Laurence Fearnley, multi-award winning Aotearoa New Zealand author; winner, Landfall Essay Competition November 2017, for her essay ‘Perfume Counter’; Laurence was awarded the 2019 Arts Foundation Laureate for literature; her new novel Scented was published in September.
Every scent has an identity, a note that grabbed my attention and made me think about what it could be. The horopito is a brilliant touch and so is the koromiko and the mānuka.
Your fragrances develop on the skin. They don’t fade to a bland musk ― but transform with the heat of my skin and the passing of time. Nothing jars, nothing is ‘over stated’. All are nicely blended and balanced, and I loved how they did really make me think of landscapes.
I also like the quietness of the scents ― that appeals to me. In their sheerness they most brought to mind the Jardin de Hermès series by Jean Claude Ellena (especially Le Jardin de Monsieur Li by Hermès).
The lack of musk gives your work its clarity ― that mountain stream/ozone note. The raspberry (snowberry) came through on the Tussock, the pepper on the Mountain Herbs, the berry creaminess on the Wilderness berries and the earthiness grounding the flora in the Lakeland scent. I love that they have no brash note.
They are very peaceful, thoughtful and beautiful scents that work in parallel to the natural world. I think the perfumes are a testament to your observation AND imagination. I would happily wear all of them!
A wonderful thing happened this morning as I was walking the dogs in the drizzle through the bush on Signal Hill. At one point I bent down to tie my shoe lace and as my nose came close to my hand I got the most stunning scent of black pepper on skin (Mountain Herbs) which for a moment formed a perfect harmony with the leafy green, fern and earth scent of the track I was on. It was remarkable.
There is a real clarity in your Mountain Herbs scent that appeals to me. It captures the scent of horopito perfectly: the pepper and then something a bit bitter, like wormwood and sparkly like juniper. It reminds me so much of when you’re walking down a mountain and you suddenly drop from the snowline to the bush.
Your eau de cologne stays on my skin for several hours allowing the pepper to soften but retain its spiciness, lovely. I think the zap you get when you bite a horopito leaf is well matched by an eau de cologne. That’s a very clever association.
Wilderness Berry opens with a real burst on my skin. It feels like a happy scent ― not invigorating but has an element of joy; is less introspective than Tussock ― a late summer walk.
I love the berry you have used: a sweet but soft blackberry/boysenberry, and I love that it’s not partnered with pine (as many berry scents seem to be).
There is a nice wood balancing the berry ― and that could be the heat from horopito. I think it also has a soft citrus element (orange) on my skin.
Lakeland Flora struck me as the most floral (I guess the name is a hint!) and it made me think of spring.
I like the sweet/floral aspect which made me think of freesias or daffodils but it seemed centred by something earthier like iris and then something a little like juniper or camphor ― which could be mānuka.
High Country Tussock
High Country Tussock immediately made me think of golden light on a hillside ― also ‘yellow’. It has a wonderful creamy, pollen aspect that reminds me of mimosa, or gorse ― slightly nutty/gardenia. I also got a hint of raspberry from it ― but not that horribly sweet raspberry note you find in many mainstream perfumes. A much more subtle raspberry ― reflecting the koromiko.
I see that this is an eau de parfum and for me it has more body than the other scents in your collection. But it also has more warmth which gives the impression of body. It’s still sheer ― and sits close to my skin; is intimate, but has less of the ‘mountain stream’ aspect of the other scents in the range. I love it.
I have just washed off the dog walk mud and am enjoying a generous spray of High Country Tussock. The perfume smells a little different today ― probably because I applied more of it ― and a leafiness is coming through. I keep ‘huffing’ my skin ― gosh it’s good.