I read about Roxana Villa's perfumes on two of my favourite blogs, thenonblonde.blogspot.com and scenthive.com. My first foray into botanical perfume was with Strange Invisible Perfumes Magazine Street, and as I love that fragrance I was keen to give Illuminated Perfume a go. Roxana Villa makes many of the tinctures that form part of her fragrances herself, and then hand blends the botanical and natural ingredients that make up her thoughtful and carefully crafted perfumes.
My husband bought me the Q solid perfume (in the antique tin, comes in the little crochet pouch), and I subsequently bought the trio of 1g liquid perfumes (which currently comes with a sample solid) myself.
I love woody fragrances, so the Q perfume dedicated to the native oak of California was always going to be a safe choice for me. Q in the solid has more smoke and dry bark than the liquid (the sap/leaf note comes out more in the liquid). I like to layer the liquid over the solid for longer wear and I do like the way layering them brings out both sides of the fragrance. Like the tree that inspires it, I find this fragrance to be solid and grounding, not in a heavy way, more that in particularly trying circumstances I can sniff my wrist wearing this and think, 'Yes, I can get through this.'
Sierra liquid is a rich, citrus, slightly boozy evergreen/frankincense fragrance. It's a perfect scent for winter, and to my nose is somewhat like a lighter version of Ormonde Jayne's Tolu. Smelling like holidays, Sierra is a very happy and joyful scent.
Vera is a clear lavender/sage/wood blend. I find it very head-clearing, but not overly sharp or astringent. I asked for Vera in the solid sample with my trio of liquid perfumes, and in the solid the lavender note is softer and tempered more by the sage, and is a little more herbal and less floral than the liquid perfume to my nose. Vera would be a perfect scent for hot or muggy days.
The solid fragrances wear closely to the skin and the liquid perfumes have a little more sillage, although like all natural perfumes they do still wear quite close to the skin. I like this aspect of natural perfumery, as I don't like my fragrance to be apparent from more than a couple of feet away. I find that by layering a solid underneath a liquid I can still smell the ghost of the fragrance at the end of the day although natural perfumes do tend to lack the tenacity of mainstream perfumes that utilise artificial notes. For the clarity and pureness of the scents I enjoy with natural fragrances, I am willing to reapply or layer if necessary. However, if you prefer a more generous sillage or longevity of fragrance is very important to you, I would try a sample of these first before buying a larger size.
Being hand-made from all natural materials, these fragrances are not inexpensive, although the prices are comparable with other eco-luxe perfumers like Ayala Moriel and Strange Invisible Perfumes. The Etsy shop does offer a variety of sample packs to try scents out before committing to the full-sizes.
The Etsy shop is IlluminatedPerfume.