There are perfume ingredients which seemingly find their way into a high percentage of all fragrance products. Everyone is familiar with them, the typical florals, the classic woods, and the juicy fruits. If I had them laying out on a table in their natural form, you would probably easily identify all of them. There is one ubiquitous perfume component I bet most have little idea what it looks like; vetiver. It is used so often because it is so versatile. Its profile varies dependent on the region of the world it is grown in. Perfumers can choose the kind they want for the corresponding effect it will have. This is where independent perfumer Tanja Bochnig began her latest perfume April Aromatics Vetiver Coeur.
This is vetiver
Fr. Bochnig is one of the early independent perfumers who has grown into being among the best. Over the last four years her perfumes have shown the imprint of an author who knows her subject well. One of the things which has helped define the overall April Aromatics aesthetic is Fr. Bochnig’s experience as a licensed yoga teacher. It informs her use of specific ingredients. As it does here. Vetiver has been one of those oils which has been purported to impart an inner harmony. While that is probably true; I imagine some of the smokier versions of vetiver I have smelled would impart panic that something was burning nearby. Fr. Bochnig was looking for the harmonious version. She describes it as a “soft vetiver”. She sourced it from Haiti, one of the largest producers of vetiver in the world. For Vetiver Coeur she places that vetiver at the center of a perfume built upon harmony of composition.
Her vetiver is apparent right from the start. She has found a source which has removed much of the sharp green vetiver usually displays early on. It does enhance the citrus-y scent vetiver also has. She adds in some other citrus with orange and lemon to form an early sunniness. The green that has been lost is brought back by using coriander and clary sage. Fr. Bochnig can use these as replacements which allow her to fine tune the proper amount of green she wants present. It is evidence of a confident perfumer to be able to provide this kind of shading. The heart is a gorgeous conversation between orange blossom and the vetiver. This is a rich slightly indolic orange blossom which finds the intersection of woody and green to park itself at. On my skin this is where Vetiver Coeur ligers for many hours. It is a harmonious place to be. Eventually the base of authentic Mysore sandalwood, tobacco and orris propose a warmer place for the vetiver to settle upon. Fr. Bochnig uses these ingredients to form a comforting final piece of Vetiver Coeur.
Vetiver Coeur has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Vetiver Coeur is a deeply engaging vetiver perfume. I’m not sure if it affected my inner harmony. It surely affected my appreciation for Fr. Bochnig’s ability as a perfumer to find the right vetiver harmonies in a perfume.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.
One of the fun things about writing on perfume is watching the growth of an independent perfumer. There is the introductory phase where I realize there is something there to watch. The second phase is the inflection point. That is the moment when an artist finds their aesthetic and the days of slow growth will be followed by the third phase; ascension. The great majority of the independent perfumers never find that second phase. They create nice smelling things, but they lack something. Something they never get past. It is why when I sense the inflection point has been hit, I expect something special to follow.
For independent perfumer Tanja Bochnig that inflection point was 2015’s Erdenstern. It was the most complete perfume she had made. Over the next three releases each would become better and better. The rising slope of creativity was evident. With her latest release, April Aromatics Irisistible, Fr. Bochnig has outdone herself.
Fr. Bochnig wanted to make an iris-centric fragrance. She was inspired by the mythological Goddess Iris. Iris was the messenger to the Gods and used the rainbow to travel between mortals and immortals. It is that rainbow bridge which Fr. Bochnig re-creates in brilliant bands of flowers instead of colors.
One thing I am always asked about iris perfumes I write about, “Is it powdery?”. Irisistible opens on the antithesis of that query. The iris in Irisistible is the earthy slightly doughy root from which iris is extracted from. It erupts to life after a brief fanfare of announcement by a bright flare of lemon. This is the style of iris I prefer. It is rarely as vibrant as it is in Irisistible. Fr. Bochnig then adds in floral bands to the iris to form a floral rainbow. Jasmine, rose, tuberose, and cassia flower. Each of these add in a different shade of floral to an overall accord with iris in front. A lot of times, in other perfumes, florals tend to flow into each other. Fr. Bochnig keeps each on its own separate band where it is easy to pick each one out. That is like just focusing on one color in a rainbow you miss the beauty of the whole. The same is true here. This comes to an end with a slightly musky sandalwood as a foundation. As if it is the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.
Irisistible has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
On the days I wore Irisistible I had to suppress a constant smile. One was for the iris rainbow bridge which was swirling around me. The other reason was the realization of what a complete perfumer Fr. Bochnig has become. She has never made anything better than Irisistible.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.
