When Chanel No. 5 hit the market in the 1920s, it was the first fragrance derived entirely from artificial ingredients. Synthetic raw materials have formed the basis for most perfumes ever since.
But before that, ALL fragrances were natural, containing botanical ingredients like rose, sandalwood and lavender. And now, thanks to the growing interest in organic beauty products, organic perfumes are once again having a moment.
Although I'm all for plant-based ingredients, fine perfumery is definitely an art, synthetics and all. So before I tried Guaiac from Red Flower, a New York-based purveyor of luxury organic beauty products, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about an organic perfume. How could it even BEGIN to match the sophistication of creations by perfumers like Annick Goutal or Jean-Claude Ellena?
Well, let me just say that Guaiac is one of the most compelling, amazing scents that I have EVER tried.
On first application, Guaiac just smells so DIFFERENT. I was used to vanilla, fruity or watery notes. This is fresh and earthy, with a spike of citrus.
At first, I wasn't sure I liked it, but the more I wore it, the more I fell head over heels in love with it.
It's actually part of a coming trend for chypre—woody—notes, as opposed to the sickly-sweet dessert-type scents that have been in favour for so many years. It's really like a breath of fresh air.
Speaking of air, as an allergy-sufferer, mainstream fragrances often make me sneeze uncontrollably—but this doesn't happen with Guaiac, because of its minimal, natural ingredients list:
- frankincense oil
- guaiac wood oil
- pink grapefruit oil
- rosa damascena oil
- safflower seed certified organic oil
The one thing you do have to compromise on is longevity, but it's a trade-off I'm more than willing to make. Especially because the roll-on oil is easy to toss in your handbag for re-applications throughout the day.
"Red Flower Organic Perfume in Guaiac"... is enchanting. It is also startling, a result of the oddness that comes as much from what you are not smelling—the absence of the ubiquitous synthetic musk Galaxolide, for example—as what you are. Nor does the perfume smell like guaiac wood, at least not patently. It smells like the sweet sunlight-filled citric burst you get from gashing the peel of an exquisitely fresh orange with your thumbnail mixed with the scent of warm hay (very fresh, with no trace of dust) and a clear mint-like freshness that manages not to have the slightest trace of literal "mint." Its sweet comes without sugar. It is so straightforward that it smells mysterious, and it is so simple, so nakedly, lucidly pure that it smells naive. If Guaiac is a universe away from the rich, plush, Frenchly elaborated pre-war Guerlains, it is just as far from the early 21st century minimalist intellectual art scents of Frédéric Malle and Le Labo. Both those schools produce brilliant perfumes. This is something else. One feels about this perfume as one would a tiny blossom, impossibly lovely, ridiculously fragile, evanescent."
He describes it so much better than I ever could!
But yes, wouldn't it just figure that the scent I fall in love with is also one of the most expensive? I'm already saving up for a re-purchase....
Where to Buy
Find Red Flower Guaiac at: