BY IDA MEISTER, FRAGRANTICA
ANNETTE NEUFFER: BOTANICALLY BEAUTIFUL (EXCERPTS)
No matter what my beloved Gertrude Stein may have uttered so infamously, a rose is never simply just a rose is a rose is a rose [any more than Paris’ Jardin de Luxembourg can be condensed into “ pigeons on the grass, alas” ;-) ]. Avicenna is ample proof of that.
I am a devoted adorer of the rose, and Avicenna is Rose Heaven, named after the legendary physician and scholar from 10th century Ispahan who is credited with the first distillation of rose oil.
Heady, intoxicatingly spicy and enveloping, Avicenna is a marvel of rose and resin. It feels ancient and contemporary all at once, a seamless scented form of time travel. I want to bathe in it [I’m already "anointed" at this writing] and wallow in its voluptuous sillage. Its abundance of botanical goodness does the heart good; it is easy to see why the Rose has been venerated, favored by the Blessed Virgin, the prophet Mohammed, praised in the Song of Songs. All that is experienced is true, real, exquisite in its natural state… when you smell this, you wonder why so much artifice is utilized in so many perfumes.
[The answer to that question might be cost. It must be formidable to attempt to create such perfumes on a large scale; I can’t imagine what sort of budget would accommodate it.]
Narcissus Poeticus may be the Latin classification, but in this specific case we have a lyrical, poetic perfume sans doute.
It takes only a cursory glance to see an extravagant hand at work. This composition is a celebration of the indolic, the white blossoms’ animalic nature underlying their floral beauty. It is lush but never cloying, due in part to the delightfully stable-redolent character of narcissus. Admittedly, narcissus is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is dear and a good harvest is not easy to find [I distinctly remember perfumer Christopher Brosius lamenting awhile back that he could not locate and/or afford enough excellent narcissus to produce more Cradle of Light at the time]. Narcissus Poeticus dries down to a subtle, elegant floral, complex, stunning, and satisfyingly round.
Once we stop reeling from the juicy, tangy opening of Chocolat Irisé, we’re eager to delve into the earthy pleasures which await us. Double entendre is part of that equation. If Annette means "Iridescent" then surely we feel that in the shimmery nature of her perfume. But if she intends "iris-like," we’ve experienced that as well: the violet-like, rooty odor of orris CO2 lends its lovely voice in Chocolat Irisé. Despite the many fragrances I’ve smelled in which iris is paired with cocoa, or with orange blossom and sandalwood [Prada, anyone?], this is unique. We have a vintage Mysore sandalwood to make one weep, such a dusty/sweet patchouli and sumptuous florals. I honestly don’t know how much better it can get; I heartily recommend a good sniff. I’m cradling my arm right now, attempting to inhale and type at the same time [and failing miserably].
FLOR DE CAFÉ
All is boozy, opulent florals running riot over my bicep. It’s over-the-top white flowers, coffee blossom, and anchoring resins. As it dries down, I’m smelling something rich and tobacco-y, I’m amazed at how quickly it shifted shape. I’m ensnared by a seductive little devil, this one—and getting spicier all the time: rooty, marvelous, dark, deep. More coffee-licious.
Time out: after all these years, Annette and I finally conversed—for hours [I’m still feeling badly about that bill]! It seems that Annette had a difficult time sourcing coffee blossom [it’s outrageously expensive, and only a few kilos are produced each year], and she started making Flor de Café two years ago, but never produced enough to put up on her website.
I’m gratified to learn that my nose was "on the job" when I wrote my impressions, before we talked. It seems that the spiciness comes from black pepper, nutmeg, and tamala, a relative of bay laurel. The florals include jasmine, carnation, jasmine sambac, orange blossom, champaca, frangipani, tuberose, ylang ylang and a touch of osmanthus! We’ve got green cognac absolute in here as well.
And coffee? It’s present and accounted for, as are myrrh, beeswax, African Stone, ambrette, tobacco, cocoa, sandalwood, Atlas cedarwood, tonka, Peru balsam.
