Perfume in Living Color: The Aroma M Geisha Series (Part One)
The Aroma M Perfumes Company has been around since 1995, but I had never tried any of its fragrances until this year. That was my loss, because once I did have the chance to sample this line I found a very well executed and exciting range of scents that has an unusual foundation; they are inspired by Kodo, the ancient Japanese are of perfumery, which the company’s founder Maria McElroy studied extensively in Japan. They are also formulated with aromatherapy principles in mind, for those who like their perfume to either create a mood or alter their state of mind. As an added bonus, each fragrance is wrapped in gorgeously patterned handmade Japanese paper.
The first Geisha perfume I smelled was the newest, Geisha Amber Rouge, which is a variation on an earlier fragrance, Geisha Rouge. I still approach amber scents with caution, even though I have come to love many of them; too many ambers are sweet and cloying, some reminiscent of “Play-Doh” and others just flat and dull. What impressed me about Geisha Amber Rouge is how open and spacious it is, even in the oil concentration. It is very bright and spiced with star anise, clove and cinnamon, and everything has a chance to shine on its own without being overwhelmed by excessive sweetness. After testing it, I knew I had to try more from this line.
Geisha Noire is another ambery Oriental, but as its name implies, it is deep and dark and even though it has Tonka bean, spices and vanilla, it does not come off as too sweet. Like all the line it is unisex, and this one seems particularly well suited for men; it has an incense-like woodiness that balances out the other notes. My skin tends to bring out the sweetness in any perfume, but even when wearing this all day long I did not find it so. With its tremendous presence and intensity, it is not for the timid, but I think it’s quite easy to wear, though perhaps best in cooler weather.
The very unusual Geisha Violet really got my attention when I first read the notes, and I was curious about whether or not it actually worked. It does, in a big way, even though it is a balancing act between the ethereal florals violet, lilac and Japanese lotus, paired with dark, bitter chocolate. I could almost see your eyebrows rise when you read that, so I will repeat – violet, lilacs and chocolate! I love lilac, but it’s so hard to get right in perfume. This one succeeds because the lotus keeps the lilac note from going flat and stale and the warmth of chocolate is a perfect counterbalance for the cool violet – it’s a delicious, dense aroma, not a dusty cocoa, and it would appear that these have been searching for each other all their lives, together at last and finally finding true love. Truly original and delightful, Geisha Violet should appeal to both floral and gourmand fans, and those who appreciate something different.
When I applied Geisha Green, it seemed very familiar to me, although I knew I had never smelled it before. Then it hit me – it was very close in character to the great old fresh-powdery-green fragrances of decades ago, a style I love that has regrettably gone out of fashion now. If you remember perfumes like Turbulences by Revillon, Estée Lauder Celadon or Capucci’s wonderful Yendi with fondness, then bid a warm welcome to their modern descendant. The green comes from absinthe, which is usually a sharp and intensely herbal presence in perfumes, but here it is brought into soft focus by fruits, violet, amber and Tonka bean. The green still shines, but though a halo of sweetness augmented by its own licorice-like aspect that gives it a fuzzy comfort. Geisha Green is friendly and easy to live with while still being fresh and unusual. I sampled the oil version but this is one that begs to be experienced in an Eau de Parfum, which is not available (yet) for this fragrance. I hope it does eventually end up as one of the scents in the EDP formulation. Next time I will explore more of the Geisha perfumes in other “colors.”
Image credit: Some examples of Japanese Yuzen paper art via kittyskaboodle.bigcartel.com
Disclosure: Aroma M sent the samples to me for testing at my request.