"This is a gorgeous oriental orange blossom perfume, completely unique in my experience. I've tried dark, syrupy, and heavy orange blossoms, airy, soapy, and clean orange blossoms, and a wide range of candied orange blossom perfumes, but oM is the first truly oriental orange blossom perfume, with more incense and wood than any of the usual accompanying note suspects. I, too, have visited southern Spain, and it's true: the scent of Spanish cathedrals and the naranjeros of Sevilla have been ably captured and harmonized in oM. What a lovely composition!" – Sherapop (Reviewer on Fragrantica)
A new small batch of oM was bottled last week. Order yours now!
CHRISTI MESHELL, the owner and nose behind the Bellevue-based line House of Matriarch High Perfumery, dips her finger into a jar of tobacco-leaf extract and rubs some on the top of my hand, and in an instant I am transported back decades to my grandfather’s tobacco farm in Kentucky. Sticky-sweet tobacco leaves, old barns, haylofts, manure — the scent-memory is unblemished, like a perfectly preserved photograph.
It gives me goose bumps.
Meshell, with her flowing black hair, sumptuous silk prints, sparkly platform heels and fairy goddess grin, is an agent provocateur of scent, melding wildly intriguing elements into luxury fragrances that defy easy descriptions.
She was raised in oil country — Port Arthur, Texas — but she’s a Northwest hippie medicine woman at heart. Every morning she drinks a glass of water infused with frankincense essence. “It’s good for you,” she insists.
Meshell leads her guests past a to-scale human skeleton hanging by the stairwell that leads up to the plush design studio of her atelier, which is decked out like an eccentric sultan’s parlor (that’s a unicorn bust hanging on one wall; that’s a live white dove perched in a picnic basket by the window; that’s loungy electro by Thievery Corporation blaring on the speaker system).
Meshell sits cross-legged on the floor and begins the interview by burning a series of opulent tree resins: Pine, then dragon’s blood, then oud, which is so precious a piece no bigger than a fingernail costs $5.
The smoke rises and curls like a dancing ghost and forms a cloud above our heads.
“This is the original ‘perfume’ — it literally means ‘through smoke,’ ” Meshell says, during a mini-lesson on the evolution of fragrance, from its use in fumigating living quarters and hair to its use in prayer, ceremonies, courtship and other life pursuits.
Meshell says her sense of smell is so exact, she can tell that a man is smoking a Cohiba cigar from a block away. She says she can smell textures, too. Put a cactus close to her face and its physical prickliness will tickle her imagination.
“Your nose is kind of the last real touch point to the natural world,” she says. “It’s like you’re being touched by nature.”
This allows Meshell to work like a collage artist, composing multilayered fragrances with spectacular resonance that project something of the wearer onto everyone who comes near.
“It’s the last thing you put on before leaving the house,” Meshell says. “It’s that mood that you carry with you, your essence, your invisible aura.”
The smell of Puget Sound seaweed mixed with evergreen extracts, cannabis, animal musk and about 300 other ingredients brings a chilled-out, mystical and sexy vibe to the Blackbird perfume Meshell made in a collaboration with the Seattle fragrance brand.
For some customers, she says, her long-lasting, $120 to $300 full-size perfumes are the only material indulgence they allow themselves.
As Meshell shows off a wall-length bookshelf with hundreds of bottled ingredients, she says that some are derived directly from the Pacific Northwest. A blazingly intense lavender essence comes from plants grown in Redmond. She makes seaweed essence with washed-up kelp she gathers on beach walks.
Her favorite place to visit is the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula with its hanging moss.
“This is the last enchanted forest, and we live in it,” Meshell says of the Northwest in general.
“Nature,” she says, “is the ultimate luxury.”
Tyrone Beason is a Seattle Times, Pacific NW Magazine staff writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alan Berner is a Seattle Times staff photographer.
The Stars on 45 Medley is "OH, MY STARS!" Disco in liquid form. Unapologetically vintage. TOP: iris, davana, mimosa, cannabis, shiso, geranium. HEART: patchouli, rose, amber, agarwood, jasmine, lily. BASE: ambrette musk, tobacco, orris root, labdanum, East Indian sandalwood.
Located on Seattle's Eastside, House of Matriarch creates perfumes and flavors for niche market segments and independent private labels. Our award winning perfumes are created with timeless methods and noble materials. Through the ancient Royal Art of High Perfumery, we enter the Temple of Alchemy to embody fragrance at its highest: Mother Nature in liquid form.
