Fleur Fatale


– a review of Opus Oils’ ‘Flapper’

In a side street behind the Plaza and the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe, New Mexico lies the location of one of my biggest fragrant epiphanies – the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Here, in a small courtyard beyond a gallery, something stopped me cold in an instant. It was a faint scent trail of something so haunting, so evocative, so unlike anything I had ever encountered before, all thoughts of art appreciation went right out of my head. I sniffed. It wasn’t the overall ambient scent of New Mexico, with its dusty heated smell of sagebrush and broom, ponderosa, mesquite and cottonwoods or roasting chiles.

I remember that I stood, held up my hand to stop a conversation and sniffed the air like a bloodhound on a scent. Which was when I found the source.

Off in the furthest corner was a small clump of otherwise unremarkable weeds to my untrained Northern European eye, unremarkable if not for rather showy, white, trumpet-shaped flowers I instantly recognized from so many paintings. It was such a galvanizing shock to my senses – that coming together of artistic vision I knew from so many favorite paintings and a living reality blooming unheeded in an adobe courtyard – with the unreal, ghostly perfume of the humble jimsonweed, datura stramonium, quite literally fragrant like nothing at all else on Earth.

For the rest of my years in New Mexico, I would follow that trail when I found it, as I so often did…in overgrown lots and empty arroyos, nestling in the sunlight in hidden canyons in the Jemez Mountains, and always in the twilight hours when it bloomed…that visceral olfactory punch of datura.

Every part of the datura plant is poisonous. Datura brings delirium and madness, bizarre behavior, amnesia and even death. Every year, livestock die and humans too from datura poisoning. Legend has it that breathing the very scent of it will bring visions, dreams, intoxication – and obsession. I’ve been obsessed with datura ever since that first encounter in a Santa Fe museum courtyard, I’ve even met a few perfumes that attempted to recreate that fragrant flowered swoon… and all of them disappointed. Beautiful, yes, complex and heady, yes, but a rendering of Georgia’s beloved jimsonweed? No. So it was…

Until I discovered Opus Oils, Kedra Hart, her soliflore ‘Les Bohemes’ collection…and her ode to datura…’Flapper’.

Flapper, as Kedra says, is the Belle of the Les Bohemes ball…and what a belle she is! Sweetly disturbing, a little fruity, a little wild, her initial innocent aura is dangerously deceiving. I inhale her luscious perfume, and think nothing more edifying than ‘heavenly’, but Flapper hasn’t finished singing just yet.

She Charlestons fully into the room in her flashing satin heels with her flirty dancing eyes, and right when you summon up the courage to look her beauty full in the face, right about when that datura really begins to bloom beneath the moonlight, that heady, seamless bouquet that all equals ‘datura’ winks…rustles those velvety ghostly petals and you are so entranced, so bewitched, it’s all you can do to simply breathe the visions in that follow.

You have now been spancelled, you are under her spell, and now, she will never, ever let you go, and you will never, ever want her to! As she blooms, as the night grows older and the moon ever bolder, as she opens that white, haunting trumpet wider, she grows cooler and lusher, fading to a satin soft whisper of tobacco and tonka bean, white musk and vanilla, as gossamer as the moonbeams that slowly fade away with the dawn, the cool of the air closing up her petals, keeping all her narcotic, alluring secrets until night descends again.

She is called Flapper, but I would give her another name that suits her equally well, a name that for me encapsulates all she is and all she does…

Fleur Fatale.

So fatale, she and I suit each other very, very well. You see, we have a history, she and I…from a Santa Fe courtyard and into a memory of carefree, of happy, of dancing though the moonbeams together to entrance and ensnare all who catch a haunting trail they will never forget!

Opus Oils ‘Flapper’ is in the ‘Les Bohemes’ collection, available as an alcohol-based perfume and as a perfume oil in a fractionated coconut oil base from the Opus Oils website.

Notes: Sweet lemon blossom, clementine, tangerine, pink peppercorn, perillla leaf, mango absolute, ginger lily, datura, gardenia, jasmine, vanilla, white musk, blond tobacco, tonka bean.

Eau de Perdition

– a review of Opus Oils’ ‘Dirty Sexy Wilde’

Ever since a boring, windy November night almost two years ago, my dreams have been haunted by a phantom….perfume. A perfume I have never encountered in real life, never even thought about before that night I was visited by a relation to Edgar Allen Poe’s Imp of the Perverse and fell down a rabbit hole of my making.

