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Friday, November 04, 2011

For Love of Ivy: Roxana Villa’s Hedera Helix (And a Prize Draw!)

By Donna

My first love in perfumery is “greens’ and especially the green floral style; I once wore Diorissimo almost exclusively and I only stopped when it became impossible to find, and then it was sadly reformulated. I even wore Gucci Envy by the quart (sorry, former colleagues). I went through many of them before I discovered chypres, and then of course my favorites were the greener ones like the original Jean-Louis Scherrer. However, I do like my greens with florals and a touch of sweetness; even the fierce March wind of the great Vent Vert is only a prelude to the impossibly delicate bouquet of spring flowers hiding behind her intimidating visage, and that’s just what makes it so effective. Needless to say, when I heard that natural perfumer Roxana Villa was launching a new fragrance that might be her greenest yet, I was eager to sample it.

Hedera Helix is the botanical name for what is commonly called English ivy, a rampantly growing and vigorous vine that is a particularly deep green color, and can look almost black in the shadows of the forest as it slowly but surely takes over the trees. The perfumer first began to compose it several years ago as a tribute to the Celtic sacred Tree Ogham of ivy, which is detailed here. The perfume is a perfect match for the name and the concept, a green floral chypre composed of many different leafy and floral notes and anchored with a base of resins, woods and real oakmoss. Like all of Roxana’s creations, it is 100% natural and made with organic grape and grain alcohols instead of the conventional kind. I was very impressed by the structure of this fragrance because the list of notes is surprisingly long but the overall effect is tightly focused on the green aspect. Everything else seems to be there to create that special mood, with nothing extraneous to distract from it. The base includes sandalwood, labdanum Tonka bean, styrax, Peru balsam, seaweed and oakmoss; the florals in the heart include rose, jasmine, orange blossom and boronia, while the opening has no less than four different kinds of citrus. Yet the dominant feeling is a canopy of fresh green leaves and lively herbal notes all mingling to make the point that this is all about the foliage.

What makes it really wonderful is the same thing that made the original Vent Vert so special, an ethereal breath of sweetness behind the veil of green that softens any harshness such fragrances may have. It reminds me of her wonderful sea chypre GreenWitch, but Hedera Helix takes another direction. Instead of being of the sea, it is essentially of the forest, a walk in magical woodland where every step brings up the aroma of the greenery underfoot and the slightest breeze brings the scent of living things in all their mystery. I want to be clear that this perfume is neither chilly nor gloomy, as intensely verdant as it is; the opening is dense and pungent yet as it develops it is shot through with warm grace notes dancing through the air like a shaft of sunlight in a grove of tall trees. It is smooth and calming in the way that a walk in the woods with Nature can be, and I recommend it most highly for those who are looking for a perfume that does double duty as aromatherapy to bring a sense of ease and equilibrium. Like Roxana’s other perfumes, it is available as a liquid or in solid form. I love her solid perfumes, which are made with natural beeswax from her own beehives, and this imparts a special aromatic quality that really suits this fragrance perfectly.

Hedera Helix is now available in Roxana’s Etsy shop along with her other scents. Roxana is generously offering a giveaway of a sampler set to one lucky reader, who will receive a sample of both the liquid and solid versions of Hedera Helix. The draw is open to the U.S. and Canada only. Please state in the comments if you would like to be included, and if you like, please tell us what your own favorite green perfumes are!

Disclaimer: The perfume sample I reviewed was given to me by Roxana Villa for testing at my request.

Image credit: “Magical Forest” computer wallpaper from

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Blogger DWR said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:05 AM EDT  
Blogger DWR said...

Having loved what I've tried of Roxana's work, I'm excited by the new offering. Count me in!

So excited I forgot my favorite greens: Miller et Bertaux no. 3: Green, green, green and green; DSH Perfumes Hemlock; Creed Green Valley; Chanel No. 19!

12:09 AM EDT  
Blogger sunnlitt said...

I, too, used to wear Envy with great joy. Ahh, the good old days.
One of my favorite green scents is Annick Goutal's Le Chèvrefeuille. I know that it's a floral, but, to me, it opens with the smell of broken green stems. I love it!!
I would love to be in on the drawing.
Thanks so much.

12:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Undina said...

I haven't tried any of Roxana Villa's perfumes yet, so I'd like to be entered into the draw.

My favorite green perfumes are: Chanel 19, DSH Vert Pour Madame and Parfums De Nicolai Odalisque.

12:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous cheesegan said...

Aliage, Jacomo Silences, Bandit (I think it's green), Cartier Baiser Vole

12:35 AM EDT  
Anonymous cheesegan said...

I forgot to add that,yes, I would like to be included in the draw.
Thank you.

12:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Illuminated Perfume said...

What an exquisite review Donna. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in such beautifully orchestrated prose.

1:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Abhishek said...

i haven't use this perfume, your blog very interesting to read, i am use this perfume.

1:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Andrea Shanti said...

I would love to be included in this favorite green scent is Holistic Body Therapy

3:30 AM EDT  
Anonymous Cynthia L. said...

I find Roxana's Greenwitch to be a great green fragrance and a favorite of mine.

4:51 AM EDT  
Anonymous Nbh said...

My favorite green fragrance is DSH Veridian. Please enter me in the drawing.

5:24 AM EDT  
Blogger Julie said...

I love ivy, and would like to be included in the draw. My favorite greens are somewhat in sync with the author's: Vent Vert, Envy, O de Lancome, Guerlain's Herba Fresca. I now want to try everything by Ms. Villa

8:15 AM EDT  
Blogger Dink said...

I would love to be included in this draw. Some of my favorite greens include Jacomo Silences and Estee Lauder's Private Collection. I loved Chanel No. 19 when I was younger, but haven't smelled it recently.

9:56 AM EDT  
Blogger Balutakat said...

Roxana's Greenwitch;recently I traded for some samples of L'Occitane's various "greenish" scents I am on the fence with so far. Please count me in!

10:39 AM EDT  
Blogger dremybluz said...

My two favorites are Private Collection and Aromatics Elixir.
Please enter me in the draw

11:37 AM EDT  
Anonymous Sophie RC said...

this sounds beautiful! My favourite green would have to be Paco Rabanne Metal.

1:51 PM EDT  
Anonymous Meg said...

My favourite green is Bas de Soie. I don't "get" No. 19 but reading the comments here I am reminded about how much love it gets and will have to re-try again. I'd love to be entered, thanks!

2:36 PM EDT  
Blogger MoonRae said...

I'm not really familiar with any "green" scents except Chanel no.19 so I'd love to try this one

7:27 PM EDT  
Blogger Faith said...

can't get enough green, and Roxana;s is the best, Please enter me.

10:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous rosiegreen said...

My favorite greens are #19, Jacomo Silences ( both thanks to Mals for her
reviews) and O de Lancome which some unknown reviewer said had a lovely dill scent in it. It has an amazing scent of the fresh dill plant. I love forest smells so please enter me in the draw.

11:28 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fell in love with the original Vent Vert 40 years ago, was completely swept away by it, wore it with big white shirts and shorts in spring time.
Later, No. 19 grabbed me.

Please include me in draw. Thanks.


10:44 AM EDT  
Blogger judith said...

I would like to be in the draw please. I live in the U.S.A. and my favorite green fragrances are Byredo Green and Miller et Bertaux #3 Green, green & green. Thank you!

10:46 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacey said...

Would love to be entered, especially to try something from Roxana! I love green scents too, especially grassy florals. I love AG Eau de Camille and Strange Invisible Perfumes Urban Lily (the greenest lily of the valley I have tried because it smells like the whole plant-stems, leaves and all not just flower!)and Estee Lauder Private Collection, which reminds me of my favorite old shampoo and original green scented love Herbal Essence.

12:20 PM EDT  
Anonymous dleep said...

I would love to be in the drawing. I fell in love with Vent Vert the first time I smelled it and Private Collection was my signature scent when I was in my

12:43 PM EDT  
Anonymous Jiyin said...

My favorite green perfume is Miller et Bertaux, Green, green etc.

I would LOVE to try this. Thank you for the draw!

1:29 PM EDT  
Anonymous maggiecat said...

I'd love to be entered in the draw! My first great perfume love, many years ago, was Aliage, and I still wear Diorissimo (my wedding scent)

5:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Laurie Brown said...

I'd love to try this scent!

While I haven't experienced many green perfumes, I do love the original Chypre. And when playing with making scents, I can't resist galbanum and Green Ivy Givco and leaf alcohol and all the other green components.

9:08 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love green perfumes! Hedera Helix sounds like something I'd adore. I've never tried Roxana Villa's creations.

My favorite green perfumes are Papyrus de Ciane, Chamade (in extrait), Trefle Pur, and Nikki St. Phalle. I'd also put Futur and the original EL Private Collection in that list of green loves. It's a really long list, and I'm leaving things off :D

Thanks for the lovely review. I'm off to dig for my sample of Eau de Lierre to give me an ivy fix that you just inspired. Be well.

9:56 PM EDT  
Blogger Rachel said...