Our Perfumer and brand visionary, Christi Meshell is "the Nose" behind some of the most compelling new fragrances in today's niche marketplace. Her versatility as both Creative Director and Fragrance Composer allow her to single-handedly develop a concept from initial inspiration through final display. Each of her creations is an original design, composed from her proprietary accords and without any premixed bases or fillers. Critics and fans continually laud her designs with accolades like "The Gold Standard in Fragrance", "Genius in a Bottle" and "The Priestess of Perfumery".
A mystical heritage has called her the lifelong study of magical correspondences, plant medicine and sacred cosmology, knowledge which finds practical application in the fragrance creation process. In August, 2013 Christi received the title Top Artisan Perfumer at the International Fragrance Awards and in December, 2013 House of Matriarch was named TOP INDIE FRAGRANCE HOUSE of 2013 by Cafleurebon. Her work has also been praised in Men's Journal, Sunset Magazine and Seattle Magazine.
Christi launched her first perfume in Bellevue in 2009, and she's been churning out award winning compositions under her own Matriarch brand and for private labels all around the world. Her first cult classic, BLACKBIRD created a stir in fragrance circles in 2012 when it beat out anchor brands like Versace and Chanel in sniff tests. Some say BLACKBIRD marked the "dawn of a new era in perfumery" . Now all eyes are on Seattle and the "fragrance revolution" she has been credited with igniting.
"Beauty will save the World." C. Meshell
There are reasons why certain folk do well in the Perfumed World. It's no accident that Christi Meshell's House of Matriarch following continues to gain momentum: she's a hardworking, resourceful perfumer with enormous imagination and talent. Her presentation is beautiful and the perfumes themselves are innovative and delightful.
The floral heart of the matter is pure decadent opulence, a riotous profusion of white flowers who have swooningly yielded themselves for our pleasure. It would be brutish not to appreciate their sacrifice, would it not? Sweet loves salty, so why not wed choya [choya nakh is the result of roasted seashells distilled in Himalayan cedarwood oil; choya loban is Indian frankincense distilled in the same Himalayan cedar base], so smokily divine, to the witches brew?
The woods and resins are venerably aged and hypnotic. Effervescent amber? I have no clue whatsoever, but if there is amber, count me in.
These are so many of my favorite things, I feel positively spoilt. It is as if someone asked me what I loved the best, and then proceeded to deliver my heart's desire in a vial.
Initially headstrong [the word têtu expresses it better for me], voluptuous and high-spirited, Bohemian Black becomes the Pashmina Perfume, glowingly warm without undue weight. BB clings affectionately to the skin and clothing for hours. It is the perfect thing to wear if you wish to entice someone into your lair. You won't need a negligee. Thank you for always sharing your creations, Christi.
|Ida Meister (chayaruchama) has been an avid collector and sniffeuse for over 40 years. She adores consulting and collaborating with niche, budding and independent perfumers. Her hypervigilant nose has been of great help in her profession as a neuroscience/ oncology nurse, where she often smells fear, suffering, stress, and can identify most micro-organisms, medications, stages of disease, and has written about the amygdala. As a Senior and Natural Perfumery Editor, Ida has participated in many blog events with natural and mixed media perfumers and other writers. She has also been a teacher, translator, opera singer, dancer and caterer.|
COCO BLANC has just been named by NYC GoodSmella's Carlos Powell as one of his top perfume releases of 2013! We love our NYC fans, and would like to thank Carlos for his ongoing championing of the indie fragrance movement, here's to a fruitful and fragrant 2014!
Best Indie Perfume House of 2013: House of Matriarch
MB: Perfumer Christi Meshell truly stepped up her game this year and her House of Matriarch had a spectacular year of creativity. It started with The Maj and ended with Sacre Tabac Part 1; in between was Blackbird, Woo, Entendre, Lucid and the fantastic Achtung Collection. Incredible year for Ms. Meshell where she really created a brand identity for House of Matriarch.
MC: That is exactly what I would have written, almost to the word, but must add, the House Of Matriarch began its transformation last year with Forbidden, which was a special project between The Natural Perfumer's Guild and CaFleureBon for Ophiuchus. Don't forget Coco Blanc and a wonderful website redesign; House of Matriarch is a perfect example of one woman staying true to her spiritual self and she shares her good fortune with numerous charities in the Seattle Community. 2013 is the year that Christi successfully combined creativity with commerce.