See me as I was that Friday night…thoroughly, emphatically bored. Some idea bubbled away at the back of my mind, something nailed my posterior to my Balinese cane chair and sent me looking for an image I came across a few days before, something made me drum my desk as I looked and thought that heretical thought…

“What if…”

“What if” is how stories are born, books are written, things…happen.

I plugged into my iPod, unplugged my inner censor, and wrote a story about a woman much like myself with nothing to lose, a woman with a dream of doing and becoming – and the Devil in disguise in a midnight café who makes her an offer not even she can refuse. Woven into the storyline in a way I wasn’t even aware of doing was…that phantom perfume, the Devil’s scent, dark, erotic and dangerously alluring. It weaved and bobbed throughout the storyline that followed, as warning and premonition and button pusher, and the Devil that I conjured knew everything about pushing my protagonist’s buttons – good and bad.

Since then, I’ve often asked myself when I sniffed something new…would this be it? I have a current project – in dire need of resurrection at present, I freely admit – called the Devil’s Scent with Doc Elly of Olympic Orchids, I’ve met a few candidates…but none of them came so close to that olfactory image in my mind as Kedra Hart of Opus Oils did with ‘Dirty Sexy Wilde.’

It’s all Carrie Meredith’s fault. Without her reviews of Opus Oils and my own relentless curiosity, I would never have known. ‘When you get your samples, girl, I want you to pour half that vial of ‘Dirty Sexy Wilde’ all over yourself and let me know what happens’, she wrote me in an email.

So when they arrived after over a week of anticipation that nearly killed me, that’s exactly what I did. I’m so glad I was alone that Saturday, or my sanity would have been in question. The only word that bears repeating (this is a perfume blog, after all) is…OMG!

‘Dirty Sexy Wilde’ is Kedra Hart’s ode to Oscar Wilde and Dorian Gray, both of whom are very, very dear to my writer’s heart, so with a name like that, there’s something to live up to – an aura of Oscar’s rapier, elegant wit and verve and that underlying hint of horror that lurks between the lines of ‘A Picture of Dorian Gray’.

There’s nothing in the slightest horrific about DSW, but by golly, this is one of the most erotic things I’ve ever had the pleasure to inhale. It starts off green and slightly soapy in an elegant scented lace-edged Victorian handkerchief way, but it takes no time at all for it to begin asserting itself in all the best and most anticipatory ways. This is where it’s closest to the elegant Oscar, the aesthete Dorian.

Before long, that fatal combination of tobacco, oakmoss, coumarin, musk, civet and ambergris – a blend that surely equals ‘sexy beast’ if anything does – makes itself known in no uncertain terms, and it moves far past anticipation and well into bedhead territory. Dirty. Sexy. A night to remember.

As my nameless protagonist says in QD of the aftermath:

My brain wasn’t located until Friday morning. I felt like a major railroad disaster.

‘Dirty Sexy Wilde’ is a major railroad disaster perfume, in the sense that it practically evaporates inhibitions and distills desire with a capital D to a sharp and shining point. It isn’t obvious, yet it’s not understated and it’s perfectly balanced and flawlessly composed for what it is. I call it Eau de Perdition.

Your idea of the Devil’s perfume might be different, more understated, a touch less, well… animal. Since I wrote QD, I know my Devil well, and I tell you from the bottom of my black and highly depraved rock’n’roll heart…

My Devil would wear this for his first encounter with my protagonist at the Chelsea Hotel, he would wear it to burn away every last shred of doubt or inhibition she might have, every objection she could hold, and every onion layer self she would want to peel away forever. And he would wear it again much later, when he says:

Until there is nothing more to say, not vertical, not in words, not in anything other than the language she and I had spoken from that very first moment in a café at midnight. This one. This skin, this touch, this scent, this mind, this woman, this dissolution, this mouth, this conversation. Oh, yes.

Eau de perdition.

As for this lowly perfume blogger, desperately trying to write a semi-coherent review, I can only be grateful I have yet to encounter it on either my Devil or his lookalike.

If I ever did, I’d eat all three of his femurs alive and entire, more than once, and by Golly, he’d walk differently the next morning!

As it is, I’m so very, very grateful to Kedra Hart for putting my Devil into Dirty Sexy Wilde. For which I can only thank her from the bottom of my black and depraved rock’n’roll heart!

Notes: Galbanum, red mandarin, violet, rose, jasmine, blond tobacco, oakmoss, coumarin, musk, civet, ambergris.

‘Dirty Sexy Wilde’ is available in many permutations from perfume to bath salts from Opus Oils.

Image of Tiger Powers as ‘Oscar Wilde/Dorian Gray’ used by permission of Opus Oils. There was a picture of Oscar that I found, but Tiger’s was so much better!