I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Brilliance of Snow Night Skin: ‘Moon Bloom’ by Hiram Green

I have grown into an obsessive love of certain glitterball florals; hothouse and carnal, whorish and waxen, petals radiating come-hither danger and corrupted innocence. 

For me, a man wearing white florals is a subversive wonder. I love the indolic strangeness and underpinnings of tuberose, lilies, ylang, gardenia and orange blossom. It is the fleshy conflict between light and dark, beauty and decay, sex and chastity that fascinates me. In many ways these are overtly female blooms, but I adore transgression as many of you know. Boys smell so decadent in florals, so Tennessee Williams, muscular, tense and ambiguous, afraid of inner desires yet reaching out, tentatively, to embrace them.

As with roses, I have come late to my adoring of these most complex and divisive of perfume notes. They scare many people, causing tremors in their olfactive psyches, shudders across timid bodies, flashes in the heart. Some people just can’t handle the white indolic drug.

Over the years I have embraced Piguet’s Fracas, Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle and Malle’s Carnal Flower in my search for sexy whiteness. I do have a place in my heart for the original Michael by Michael Kors, created by the talented Laurent le Guernec. It was genuinely sexy, awash with a creamy suede-like tuberose note, ably supported by orris, incense, tamarind, lily and osmanthus. Skin just loved it. Big and bold but very sophisticated. I have written extensively in the past on my love affairs with lilies and roses but tuberose and I go deep, it feels secretive and a little dirty, as if we share shocking secrets that no-one can ever know.

Hiram Green’s alabaster Moon Bloom is probably one of the finest tuberose soliflores I have tried in many years. This shocked me for several reasons. One, I thought I had probably tried as many permutations of the blooms as I could and two, Hiram’s delicious scent is made exclusively from natural ingredients, a notification that does not generally make my Foxy heart sing. 

Moon Bloom is creamy, glittering perfection. The name is so alluring and romantic, exactly right for this narcotic formulation of floral wonder. It is a strangely intense perfume, inhaling it transports me to frozen streets pierced by milky shafts of moonlight in a silent city. Snow falls, marble glistens, time slows. My skin is waxen, radiating the ivory effulgence of tuberose and jasmine absolutes. A lick of distant tropics from an ice-cold coconut note, green and glacial at the same time. Sappy, sweet and oozing – it is this oddity that seduces.  

 Hiram Green

The man behind this singular floral creation is Hiram Green, a Canadian perfumer who used to run the celebrated Scent Systems fragrance gallery in London, stocking uniquely sourced lines such as Yosh, Aftelier and CB I Hate Perfume as well as offering a unique bespoke perfume service in association with George Dodd of Aroma Sciences. Green originally studied art in Toronto and then set out to make his way in the more esoteric and mercenary world of fragrance. Scent Systems, set up in 2003, was born out of frustrations with mainstream offerings in terms of launches and marketing etc but also the way smaller niche houses were being sold.

The perfumes produced by Dodd for Scent Systems were very highly regarded, his collection of seemingly simple soliflores were anything but. Each one was a complex portrait of the soul or true essence of the flower refracted through compositions dripping in absolutes and the highest quality raw materials. I remember sampling Wild Violet on a visit to London and being very affected by the darkness of the mix, the use of spices to off-set the powder and verdancy. If I close my eyes and concentrate I can still smell the intense rise of oppoponax woven through the blend. A masterly shadowed floral.

Scent Systems is no more and Hiram Green relocated to Gouda in the Netherlands, dropping off the olfactory map for a while but all the while quietly honing his art, researching, training himself to create wonderful natural perfumed things, distilling all of his experiences to date into ideas and notes, materials and concepts. Now we have quite simply Hiram Green the brand and Moon Bloom his debut scent, housed in a 50ml retro style atomiser pump bottle. The juice is rich and golden, yielding the promise of sensual things and the packaging is highlighted with a very distinctive shade of turquoise blue. As an object Moon Bloom is seriously desirable.

The fragrance itself is composed of generous amounts of tuberose and jasmine absolutes, some creamy banana-custardy ylang-ylang, spices and resins and the all important (well for me anyway) green coconut note. Tuberose is often referred to as mistress of the night because of the carnal connotations of the flower’s influence on the brain and senses. The indolic effect of jasmine and the supposed palpitation-inducing effects of ylang make this potentially a potent mix. Yet I don’t feel this, Hiram has kept an incredibly firm, yet imaginative hand on the perfumed rudder with Moon Bloom at all stages. The scent never feels overblown or seedy.

