Fantabulous Karma

  • A review of LUSH/Gorilla Perfumes’ Karma

Do you believe in karma? Not as supernatural divine retribution, but as something along the lines of Albert Einstein’s famous quote, and one which I more or less live by: 

“Everything in the Universe is energy. To attract what you want is as simple as tuning in to the right frequency.”

It therefore follows, if we pursue Einstein’s thought a little further, that bad karma = bad energy/bad deeds or decisions, one way or another. However you personally may choose to define them.

In my nearly 59 years on this Earth, if I believe in anything, I can certainly believe in that, because my experience has proved it true. Every. Single. Time. 

A few years ago, a huge vintage bottle of a 1980s mainstay, the superlative chypre Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum, was put up for sale on one of my European FB perfume sale/swap groups. As part of the deal, it included a vintage Lush edition of Karma. 

Take a Chance

I paid my change for Mon Parfum and glory days nostalgia. I stayed for brand-new-to-me Karma

By that time, I had been reading about Lush perfumes, bath bombs and various toiletries  for years. We have no Lush stores in Denmark. Strangely enough, they do in Sweden and Norway, but Denmark has so far passed them by. This pains me more than you know.

 One – their Orange Blossom. Two, their Kerbside Violet. Some sunshiny day they shall be mine, all mine.

Last but never least, if Karma is anything to go by, never mind the countless reviews I plowed my way through for the purposes of this review, the perfuming minds of Mark and Simon Constantine work in strange and wondrous ways. In an era of same-trends-different-packaging-hyperluxe pricing, that level of talent is remarkable – and should be lauded and appreciated. Hence, this review.

I may be an over-the-hill/dales/suburbs included  D-list perfume blogger with a reach of influence measured in nanometers, but by golly, universal energy or Mary Magdalene, patron saint of perfumers, great perfumes are great perfumes are great perfumes, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, and those are the ones I choose to write about. 

Not long after it arrived, I sprayed myself lavishly with Karma before bed to see what dreams it would cause. It was scrumptious. Orange and lavender and lemongrass and lemon and pine, no associations of any cleaning products whatsoever. The patchouli – and Karma has loads – smelled A-grade great. For quite some time, I owned a bag of patchouli leaves originating in a West Hollywood garden, courtesy of a dear friend. Patchouli, yes, earthy and earth-bound, certainly, but all ‘proper’ patchouli in my unhumble opinion should contain a minty green foundation garment – meaning a green/herbal/licorice/mint/galbanum undertone, as the leaves certainly did and the patchouli in Karma also does. 

That night, I competed for space in my bed with my two cats, neither of whom could snuggle quite close enough. I can remember falling asleep that night holding – as I often did – one ginger, Karma-scented paw. 

The dream I can recall was disquieting, like all the best dreams. 

The next day, in a rush out the door, I tossed the bottle of Karma into a light-protecting perfume drawer for regular rotation purposes. 

And to my eternal shame and disgrace  promptly forgot all about it. 

Retribution Station

Every so often, whenever I opened that drawer, Karma would wink at me from below. Always, I’d find an excuse – wanting to wear something else, weather, the company of perfume-averse millennials at school I had no wish to offend, especially not in exam season.

But sometimes, in moonlight, in moods, in deepest night, I’d dig out Karma, spray – and swoon. My fate was sealed, my kismet complete, and even my good karma kitty approved. 

Rinse, lather, repeat. For years. My bad.

Blonde Karma

Two months ago, I landed a job as a teacher at a primary school in Copenhagen, teaching art, English and science. Since I was moving in with my sister for a while, that meant trying to decide which perfumes to bring, perfumes that a) I loved and b) wouldn’t stink up the apartment, since she has never quite forgiven me an episode in 2012 that involved twelve sprays of Epic Woman and an aftermath that lasted over a month, not to mention c) would add a little sass to my step in the mornings, in class, with a gaggle of fifth-graders I dearly hoped would like me. 

One of the perfumes I chose to bring was Karma. Perhaps it would be more correct to say it chose me, since I have no recollection of packing it, and that, too, must be kismet. 

A few days ago, my sister – a curvy, petite brunette and the most uniquely stylish woman I know – and I had a discussion about patchouli.

 “Aren’t you too fair and blonde for patchouli?” she asked. The question surprised me. Memories of that beloved bag of Maggie’s patchouli leaves, now sadly departed, of Oncle Serge’s wondrous Borneo 1834, of, well, any number of hard-hitting Eighties diehards I adored – oh, I did love patchouli with a will. If perhaps not so much as the original Prada she loved and I can’t wear if you paid me. 

Because, as every friend I have and certainly my sister will attest: 

I’m too damn blonde. 

My Marrakech moment

Sometimes, though, kismet throws me a bonbon or two. One of those is surely LUSH Karma. The Sanskrit name notwithstanding, never mind all the headshop/Haight-Ashbury/hippie associations, Karma is a unique perfume, surely the grooviest perfume I own. 

It begins with an orange. Not just any orange. This is the OG orange-you-glad, all zest, smiles and warm sunshine. While it’s not listed as a note, my nose detects a significant amount of orange blossom absolute – this is orange with a great deal of heft, longevity and substance behind it. Then, a fugue of lavender and lemongrass comes out to play with the orange, and if you were miserable before, that sorry state of mind should surely be impossible now. Orange you glad? How could you not be? 

You are, now and always, fantabulous. Darling. Feisty, spicy, green and luxuriously happy with just a touch of luxe hippie, as the base makes itself known a little at a time. Is Karma a b*tch? 

Not now, and not this one. 

In fact, Karma makes me feel like Talitha Getty, ca. 1967, pictured above, when all was still love, light and happiness, and everyone who was anyone boogied down to Marrakech, to sample life at a slower pace, to enjoy all the wonder, the shock to the senses,  the beauty Morocco had to offer, to hang out with Saint Yves and Pierre, Karl and Mick Jagger, and all fashion, all of the arts were transformed forever by mutual inspiration. 

I’m not rich, not famous, not anything as beautiful as the tragic Talitha surely was. Yet Karma makes me feel as if I am. 

And that patchouli? Here, it sings in a perfectly tuned chorus with cinnamon and pine and lemony elemi, a fresher, sweeter, and altogether flirtier perspective on patchouli, but unlike any patchoulis you may have tried before. That sweetly structured drydown lasts and lasts and lasts. I get about 18+ hours out of two small sprays.

My perfume fantasies and time travels aside, I own nothing at all in the slightest like Karma

It will get you, sooner or later. But your karma will be fantabulous. Always. No matter who or where you are.

With special thanks to Maggie Mahboubian of Lalun Perfumes for those patchouli leaves, and in memory of Janice Divacat (2006-2021) and Hairy Krishna (2007-2022), for their love of Karma

Karma is available in several incarnations at LUSH perfumes. 
Notes (via Fragrantica): Orange, lemongrass, lavender, pine tree, lemon, cassis, patchouli, fir resin, elemi, cinnamon.