Confessions of an Aromaholic: Primordial Scents 2012 – AIR

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As a blogging participant of Monica Miller’s Primordial Scents 2012 project, I have been asked to review five groupings of elements-inspired fragrances by perfumers from across the globe. Blogger & perfume-enthusiast Jen Meade explains:

This year, the most amazing project is pulling together. The building blocks are, in part, those that form the universe. The building blocks are exquisite perfumes based on the original building blocks: the four – no, five! – elements. They are talented perfumers working in a variety of materials – some all-natural, some not. They are gifted perfume writers, sniffing the creations and making an offering of words. They are dreams from the minds of creative people all over the world and, especially, the dream of one woman on an island off of Massachusetts, Monica Miller of Perfume Pharmer. She has gathered a group of perfumers from all over the world who have spent the last year creating scents inspired by the elements, including the fifth element proposed by Starhawk: spirit. The focus for the project is on the primordial beginnings, the inner workings of… everything. In Monica’s words, “For the purposes of this project, Primordial to me means original material…going back to the ELEMENTS that make up our planet, our bodies, our selves. What are we made of physically and spiritually? What do we hold most sacred?”

In today’s post, I spend some time with the Air fragrances which include Spirit of Air by Neil Morris, Moon Valley by Esscentual Alchemy, First Breath by Naked Leaf Perfumes, Honey by Velvet and Sweet Pea Purrfumery, Djin by Michael Storer, and Ele-metal Alchemy by Coeur D’Esprit Natural Perfumes. I’ve decided to use metaphors to describe these as they all brought to mind specific images or atmospheres. For a more poetic take on this group, the first of 5 odes to elements, I recommend John Reasinger’s article for Perfume Pharmer HERE.

See my other Primordial Scents reviews by clicking HERE.

Leave a comment below and tell us which interpretation of air has you most intrigued for your chance to win a sample of that very scent! Buy a sample pack of all 6 scents for $33 or $38 (outside USA) here.


Mist rising From a Pond on a Warm Summer Day – SPIRIT OF AIR

Designer’s Description: Spirit of Air is part of a quartet of perfumes honoring the 4 elements: Earth, Air, Fire & Water. It is the second in the series, Spirit of Water being the first.

Notes: Lemon Verbena, Linden Blossom, Plum Blossom, Lily of the Valley, Sunflower, Light Musk, White Amber, Ozone Notes.

The Bottom Line: A clean, white bouquet (linden blossom and lily of the valley) with something soapy and astringent in the background that reminds me of Cashmere Mist or Natori (2010); dries to a breezy, airy, unisex floral. I could have sworn I detected gardenia both at the opening and middle stages but don’t see it in the list of notes. My olfactory image is that of cool air meeting warming water causing steam to form and hover just above the surface of a pond or lake. The fragrance is cool and light but also has a slightly darker shadow barely visible in the background…maybe it’s the musk?

Perfumer: Neil Morris, To purchase, choose any of the Vault fragrances and then request Spirit of Air at checkout.


The Steam of a HammaM Bath Perfumed with Jasmine – MOON VALLEY

Designer’s Description:  Esscentual Alchemy’s Moon Valley natural perfume opens with a hint of the dew that falls at night. Moon Valley is a soft iris and peach perfume, with lush florals, hints of wood, and an earthy base.

Notes: Vetiver, Antique Oakmoss, Hyrax, Orris, Jasmine Grandiflorum, Lilac, Tuberose, Carnation, Peach Accord, Virginia Cedar, Natural isolate of Heliotrope.

The Bottom Line: Moon Valley is a straightforward, all-natural perfume whose notes melt together like sheets of colored cellophane layered one over another. No particular note really stands out and the overall aroma offers a transparency and simplicity. The drydown tones the opening floral notes with a warm, velvety hint of peach. More than anything else, I detect notes of ylang and jasmine and the overall feel is that of an essential oil used at an Eastern bath.

Perfumer: Amanda Feeley,


The Aroma of Spiced Tea in the AfternooN – HONEY

Designer’s Description: Honey is an all natural perfume inspired by Honey Bees, by the beautiful way they fly around and gather sweet flower nectar.