This is my winter floral. Billowing snow and obfuscated landscapes, a panorama of refraction. There is a dazzling blindness to the carnal theme of Hiram’s whiteness, the kiss of frozen lips in a city paralysed by ice and the swirling rogue of winter flurries. My skin loves the pale notes as they lie down on skin. Moon Bloom is quite linear, again quite hard to achieve with this amount of floral absolutes. There is tremendous technical skill at work in the handling of these volatile and potentially lascivious floral notes. Tuberose has a tendency to screech in large doses, to become the drunken karaoke singer belting out gay anthems until her mates drag her down into muffled objection. 

The tuberose of Moon Bloom is so far removed from this pitiful spectacle. It is strong-willed, full of drama, but intelligent and deeply charismatic, filling the room with brilliant, searching light. Wrapped in the delicate embrace of a pearlescent jasmine note, the tuberose sparkles like crystals. This effect is further enhanced by the most ambrosial odour green coconut. This for me is the key to this fascinating fragrance. It adds a milkines I just adore. It reminds me of the wonderful oozing ripe fig effect used in the Extrème version of Premier Figuier by L’Artisan Parfumer. Again, it was coconut milk used to create the impression of over-ripe fruit ready to drop from the hot sun-baked trees. It is such a tricky note to use without tipping formulae into Hawaiian cocktail excess. Using it to flatter the indolic curves of the pillowy landscapes of tuberose, jasmine and ylang is intelligent perfumery at its finest and most subtle.

Hiram has worked hard at smoothing out the potential lumps and bumps one can sometimes perceive in the more organic and natural end of the olfactory spectrum. This field of perfumery is improving all the time, becoming more complex and adventurous. And while I have no intention of knocking or mocking anyone’s beliefs in using organic or Soil Association approved products, I have found that generally speaking the longevity of organic scents is relatively poor. Working with naturals forces the perfumer to rely on more absolutes and pure extracts of raw materials than normal. In most perfumery, the effects of say roses and jasmine can be created and or enhanced using aromachemical sleight of hand and olfactory CGI. It is not to say the results are any better or worse, just different.

A good example of this is Honoré des Prés, created by Olivia Giacobetti, launched with a huge fanfare concerning its organic credentials and Ecocert certification (the French equivalent of the Soil Association). They were potentially a very interesting and beautifully designed array of scents. I particularly liked Sexy Angelic, a moreish almond-tinted eau de parfum inspired by the marzipan Calisson candies from Aix-en-Provence. But the staying power of the fragrances was so damn frustrating, twenty minutes max, just vanishing into thin air with barely a whisper left on the skin.

So it was with a certain amount of trepidation I approached Hiram’s 100% natural label on Moon Bloom. I needn’t have worried. I remember well the force of violet in the Scent Systems personification. This is one of the sleekest most harmonious fragrances, let alone organic fragrances I have sampled in years. 

Every perfumer tackles the classic floral tenets with their own set of olfactory values in place. Like actors taking on famous roles, each interpretation will be different, sometimes respectful, sometimes divisive calling down boos and disdain from demanding audiences or garnering critical plaudits and stanidng ovations. The challenge with the white floral queens of tuberose, ylang, jasmine and orange blossom is dealing with preconceptions, startling and seducing the wearer with leftfield hooks, tricks, slants and captures. There will always be the struggle between absolutes and synthetics, using more of one, balancing with another.

It can work beautifully. Untitled#1 by Baruti (Formally Magnetic Scents and sadly dropped when the line re-branded) was a roaring jet engine of a jasmine scent, just so rich and rounded with cocoa and white lily notes complimenting the fecundity of the jasmine. The perfumer Spyros Drosopolous used a cunning and expertly structured marriage of highest quality jasmine absolutes with a synthetic mirror created from other white flowers. It smells extraordinary because the quivering tension between the real and the created jasmines translate onto the skin with shocking verve and hedonistic sensuality.

Hiram has looked long and hard into the soul of tuberose and wondered how the scent will unfurl on skin with covert beauty and above all - pure snowy elegance. The opening rush of green and white mixed with the that fabulous chilled coconut accord fade gently into a glorious lamination of lacteous comforting softness. There are little breaths of spiky rubbed mint and a strange metallic wash from time to time, a scent of blue freezers and iced metal. This all adds to the charm and magic of Hiram’s blending. Moon Bloom is made for night skin, waxen and white-lit under bleak staring moons. A fragrance for skins in troubled love, in pain, lost perhaps. There is alchemy at work here and it smells like snow falling in the hush of night.      

For more information on Hiram Green, please click link below:


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