also, thanks for the "cork-off" advice. I've noticed with some DSH fragrances that there's a waiting period before things "normalize", but hadn't been smart enough to think of opening it a few minutes in advance...

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  24. "CO2 butter essence is hiding under the narcotically-scented tuberose (rendered into her edible vestige, posing for a screen-test with Marcolini and melting into a pool of cream" Hoo-aah. I don't know what that means but I want it!! Please enter me in the draw.

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  25. What wonderful reviews. Would love to be entered in the draw.

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  26. Quite the quixotic eloquence in describing these scents! The Moondance sounds particularly appealing. But, then again, I'm a moon lover so of course it would!

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  27. Marlene22:25

    The review, the perfumes, and the pictures are seamless. I'm ready for Mexican cuisine under a full moon. A tour de force of both fragrances and writing!

    Marlene

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  28. How could one resist the chance to try one of Anya's creations. One Day I hope to try them all! Enter me in the draw please! ellenoire@ellenoire.com

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  29. I tend to shy away from tuberose, but your Moondance review has intrigued me. Count me in the drawing :)

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  30. Enter me please, these sound oh-so-interesting. I wonder though, what was used for ice cream, butter or tuberose? Tuberose ice cream, hmmmm.......

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  31. Anonymous00:50

    Both sound interesting, but Starflower especially! Please enter me in the drawing.
    -- Gretchen

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  32. mmm, sounds so yummy! Yes, of course, enter me in the drawing. Thanks!
    flwrgrl

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  33. Starflower is still waiting on my desk for me to give it another round. Please put me in the hat for some Moondance to keep it company!

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  34. stella p09:40

    These two really sound tempting to try, please enter me in the draw!

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  35. Not sure if my comment showed up, so I'll leave it again. Please enter my name in the drawing. Thank you!
    -Autumn

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  36. Anonymous14:20

    Love the visual/scentual images in your writing. Please enter me in the draw!
    vikkivaughn@msn.com

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  37. Sounds great. I would love to try!
    corysu @ gmail . com

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  38. Anonymous21:45

    I would like to enter in the drawing. Thank you! lunamaris

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  39. Anonymous23:53

    I love the smell of violets; I always look for it as a note in wines. These sound beautiful. Please enter me in the drawing.

    bevoakley@juno.com

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  40. Ines,

    the rumours are not without substance, you're in!

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  41. Janet,

    they're both very interesting in their way. The mint is so delicate in Moondance, I lost it the first time.

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  42. Ida,

    they're quite something, I am thinking of the Starflower as we speak, chocolate and patchouli are favourites and this is so animalic in a most unexpected way!

    Hugs to you!!

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  43. Thanks Rachel!

    Best of luck!!

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  44. D,

    you won't be disappointed!

    I think both of the perfumes you mention do have gigantic violet in there. I'm not 100% sure whether Isabelle Doyen used Iso-E Super in the The Unicorn Spell, but I am certain that Linda did in OJWoman. In Moondance the violet is discernable but it's not as prominent (it's certainly a non sweet violet), I'd say it's more of a mingled note. Still, if you absolutely hate violets, maybe it's not for you.

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  45. Karen,

    you're in! These have a very subtle tuberose, weaved in magically. If you're not told the white flower is tuberose you wouldn't guess.

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  46. Stephan,

    could be! Shades of Michael Jackson with that name though.
    Good luck!!

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  47. Dagny,

    we've got to thank Anya, she's the one who honoured me with supplying samples for readers.
    Good luck!

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  48. M,

    thanks! I agree that the beauty of Moondance is its unexpectedness. But then so is Starflower's: I really couldn't believe I liked something so sweet as much. Glad you get the maple-y note too, is it spice I wonder (fenugreek)?

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  49. Datura,

    your trip sounds fabulous, so hope you win!!

