Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mystery of Musk: Grains de Paradis, Craving and Musk Nouveau

Graines de Paradis
This comes from Sharini Parfums Naturels, in southern France. The most recent of the two vials I received is in 16% concentration, which would be perfume strength, so that’s the one I’ll write about.
These people work very hard at making their fragrance utterly natural, including using a traditional enfleurage process for some of the florals, tincturing their own vanilla, performing other extractions using CO2 and so on. The result is a truly unisex scent that, on first sniff, reminded me of grain, made me think of soft ochres and golds, and, later, delighted me with its tenacity. On my skin, the ginger sings all across the scent’s  development. The other essences are so well blended that it is difficult for me to pick out any particular one, except the ambrette seed and angelica root that make up the musk. A special delight is the fact that the perfumers don’t let the agarwood (aoudh) or the patchouli stomp all over  everything else.
For the painting I chose to use all warm colors, as this is very much a warm perfume, with the ginger essence appearing consistently in the higher register, and the botanical musks continually morphing and changing in the base. 
An artfully blended scent.
The list of ingredients is longer than some restaurant menus, but here goes:
White grapefruit, ginger CO2, green mandarine, cognac, wild cherry and Rooibos red tea tincture (with the cherries having been picked on May 24th, 2010, in the valley of the Herault - now that’s specific!) -- Top Notes.
White Rose flower CO2, Linden blossom flower CO2, Tiare flower (Tahitian Gardenia) Neroli flower, Jasmine flower, Genet flower -- Heart Notes.
Ambrette seeds, Angelic root CO2, Iris CO2, Australian sandalwood (eco responsible), Agad Agarwood, Oilban CO2 (which is frankincense), Patchouli, Vanilla tincture (infused for 18 months from organic Madagascan vanilla pods) -- Base Notes.
Tincturing mediums were organic corn alcohol and organic orange blossom hydrosol.
The perfumer is Nicolas. Only 25 bottles of this fragrance will be made. For more information on the perfume or on Sharini, visit their website at

First impression? Chocolate. Deep, dark and rich. With incense underneath. An opium den of a scent. Well named, too: who doesn’t crave chocolate? And one or two other things?
The perfumer, Ambrosia, has created this elixir out of essences usually used in bases. She lists them as Hyraceum (a cruelty-free animal product), two kinds of vetiver, aoudh, ambrette seed and Australian sandalwood.
If made in an oil base, I think this would make the best massage oil for lovers on earth. Unisex, dark, sensual, a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
I did this painting with cravings in mind. I thought it was just a vessel, with an incense burner heart, but when I was photographing it, my husband said, “It’s a face. A surreal face.” This is not an image for the timid. “Craving” is not a fragrance for them, either. 
The perfumer’s blog is The perfume company’s website is
Musk Nouveau
Of the scents I’ve tried so far, this one is the most “linear” -- meaning it develops horizontally (the notes come up and you smell them all at once) instead of vertically from the top down, and sometimes the base is a completely different scent. And this smells good. It’s not strange or challenging or for perfume cognscenti only, as are some I’ve tried. The patchouli, angelica and aoudh are all here, although the aoudh is very subtle. The floral hearts of night-blooming jasmine and champaca, the Indian flower, step forward quickly, with a little black pepper and “boozy sherry” in the top notes. This one smells very floral to me, and might make a good introduction to natural perfumery for a neophyte.
In the painting I’ve tried to depict the horizontal linearity of the fragrance.
The perfumer is Charna Ethier, and her website is
I'll continue adding posts as I evaluate and paint my impressions. Remember the drawing for a bottle of "Verdigris" -- leave a comment on any of these posts titled "Mystery of Musk" to enter.

Paintings by Pat Borow aka Olfacta. All rights reserved.

"Mystery of Musk" is a group blogging event. The other bloggers are:

I Smell Therefore I Am - Abigail Levin
Indie Perfumes - Lucy Raubertas
Bitter Grace Notes - Maria Browning


chayaruchama said...

Ah, Pat !
I loved the Graines de Paradis, too !

Haven't sniffed the other two, but they sound extremely inviting...
I ADORE the paintings you chose.

Dionne said...

Your paintings are a fantastic way to convey the sense of these scents (hey, look what I just did!), and I'm having so much fun following this project. I'm a newbie at perfumery, but I already find myself drawn more and more to the indie/natural side.

And I'm beginning to understand this lemming phenomenon I keep reading about....

womo531 said...

Pat, I really enjoyed your paintings along with your reviews of the fragrances! I've never been really good with watercolor (can never seem to wait for them to dry =P) so I really appreciated your heartfelt paintings. In addition, I enjoyed comparing all the reviews and seeing everyone's take on things =)

Ambrosia said...

What a lovely lovely way to review scents!
And now my perfume has it's very own painting too...may I use it on my blog? How gorgeous......

fountaingirl said...

I love the image pairing with the scents, it's fantastic.

Vincent said...

Please count me for the draw. Thanks.