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.”
There is no perfumery quite like Papillon Artisan Perfumes. Situated within a peaceful lodge tucked just inside the New Forest, this perfumery doesn’t march to the rapid beat of the perfume industry, choosing instead to move at its own pace. “It’s hard not to be inspired here”, says Papillon perfumer, Liz Moores, and I can see what she means. In a space surrounded by the natural beauty of expansive woodland, and a practical menagerie of animals (I counted two cats, two dogs, an owl, an assortment of snakes, a bearded dragon, a tortoise, and a horse, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch them all), and not to mention Liz’s very own family clan, one can see that Papillon is very much a unique outfit where fragrances are hand made as and when the inspiration comes.
Working from home, Moores is able to set her own schedule, balancing duties of motherhood with perfume-hood. But Papillon is a growing business. The brand now has four fragrances on the market (Angélique, Anubis, Salome and Tobacco Rose) which can be found at a number of points of sale across the globe, so expectant noses around the world are pointing towards the New Forest hoping for more. On a recent trip to Liz’s home studio, I asked her what he release schedule will be and she firmly says that she will only release another perfume when it’s right and won’t follow a set pattern of a scent or two per year, as is often driven by the industry. It’s admirable to see a perfumer work in such a way and it’s clear from the four fragrances within the Papillon line that this particular nose is a perfectionist who strives to create beautiful and unique fragrances without bowing to market pressure.
Perfume lovers across the world have been watching the New Forest studio of Papillon Artisan Perfumes with bated breath. Last year, Papillon launched with three fragrances; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose – three perfumes that boldly said that a scent should be beautiful and unique, rather than awash with gimmickry. Papillon Artisan Perfumes have been a refreshing addition to the world of perfume that, along with Sarah McCartney’s hugely important 4160 Tuesdays, has put independent British perfumery on the map – a fact reflected by the nomination of all three Papillon scents for Best New Independent Fragrance at this year’s Fragrance Foundation Awards. It stands to reason then, that Papillon’s latest scent ‘Salome‘, launches in a veritable cloud of fragrant excitement.
You will hear a lot of talk about Salome and her erotic, and animalistic tendencies over the coming months. “Pure filth” is what they’ll call her and perfume lovers here, there and everywhere will revel in her raunchy and primal ways. But there’s more to Salome than meets the eye, and there’s another facet that deserves praise – her golden sheen and glittering sense of movement, to be specific. Salome is a dancing diva moving methodically and mesmerisingly through the many hypnotic motions of the dance of the seven veils.
Salome takes its name from the biblical character – the daughter of Herod and the dancing woman from the New Testament. In a recent interview on The Candy Perfume Boy, Papillon Perfumer Liz Moores explained how a vintage photograph of a 1920s flapper girl was the inspiration for Salome; “I have an original vintage photograph of a 1920’s flapper girl in a state of undress; she’s positioned side on to the camera with her breasts bared and the lower half of her body only slightly covered with ostrich feathers. The woman in this photograph fascinates me; I have often wondered who she was, where she lived in the world and what her name might have been. In my head I called her Salome, a name befitting such a beautiful and daring woman of her time.” This photo, which potrays the seductive dancer partly nude informs Salome’s vintage tones and erotic escapades. This is a fragrance made in a style seldom seen in this modern, post-IFRA age, and it acts as a startling reminder that perfumes can still be richly textured, gloriously complex and absolutely, downright filthy.
“Rubbing Noses is a series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.”
In chaos theory, it is said that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane in another. Small actions have big repercussions and can cause a domino effect across the globe. With Papillon Artisan Perfumes, perfumer Liz Moores flapped her talented wings and created three fragrances that burst on to the scene and made a big impact on the industry. With her initial trio of scents, a small and muted launch, Liz showed the perfume industry that independent perfumers are a force to be reckoned with.
Liz is soon to be releasing her fourth perfume, the evocatively named Salome (swing by on Wesnesday for a review) and I caught up with her to discuss this new launch, her creative process and her inspirations, amongst other things. During our rubbing noses discussion we talked Flapper Girls, classic Guerlains, and most importantly, we chatted filth, lots and lots of filth. I think you’ll find Liz to be a fun, fascinating and fragrantly talented character who really brings something new and intriguing to the age-old world of perfume!
After an extended hiatus, due to nothing other than my incredible lack of decent organisational skills, my favourite series, Desert Island Sniffs is back! In this series, we explore the lives of people inextricably linked to the perfume industry and the fragrances that have significant sentimental value to them. By discussing the scents that are of importance to people, we can get a unique insight into what makes them tick and a distinct idea of their character. All in all, these sniffs can be utterly fascinating.
If you’re not familiar with this series, the concept is very simple – I invite important members of the perfume industry, such as brand owners, creative directors and perfumers, to be stranded on their very own desert island, along with 5 carefully curated perfumes of their choice. It may be a tricky job narrowing a life down to such a small number of perfumes, but I can assure you that it is an entirely worthwhile exercise!
The perfumes they choose should be those that have had a significant impact on their scented lives and map specific points in their journey of olfactory discovery. In addition to their 5 Desert Island Sniffs one is kind enough to allow them to take a luxury item (only one, mind) and a ‘perfume bible’ to keep them company. By the end of this series there is going to be some rather fabulously smelling desert islands out there!
There is so much ‘noise’ in the perfume industry in this day and age that it gets increasingly more difficult to pay attention to the cacophonous din of new launches and brand new niche brands. In order to rise above the noise many niche brands are resorting to ‘clever’ (read: annoying) gimmicks to make their wares stand out from the crowd, ranging from perfumes inspired by blood types (see Blood Concept) to scents that aren’t supposed to be perfumes (see Juliette Has a Gun). Rarely is the product allowed to speak for itself.
Still, for each naff niche brand there is a decent one with high quality products (brands like Arquiste, 4160 Tuesday’s and Maison Francis Kurkdjian to name just a very small few) that allows for the beauty of their scents to be the element that sets them apart from the many other bottles they share their shelf space with. These refreshing outfits remind one that within the crowds and crowds of scent on the market, there are individuals with a passion for perfume and a unique voice waiting to be heard.
One such brand is Papillon Perfumery. Created by New Forest perfumer Liz Moores and launching this year, Papillon has three perfumes devoid of any bells, whistles and gimmicks – they are simply expertly crafted and beautiful perfumes that truly speak for themselves. The perfumes (Angélique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose) prove that familiar themes can still be presented in unique ways if one just approaches them in an entirely different manner.