A palimpsest is an old document on which the original writing has been erased and replaced with new writing. Sometimes the older writing can still be read under the new, resulting in a complex and beautiful layering. My new Palimpsest perfume was inspired by the layers of history I uncovered while researching my new book, Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent. Leafing through dozens of volumes, some more than a century old, I felt as though I had stumbled into a secret old world of scent, whose story can still be read, in whispers and traces, beneath the story of the world we know. I wanted to capture the richness that you feel when you experience the past as alive in the present, creating the gorgeous complexity of life. Palimpsest captures the feeling of being in the Garden of Eden at midnight: lush, wild florals, forbidden fruit, and majestic creatures in hiding. The perfume undulates down through florals to its ambergris-laced, other-worldly drydown, and the base notes shimmer up through the top and middle notes in a seamless, scented wave.
Palimpsest folds back upon itself over time, the opening notes joining with the deepest notes and the aromatic traces of the earlier notes persisting in an intricate evolution. It allows you to experience the past in the present and the present in the past; in a whiff, it undoes the structure of time.
Featured notes in organic alcohol:
Top: gamma dodecalactone, phenyl acetic acid, yuzu.
Heart: jasmine grandiflorum, peach, ylang ylang.
Base: firetree, vanilla, ambergris.
The base chord revolves around firetree, from the eponymous tree that Aboriginal tribes use in all its parts, for everything from sustenance (the sweet flowers) to food preparation (the leaves are sharp enough to cut meat), to fishing (spears made from the flower stems) to spiritual practice and folk medicine. The essential oil, harvested under special permit from dead or fallen trees, has a complex and unique aroma, highly diffuse; its lilac and rose notes, with milky undertones, give way to a sweet and floral spiciness, then morph into a woody, earthy, slightly leathery note, and end in a smoky, oud-like drydown. The firetree makes a bond with the ambergris and the equally tenacious phenylacetic acid of the top note, with its initial sweetness of honey on a floral background and its powdery, animalic nuances -- a bond that asserts itself early and changes over time, revealing glimpses of the perfume's rich floral heart and animalic base.
Yuzu, the grapefruit-like essential oil, provides a contrasting brightness to the opening of the perfume. The gamma dodecalactone, with its soft, milky peach-apricot note, drifts down to the vanilla absolute, enfolding the peach along with the banana facets of the ylang ylang extra in a rich gourmand note. Jasmine, peach and ylang ylang merge to create a suede-like floral heart. These complex essences together magically conjure phantom nuances of rose, tobacco, honeysuckle, and chocolate.
Palimpsest is available as a 30 ml EDP spray ($170), a 1/4 oz. perfume ($170), a 2 ml perfume mini ($50), and sample sizes of the EDP spray and the perfume ($6).
Looking forward so much to the Oct. 16 release of my new book Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent -- the metallic coloring on the cover is extraordinarily beautiful!
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I hope you are heading for a glorious autumn. I love the crisp air, the coziness of soft sweaters against my skin and the drifting leaves changing colors -- it must be my Michigan roots.
Mandy, Foster, Lauralyn, & Devon
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