There is another thing I’ve noticed about many of the most successful independent perfumers; they have a primary source of inspiration. That inspiration is as varied as the styles I find in this sector of perfumery. For Alexis Karl it is poetry.
I spent some real time with her on the day before last May’s Sniffapalooza Spring Fling talking about her way of making perfume. As we talked I could tell Ms. Karl loves the power of words. The way they sound as we speak them. The meanings they have both obvious and subliminal. The way they can form an intimate connection. She even has a perfume she will only let you smell if you pay the price of supplying her a piece of poetry. Her perfume brand, Scent by Alexis, represents the ongoing composition of a poem. With The Harmony of Being we have reached the third line. Here is what exists to date:
"A body made luminous,
a body secret, sacred, cyphered,
you are the harmony of being…"
The new perfume is that attempt to achieve harmony by just being. Ms. Karl has composed a fragrance of balance between light and dark. The constant necessity to find a point of balance between those is represented throughout the development of The Harmony of Being.
Ms. Karl starts off with the light of delicate florals as lilac and neroli combine with petitgrain sur fleur to form a shimmering opening. Shadows begin to arise as rose deepens the floralcy. A high concentration of muguet is a bit greener than I normally find which makes it more shaded into a deeper verdancy. The base is constructed on a matrix of beeswax into which Ms. Karl embeds labdanum, coffee flower, and ambergris. The final note and the true keynote for this perfume is black agarwood. This is another example of an ingredient only an independent perfumer can use because it can’t be sourced in massive quantities. This black agarwood has this fabulous amount of nuance which makes it sing in both light and shadow. There is a hint of a floral quality. There is an aged quality as if this was excavated from a tree as old as time. There is more than a little bit of a cocoa feel to this. The black agarwood does kind of cast the final shadow but it also has points of light so the dark contains the harmonizing qualities Ms. Karl is shooting for.
The Harmony of Being has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Ms. Karl has been steadily developing her perfumes, much as the poem they are based on is doing the same. With The Harmony of Being I feel like she really has composed her most assured perfume to date. There is a cognizant intelligence at play underneath it all. That is what truly makes The Harmony of Being represent the weight of words in all their myriad forms.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Scent by Alexis.