"I have to say that green is the only color I understand. I can really frame it; I know how to work with it. I see other colors, and they feel alien. I cannot give you a rational explanation why."
This is what Alfonso Cuarón, film director and creator of the 1998 intelligently modernised remake of Dickens's Great Expectations has to say on his use of colour. The film is strategically orchestrated in green hues, from Finn's shirt to Estella's DKNY wardrobe to the artwork hanging on the Florida house walls and tiny details on Chris Cooper's rented tuxedo... He could have been channeling Roxana Villa, artisanal all naturals perfumer who excels in her green blends. Imagine how I felt when a green sample was awaiting for me in the mail!
One of the things that always makes a difference with artisanal perfumers is presentation: Beyond the superficial, there's just something adorable about being presented with a nicely put together sample with a handwritten note. With Roxana Villa this gets elevated into an art form. Not only is her whole site and shop gorgeously art directed thanks to her unerring eye and her illustrator husband Greg Spalenka, she takes the time to prepare lovely ribbon-tied little packages with alchemical symbols and wax-stamps embossed with bees...a symbol which has inspired her to even tend her own hives! With an introduction like that, one is braced for the best.
Indeed Hedera Helix, Latin for English ivy, does not disappoint. A green chypre the way that genre should be, deep, emerald green, graceful, with delicious top accents of citrusy notes (it smells like a mix of pink grapefruit and orange blossoms to me) and crushed leaves (such as rhododendron, violet leaf absolute with its metallic accent and peach leaf absolute, softer and rounder), as well as that classic floral heart (rose-jasmine-pelargonium) which we tend to associate with elegant, classy, old-school perfumes that smell like perfume and not aromatherapy alloys. A warm combination of what smells like oakmoss and honeycomb is underpinning the perfume.
The viscous, inky liquid looks brownish-green in its tiny vial and upon unscrewing sheds a tentacle of climbing greeness in the room, expanding and radiating beautifully. The fragrance of Hedera Helix is nuanced, multi-layered, creating tension and a questioning adventure as each layer peels off and it's fit for "greens" lovers as well as those hankering after proper floral chypres with a grassy-leafy direction. Ivy is one of the sacred trees of the Celtic forest and part of the Tree Ogham which makes it a symbolic choice for the perfumer who dabbles in the apocrypha of the Celtic tradition. Perfect to usher in spring, as it conjures ivy twigs shining bright under the sun's rays while the insides are cool & crisp and home to more mysterious creatures.
It's indeed like a kiss on the water....
Hedera Helix began its life as a special commision in 2007, but it soon took wings and became more widely available. It's too lovely not to be shared among those of us who love greens.
One solid perfume for a lucky reader! Please leave a comment to enter the draw.
Draw remains open till Friday 23rd.
Samples are available on Roxana's Etsy store.
In the interests of disclosure, I was sent a sample directly from the perfumer.