Last autumn, I sampled Parfum d’Empire’s Ambre Russe fragrance. I enjoyed its vaporous waltz of faint incense, black tea, vodka "fumes", leather, muted spices (coriander and cinnamon), and sweet vanilla. But Ambre Russe was, in the end, a tad too refined; its richness was an indoor richness — bringing to mind a world of soft, smooth leathers, sparkling crystal, polished marble, waxed paneling and gleaming silver. Ambre Russe's opulence felt excessive and tame at the same time.
Lonestar Memories (created by perfumer Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes in Zurich, Switzerland) reminds me of Ambre Russe, and I’m happy that what I admired about Ambre Russe, the hints of smoke, leather and spice, has been tousled in Lonestar Memories, and made to encompass a world of outdoor opulence — a world of hills and mountains, majestic trees, dusty winds and tumbleweeds. Ambre Russe's controlled crackling fire beneath an ornate mantle in St. Petersburg had become Lonestar Memories' rustic campfire in the Texas hill country.
I have always loved the watercolors Georgia O'Keeffe painted while she was a teacher in northern Texas early in her life. Using bold colors and simple forms, O'Keeffe was able to convey vast landscapes, haunting images of the sun and sky, on small sheets of paper. In Lonestar Memories, working with a modest palette of fragrance notes (geranium, carrot seed, clary sage, birch tar, cistus, jasmine, cedar wood, myrrh, tonka, vetiver and sandalwood), Andy Tauer conjures the open range, charred kindling, raw leather, and the aromas of crushed resinous brush underfoot.
Weaving in and out of this dry, sunny composition is the moist, tropical scent of jasmine flowers — they are a welcome and captivating addition. Jasmine spurs Lonestar Memories out of an attempt to literally render a place using perfume and into a world of imagination and strangeness. (We've all encountered an incongruous aroma, appearing out of nowhere, that adds an eerie element to an experience. I always remember being at a glacier in winter and smelling heliotrope in the air.) Jasmine nudges and hugs Lonestar Memories' drier, smokier fragrance notes — like the white, unpainted areas of O’Keeffe’s Texas watercolors accent her vigorous shapes and colors.
Image: Georgia O’Keeffe, Light Coming on the Plains III, (1917), via California State University, Long Beach.