Looking back with science to find out about our ancestors has become all the rage. There is a desire to understand where you came from to inform where you are going. Unlike the fanciful stories in the commercials I found out my genealogy is exactly as I had been told my whole life. The only thing I discovered is my grandfather’s claim that there was some Cherokee blood was not borne out by science. I found that confirming my ancestry in this way was comforting. My place in the flow of history is anchored by the generations before. When you ask a perfumer to use “roots” as an inspiration you expect the literal application of ingredients which have roots to be used. Independent perfumer Tanja Bochnig took this a step further for April Aromatics Pink Wood.
The beginnings of Pink Wood came from Ms. Bochnig’s entry into the OSA! Competition at the Smell Festival in Bologna, Italy in May of this year. The theme all the perfumers were asked to interpret was “Roots”. I think these kinds of projects can have the effect of taking a perfumer in a different direction than when left on their own. In this case Ms. Bochnig sought to tie notes that are roots to the concept that “home is where the heart is”. This results in a perfume where a heart of layered rose is surrounded by the rooting effect of the earth grounding it all.
Pink Wood opens with a suite of dried fruits, they provide a concentrated effect without becoming too exuberant. The rose heart is a mixture of geranium and Turkish rose. The latter has a rich spicy core which is enhanced here. The remnants of the fruits provide sweet contrast while the geranium drapes it in a green tinted veil. This is a rose accord which evolves minute-by-minute and as the roots ensnare it that is when Pink Wood takes off. Oud, sandalwood, labdanum, oak wood, and aged patchouli are the roots below the rose. The oud swirls through the heart, like smoke from a brazier with oud chips burning within. Sandalwood provides a steady platform for the heart accord to rest upon. Oak accentuates some of the rougher aspects of the oud while labdanum coats it all in a resinous shell. The linchpin to the base accord is an aged patchouli from Indonesia. Used sparingly it unites the disparate genes in the base into a cohesive whole upon which the rose heart can rise above in glorious waves.
Pink Wood has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Pink Wood is among the best perfumes Ms. Bochnig has released. It has a dynamic profile not often found and my description above does not capture that quality adequately. There is the concept of life in motion grounded by the earth below. In the OSA! Competition Pink Wood finished third which makes me wonder how good the other two above it were. For 2017, Pink Wood is one of the best perfumes of the year.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.
Perfume has many different abilities depending on the person wearing it. I write often about how it ignites specific memories. It also has the effect of enhancing, even changing, my mood. This is the subject of many, many aromatherapy volumes. It is always something I am curious about because of the way we perceive different scents; whether it can be universal. What I can say with certainty, for myself, one independent perfumer has always produced fragrances which have a pleasantly calming effect is Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics. When she contacted me a few weeks ago, to let me know that a new perfume was on its way to me I almost sent back a reply, “Bless you!”. This has been one of those times when a bit of perfumed serenity would go a long way. Her new release Agartha was just the prescription for my edgy nerves.
The name comes from the “hollow Earth” myth describing a city called Agartha. It is analogous to Shangri-La as a place of study awaiting a day when it can once more re-appear for it to become the dawn of a new age. Ms. Bochnig imagines all of us as our own Earth looking inward to try and re-connect with our childhood memories to provide innocent joy. This was what she was thinking of as she composed Agartha.
Agartha is a fragrance of glowing golden panels. Ms. Bochnig works with an all-natural palette which can really create some beautifully fragile synergies; Agartha is full of them. It is like chasing butterflies across a field never quite catching them but the pursuit is where the enjoyment is found.
Agartha opens on a fabulously burnished mimosa. I’m not sure what her source is but besides the golden sweet floral nature there is also a sturdy green leafy thread running throughout. To keep the mimosa more towards that sweeter character she buffs it with a few fruits underneath. The goldenness really gets deeper in the heart where honey forms a viscous matrix for the mimosa with complementary yet slightly competing versions of sweet. Down the middle, she runs hay and cardamom. The hay is a key piece of the early going as the dried grassiness provides a stable point for both the mimosa and the honey to bounce off of. The final throw of sweet is the slightly narcotic nature of dried tobacco leaves. It provides a third spoke on this exploration of sweet notes. The interstitial notes in the late going are patchouli and labdanum. They provide the foundation to propel the tobacco upwards into the honey and mimosa.
Agartha has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
Agartha is another fantastic mimosa perfume in a year which has seen its share. What sets it apart from those others is the beauty in the spaces in between from using the natural ingredients. Plus, it provided me some moments of serenity in these final hectic days of 2016.
Disclosure; This review was based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.