Here were my first thoughts, before I knew how the perfume was really composed:
“With all due respect, I must be a ‘him’ now. ;-0"
"Citrus, spice and verdancy, perhaps elemi, bounce right out at you upon first sniff. This is a very woody fragrance, vetiver and tobacco reign alongside patchouli and oakmoss.”
The actual components: Citrus, spicy: bergamot, lime, bitter orange, nutmeg, juniper berry, cardamom, elemi, lavender. Woody: Atlas cedarwood, Virginia cedarwood, sandalwood, olibanum, labdanum. A resounding yes to vetiver, tobacco, patchouli, and oak moss—but there is so much more: rose, orris, rum and green cognac. Beeswax, African Stone, vanilla, Peru balsam conspire to smooth the woody edges and infer the animalic. I love how profound and complex For Him is: mysterious, quietly haunting, full of subtle entanglements. It smells to me of the earth and forest floor, and perhaps, what lies beneath it all.
A parting word, dear readers:
Annette sent me these for my personal pleasure, with no expectations; she didn’t even realize that I write for Fragrantica. It is my delight to share the work of perhaps less widely-known perfumers of great talent with you all; some amazing people are very quiet about themselves. My opinions can’t be bought or bribed. You probably know that by now—but it doesn’t hurt to be certain. ;-)
BY ELENA VOSNAKI, PERFUMESHRINE
NARCISSUS POETICUS BY ANNETTE NEUFFER
"Just a drop on each wrist and two in the bath were enough to send silver running down the walls" wrote French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck once upon a time, referring to an absolute of narcissus, properly named Narcissus Poeticus in Latin or Poet's Daffodil (it's a kind of daffodil after all). And she continued: "It set the world throbbing out of contol when I wore it. It became a little weird. It was only years later that I read inhaling too much of it can make you go mad". Makes you want to rush out and find out where narcissus absolute is available, doesn't it!
Yet narcissus absolute is almost never used in industrial calibre perfumes because of its scarcity and minute yield, which makes the cost prohibitive. Once upon a time it entered such romantic compositions as Worth's Je Reviens, but certainly not any more.
Therefore, upon being informed that indie German perfumer and jazz musician Annette Neuffer had prepared her own version of this intoxicating spring flower which spots the fields of my homeland right about springtime, I was immediately reminded of the above trivia. Annette reassured me that the fragrance "actually srceams for you - the indolic flowers gal". Can you say I've made my proclivities well-known...The dice was cast and predictably I was toast upon the very first vapour.
Because you see, all-naturals Narcissus Poeticus is heady, bedazzling, Bacchic, mind-blowing and beautiful, there's no other way to describe it! The tale of Narcissus, struck by Nemesis for his egotistical admiration makes you understand well just how this little flower can truly madden! The fragrance by Annette blends luscious, vibrant, natural essences, weaved into a dynamic composition; I have had it evolve on my skin, and each day there is a new nuance to be revealed, one day it's the jasmine, another what I perceive as orange blossom absolute (the genius pairing first conceived for Narcisse Noir by Caron) and another yet I get lots of yummy tonka bean. The inspiration came through early botanical fragrant evaluation excursions in Annette's Grandma's garden: "I was about 1,5 years old then. In spring there were lots of narcissus, jonquils and violets in bloom and their scent fascinated me already in that very early age of about 15 months! My grandma told me that I never put the flowers in my mouth, like all little kids do, but picked and inhaled them. The garden was located between forest and river and the most exciting humid crisp green scents were wafting around and intermingled with the air of the flowers".
This spring awakening is translated into Narcissus Poeticus. "Galbanum is the personification of that fresh spring green elusion and matches wonderfully with the essence of violet leaf. And a little later on in the year the fruity and fresh black currant buds - I used the absolute of it very sparingly to give a hint of fruitiness". Those who are afraid of the bitter green tang of the exotic grass of galbanum should sigh with relief, here it's weaved in very smoothly without dominating. Narcissus with its intoxicating, sweet, yet at the same time almost smoky vibe, poised between jasmine and hyacinth, is represented in all realism here; as if the white blooms are sprouting in front of your computer-weary eyes from the landscape painting across the wall.
