Many of you were curious when I counted To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume as one of my top honey perfume picks, second only to Serge Lutens Miel de Bois. Those who love MdB wanted to know if Roxana Villa's creation is as breathtakingly controversial as the one Christopher sheldrake created for Uncle Serge. Those who recoil in horror at the mere mention of Miel de Bois wanted to make sure the animalic beeswax was not going to eat them alive. The answer is "neither".
To Bee was born out of Roxana Villa's love and respect for honeybees (she's a holistic beekeeper as well as a perfumer who creates stunning all-natural fragrances). It is all about honey and the other beehive products, and you cannot escape this vibrant and raw feel of the perfume. But it's also a real, wearable perfume, sensual, and very satisfying.
The first touch of To Bee smells boozy and dark. I've tried the solid, the liquid, and have layered them together (highly recommended). The result is always an after-dinner kind of treat, rich and ambery (the color, not the perfume accord), somewhat spicy, served in a luxurious crystal goblet that reflects the candlelight from an antique chandelier. This should give you an idea about the direction To Bee is going, though the manor house's dining hall disappears eventually and suddenly you're standing in a lavish boudoir.
The air is denser, sweet with flowers that seem to be opening right there in front of you, strewing a little pollen on the elaborately decorated dressing table (there are no allergies in this little fantasy). The air is thick with the scent warm musky skin and honey. Real, dense, unpasteurized honey, the kind you want to eat with a spoon as well as drip and slater on your skin to make it soft, supple, and sweet. To Bee develops less dark than one would expect from the opening. It melds beautifully with the skin, creating an inviting warmth without being too literal a gourmand or too skanky. I feel that it's perfectly fine to wear in public, but what do I know? I wear Absolue pour le Soir to the DMV and jury duty.
Notes: honey, spice, amber, mimosa, sweet clover, beeswax, resins
To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume is available from the perfumer's Etsy store (completely and utterly unaffiliated). You can get a sample set of both the solid and the liquid perfume for $17. At the time of this review only the solid is available in full size. The samples for this review were sent for my consideration by the perfumer.
Image: French children's book illustration, honey bees in skep, 1868