Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Outlaw Perfumes- Light and Amberess by Anya's Garden

The last installment of the Outlaw Perfume Project (well, second to last, since I hope to write some kind of conclusion over the weekend) brings to us two outlaw creations by Anya McCoy of Anya's Garden. They represent two kind-of-sort-of opposite sides of the perfume spectrum- a citrusy cologne and an ambery floriental. Both genres are popular outside of the natural and niche perfume circle and it's a fascinating sensual experience to be able to smell and wear them in their true and raw form. And if you're even a little familiar with Ms. McCoy's work, you know it's never wishy-washy.

Light starts with a burst of a 3D citrus- full of fruit, juice and rind. It's so yellow and kelly green you can see the light and taste it on your tongue. The first couple of minutes seem like a sister fragrance to the beautiful Kaffir, but just when I thought I got it all figured out, the floral heart came alive. Rich, buttery and yellow- for a second there it reminded me of tuberose but not quite. A look at the cheat sheet revealed the floral heart is Aglaia, aka Chinese Rice Flower, which is apparently related to mahogany and smells divine. While many typical colognes combine citrus with their relative neroli (steam distilled orange blossoms) and often some kind of anemic blanched wood, the perfumer has chosen a resinous base of frankincense. It is surprisingly mild but does an amazing job anchoring the other notes and making them last for long hours. Next time I hear how citrus notes are always very fleeting so one shouldn't expect any lasting power, I'm sending whoever says that to have a chat with Anya.

Amberess is a true outlaw. Where Light only has the citrus and aglaia as its restricted ingredients, this diva is obviously trying to make the IFRA bureaucrats cry. This is copied straight from Anya's blog:

Top notes: none, in the true Oriental style
Middle notes: Zambian  Princesse de Nassau Rosa Moschata African musk rose otto and Musk rose absolute, Madagascan ylang ylang, South African rose geranium sur fleurs
Base notes: Indonesian patchouli, Himalayan amber oil, Turkish styrax, Greek labdanum, Peruvian tonka bean, Salvadorean balsam tolu, Balsam of Peru, Chinese benzoin, Madagascan vanilla

*red denotes untested or prohibited/limited aromatic

To me, Amberess is a creamy and feminine rose over a sweet amber base. It has an almost Turkish delight quality (for a second I can almost smell coconut, though it's obviously not there, just the nutty fullness). Amberess never goes sour on my skin, not even for a second. There's nothing green there, nothing fresh, just pure sensuality. This princess lounges in her velvet-lined boudoir, wearing layers of silk chiffon and indulging in  candy and men as she sees fit. I'll take a job as a lady-in-waiting for her. Or a full bottle.

Amberess ($125, 15ml EDP) and Light ($100, 15ml) are available online at There's also a parfum extrait version and a sampling program. The samples for this review were supplied by the perfumer.

Art: Abstraction of the Bird Of Paradise by Marcia Baldwin.

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