Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Outlaw Perfume: Gypsy by Providence Perfume Co.

I remember now.

Perfume is an art. It creates pictures. It tells stories and stirs memories and emotions. Or, at least, it should.

Big corporations, focus groups, politics, marketing and mass marketing and most of all IFRA regulations have almost  taken it away from us and made us forget what it feels like to wear real perfume. But now, wearing Gypsy by perfumer Charna Ethier, I remember. And I don't want to let go.

Technically speaking, Gypsy is a dark amber with a touch of green fougere. If I were an abstract painter trying to capture Gypsy I'd paint my canvas black-based brown, maroon and brick red, let the colors bleed into each other and then incorporate some forest green veins. But Gypsy is only abstract if I let it be. It's a warm, breathing thing, human and personal and makes me think of the way other countries seemed to me as a child.

I go back to times before I had a clear map of the world in my head and was only discovering the wonder of foreign languages- people speaking in magical tones. My parents had guests from different corners of the world- long lost relatives and old friends coming from as far as South Africa and East Europe. They stayed up  late, drank mysterious and strong smelling liqueurs that had beautiful labels on their dark  bottles, wore strong perfumes and brought gifts that smelled of mystery.

Gypsy has all that and more. I consider it wearable by both men and women, though my husband's chemistry brings out something a little too sharp, while on me it's as soft and luxurious as I could have ever hoped. According to Charna Ethier "Most of the botanicals used in comprising Gypsy Eau de Parfum are posted on IFRA's list of banned/restricted ingredients".  The main notes are-

Top: galangal, lavender, lemon, petitgrain, and cardamom.
Heart: pink lotus absolute, Bulgarian lavender and green violet leaf.
Base: tonka, oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli, costus, and vanilla

But it's all about the blend- spicy, sensual, dark and sweet. It feels romantic and mysterious. It's incredibly long-lasting (easily more than 12 hours). A full bottle is now on my ever-growing wish list, a sentiment that seems to be shared by Ida from Ca Fleur Bon.

Gypsy is part of the Outlaw Perfume Project. The sample was provided by Providence Perfume Co. (

Today's question: What was the last perfume that made you feel a strong emotion? When was that?

Art: Gitana II by Fabian Perez


  1. Tauer's Orris. It made me think of or have a palpable sense of the kind of love between two complicated people who've seen a lot of both suffering and beauty.

  2. The first thing that comes to mind is SL Iris Silver Mist... perhaps it was the anticipation that came before I finally got the scent, the fact that my mom brought it back for me from Palais Royal.. or because it is simply stunning.

  3. The last time I felt a strong emotion after smelling a perfume was only recently, maybe 3 or 4 months ago. I received a sample of Chakra 2 by Therapeutate. It was so warm and inviting. It brought to mind a little shop I used to visit back in college that had that same effect on me (warm & inviting). I recalled the atmosphere, the music and the smell. It made me smile.

  4. Chaos by Donna Karan. It was my signature fragrance in the 90's. It made me feel fierce. Sometimes in a chaotic way. I still wear it occasionally (lucky enough to still have a couple bottles...I'm using sparingly). Now it makes me feel fierce...but in a much more mature way. Thinking of it's demise still brings on strong emotions...just ask the poor Donna Karan rep at my local Nordstrom. Everytime she tries to sell me some new DK drek....I ask about Chaos. Needless to say...she leaves me alone now.

  5. If delight counts as a strong emotion, it was last weekend, testing Rose Poivree from The Different Company at Barney's. I've heard this scent has been reformulated, but what I tested was VERY skanky, and amusing to no end. I could not stop sniffing my hand.

  6. Anytime I smell Opium or Shalimar it reminds me of getting a big hug and kiss from my grandmother, then being offered something that she had cooked.

    There are some scents that capture a white floral, very clean but powdery, and they remind me of watching my very lovely mother get ready.

    Not a perfume per se, but right now just enjoying getting ready for the holidays and the many scents that remind me of that simple security of an evening inside where the only thing to do is bake.

  7. Love and Tears - Surrender...Kilian

    The scent just your ordinary jasmine. I can't do the fragrance justice with my meager review - plus, I bought it based on yours. It just took me back to a time when I was a little girl and it just smelled like something my mother would have worn when she went out for the evening. I wear it now thinking I am that "girl about town" like my Mother was.

  8. Guerlain Tonka Imperiale. It feels comforting but luxurious, just familiar enough to evoke classic images but with a twist that surprises me every time, sometimes vanilla, chocolate, sometimes tobacco, incense, sometimes almond, honey, always balanced. I've never loved powdery or gourmand scents, who knew I would love them together.

  9. Nahema/Guerlain
    I just bought a vintage (!!) bottle and when opening this hefty rose fragrance burst out and I was very touched. It was the signature scent of my late aunt, who was more a mother to me. Smelling her perfume after so many years brought back many fond memories and feelings. And quite some tears.
    Oh ! about our beautiful limbic system which is the tricky source of our smelling memories

  10. Oh Martina, how happy-sad. Your short account made me tear up. Those olfactory memories are powerful, aren't they?

    The last perfume that made me feel a strong emotion was Ophelia by HEELEY. I think the emotion was pure joy that I had ordered it, unsniffed/unsampled, and how much I loved it.

    This is a way of saying that many perfumes make me feel strong emotions - some good and some bad (the latter like "get me out of here"). Not nearly as profound as Martina's, though.

  11. Oh my, that would be Fendi by Fendi. This was my mom-in-law's signature fragrance. It has a strong rose scent that I never cared for but she LOVED it. She dreamt for years of traveling all over England and smelling the sweet roses in the cottage gardens.

    I'd known my mom-in-law since I was 14, many years before I married her son. She was a real "kick in the pants" with a personality larger than life and a heart to match.

    She passed away 2 years ago. Every now and then I'll be out and I'll get a whiff of that rosy fragrance. My mind immediately goes to her and the English countryside she never saw. God, I miss her.


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