After my birthplace, the place I have spent most of my life is in the Boston, Massachusetts area. I loved living there it was a town which fed my interests daily. One of those was a vibrant local perfume lovers’ community. Using the internet we would find time to meet-up. During one of those events I met Sandy Carr. I moved away nine years ago but Ms. Carr has caught up to me again, this time as an independent perfumer. She has gone to study in Grasse and returned to Boston to create her brand Bluehill Fragrances. She has released three debut perfumes. I am going to review two of them Bluehill Fragrances Back Bay and Bluehill Fragrances Metrogarden. The third is a nice aquatic rose called Beach Rose and is worth trying if you are a fan of that style of fragrance.
My very first experience of this city was on an interview trip. I was housed in a hotel at the corners of Mass Ave and Commonwealth. Between me and the Public Garden was this amazing walking path down the middle of the street flanked by enormous brownstones. On the night before my interview I went for a walk through the Back Bay as this part of town is called. It is a curious mixture of old stone building, asphalt, massive trees, and flowers. It is the oft spoken of urban oasis. Ms. Carr captures it all in Back Bay.
It opens with a Revolutionary War-like fusillade of florals. Ms. Carr shows her technical ability right from the start as she balances a half dozen floral ingredients. None of them particularly leap to the forefront. Instead she forms a floral accord of equals. This is given the sparkle of sunlight through the canopy of trees over the boulevard via bergamot. The heart takes this in a decidedly vegetal direction with basil and galbanum. The crystalline verdancy of the latter acts as its own deeper sparkle in complement to the citrus earlier. For the final stages, the stone of the buildings and the wood of the trees provide the scent. Ms. Carr finishes with as accomplished an accord as she began with. The stone accord feels old. The earth that the trees are rooted in feels slightly damp and sandalwood and cedar provide the woods.
Back Bay has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Once we bought our home in Somerville one of the reasons was because it had a tiny bit of yard. In that small space we turned one part of it into a raised bed to grow vegetables. It was just the right size for me to enjoy. Any bigger and it would have been a chore. My postage stamp garden was a source of joy for all the years we lived there. Throughout the Boston area there are many tiny gardens in backyards and parks areas set aside for it. Metrogarden captures an afternoon digging in the dirt surrounded by the city.
Petitgrain provides that mid-morning sunlight that would greet me. Ms. Carr then recapitulates her skill with floral ingredients I mentioned above. This time she asks iris and narcissus to be the surrogates for the garden. Both ingredients are made from the root and not the bloom. The rhizome for iris and the bulb for narcissus. It gives them an inherent earthiness in the right hands. She then allows tendrils of rose and violet the chance to grow within this floral milieu. As she did with Back Bay the base accord is a reminder of the city. This comes through a slightly smoky vetiver, peru balsam, and a set of white musks. It reminded me of the smell of the clapboard on the side of the house underneath the sun as it glints off the windows.
Metrogarden has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
I fully admit when I hear a story like Ms. Carr’s of deciding to convert hobby into independent perfumer my skepticism is high. In this case she has captured the town we know so expertly it erased any qualms. There is a clear understanding of ingredients and accords which will serve her well moving forward. For now she has provided a fragrant companion for Dropkick Murphys “Shipping Up to Boston” when I miss my old home.
Disclosure: This review was based on bottles supplied by Bluehill Fragrances.