Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Roxana Illuminated Perfume Hedera Helix: fragrance review & draw

"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 CuarĂ³n, 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.


  1. Oh, I've been wanting to try this for some time. Please enter me in the draw!

  2. cheesegan15:29

    Green scents are my new passion these days, please enter me in the draw, I would love to try Hedera Helix. Thanks for the article and draw. Your blog is excellent

  3. Heather16:09

    Oh, this sounds lovely! Please enter me in the draw as well. I also wanted to say that your blog is such a pleasure to read!

  4. Annilihating all that's made
    To a green thought in a green shade
    Andrew Marvell
    I let the English poet bear my colors for this contest.

  5. Anonymous16:16

    I would like to be in the draw.

  6. I am such a newbie to green scents. I have not found one that works on me so I often avoid them, but with summer coming I would love to find something refreshingly green!

  7. Maureen16:45

    You make this sound so inviting & fresh. I would love to try this fragrance. Thanks for the draw.

  8. Sounds wonderful! Please enter me in the draw. :-)

  9. This sounds lovely and I'd love to snag that sample.

  10. I have yet to try any of Roxana's scents - and I love greenies, especially ones with classical florals. Thanks for the draw!

  11. I'm in, thank you! One scent I think of as a green chypre (officially a citrus) is Eau de Guerlain--all those herbs and the oakmoss-amber-musk in the base breathe spring to me.

  12. Anonymous18:32

    I am rarely satisfied by a "green" perfume...However, green is my favourite colour in clothes&accessories. By the way, today morning, I was dressed and accessorized in all hues of green! Tonight, I replaced one piece with navy blue and found suitable to pair with Casanova from Histoires de Parfums. :)

  13. Anonymous18:43

    I'd very much like to try Roxana Villa's scented take on Ivy - such a valuable nectar plant deserves a spell in the spotlight:-)

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

  14. Roxana18:46

    your reviews always makes one want to try the perfume! I can already smell the green:) please enter me too.
    PS: your blog turned me into a perfume junkie. there, I said it:)

  15. "green, the way i love you, greenly
    green the wind, & green the branches
    the dark ship on the sea
    & the horse on the mountain
    with her waist that's made of shadow
    dreaming on the high veranda
    green the flesh & green the tresses
    with eyes of frozen silver
    green, as i love you, greenly
    beneath the moon of the gypsies
    silent things are looking at her,
    things she cannot see."

    -gabriel garcia lorca

    please eneter me in the drawing for the roxana sample. i admire her perfumery & adore green scents...

  16. I would like to enter . thanks ,intl. located
    tumblemumbo at gmail.com

  17. thank you very much for the draw!
    i had a quick look on roxana's shop and indeed everything looks gorgeous and thoughtfully presented!hedera helix sounds like my type of fragrance! please enter me in the draw.

  18. please enter me in the draw! hedera helix sounds like my type of fragrance! could be my lucky charm this spring! thank you

  19. I would absolutely love to try this one :)

  20. Sounds really interesting. These days, with the spring coming, I'm in a green floral phase (cherry blossom week in DC right now).

    From your description it also sounds more substantial than the weakish similarly named Eau de Lierre.


  21. Elena, what a wonderous and mindful review on this very auspicious day. Thank you so much, I am sitting here wafting in gratitude.

  22. AnneR21:05

    I enjoy your blog, its' always interesting. I adore green fragrances, especially in the spring. Please enter me for the give away.

  23. Liza21:12

    I love green scents and am intrigued by your lovely description of this one; please enter me in the draw.

  24. Anonymous00:33

    you make it sound so lovely! please enter me in your drawing!

    i love her celtic-themed work, too!


  25. Anonymous00:38

    I love green, but sadly can not wear it as a colour! Only as a scent. Nice review.

    Nicole from NZ.

  26. Green with Spring envy. Please enter me! Thank you.

  27. Looks like I've been ignoring what's been happening with Roxana lately! I'd love to smell some lovely green goodness =P

  28. Anonymous04:17

    I ordered this last December and ended up giving it away as a Christmas present. My friend loves it!

    Still on my "to try" list. :)


    (Google is not cooperating.)

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. Green chypres have to be my favorite perfumes of all time. This perfume sounds wonderful!

    volta2173 at sbcglobal dot net

  31. Wow, how beautiful this perfume sounds! Would love to try it so please enter me in the draw.

  32. Gisela08:07

    What a lovely, evocative review! All of Roxana's perfumes sound so fascinating...
    Thanks for the draw!

  33. I really like her shop, the products and the pictures are just dreamy. I'm sure they smell amazing and I would love to try Hedera Helix.

  34. 30 Roses11:40

    I don't enter many of these draws but Hedera Helix sounds intriguing, so please enter my name.

  35. AnnE13:29

    I'm not familiar with Roxana's work, and I would love to try a sample! Spring is here, and it's time to dig out the green scents. Thanks for a great review!

  36. Anonymous13:59

    I am not familiar with her work (I am so new to fragrance world) but after reading your description I am intrigued.
    Kindly enter me in your draw.


  37. Oh, I would love to try this! I've been in the mood of greens, as we seem to have skipped spring this year in Chicago and dashed right into summer.

  38. I've heard so much good about this perfume that I would relly love to try it.

  39. I would love to try this, chypres are my favourite, and green my favourite colour, and Roxana is so talented.
    Thanks for the chance!

  40. Anonymous20:34

    Wow, it sounds utterly magical!

  41. A green floral chypre sounds wonderful!, please enter me in the draw!

  42. This sounds great, and I can't imagine not liking a Roxana creation.

  43. Anonymous23:09

    I love green chypres and would love to usher in spring with Hedera Helix. And I haven't worn perfume in solid form since my teens and the Coty Sweet Earth scents, so the application would bring back some delightful memories too.
    Thanks for the draw opportunity.

    -- Lindaloo

  44. Sofi08:27

    Your description is more than lovely!I would really like to try this perfume!Please enter me in the draw!

  45. You had me at chypre, but the oakmoss makes it a must try for me. Please include me in the draw.

  46. I've read so much about this scent. Would love to try it! :) Roxana i still a mystery to me. :)

  47. Anonymous05:44

    Green is my favorite color, and I'm a big fan of chypres, so I'd love to try Roxana's Ivy creation , please enter me in the draw ~ danoji

  48. Anonymous13:59

    I love the smell of Ivy....curious about this scent.

  49. Anonymous18:52

    Hmm! I've heard a lot of good things about this perfumer and the quality of her green scents. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

  50. Oh NO! Am I too late? I just logged in and this is my kind of perfume...assuming there is also oakmoss in it! Oh please let me in? Thanks!

  51. You're all included. Rest easy :-)

    Results of draw to be published shortly.


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