Perfume Review: Dryad by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Dryad: Spirit of the Forest
Dryad: Spirit of the Forest

This review has to start with a big fat disclaimer. I am good friends with Liz Moores, the founder and perfumer behind Papillon Artisan Perfumes and I was involved in creating the promotional shots for the fragrance we are talking about today. For that reason one could say that this is not an entirely unbiased review and it probably isn’t. But please note that if Dryad wasn’t my cup of tea, or of interest, I would simply have not written about it. Luckily for all of us scent lovers, it’s quite lovely.

So please approach this as a quick review of a perfume I’ve become very familiar over the last few months and one that I could never approach from an objective standpoint because I have spent so much time with it, trying to understand and visualise its character.

If you’ve been following Liz on social media you’ll know that she’s based in the New Forest, literally right in the forest itself. She is surrounded by nature and the perfumes she creates absorb her environment, providing inspiration. For Dryad, her latest fragrance, the forest is Liz’s muse. Liz’s daughter, Jasmine has written a beautiful poem inspired by Dryad, and it’s the following few lines that sum the perfume up for me and led to the inspiration for Dryad’s visual adventure:

“My body is swelling with the oak’s root and seed
Our veins and our vines weave together with ease,
And as your chatter dispels at the shake of our leaves,
You set your ear to our chest, to hear the whisper of trees.
We rise not in your throat, nor your mouth, nor your teeth.
But we streak coloured streams set to dazzle.”

– Jasmine Moores

The Colours of the Forest
The Colours of the Forest

The Notes

Narcissus, Oakmoss, Jonquil, Costus, Galbanum, Clary Sage, Deer Tongue, Cedrat, Benzoin, Lavender, Thyme and Orris

How Does it Smell?

What surprises me about Dryad initially, is just how much of a white floral feel it has. The scent most definitely starts on the forest floor before rushing its way up to the top of the canopy. It collects the velvet texture of narcissus, the zest of cedrat and the menthol coolness of lavender, piecing them together in something abstract and surprisingly white floral-esque. It’s a showstopper opening for a fragrance that has the quality and artistry of a classic Guerlain, but the heart-stopping beauty that is the common thread in Papillon’s inimitable style.

In the base Dryad is thick and mossy with a clash of moss, galbanum and benzoin. Together this aria of notes creates a contrast between sharpness and warmth. The galbanum provides a distinctly green character, one that is darkened by the mineral feel of the moss, whilst the benzoin tempers with sweetness and a soft texture that plays right into the powder of the moss. All together Dryad smells entirely evocative of the forest.

Dreaming Under The Canopy
Dreaming Under The Canopy

Dryad twists and turns throughout its composition, presenting itself as a fragrance that crosses the many olfactory families. It’s distinctly floral and green, but it also boasts an oriental warmth underneath. What’s more, the mossy, dry character also adds an air of chypre to the spirit of the fragrance. Wearing Dryad is like walking down a twisted woodland path – one may know where they’re going to start with, but where they end up and what they experience on the way is purely in the hands of mother nature, or in this case: the perfumer.

Dryad is a romantic perfume and much like loving endeavours it’s a complex and evocative piece of work. Smelling it, one imagines themselves composing a sonnet in their head as they tread through the New Forest. Bare feet crunch the leaves and absorb the coldness of the moss with each step. The air of the forest is humid and dry, carrying with it the scent of flowers, leaves, bark, ferns and grasses – the forest in its entirety. But at the same time the scent holds at its heart an otherness – a hearty warmth and an ethereal quality that is not of this world. This is the spirit of Dryad and it’s as enigmatic and vibrant as the perfumer who created it.


Dryad launches at the end of June and will be available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £125.


Sample, notes and quotes via Papillon Artisan Perfumes. Images are my own. Image one is an outtake from the official Dryad photoshoot. Image two and three are inspirations for the shoot.