"Shed not for her the bitter tear
Nor give the heart to vain regret
'Tis but the casket that lies here
The gem that filled it sparkles yet"
Carved into the headstone of Belle Starr
The true story of Belle Starr, the Bandit Queen, has been mostly lost to time and creative interpretations. Relationships with every wrong man she has ever met, violence and a tragic end (Belle Starr was rumored to have been murdered by her own son)- not the stuff of which perfume legends are usually made. But we're talking Outlaw Perfumes here, so just like the other muses for this project, a strong and fearless woman who took lovers, toted guns and ran a crime organization (maybe) is strangely appropriate.
The story of Belle Starr by natural perfumer Lisa Fong of Artemisia Perfumes is centered around jasmine. Jasmine, as we all know, can stink to high heavens if it's too indolic, or go the other way and turn into a bathroom product if it's too synthetic and cleaned up. The success of this Artemisia creation is in the way Belle Starr retains the fleshy dirty aspects but turns them into a smooth honeyed liquid that melds into the wearer's skin the way only a herbal perfume can do.
When I first tested Belle Starr without looking at the notes I could have sworn it was all about honey- a more floral relative of Miel de Bois with a dirty earthy side. Sniffing my neck a few hours later, the husband also said "honey", though he found it a little too sweet for his taste. It's interesting how the complex and mulit-layered jasmine note goes in and out, mixes with the mushroomy earth, dances with flowers and wood and smells new and unexpected because of the thick roobios absolute used to ground it.
I wish the longevity was better than the 6 hours I'm getting, then again it doesn't exactly go away. It leaves a trace on the body that is not really a perfume, just an elevated level of skin scent. That's a quality I often find in natural perfumes and makes me appreciate them even more.
Belle Starr is not your typical jasmine. It's not your typical anything, really, and it's not trying to be. It doesn't try too hard to be easy or pretty, but it's still very wearable and sensual- as long as one can take the heat.
This review of Belle Starr EDP from Artemisia Perfumes is based on a sample that was sent by the perfumer.
Art: a mixed media collage of a Belle Starr scrapbook by Tristan Robin Blakeman (tristanrobinblakeman.com)