Haute Claire was born out of a desire to experiment with two scent elements that don't traditionally go together: ylang ylang and galbanum (you can read about its creation on the blog of Nathan Branch, who also named the perfume, HERE). It was hard for me to imagine what it was going to smell like when I read the fascinating correspondence between Mandy and Liz Zorn (another spectacular independent perfumer who also participated in the galbanum/ylang experiment). Frankly, there is nothing that could have prepared me for the happy reality of inhaling Haute Claire's sweet aroma, redolent of crushed, creamy ylang petals, the light-handed touch of high-pitched galbanum, earthy but clean vetiver with the persistent low hum of top-shelf vanilla absolute. This fragrance makes me feel small and happy to be alive. It reminds me that as a human being, I should be humble in the face of what is really worthy of my awe and reverence: nature. And humble, I am.
notes: galbanum, Mexican lime, wild sweet orange, ylang ylang Co2, honeysuckle absolute, ylang ylang extra, clary sage, ethyl phenyl acetate, vetiver, vanilla absolute
Haute Claire is a revelation in gold and white, milky peach and green. It starts out with a vaguely edible quality like a fragrant tea made of herbs and dried flowers, its wild beauty gently contained within an impossibly chic floral heart. The slightly bitter galbanum is used to great effect, never coming across as pushy. What is discovered once you emerge on the other side of Haute Claire is refined, delicate and comforting, and very long lasting. The trio of ylang ylang, vetiver and vanilla stick it out together for the long haul- equal parts sweet and salty with a bit of indole for good measure, and what feels like a whisper of vegetal musk that stays close to the skin.
In the extreme drydown, I detect a hint of Madonna lily with a touch of spice. I honestly don't know where the spice would be coming from. Nothing about Haute Claire is heavy. It is a very imaginative exercise in contrasts; a demonstration of how opposites can complement and enhance one another. This is a perfume I would not hesitate in recommending to someone who thinks they don't like natural fragrances. Hours after first spraying, I'm not thinking about natural or synthetic; I'm thinking about how it smells like a sweet kiss, like laughing so hard that you start to cry. I'm thinking, there is hope and kindness inside this little vial, and I could always use more of that in my life.
I will be holding a draw for one lucky winner to receive a 5ml atomizer of Haute Claire EDP (shown below). Just leave me a comment and tell me if you have a fragrance that you love for its soothing, energizing or healing effects. Is there a scent that just makes you feel good? I will choose one winner at random this Friday afternoon at 1pm US Central time, and the winner will be announced here on this blog shortly thereafter. I will provide the winner's mailing address and name to Mandy Aftel, who will then ship the prize directly to the winner. This draw is open to anyone, anywhere in the world.
[Haute Claire is available at Aftelier.com in EDP form only. A 30ml bottle is available for $150, and samples for $6. My sample was sent to me by the perfumer for review.]
photo credits: (top) vivainstitute.com and Mandy Aftel