One of my favourite discoveries last year was the artisanal brand aroma M with its beautiful range of intriguing and unique smelling scents and oils. The design of the collection is a feast for the eyes with the intricately patterned Yuzen papers that clothe the bottles. I really like the aesthetic of this brand, that tells a wonderful story of founder Maria McElroy’s love affair with Japan and its culture. Everything feels hand crafted, as if time has been taken to create something truly meaningful with an artistic aesthetic.
Of the perfumes I reviewed – there were two that really stood out and are simply wonderful scents. Geisha Noire is a sumptuous ambered oriental and Geisha Violet is a quirky, violet and chocolate scent with a fairytale sensibility that I particularly enjoyed. You can find out more about Maria McElroy in a Fragrant Femmes interview here.
The new perfume is called Geisha Botan and is based around the peony flower. Botan is in fact Japanese for peony. According to Maria’s notes on the perfume, peonies are important not only in Japan but also in China as the national flower. The flowers are often featured in Chinese paintings, literature, tapestry, clothing and other fine and decorative arts. It is thought that the medicinal properties of the peony helped to ward off evil chi, and therefore they were planted around imperial palaces and known as the ‘king of flowers’. In Japan, the peony was also adopted culturally in gardens but also in tattooing (irezumi).
Peonies by William Merritt Chase
Geisha Botan (EDP) : from aroma M // Perfumer : Maria McElroy // Year : 2018 // Notes : Peony, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, velvet woods, forest lichen, oakmoss and musk.
The Low Down : Without a doubt Geisha Botan is now one of the best perfumes from Maria that I’ve had the pleasure of sampling. Imagine being bathed in the softest, most exquisite pink light. A light that calms, relaxes and seduces.
Geisha Botan smells so good with a perfect balance between a gentle rose with honeyed tendencies and the heavenly vanilla, sandalwood layer that is very nicely done. An addictive musk is there too, as well as a slight earthy tinge – but this in no way takes away from the wonderful sense of relaxation and calm that this scent conjures. The woods and oak moss are less in evidence for me in the balance. The perfume is not heavy at all, it just is, and at first I though the scent was too soft, but I was wrong. The fragrance builds in waves and I can still smell it on skin well after application.
Geisha Botan feels like the perfect scent for right now. Here in the South of France, we’re having a relatively mild winter (so far) but I feel like this is the ray of pink joy that makes everything feel better. This is the power of scent, the transportive, moments that make us feel as though there is potential out there somewhere. I see modern fluffy jumpers / sweaters with this perfume or soft silk kimonos but also a touch of old school glamour too. This feels like a perfume that a femme fatale on her night off could wear too.
The fragrance is available in an EDP format but also in a perfume oil. For me the difference is in texture and tone, in that the oil does feel more dense and heavier than the perfume. Both feel wonderful on skin so really it’s a personal preference as to which format you prefer.
For where to purchase : Please see the aroma M website for further details. The EDP is US$ 110 and the perfume oil US$60. //
Images : Cover by Megan In Sainte Maxime //
Disclaimer : Samples gratefully received from Aroma M. Opinions my own. //