Green Magic: Moss Gown by Providence Perfume Company
In the books of my childhood, she was called Old Mother West Wind,
the one who was all-wise, and watched over the forest creatures.
That seems about right, as I feel her presence in the late autumn garden,
feel her power in the scudding clouds and the supplicant limbs of the trees.
In these climes she reigns supreme, and as the seasons change,
she holds her ground waiting for the cold to come down over the world.
She wears her gown of greenest velvet shrouded in a cape of mist,
fallen leaves in her wake, soft moss growing around her trailing hem.
The hard-eyed prince of the North arrives on his flint-hooved steed,
looking for the one he most desires, but she has long departed;
South Wind's lissome beauty, having grown faded and chilled, has disappeared.
Her return is certain, but by then he will be too old and grey to woo her.
His fearsome brother from the East attacks long and hard, piercing every defense,
but in the end he is driven back when the patient Mother quells his unruliness.
The soft breath of early morning turns to bluster in the waning day and I turn up my collar,
searching for the southbound skein of geese I can only hear through the ragged sky.
The West Wind dips down and sweeps her shimmering cloak in my direction
scattering silver curtains of rain with her gusts and sending me indoors defeated.
She mocks me still as I draw the curtains, slapping against the panes with authority
and biding her time, knowing I cannot stay cocooned within these walls forever.
“The West Wind” By Donna H.
I was inspired to write this poem while I was wearing the beautiful new Moss Gown perfume by Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Company. I may not be much of a poet, but I was so enchanted by the fragrance that I felt moved to pay it tribute. I am a true moss lover, and so I have been lamenting the loss of real oakmoss and other materials in all the iconic European perfumes as the houses continue to fall into compliance with the draconian EU regulations that control which ingredients can be used in perfumery. As soon as I smelled Moss Gown, I was once again reminded that American independent perfumers are under no such constraints, and anyone who wants fragrances with real natural ingredients needs to go looking for them in the artisan houses.
Moss Gown is meant to evoke a retro aesthetic, which it does most emphatically, but it is also a bold modern composition. Its inspiration was a contemporary retelling of a fairytale, a story set in America’s Deep South of a girl forced to wear rags and sleep on a bed of moss, and who encounters a magical woman who teaches her the secret of turning her rags into a beautiful gown. The perfume is brighter and more floral than most classic mossy chypres, but it does remind me of one in particular, the masterful Profumo by Acqua di Parma, which is one of the few chypres I know of which is equally good in its original version and the current reformulation. They share a smooth, easygoing style and a modern sensibility. Where Moss Gown departs into new territory is in its blend of superb florals, which adds a dimension of space and light that makes it sing; the feeling is of sunlight coming through the trees in a deep forest just after the rain, causing sweet aromas to arise from the damp, mossy earth. A top note with sunflower essence, mimosa and chamomile starts things off with a bang and signals that this is no ordinary scent. The gorgeous heart is composed of rare Tasmanian boronia, rose, coffee flower, narcissus, lilac and violet leaf; this is even more impressive when you remember that all the perfumes from this house are 100% natural. The base is French cedar moss, sandalwood and white cedar. Cedar moss is a close relative of oakmoss; it does not have quite the dark, bitter-green bite of its cousin, at least not in this fragrance, but it does have that satisfying rasp of dry astringency that marries so well with other notes and creates true magic with florals and woods. Because of the fixative power of the moss, this fragrance has excellent lasting power and can last for twelve hours and beyond. The brightness carries through to the end, so it retains that spacious feeling all day. For admirers of both chypres and high quality florals, Moss Gown is a must-try.
Image credit: “Mother West Wind” by American artist Bertha Lum (1869-1954), whose work was inspired by Japanese art, via imgfave.com
Disclaimer: I received my sample of Moss Gown directly from Providence Perfume Company for testing