The fragrance releases from Elizabeth and James seem – unsurprisingly – to follow the achingly cool aesthetic of all the Olsen’s creations. Restrained, almost anti-fashion yet somehow always on trend. They are the bohemian mistresses of pared back referentialism, classic, slightly retro but all the more modern in the awareness of that. Nirvana Amethyst follows the same structure as their previous scent releases, a triad of notes so perfectly balanced as to produce that oscillating sensation when worn.
When I first get my hands on a new scent I can’t help trawling the reviews. Usually when writers start using metaphors, you know you’re on to a winner – the perfume has transcended rational dissection and the reviewer is completely in the thrall of the creation.
And so for Nirvana Amethyst we have:
A tortoiseshell cat sunning itself.
A silk scarf left at a cigar bar.
Warm apple pie.
So I knew I was onto a winner, and while really only the cigar reference gives you any idea of the notes, you’re getting a vibe aren’t you? If I was painting a picture, there’d be a teepee tucked away in the corner of a festival field, late afternoon. Slightly spicy florals drift up from long grass and mingle with the sweet sweat of bodies, lazily dancing. In the close air of that trendy tent there’s a woman wearing velvet (she may or may not possess a passing similarity to an Olsen, elfen but strong with eyes rimmed with kohl). That afternoon light shoots through gaps in the fabric of the roof, catching the dust, turning it to gold. Bags of moist tobacco spill out onto a low, rough-hewn table and the air is fragrant with something other than flowers, something more masculine.
OK I suppose I should get on with the actual notes now that I’ve had my self-indulgent moment. We have:
Honeysuckle, feminine and fresh.
Tobacco in its most gourmand form, sweet and spicy.
A cedar ‘base’ that actually approaches quite early to interact especially with the honeysuckle.
It’s so lovely that those three notes swirl around each other to create complexity in the scent, first you catch a light feminine aspect, later it’s more intensely sweet, but then it floats back up towards a velvety aspect of the honeysuckle again. While the cedar is a perfect choice, it’s the tobacco that’s the hero here, treated with sophistication and soul. It provides an almost creamy, vintage character to the base, though you never lose that warm masculine spice.
Despite being incredibly canny businesswomen, the Olsens aren’t afraid of talking about energy, about the power of nostalgia. Nirvana Amethyst has captured plenty of this balance.