You'd be hard pressed to peg this fragrance only as a floral or a green, nevertheless; there is an intimate, unsettling (deeply sexual) vibe about it, like a warm pillow where a beloved head had slept on the night before and you're clutching it in the morning, the memory of the scent even more precious than the reality lived, to paraphrase Henry Miller and his sexy Tropic of Cancer. The inclusion of blackcurrant buds adds a touch of of naughtiness, buttressed by honey and ambrette seeds, two essences that speak in intimate, hushed tones of lust and shared moments. A floral exalted into an animalic that can still behave, meowing its yearning. The slight hint of a dark chocolate edge presents itself throughout, something that puzzled me, as I suspected patchouli in minute amounts. Annette confirmed that indeed it is the green leaves of this exotic bush that mollify the floral notes and extend them. Paired with the classic vanilla-sandalwood-tonka accord, the base of Narcissus Poeticus is veering into the comforting.
The version I have is ultra-smooth pure parfum (the new and improved version 2010, not her older composition) and the lasting power for an all-naturals fragrance is quite satisfactory, although don't expect it to outlast a spring day's welcome. Annette Neuffer Narcissus Poeticus: fragrance review & a draw
AVICENNA BY ANNETTE NEUFFER
EASY TO LOVE: DEUTSCHLANDS ELEGANTESTE PARFUMEURIN
by Suki on Cognoscented Blogspot
The Gods of Creative Genius have been especially kind to Annette Neuffer. Not only is she an internationally respected jazz trumpeter, she is also a singer widely applauded for her mellow alto voice. If that isn't enough talent for one slim, redheaded frame, Annette is also an up-and-coming organic perfumer with an amazingly capable touch. The rest of you, pack up your bags and go home.
It shouldn't be fair that all this imaginative abundance be handed out so sparingly, and yet in this instance the Gods of all that is bright and brilliant have made exactly the right selection. Ms. Neuffer was obviously chosen for her ability to translate tones in either musical or fragrance mediums, and the connection between the two is never more apparent than it is in her peppery-sweet Oriental composition Avicenna.
The notes in Avicenna read like a roster of organic perfumery's most soulful classics, the kind of thing you hope to find being played at 4 A. M. on a foggy, romantic night and never have until now: six types of rose, saffron, jasmine, acacia farnesiana, and broom. Because you're in the mood for a nightcap while the mists swing out over the bay. Because the city sleeps dead around you. Because your only accompaniment is that melody line you'll find yourself remembering fifty years down the pike and holding inside like a magic emotional talisman. It's that talisman that Ms. Neuffer makes alchemic in Avicenna, something you can wear around your neck to charm the stardust melodies from the skies.
The fragrance's roots are firmly planted in the tradition of sloe-eyed Orientals, but the overall composition is light. It is here that Ms. Neuffer's musicality and sensitivity are most apparent; the scent swings through the air without heaviness or thickness despite a very long list of notes. Light grace notes of pepper and cinnamon bark are flecked above a golden citrus/orange accompaniment that holds nearly throughout the lifespan of the individual wearing. Classical rose, jasmine, and tuberose are enigmas here, not overwhelmingly apparent as unique personalities. Broom, an ancient shrub, defines the heart with an eccentric honeyed intrigue, an almost-familiarity that disappears as soon as you try to put a label on it.
Fiery-sweet base crackles from the lingering orange fruit and flame, dry and resinous as a trek across the Sahara in an Armani suit, buying Coke from Berber boys at four dollars a can.
BY ELENA VOSNAKI, PERFUMESHRINE
AVICENNA BY ANNETTE NEUFFER
Annette Neuffer is a multi-talented lady you have not come across associated with fragrance yet. But you sure will. Not only is she an accomplished jazz musician with a quintet after her own name, performing all around the world, she has also stepped into the perilous world of perfumery using all natural essences to render her wild imaginings palpable and tangible for us.
Her generosity in sending me her labour of love was astounding and I am honoured to have been at the receiving end. To tell you the truth, I begin all those samplings with no expectations at all (since I don’t want to be prejudiced one way or another), but usually they prove very pleasant and sometimes even gripping to my surprise.
