New Perfume Review St. Clair Scents Casablanca- Finding Her Groove

The path to independent perfumery has multiple paths to producing a perfume. One of the more unique journeys is Diane St. Clair’s. Ms. St. Clair is an elite provider of butter who has her aptly named Animal Farm in Orwell, Vermont. Her butter has been featured at some of the most exclusive restaurants in the US. She decided to add perfume making to her portfolio.

The unique part of the story is she received teaching and feedback over an online connection with DreamAir perfumer Eliza Douglas. After learning the basics of making perfume she began on her own fragrance line. Ms. Douglas acted as her evaluator throughout the process providing valuable real-time feedback.

Diane St. Clair (Photo: Caleb Kenna via sevendaysvt.com )

Back in the spring of last year Ms. St. Clair sent her debut collection out to the perfume community. What I experienced was a young perfumer who was gaining her feet. If there was something that I commonly felt; it was that I wanted Ms. St. Clair to go further. To take what was there and push it in a direction. There were so many signs of intelligent perfume design I was looking forward to what came next. What has come next is St. Clair Scents Casablanca.

The perfume is not inspired by the classic movie but the desire to be someplace warm while the snow falls in a Vermont winter. To Ms. St. Clair this means a lush floral heart reminiscent of a garden in full bloom. If I wanted Ms. St. Clair to go all in, Casablanca gives it to me.  

A warm citrus pairing of grapefruit and mandarin form a diffuse sunny accord. A sticky green blackcurrant bud prepares the way for the florals. Ms. St. Clair uses the white flower triad of orange blossom, jasmine, and tuberose. These are not the cleaned-up indole-free versions. This is a “Girls Trip” of rambunctious florals ready to flaunt those indoles. One of the things I noticed in Ms. St. Clair’s earlier releases is her ability in adding the right interstitial ingredient to pull together her accords. In Casablanca it is an oily ylang-ylang which chaperones the rowdy floral ladies. If the ylang-ylang was missing this just would have been an accord of loud flowers. By adding in the right piece to the puzzle it rounds out the edges smoothing the indolic heart into a memorable accord. The base accord is where Ms. St. Clair takes the snarling indoles and allows them to find some new beasts to cavort with in musks, civet, and Africa stone. As with the ylang-ylang in the heart, oakmoss is the linchpin in the base pulling the whole perfume together into a satisfying experience.

Casablanca has 24-hr. longevity and average sillage.

There were many times on the days I wore Casablanca I felt like I was wearing a classic perfume of sixty years ago. Despite saying that Ms. St. Clair is not mimicking those perfumes. She is creating her own style. I’m not sure what comes next but of the first four releases it is Casablanca I would like to see the next releases emulate. It seems to me like Ms. St. Clair might have found her perfume groove.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by St. Clair Scents.

Mark Behnke

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