I would love to be able to try this perfume. I've been gazing at it on my Etsy list for some time, and your review only makes me more curious whether it could live up to my imagination. :)

11:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Thanks for commenting everyone, I am being inspired to try some of your green perfume suggestions. (I have never heard of Urban Lily but it sounds great!) There is still plenty of time to enter the draw too.

1:41 AM EST  
Blogger Creffield said...

Please include me in the draw, this scent sounds magical! I adore Cristalle edt.

7:50 AM EST  
Blogger Aimée L'Ondée said...

I would love love love to try this. You had me at magical forest. thanks for the lovely review and draw!

10:02 AM EST  
Blogger annamarie said...

Thank you for the draw opportunity; I would like to be included in the draw.

1:34 PM EST  
Blogger cs said...

ooo, include me in the draw! i'm wearing timbuktu (tolu) today

3:45 PM EST  
Blogger Doc Elly said...

Please include me in the draw! I'm not a fan of English ivy, the plant (noxious weed where I live), but would love to try the perfume named for it. It sounds much better than the real thing.

4:27 PM EST  
Blogger ginamused said...

I'm in deep, deep love with OJ woman right now, but also love Jacomo Silences. I would love to try Hedera Helix. Thank you.

4:46 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love to be in the draw, my green perfume is Absinthe.

6:14 PM EST  
Blogger Michael said...

Sounds amazing, I would love to be entered in the draw also. One of my favorite greens is Aftelier's Trevert!

10:33 PM EST  
Blogger Karen M said...

My favorite greens are Miller & Bertaux #3 - Green, green, green and green, and Goutal's Mandragore.

10:57 PM EST  
Anonymous Charlotte H said...

I hope it's not too late to enter the draw - I LOVE greens and would love to try the latest one by Roxana (Greenwitch was terrific!)

A few favorites include Chanel #19, MMM untitled, and Nicholai Le Temps d'une fete.

7:40 AM EST  
Anonymous RusticDove said...

I only just now had a chance to read this post and my fingers are crossed I'm not too late to enter!

Donna, count me as another fan of the original Jean Louis Scherrer. I think it's one of the greats! Of new releases, DSH's Vert pour Madame is super fab.

I've never tried any of Roxana Villa's fragrances and would sure love to. Thanks for the draw!

8:53 AM EST  
Blogger acrossbee said...

I enjoy Silences by Jacomo and Fleur d'Iris by Maitre et Gantier as well as the original Givenchy III. Count me in for the prize draw!

1:15 PM EST  
Blogger arlene20 said...

My first green scent was Estee Lauder's Aliage. Then I fell in love with the original formulations of Chanel's Cristalle and No. 19, and find the reformulations a big disappointment. Still searching...... Would love to be entered into the prize drawing.

1:56 PM EST  
Blogger Liz said...

I live in the US and my favorite green is CK Truth... discontinued unfortunately, but you can still find it online thank goodness!

9:47 PM EST  
Anonymous Maureen said...

I would love to try this fragrance...please enter me in draw.

11:08 AM EST  
Blogger The Blossom Shed said...

Oh this sounds so lovely! My bedroom window growing up was surrounded by ivy, I love it:) I haven't tried many green scents, but I have a vial of Chanel no19 on the way, and I've always wanted to try the original Vent Vert. My signature scent is Penhaligon's Bluebell, which also has quite a bit of green in it.

11:14 AM EST  
Anonymous hotlanta linda said...

Yes, please include me in the draw! Green faves - Goutal`s Camille, Vent Vert, Trigere - sigh on the last 2!! :-0

1:40 PM EST  
Blogger OperaFan said...

I'm probably too late for the draw, but I love green so will chime in anyway! My favorite greens are not green just for the sake of green. I remember hearing Guerlain SAs calling Chamade "green" and I love Chamade. AG SAs used to refer to Eau de Camille as their "green" scent, and Sisley Eau du Soir (pre-reform) is my favorite "green" chypre. Finally I also love PdN's Odalisque.

1:46 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

No worries - The draw is open until Thursday night 11/10 so everyone is entered who wants to be! :-)

1:46 AM EST  
Blogger Susan said...

My favorite green is probably.... Cristalle? SJP Covet? haha

Thanks for entering me in the draw.

11:14 AM EST  
Blogger indieperfumes said...

Beautiful review -- don't need to enter me in the draw, I have a sample. Lovely in depth view of the perfume.

8:02 PM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

THE PRIZE DRAW IS NOW CLOSED. Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions, everyone! The winner will be announced soon!

11:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Crystal said...

Please include me in this giveaway,I have tried one of Roxana's scents before and it is beautiful..looking forward to trying more in the future.
I honestly don't know any green perfumes but i love your review of Hedera Helix..thanks!!

cyclona66 at aol dot com

5:25 AM EST  

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