Annette’s most accomplished foray into the art of composing perfume so far is Avicenna, a sumptuous oriental of a deep ambery golden colour like a monastic liqueur. A complex and dark mix of several expensive rose essences of various origin (Bulgarian, Turkish, Russian, Moroccan), jasmine, broom, pepper, honey, sandalwood, amber, vanilla and musks.
The name alone enticed me as soon as I heard about it: Avicenna or more accurately Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn Sina (born in Isfahan, the legendary city in 980AD), was the famous researcher, scientist and philosopher of Islam who was responsible for cracking the secret of rose distillation in the 10th century. Islam is a culture stepped deep into the cult of the rose. For them rose is the essence of beauty, holiness and spirituality. It appears in many facets of everyday life and plays an important part in religious ceremonies. The thick plush petals that resemble velvet hold a fascination for the denizens of the anhydrous regions of the Middle East and its heavy narcotic feel lulls the mind into a reverie.
Annette Neuffer was inspired by these historical details and strove to create something with an ancient feel to it, something that would lend some small magical touch in our everyday preparation to face the perilous world out there, a fragrant talisman for our protection.
The spicy cascade Avicenna opens with takes you by the throat and forces you to pay attention as caustic pepper singes and swirls around floral essences, perhaps a tad too stringently. Ginger and cardamom are also apprarent, while cinnamon does not make a too noticeable appearence, certainly not what you're accustomed to from its ubiquitous use in pot-pourri. The garland of rose unfolds on the skin majestically, like a thousand petals crushed underfoot in a medieval palace in Tehran. Myriads of nuances of rose take on mellow hues lent by smooth saffron and the bracken and honey feel of broom as the progression of the maturing of the precious and quite potent essence is continuing. It is very apparent that those sensations have their feet firmly in the sensual world of the material world of Nature rather than the white-coat lab of an urban conglomerate technician. There is no sharp note or that high pitched aluminium and glass feel of modern perfumes that one can smell at a department store. It’s cobbled alleys and dirt instead.
The underlying mustiness has reminded me of the famous Caron accord that is so evident in most of the venerable firm’s offerings. Their Poivre, Parfum Sacre and Rose parfums all contribute elements that can be traced later on in Avicenna.
As I inhale deeply I am transported to Top Kapi, the Constantinople palace where draperies of heavy damask hide Byzantine secrets and languorous kohl-eyed sultanas take a break from their more carnal occupations to revel in the romanticized florancy of rose and the piercing sweetness of natural jasmine in the lazy hours of a never ending afternoon.
Aromatic resins such as erotic labdanum and mellow benzoin anchor the composition with restraint so that it never becomes too sweet, as one might fear judging by the notes; although they do lend tremendous fixation and staying power to it. The final phase recalls the deep and dull colour of large amber beads threaded together in a komboloi (playing beads), one ticking the other incessantly, as time elapses lazily until all aromas on skin very, very slowly exit with a sigh.
AVICENNA BY ANNETTE NEUFFER! A DREAM COMES TRUE OR FINDING MY HOLY GRAIL!
from Perfume Of Life by Ifimedia, January 27th, 2007
First a blast of spicy freshness deluges the senses, creating a pleasant excitement, which gradually gives rise to a feel of detachment from the reality, a feel of alienation, as soon as the heart notes emerge and possess your existence…
Then the aroma of millions of roses, intermingled with the aroma of burnt incense and precious woods, folds you in her arms, and - just as a time-machine - transports you into eras gone by, into the secret depths of the primitive knowledge, where everything is new but familiar, bright but secretive, live but esoteric, real and fairy-like at the same time…
Annette told me that she wanted to do something with an "ancient feel", and what I have to say, is that she absolutely managed to create it… Oh yes, I can actually perceive the "ancient feel" she is talking about... This particular perfume exudes an aura of ancient mystery, whispers in words long ago forgotten, appeals to your soul and transports you to places no more existent.... What else could that phrase mean?
