Shelley Waddington is a highly respected independent perfumer based in the United States. A real force to be reckoned with, she is highly regarded and well known in the fragrance world. With a constant knack for fine-tuning, she challenges herself to create new scents with large scope. Shelley shares a great passion for her work, and our discussions are driven with an open curiosity, great love, and mutual respect.
It is a great honour, and naturally a great pleasure, to introduce Shelley Waddington and her brand En Voyage to Olfactics with the perfume Frida – a story contained in scent.
Photo from http://www.envoyageperfumes.com/
Viva la Frida!
“This perfume celebrates the life of Frida Kahlo; the woman and artist, her suffering, her Mexican heritage and her love of nature. Frida was feminine, fearless and a revolutionary; she cross dressed, smoked cigars, and has been a part of pop culture for over 50 years. A world-travelled sophisticate who had love affairs with both men and women, Frida remained happiest at Casa Azul, her traditional family home.”
A painter, Frida’s visual works are often described as creations with deep passion and pain present through the use of vibrancy, shock, intensity, and challenging imagery. She captured the feminine experience and vitality with excellency, and her many health problems may have also inspired many of her works.
Photo by En Voyage
From a constructive and objective point of view, Waddington’s Frida is a grand technical piece of work. From first sniff, a dark augmentation with a luminous leatheriness, resembling bitter black olives and uncertainty. Moving forward, or more accurately, downwards, a resplendent creation reveals itself that oscillates between two very different poles. From dark and bitter it fluidly becomes humid and tropical in scent, captured in a fruit bowl. A wave of utterly delicious watermelon impersonates aquatic like effects with heightened realism, compounded with stone fruits wrapped in wet leaves and herbs. A mellow sweetness comes from agave, which is then tempered with the cool spice of green capsicum.
This is a beautiful garden at this stage, overgrown, tall, and surrounded in infinite shades of green with dazzling sunlight. Honing in, you can hear the water rushing by and the deep damp smell of wet earth. A mineral like scent very much unlike the smell of flint or petrichor, Frida is the smell of damp moss in the shadows on a scorching hot day. With excellent blending it shifts back and forth from a beautiful lavish garden to an arid desert-like scenario. Often meeting somewhere in-between, creating something abstract yet something that can be wholly consumed and appreciated.
A wave of crystalline powder begins to coat this banquet, treated with a moodiness from an undercurrent of wispy herbaceous tobacco. For clarity, myrrh is used, and for severe intensity the only possible note is tuberose. With tuberose, an ingredient that the Aztecs called the Boneflower, a fleshy aspect is achieved and serves as an homage to Frida Kahlo herself. It is the flower of feminine power, and in mixture with cactus flower and a ylang-ylang like accord it is pushed to high degrees. The fragrance’s bitterness reintroduces itself with a stronger musk and amber edge, mimicking the scent of parched earth and humid air.
Smelled from a different angle, the scent becomes more figurative and symbolic than it is literal. Its bitter and inky (oakmoss) smokiness is like unwashed hair, and indolic notes are cut with myrrh to resemble blood and skin. Its slow yet persistent diffusion is much like the thick air of her homeland. To conclude, a sensual woodiness is heightened with incense and resinous notes; Frida features Copal, a heritage incense note hailing from Central America. Animalics round the scent giving it a warm glow still against the rich heady florals.
The twists and turns of this scent is a true indication of personal dedication to perfumery. With exceptional care, creation, and curation, Shelly Waddington is able to demonstrate an artist’s life through a new and largely contemporary art form. From one art form to another, the passion from both of these artists is undeniable.
Subjective rating: 3.5/5
Objective rating: 4/5
Further Reading & Purchase Frida: http://www.envoyageperfumes.com/