Notes: All hail to the queen bee! This regal, opulent composition of French orange blossom, and Moroccan and Bulgarian roses sits on a throne of deep vetiver, Madagascar vanilla, honey, beeswax from the Purrfumery’s bees and my bee guru’s propolis. It is crowned with rare antique clove, pomegranate and pink grapefruit. This royal blend is set in a rich base of sandalwood and vanilla infused alcohol.

The Bottom Line: One of my favorites of the group, Honey is unique in that it is indeed a honey fragrance but without the musty, urine-like ick that sometimes accompanies honey’s presence in perfume. Another wonderful facet of this scent is the way the grapefruit and pomegranate accord weave in and out against a backdrop of a warm, vanillic spiced tea. Although rose is a major player, it never dominates; likewise, earthy vetiver helps ground the florals but never takes center-stage. Overall, honey is a not-what-you-were-thinking composition that wears as though you were sipping a cup of vanilla and rose afternoon tea…oh, and how about that final lingering glimmer of warm sandalwood right at the very end!?!

Perfumer: Laurie Stern,


The Air of a Finnish Sauna at Midsummer – ELE-METAL ALCHEMY

Designer’s Description: This five-layer fragrance was born in the Earth, forged in the Fire, cooled in the Water, and dried in the Air. Then it was blessed by Spirit with the number Three, the Infinity symbol, colour & crystals, toning, and a prayer that it be worn for the highest good of the wearer. It now lives in the Ether around the wearer, balancing and harmonizing the inner and outer elements. The perfume plays out backwards to how it was created. We detect the first whiffs of scent through the ether. It brings up images of airy clouds in the light blue sky and the ethereal whiffs of pine and spruce bent over from the ocean winds; the honeybee winging from flower to flower; and the green leaves, hanging by a thread and flittering in the wind. From Crown Chakra to Third Eye, to Throat, then Heart down to Sacral up to Solar Plexus down to Root up, it spirals in Fibonacci fashion.

Notes: Hyraceum and Atlas Cedarwood from Africa; Egyptian Frankincense and Mango leaf; Vetitver and Cinnamon leaf from Sri Lanka; Oceanic Ambergris, and Ocean tincture of seaweed, sea grass, shells, and sand; Hay absolute and Laurel leaf from Spain; American Peru balsam; South American Tolu balsam; Canadian Blue Spruce, Orange Peel, and Honey beeswax tincture; Jasmine sambac absolute, Frangipani absolute, Blue, Pink, White Lotus absolute, and Spearmint, all six from India; Italian Neroli and Petitgrain sur fleurs; Chinese Ginger Root and Michaelia leaf; Peach leaf and Violet leaf from France; Turkish Galbanum; Japanese Peppermint; and Bulgarian Pine; in Perfumers’ Alcohol (Ethanol with Bitrex).

The Bottom Line: Spearmint, peppermint, cedar, spruce and ginger: This is what most stands out to me when I smell Ele-metal Alchemy. A vasta of birch twigs with leaves newly split after being whipped on washed skin while mint oils are dropped onto the coals in the mökki sauna: This is what I see when I smell Ele-metal Alchemy. Minty, woody and refreshing, Ele-metal Alchemy gives a wink to Finnish summer.

Perfumer: Lyn Ayre,


The Yawn of a Newborn after a Bath – FIRST BREATH

Designer’s Description: The awe-inspiring moment a baby takes it first breath of air is significant astrologically as that is the moment the chart is cast.  Reflected in the chart at that precise moment is a blueprint of the personality.  Of course, how we manifest that potential, whether positively or negatively, is our own free will. Events can have a birth chart too. Electional Astrologers analyze the cycles of the planets and choose the most auspicious time to begin or breathe life into an event.  Some people use this branch of astrology when they want to know the best time to get married, buy or sell a house, begin a business or have surgery.  From the moment of inception, events, like humans, are subject to the natural rhythms of life.

