Saturday, July 21, 2007

Palisander by Ava Luxe : Perfume Review

Ina, over at Aromascope made a post some time ago which sparked a discussion on straightforward perfumes. As I stated at the time, I believe that straightforward, linear perfumes can sometimes be a blessing, because you do not have to think too much. Too, sometimes what you are looking for can only be satisfied by a simpler creation, without too much fuss around it. I know I personally have a number of such little loves at least. Although not all of Ava Serena Franco’s fragrances are linear (some are far more complex than I had imagined before trying them), a lot of them satisfy those cravings for a clean, straightforward blend. Her line is fun, the service is amazing and I often find myself visiting her website to order samples as a pick-me-up gift to myself that will invariably bring me a lot of pleasure when it arrives.

I woke up today planning to write a review of Incense Musk, in order to continue the theme of incense I started with Miyako, but when I visited the website I found that it has been discontinued. Not wanting to write another “you can’t have me” teaser, I first considered writing about Passage d’Enfer, but then I realized that in the process I had actually become more interested in writing about an Ava Luxe scent, than about an incense fragrance in general. After perusing my sample collection for a while I decided to settle on Palisander, a delightful autumnal scent, perfect for when the leaves turn copper and the wind starts baring wintry fangs.

Palisander, conversely one of the more complex Ava Luxe fragrances I have sampled, has a strange earthiness when it is first applied on the skin. An earthiness so strong in fact, that it manages to instantly evoke images of subterranean growth, roots of trees and fibers of plants growing deep in dark, rich soil. There are leaves there too, dropped on the forest floor. They have seen countless rains and are now laying there lifeless, wet, decomposing...Becoming one with the earth that bore them. As the oil warms on the skin, the earthy scent disappears, leaving almost no trace behind. It is replaced by a heavy, woody sweetness. When I originally sampled Palisander, six months or so ago, I found the first whiff of its sweetness frightening - I thought I might have to scrub it off immediately. I do sometimes experience an extreme sense of sweetness from some woody fragrances and essential oils and it is something I honestly can’t stomach. Thankfully, I decided to be brave and let it sit on my skin for a while and this was rewarded: I found that this time the sweetness is anything but nauseating. Yes, the initial entrance is rather grand and dramatic, but it quickly becomes obvious that it is not going to be overpowering: despite its headiness, this is a rather sheer sweetness, one that graciously agrees to dance instead of a solo, together with all the other elements of the blend, one after the other. It becomes a constant, which is at first partnered up with a strange, slightly medicinal freshness, a remnant of the erstwhile earthiness. Then later on, with sensuous amber which eradicates any sense of freshness there was still to be found and allows a beautiful, enveloping warmth to bloom on the skin...until finally, it becomes smoky; dark, intense and almost incense like. There is also something else there: after some hours of wear I find Palisander to take on a peculiar animalic quality; the smell of desire heating up a cold room in winter, like a glowing ember.

Images courtesy of:,,


helg said...

I think you do have an affinity for Ava Luxe (you know them well) and you should write and inform us about more frags from her line.
I have limited experience with them, but what I tested I have liked. You make this one sound very good!

Linda said...

Dear Divina,
Strangely, my garden has this fragrance today, in the heavy rain which has just stopped falling - a melancholy reminder that everything must pass and that autumn will soon be here... I've been educating myself about Ava Luxe and the fragrances sound delightful. Thank you for your beautiful review!
Best, Linda

chayaruchama said...

Hello, my dear !
I've been sending samples of hers EVERYWHERE, literally-I'm a huge fan of her work.
She has a particular affinity for woods, as she loves them tenderly [and it shows].
This baby is every bit as lovely in EDP as extrait,and garners many compliments and happy noses down my blouse...NOT an issue at 53, believe me.
[What frightened you ?]
I'm so thrilled we share some of the same loves !

It might interest you to know that,I decided [rather perversely, I'll admit] to wear Madame X when I went to meet Mr. Malle at Barney's awhile back...

He kept sniffing and asked me- "Wat iz zat parfum you are wearing ?"

It gave me great pleasure to tell him that it was the work of a formerly local perfumer [ for Serena grew up and lived here in Boston, baby. Yahoo !].

Long story short :
Even if your mama didn't create for 'Ze House Of Dior', and you weren't breastfed Eau Sauvage, there are MANY talented peeps out there.
Good is good, and GREAT IS GREAT.

There is a LOT of Serena's work that merits 'classic 'status, in my book.
But, baby, I'm just a nobody with a good nose[whistling in the dark, no less !].

Divina said...

E, dear, I will do my best! Thank you, and I have to say that your review of Madame X a while back was astoundingly evocative as well. I loved reading it.

Divina said...

Dearest Linda, isn't that one of the best smells in nature? :) It makes me smile just thinking about it. You're so lucky to have a garden. I have to make do with what space I have on my balcony for plants. They give me a lot of joy :) (and grief too, when I am trying to save them from one thing or the other...*coughs* I am not extremely green thumbed I fear..)

Divina said...

Chaya! You made me laugh SO hard with this story!!! It is *precious*!

In all seriousness though, I agree with you. I think Ava Luxe does not get enough attention (or recognition) and it's a shame. This is the second time I write about one of her fragrances, but there will be more to come, I promise. I'd love to hear what your favorites are from the line. Also... have you tried the body products? I am interested in trying them because I am always on the look-out for (yet another) unscented moisturizer to better anchor my 'fumes...hihihi :)

Big hugs to you darling.

Jenavira13 said...

Chaya, love the story. As for Ava I have been a follower of hers for sometime. Her Shea Butter Hand and Body Cream is quite nice: I have mine scented with her Loukhoum. Madame X is quite gorgeous and sensual. For one of the most gorgeous and spiritual musks I recommend the regular Rasa (I haven't tried the the extreme version). Her Midnight Violet has quite the following, I highly recommend to those that like Jolie Madame or wanted to be wear Jolie Madame could not. She just seems to be getting better and better, really focusing on her own creative vision. Hard to believe she is a one woman show.

chayaruchama said...

My collection of bottles and boxes [ with my labelled pipettes for sending stuff !]is growing like a mushroom cloud. All hers.
Scary !
I love her lotions and potions, in lots of flavors [ Palisander, Kretek, Moss, #23, Silk...].
I now keep special wooden boxes for the samps alone...

She has a MAJOR gift with no attitude.
I LOVE that.

Buddha said...

I love reading your posts, this one is really intresting..

Divina said...

Thank you for the kind words :)