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  50. Wendy,

    noooo, really?!
    I guess you could say that we;re all different, I wouldn't have thought it would be so lasting on someone else. I usually test scents both ways: a drop on a blotter, a little on skin, so as to judge differences. This one evaporated from my skin very soon, on the blotter less so. Could it be body temperature that affects it so dramatically? (Could explain differences between folks too)

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  51. N,

    of course you're included and I think you won't be running away from tuberose this time: it's so subtle!

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  52. Lovethescents,

    you're most welcome, best of luck!

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  53. SSy,

    so glad you liked the illustration, I usually tend to spend a bit of thought on what to choose to illustrate my posts.
    You're included!

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  54. Tammy,

    here's your chance to sample two of them on the free! Best of luck!

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  55. Jenn,

    you're included! (FTR, I also love Fairchild, Pan and Kaffir Lime; the latter is such a happy smell)

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  56. E,

    you're lucky, because you chose one of the best (Pan is trully unique). I hope you win and find another one to like!

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  57. Gustav,

    thanks, much appreciated.
    You're included, Starflower is surely a star!

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  58. Fernando,

    thank you for commenting and best of luck! Indeed I've noticed that sometimes you need not to smell all naturals right away so as to give them the time to settle for a minute or two.

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  59. Queen Cupcake,

    it's perhaps the cinematic way of saying that the chocolate & tuberose is fatty and creamy and should add 10 pounds on your hips if it were made as dessert. LOL!

    Best of luck!

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  60. Ahsu,

    awww :-) You're in!

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  61. Sonsa,

    welcome and thanks for commenting!
    I think Moondance is indeed a mystical scent, very delicate and at the same time giving its message too...
    Good luck!

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  62. Marlene,

    thank you so much for your wonderfully kind words. Sometimes the scents inspire...

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  63. Noelle,

    you really should, you're in and good luck!

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  64. Brian,

    thanks for stopping by and best of luck!
    Tuberose ice-cream...I think Anya is set to spoil us.

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  65. Gretchen,

    indeed they're quite interesting. I hope you win and see for yourself!

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  66. flwrgrl,

    you're in! Thanks for commenting.

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  67. Alyssa,

    hello honey, how are you?

    I think one Moondance should make its way to your Starflower if lucky(eagerly awaiting your views on the latter)

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  68. S,

    they're quite scrumptious and unexpected. Good luck!!

    (hope you're fine!!)

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  69. Autumn,

    I definitely see this one, so rest assured your participation is guaranteed :-)

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  70. Vikki,

    what a lovely compliment! Thank you :-)
    Good luck with the draw!

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  71. Aquarian Bath,

    you're in!

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  72. Lunamaris,

    of course you're included, good luck!

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  73. Bevoakley,

    what an interesting comparison: a resounding yes!! (oenophiliac here as well) It's a nice non sweet violet we're dealing with here. Good luck!!

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  74. Elena, you are correct! It is fenugreek - both the CO2 and the absolute ;-)

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  75. Hello!

    I am not sure if the drawing is still open, but I am very interested if it is. I have been reading reviews about Anya's perfumes and everyone absolutely sings her praises! The descriptions are beautiful and I am dying to try them first hand.

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  76. NPG,

    excellent!! Having the perfumer's seal of approval that my nose isn't "broken". I feel better now :-)

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  77. Nicole,

    yes, you made it in time. You're included and hope you find out why her scents are admired!

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  78. E,

    They both sound lovely but I think I would like Moondance better just based on the notes.

    I'm in for the draw, please.

    Cheers!

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  79. Well, it looks like I might be in time, but it's hard to be sure...

    Felicia

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  80. If the draw is still open, please count me in!

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  81. Evocative writing and I'd love to be entered in the drawing . . .

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  82. I see the Starflower and I smell it. I know what it is from your description. I don't need it, so I am not entering the contest. But I will say, to the winners, if you have a relative who is ill, than tuberose candles, off in the distance, even some of this perfume on a hanky, will lift their spirits. White flowers lift the spirits of both sexes and arouse the weary, calm the fussy child, and bless the recipient of the actual flowers.

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