Notes: Sage, Armoise, Lime, Lavender, Mandarin, Rose absolute (Bulgaria), Jasmine grandiflorum, Neroli (Egypt), Lavender absolute, Clary Sage, Black Currant Bud absolute, Fir Balsam absolute, Oakmoss absolute, Patchouli, Vetiver, Vanilla absolute (Madagascar), Hyrax, Benzoin

The Bottom Line: Yesterday I smelled a baby’s head. He had just been given a bath, a powder and a swaddle in a newly washed cotton blankie when I got to hold him in my arms. I sensed something sweet, almost chocolatey, and then just sniffed the center of his noggin. The first time I encountered the center of First Breath, that wonderful middle range of notes where the topnotes are still hanging on but the basenotes are just getting started, I smelled baby head, plain and simple. For those of you not into baby heads, the fragrance just misses being a baby perfume thanks to its complex, spicy and woody basenotes. I could wear this every day…I find it comparable to my incomparable, vanilla-almond tinged Joop! Le Bain in its peaceful grooviness.

Perfumer: Suzy Larsen,


The Heaviness of Indian Forests after Monsoon Rains – DJIN

Designer’s Description:  “A powerful djin is what Aladdin brought forth when he rubbed his famous lamp.A spectral and prismatic interplay of olfactory sensations is what you’ll set free with just a few sprays of Djin parfum. Djin’s notes range through all the chakras from the base of the spine with very male Aldrone, leathery castoreum, civet, musk, tonka bean and teakwood, to a middle of sweeter woods tempering the bitterness of grapefruit oil, blackcurrant absolute, clary sage, just a hint of vanilla and iris. This all carries on through the upper spine right to the forehead with an aura of ozonic and marine notes, rose and topped with mind-opening spices including cardamom seed and floral aldehydes. This is all we will reveal. You’ll just have to rub the magic lamp yourself to experience all the full-bodied power of Djin.” from

Notes: see above

The Bottom Line: Djin offers a traditional, sweet citrus topnote along the lines of Signoricci set against a slightly aquatic and woody background that reminds me of Axis for Men by Sense of Space. The drydown goes a bit wood & powder and recalls the heliotropic basenotes of fragrances like People of the Labyrinths. When I saw the image above, it brought out an aspect of Djin that I hadn’t really recognized before – dewy greens and sap-laden twigs of the kind encountered after a heavy downpour.

Perfumer: Michael Storer, by request from [sales at michaelstorer dot com]


See my other Primordial Scents reviews by clicking HERE.


Leave a comment below and tell us which interpretation of air has you most intrigued for your chance to win a sample of that very scent! Buy a sample pack of all 6 scents for $33 or $38 (outside USA) shipped here.


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26 Responses

  1. Shelley says:

    Marlen, such a visual and intellectually satisfying treat to see you writing again. Your descriptions of the perfumes make it impossible to choose, each sounds absolutely a “must have”! Congrats to all AIR perfumers on your brilliant work!

  2. Ane Walsh says:

    Oh! I loved First Breath and Honey description the most.
    First because I am very into smelling babie’s heads and second because I am mad about honey and tea.

  3. Neil says:

    Hi Marlen! Your writing is magical, as usual! Thanks for your review of Spirit of Air. I love your image of mist rising on a pond on a warm summer day. Perfect! And your descriptions of all the perfumes are mesmerizing! Thanks again!

  4. Suzy Larsen says:

    Marlen. Astounding metaphors! It conjures up feeling right away without even reading the rest of the story. Just beautiful descriptions. I was taken in immediately by the “heaviness of Indian forests after monsoon rains.” And the stunning picture…wow. Is it possible to see my own First Breath in a new light…you have done it. I thank you sincerely, Suzy

  5. Christi says:

    What a fun piece, Marlen! I do agree that baby’s crown is the best smell on earth. I’m ordering the sample kit so that I can smell them all.

  6. No need to enter me in the giveaway (I have all six samples already).

    I DID, however, want to say that I am tickled seventeen shades of pink and purple (and every color in-between) that Marlen gave me the ultimate compliment a writer can give another one: telling people to read their work!