Perfectly made, from the beginning up to the end, "Avicenna" has become synonymous to passion to me-- a passionate affair of love and dependence has already been developed between us! :) You may think that I overstated my review of Avicenna, but what I only want to tell you, is that I’ve eventually found my Holy Grail—the pursuit of it actually came to an end for me… What I thought as unattainable and utopian, it actually has been attained… I shall fall again for many perfumes in the future— I know that, but no one will ever again touch my soul the way “Avicenna” did— I just FEEL that! Its depth and beauty has stolen my heart for ever!
Regardless of all the above-mentioned personal thoughts and feelings, the truth is that POL counts now in its family yet another great perfumer. Annette Neuffer, a well-known and gifted musician, establishing her artistic nature, has created two new perfumes, destined to gain a prominent place in the world of “niche” perfumes: “Avicenna” (my Holy Grail!), a magic potion, utterly sensual, a complicated oriental, entirely created from 100% natural oils and essences, and “Absolue De Rose”, a comforting and tranquilizing scent, which I found to be one of the most clean, yet spicy roses of a great beauty I have ever smelled— a love at first “sniff” as well!
ABSOLUE DE ROSE
by Ida Meister on Sniffapalooza Magazine
I truly don't perceive myself as a rose-lover, although I appreciate roses in their natural settings, and in fragrant liaison among other substances.
The Rosines are delightful, and I 've been known to wear them with pleasure, but not as a steady diet. Imagine my surprise when I wore THIS. If you speak French- then, 'eblouissante' would be the opening phrase. A plethora of freshness greets your nose- bergamot, pink grapefruit, pink pepper, and mace add a crisp, juicy, spicy accord on the very opening. Petitgrain and neroli join the fray, playfully.
Then- ROSES ! And I mean exquisite, full-blown, voluptuous blooms- heralding their diverse origins- Bulgaria, Morocco, Turkey- wed with Tunisian orange blossom and Egyptian jasmine. The result is breath-taking. It is as if you olfactorally capture all of the rose, in its entirety. Blossom, leaf, stem. If this alone weren't sufficient- the suave base boasts only the most precious Mysore sandalwood [ a weakness of mine, I profess], French Beeswax, and hibiscus musk seeds. They anchor the beauty of this fragrance without bullying; the longevity benefits greatly from such a costly and irreplaceable addition. The final analysis: First- sprightly, then immensely natural ripeness, terminating in a subtly exotic, Oriental eroticism...
A JOURNEY TO MADAGASCAR
I recently commented to a fellow Basenoter that Annette/jazztweety’s perfumes are pretty much like living creatures with a mind and soul of their own. When I opened my cute 10 ml extrait bottle of Madagascar the first time, I was literally attacked by the notes and could not make out what the scent really was about! I have to draw a parallel to good wine like I did with Avicenna – if you happen to transport a bottle, you just have to let the juice settle down for a few days. And once it calms down and regains its balance, it’s pure delight.
Madagascar, the island, is synonymous with spices, ylang-ylang and the world’s most sought-after Bourbon vanilla - and so is Madagascar the perfume. The journey starts with sweet, glowing mandarin foiled with peppery spices, warmed at once by the richness of Madgascar vanilla and the voluptuousness of the sweet, exotic and spicy flowers. Vanilla is indeed the queen here, all other notes complimenting and supporting her, but given its spicy character, you can forget all about cookie aromas. In the drydown, I was pleasantly surprised by a rather unique accord of clove-spiked and flowery vanilla. Depth and tenacity are secured by what I call the "Annette" accord: beeswax, sandalwood, opoponax and benzoin.
In many ways, Madagascar recalls the sumptuousness of its bigger sister Avicenna. Call me partial to our own jazztweety’s creations (yes I am!), but this has the right aura of opulence to claim its own place in her Opulental line.
Since I have only the extrait, I would love to hear impressions of the EdP!
by Riannon from basenotes.net
Madagacar is a precious scent, woven in dreams and bedecked with the rich glow of red brocade. The fierce red of blood and passion. A dark warm night and the gentle yet demanding caress of the one you waited for.
If dreams could be like this fragrance I would never wake up again. by Lady_in_Black from basenotes.net