I love words. I love knowing interesting words so I can score big in Scrabble. I also like them because sometimes they fit a particular perfume I am wearing perfectly. Two of my favorite adjectives beginning with the letter V came to mind while enjoying the latest release from indie perfumer Tanja Bochnig and her April Aromatics brand called Purple Reign.
The first adjective is violaceous which is defined as “of a violet color”. Ms. Bochnig wanted Purple Reign to be inspired by “the purple flame” which is “a unique light of subtle realms that supports the enhancement of our vibrations”. That last word leads to the other adjective, vibrant. Most often it is defined as “full of energy and enthusiasm” I am thinking of it more as an alternative definition which reads “(of color) bright and striking”. Ms. Bochnig as a yoga teacher also keenly feels the spiritual harmonics and in Purple Reign wants to capture those.
Working with an all-natural set of ingredients Ms. Bochnig pulls together a bouquet of some of the best purple flowers. At the heart of Purple Reign is a natural lilac tincture. This is the ingredient which reigns in Purple Reign. With this tincture lilac is drawn in strong very defined strokes. It allows what can often be a lilting note when used as an absolute a much stiffer spine. A regal spine. Sitting up erect on its throne. What other notes come to pay court is what makes Purple Reign so enjoyable.
The lilac is present right from the first moments as the tincture sets up the axle upon which things will travel. First up is violet and lavender. The violet adds its odd candied sweetness. The lavender hews more to its herbal nature. The lavender in particular meshes with the lilac tincture softening some of those stark lines. In the heart orris provides a powdery alternative purpleness. Jasmine deepens the sweetness. Even with all of that the lilac stands tall holding its own. The base is osmanthus and opopanax. Even here where these might have overwhelmed the lilac it still holds its head high beckoning the apricot nature of osmanthus and the earthy resinous quality of opopanax to kneel before it.
Purple Reign has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I have to return to vibrant as the final word on Purple Reign. Throughout the time I wore it I really was captured by the very distinct different tonal shifts around the lilac. That tincture can only come from the individuality which defines an indie perfumer. Purple Reign captures all of the positive vibrations that come with that independence.
Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by April Aromatics.
Back in 2010 while I was working at CaFleureBon we participated in a project sponsored by the Natural Perfumers guild called The Mystery of Musk. The idea was to have natural perfumers create a botanical musk accord and then use it in a perfume created for the event. Twelve natural perfumers educated me in the myriad ways a real musk could be created using all-natural ingredients. Perfumer Tanja Bochnig of April Aromatics was just getting started in 2010 and was not part of The Mystery of Musk. When I tried her latest release Erdenstern it felt like it was a lost entry in that project.
Fr. Bochnig has become one of the leading natural perfumers over the last four years. I have been an admirer for a long time but I realized this is the first time I am writing about one of her perfumes. That lack of attention is not due to anything but my inability to cover everything I like and I like Fr. Bochnig’s perfumes a lot. She states on her website, “I strongly believe that people can feel the love and energy I give into my perfumes.” Speaking for myself I have always felt the passion she has appears in the quality of her perfumes. Fr. Bochnig comes from a background of aromatherapy and yoga and that shows up in her perfumes. While they aren’t meant to speak to specific chakras per se they do attempt to evoke specific feelings.
Erdenstern translates to “Earth Star” it was inspired by Avalon, the holy place between the worlds of gods and mortals. Naming Erdenstern after a place where two worlds coincide is a perfect analogy for the perfume. Erdenstern captures a combination of damp earth and wood along with the animalic accords of what lives among the trees.
As I mentioned above Fr. Bochnig has fashioned a botanical musk accord and it is where Erdenstern opens. The advantage of a botanical musk is the ingredients themselves add a texture not available from a traditional synthetic musk. As a result I really enjoy the more natural feel of these botanical musks and Fr. Bochnig’s version is as good as I’ve encountered. She pairs it with a very strident vetiver. So often perfumers try and pull the reins in on vetiver. Fr. Bochnig allows her vetiver to gallop freely alongside the botanical musk. Together they create the smell of the damp forest floor as you walk through it. The heart transitions to tobacco and opoponax. This is a very gradual shift from woods and earth to sweet tobacco. It always took me by surprise while wearing it in a very good way. Fr. Bochnig finishes Erdenstern with another botanical version of an animal ingredient as she constructs a botanical ambergris accord in the base. There is a delicacy to this accord that is mesmerizing and Fr. Bochnig wisely leaves it pretty much by itself to finish Erdenstern.
Erdenstern has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I mentioned that I haven’t written about Fr. Bochnig much prior to this but I have tried all of her perfumes. Over time I have seen another independent perfumer come into their own as each successive release built upon what came before. In Erdenstern it culminates in the best perfume Fr. Bochnig has made, so far.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.