    Marlen, when I first came “sniffing around”, your writing (more than anyone else’s) tickled not only my funny bone and my nostrils but my brain, as well! You showed me (perhaps without even knowing it) the way…and for that I will be forever grateful!! Your writing continues to enchant me and I am glad (along with Shelley) to see you “at it again”! 😉

    It is such an honor and a pleasure to be included (among such wonderful perfumers, talented writers and parfumistas from all over the world) in this AMAZING project!!

    • Herman says:

      Do you know the feeling, when you buy stmoehing only because you’re frustrated and you won’t to comfort yourselves ? (Or you don’t practise that ?)L’Artisan’s Havana Vanille ended up like a short-time comfort and in long-term turned out to be a mistake

  7. Laurie Stern says:

    Hi Marlen,

    I’ve completely enjoyed your writing about all of these awesome perfumes, including my “Honey”! Thanks for taking your time to deeply experience them, and articulating your thoughts so well. I’m happy that you picked up on the evolution of the notes in Honey, I love that! I like how if you’re listening, it all unfolds. Thank you again!


  8. Marlen,

    I owe you a king-size thank you for composing such a beautifully visually graphic and sensual description of my Djin. Moreover, I appreciate your ingenuity and time spent finding a really great fit of an image for Djin with no help from me.
    And of course, like all the other participants, I feel just so honored to have been asked to be a part of this fun project.

    Most readers probably don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes with me and my fragrances…
    I took my website offline quite some months ago for what I thought would be a quick renovation and a chance to add several new fragrance designs, but suddenly became completely inundated with health issues (I was finally diagnosed as diabetic very late in the game) and on top of that, the impending spectre of foreclosure on our beautiful 1935 bungalow I’ve had for over twenty years here in Los Angeles.
    Things remain up in the air for us with endless back and forth with attorneys, etc. I know times are very difficult for way too many of you as well right now, regardless of what country you call home.
    I’m in the midst of redesigning by my packaging on top of everything else, but I’ ll try to get at least a couple of temporary pages online in a day or two.
    In the meantime, as Marlen wrote above, just e-mail me at sales at michaelstorer dot com and I’ll make sure you get a fine deal for wading through the construction zone no matter where on earth you live.
    To all of you involved with the Primordial project:
    Thank you so much for your patience with me!
    And more of the same to all of you who have purchased and loved my creations over the last few years.
    We will all get through this!

    Michael Storer
    Los Angeles, California

    • sherapop says:

      Great to see some words from you here, Michael! I’ve asked around about you because I really loved some of the perfumes I sampled. (It took me a while to get to them because of the extent of my queue… lol)

      I do hope that your health is better and everything else, too. I’ll check my reviews, make a wish list and send you a note… (-;

  9. Lyn Ayre says:


    I consider your review of Ele-Metal Alchemy as high praise and I appreciate your metaphors. I know the Finnish love their saunas and they are used for many important events from birth to death as well as their day to day refuge. It is a place for both private communion and social community. It is refreshing, renewing, and regenerating. Thank you so much for taking the time to smell my perfume “One”, as it shall be called when it is officailly launched on Sep 21st. I appreciate your time and talent.

    Warmly, Lyn

  10. marlen says:

    thx! I had fun with this one and am excited to see others enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it :)

    • CHARDKAY says:

      I think I would love Djin because I love the smell of rain and the smell of the forest! This would be my first choice but I would actually love to try them all from the beautiful way you described them!!

  11. OperaFan says:

    They all sound wonderful but Moon Valley just hits all the right notes for me – from its name to the description, list of notes, and your mentioning of jasmin and ylang. But I have to mention that as a mom to a 5-yr old, I would still crave to revisit my baby’s First Breath.

  12. sherapop says:

    I think that I may have missed this draw, but in case not, I’d love to try the Finnish sauna scent Ele-metal Alchemy!

    Thanks so much for these reviews, Marlen!

  13. Pingback: Primordial Elements « The Alembicated Genie

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