Avant–garde isn’t for everyone, but isn’t that the point? Individuality is wonderful to embrace in today’s cookie-cutter world of beauty and fashion. When it comes to perfumery, “different” can be an exciting discovery for those with an open mind. For Alexandra Balahoutis, botanical perfumer, and founder of Strange Invisible Perfumes, natural essences mixed to portray a feeling as much as a distinct or expected representation is a quest. Hers is a company I knew virtually nothing about, until I was invited to a sneak peek of three new floral Eau de Parfums Balahoutis designed for Spring 2009. These will hit a select marketplace in March 2009 (so you don’t have long to wait).
I’ll get to the trio of new scents in a minute, but first, it’s important to understand that Strange Invisible Perfumes are not your ordinary department store variety of product…here’s why:
All of the Strange, Invisible Perfumes are completely botanical fragrances, crafted of organic, wild-crafted, or biodynamic essences set in a base of 100% organic grape alcohol. There are a couple of dozen scents, plus 10 eaux de parfum, and a collection of body washes and lotions. The products are made with sustainability and environmental accountability in mind, with materials sourced from suppliers with fair-trade practices. The eco-friendly packaging is also a plus, although it’s rather plain. The company also takes a small percentage of the proceeds from one of their best-selling products to give back to charity. For example, some of the profits from the scent, “Magazine Street” are donated to Common Ground Collective, a non-profit organization working for the environmental restoration and sustainable rebuilding of New Orleans. This company also helps to increase awareness about the plight of honeybees through their support of the documentary, The Vanishing of the Bees,” which examines the dangers of Colony Collapse Disorder and it’s potentially disastrous effects on our Earth.
Like the vanishing honeybee, the essences and niche fragrances Balahoutis uses to make her unusual products are expensive and rare. Chemicals are much cheaper, but they’re also less sophisticated. Balhoutis maintains that the natural essences she uses help the scent to linger with it’s notes intact, mixing with a person’s unique body chemistry to produce something luxurious and unique. She distills many of her own essences, using organic materials whenever possible, and favors the use of hydro-distillation rather than steam distillation or chemical extraction methods. . Other essences are created from grown in an Ojai, California vineyard, whose climate mimics Southern France, and when required, she gets her essential oils from the world’s top distillers. This sort of attention takes much more time and effort, but it part of what makes Strange Invisible Perfumes distinct.
Here’s the lowdown on the latest trio of Strange Invisible Perfumes:
The three scents: Aquarian Rose; Urban Lily, and Epic Gardenia each srp. $175.00 1.7 fl. Oz.; Parfum 0.25 fl. oz $210.00. are evocative of the flower as the designer views them. Don’t expect to find flowery fragrances that smell like others you may have tried in the rose, lily or gardenia family. None of these smell very much like the flower they are named for. The creator isn’t trying to create an exact copy, instead, these scents convey more of the feeling or story of the flower along with the type of woman who might wear it.
Urban Lily’s lily of the valley (also a flower that won’t yield it’s scent to distillation) is far away from the sweet, unsophisticated versions of lily of the valley I’ve sniffed in my lifetime. Again, Balhoutis skillfully creates the feeling of the flower, using other floral distillates to create a lily scent that’s just as fresh and strong as it is sweet and feminine. The delicate Lily of the valley can live under harsh conditions and still thrive. Urban Lily celebrates a strong women who can thrive in a busy metropolis in a cramped, urban space, but still be delicate and beautiful.
My favorite of the three scents is Aquarian Roses. This isn’t the cloying smell of roses your grandmother liked. This rose is modern, wild and uninhibited. It has a freshness brought about by aqueous notes of wild roses, with sandalwood, and African marjoram. This combo makes the scent not just unique, but oddly, unisex. I was chatting with the car service driver that was bringing me to my next appointment, and I spritzed this scent on him (with his permission, of course!). I didn’t tell him this was a rose-inspired scent, so when I told him what it was, he was definitely surprised. He said he really liked it and would definitely like to wear it, (until I told him the price. I think he was hoping I’d give him my sample!!!
The skill of the “nose” is what makes any scent, sensational. Balhoutis has it down! If you are a fashion leader, not follower, you don’t want to smell yourself coming and going on every street corner. So treat yourself to a Strange, Invisible, Fragrance. Your investment will give you joy every time you apply it (and you won’t be invisible, either)….that’s not “strange” at all!