I have long wanted to try the perfumes offered by Roxana Villa of Illuminated Perfume. I absolutely love her aesthetic– it’s so dreamlike, and I love that she offers beeswax-based solid perfumes, and some of the beeswax is from her own apiaries. It’s a truly unique product, start to finish.
It was SO hard to whittle down what I wanted to try from her offerings, even though her catalog is nowhere near as extensive as most artisan perfumers’ that I follow. In the end, I settled on Vera, Aurora, Page 57, and Vespertina. I ordered through her Etsy shop.
So, as you can see, the packaging is exquisite, even for samples. Which makes sense, as these were not inexpensive samples. They came packaged in a lovely burgundy velvet drawstring bag, and a vellum envelope sealed with wax held individual cards for each of the scents, as well as two about the product themselves. The samples were in little pink plastic pots, with color-coded, bee-stamped wax seals. The whole set is very well coordinated, and had a very luxe, very intentional feel. You really feel like you’re getting something special when you open the package (which came within 48 hrs from across the country, I might add!).
But how do they smell?
I suppose the first thing I should say is that each of the perfumes retained the scent of the beeswax base. It was always in the background, softening the aroma like antique lace edging.
Aurora: Spice and citrus mingle, flowing down from the heavens in vivid orchestration.
There is definitely a very noticeable topnote of spice here, although damned if I could tell you which spices are in it! I was expecting cinnamon/baking spice, but that’s not it at all. This is an herbal, dry spice in a base of what smells like rosewood to me, but that might just be my nose playing tricks on me. The listing mentions rose and amber, so that’s probably it. I can detect absolutely no citrus. It’s a warm, round scent overall– quite a romantic, old-fashioned scent, although it smells nothing like grandma.
Page 47: Rich, nectarous Jasmine bouquet laced with underpinnings of sandy beaches and golden amber.
Oh yes, there’s jasmine in this. Jasmine is a really hit or miss thing for me on my skin– sometimes it’s glorious, and then sometimes it smells of cat pee. I don’t even know. Luckily for me, this does NOT go to cat pee. It’s a lovely, bright jasmine-vanilla rounded by that ever-present beeswax. What’s odd is that I smelled none of the sandy beachiness I expected to smell, but instead I got some subtle citrus. Even so, this does seem reminiscent of a beach-type scent, if only because it’s bright and clear and completely unpretentious. I think it was my favorite of the bunch, though I did find myself wanting to layer it with a lip-puckering true-to-life orange scent, like Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine.
Vera: Celebrating the Ojai Valley. An herbaceous bouquet of lavender and sage.
Mmmmm, beeswax and lavender. What a lovely, comforting combination. This is a soft, herbal lavender. Not at all astringent, although it smelled harsher in the pot. On the skin, it is gloriously mellow. It takes a bit for the sage to peek out, and it does after about a half an hour, still in the background. This is the kind of scent that makes me want to curl up with some tea and fall asleep with a book in my hand. What a great way to have pleasant dreams.
Vespertina: Inspired by the story and music by the same name, this floral fragrance evokes the remnants of a mythic era.
Wow, what a complex one. Smelling the pot, I immediately get a kick of citrus (mandarin?) over a bed of soft, beeswax-y florals. Wearing it, there is definitely a very naturalistic woodsiness that peeks out from underneath a base of woodrose, like leaves or underbrush, but it never takes to the forefront. This is an old-fashioned gem of a scent that reminds me of soft velvets and weathered books. A lovely choice for dreamers and romantics.
Overall, these are lovely little perfumes. They do stay very close to the skin, so if you are the type who likes to wear scents but not bother others who may be sensitive, this could be a good option for you. I also like that the artist has several lockets available for those who would like to wear their solid perfumes. As for me, I like the compact, but it is rather pricy.
When choosing these perfumes, I deliberately did not pick the one I was most drawn to, Aumbre, because I think at this point, most of the perfumes I choose to keep and wear regularly feature strong amber notes. Now that I’ve tried some of the other offerings, however, I may just have to go back for it.