Figure 1: Noir from Roxana Illuminated Perfume is a reworking of an idea perfumer Roxana Villa first introduced in her 2009 Chocolate series. But if chocolate perfumes are all about comfort and coziness, this incarnation of Figure 1 is anything but. An animalic patchouli blend that takes us deep into the primordial forest, Roxana's Figure 1 is dark and murky. It can be hard to navigate this terrain at times, and one must be a major patch-head to enjoy this trip, but it's a journey worth taking.
Roxana Villa has a gift for bringing woods and forests to life in her perfumes. Her bottled scenes of the California chaparral are usually incredibly serene. But Figure1: Noir takes a different route, thanks to her use of a botanical musk. Musks are a funny thing; the cleanest ones can be loud and screechy, while some of the most feral interpretations are often warm and very intimate. This is the case here, with the wild animal that lurks in the darkness. The longer Figure 1 spend on my skin the softer it gets, almost coating the exposed roots and twigs with its fur. The musk doesn't cover the patchouli, though, which has such a strong presence it barely lets slivers of moonlight in. There are green threads that emerge here and there, an herbal presence barely emerging from the forest floor, but everything else, is swallowed by the patchouli and musk, damp and slightly sweet.
I got to try Figure 1: Noir in both eau de parfum and extrait concentrations. At first I thought that I preferred the more civilized EDP, but eventually the richer facets of the musk in the extrait won me over. The more concentrated version develops a round and almost fruity quality on my skin, which I liked a lot. The opening, however, is more raw and jagged in the extrait, so I'd say that if you're completely new to all-natural and botanical fragrances, it's better to go with the lower concentration. Wear time (for a couple of drops) is about 4 hours, sillage and projection are low.
Notes: musk, patchouli, green vetiver, Mysore sandalwood, orris, valerian, buchu leaf, black cumin, green cognac and davana.
Roxana Illuminated Perfume- Figure 1: Noir is available from Roxana's Etsy store. It comes in several sizes and variations, including solid perfume lockets featuring the artwork you see above, created for this fragrance by artist Greg Spalenka, who is Roxana's husband. There's also a tiny sample set of both liquid and solid versions ($17.50), as well as larger samples available. The samples for this review were sent to me by the perfumer.
The link to the store is for your convenience only. I'm not affiliated with Roxana Illuminated Perfume and have no commercial or other interest.
All images by Greg Spelanka for Roxana Illuminated Perfume.