Nature is the Ultimate Luxury - Northwest Essence - Niche Perfumery

Posted on February 02, 2015 by Matriarch Blog

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 tbeason@seattletimes.com. Alan Berner is a Seattle Times staff photographer.

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New Fragrance Review: House of Matriarch Sacre Tabac Part 1: Sucre + Hookah Memories in a Bottle Draw

Posted on November 16, 2013 by Matriarch Blog

NOVEMBER 12, 2013

POSTED BY , Cafleurebon

Christi Meshell of House of Matriarch has released a new scent with the help of a Facebook friend, aligning stars and her own spiritual voice telling her to remember and celebrate the sacred nature of tobacco. Sacre Tabac “Sucre” is the result. Always having loved the scent of tobacco in all its forms, the perfumer read of a young man on Facebook who was looking desperately for a perfume that smelled like his father’s hookah tobacco. Being in Sweden and quite homesick for the scents of his homeland, Christi‘s heart went out to this young man as she felt “something” stir her to do something she has never done: freely offer to make someone a bespoke fragrance!

One of the things many of us do not know about tobacco is that it was always used sacredly and ceremonially by the Native Americans. Indigenous to the New World only and usually blended with sage and sweet grass, it was used to open one to the Great Spirit, to offer thanks and to celebrate new friendships. It was not until the plant was introduced to the European explorers that it was taken and overused overindulged in and made into the number one killer in the world. Anything taken to the extreme will become its opposite. This sacred and life-affirming herb once used reverently in moderation is now looked down upon by many as evil and deadly; when, in truth, it is just another gift from the Earth for us to use responsibly as medicine and for ritual. Hopefully the joyful nature of Sacre Tabac and the natural essences of the sacred leaves it contains will help us all to remember.

 This perfume is just the first in a line of perfumes that will celebrate tobacco in all its forms and beauty. This is a wonderful place to start. The ideal was to reproduce the “starbuzz double apple” shisa blend in a fragrance. It was a sweet warm scent with the sour punch of green apple and hints of spices that resulted in clouds of warm and resinous smoke. Needless to say, the young man loves his perfume and, now that he has it, the House of Matriarch has made it available to everyone.

Available only in parfum extrait strength, Sacre Tabac Sucre is bottled with a lovely ornate label that reflects the style and flourish of the Middle Eastern areas that inspired it. This perfume billows from the skin with an aroma that is thick, sweet and full. Unlike many tobacco scents, this opens rather boozy, rich and full due to the addition of naturally derived wine ether and heady davana. Swirled into the sweet and tart green and red apples that flavor this particular blend is a high quality star anise. This adds a warm and woody spiciness to the mix as opposed to the usually drier powdery more synthetic forms of anise in perfumery. The warm spices remain throughout wearing this and curl around you along with a specially designed accord that adds the human factor into the realization of this special scent memory.

Many of us know the sweeter softer side of tobacco. The scent of the drying curing leaves is rather dank and earthy. Here the perfumer has smoothed the rougher edges with a bevy of beautiful notes. Violet leaves add a fresher greener edge and ylang ylang adds just a kiss of warm floral energy to the tobacco making it smell both more expensive and quite tasty. Copious amounts of sweet Tahitian vanilla were used along with an actual caramel accord made by the perfumer and dark molasses, which augments the spiciness of the whole blend. This thickens the sweetness also, without being nauseating or toothache-inducing.

ll this dovetails perfectly with the unique and phenomenal dry down of costus root, sassafras and just a drop of oud wood. The last ingredient was added mainly because many Middle Eastern hookah dens usually burn some form of oud wood chips or incense. That tiny amount of smoky slightly medicinal woodiness gives a smoke-kissed finale to the tobacco, vanilla and spiced apples, making it linger and echoing the sacred smoke of the hookah and the end of its sacred journey as it rises to the heavens.

I have many tobacco-based scents, as I am sure many of you do also. Sacre Tabac Sucre is extremely well-crafted. It is obvious, at first sniff, that it was created with a lot of love. Those who like sweeter earthier spiced scents will adore this, as I do. This captures the experience (as much as I can osmgaine it) of opening the tobacco, loading it, lighting it while puffing it and captures not only the tobacco, but the warmth and sacred nature it once had, and still has in some countries. I look forward with much anticipation to the release of the next Tabac perfume sometime early next year. Sillage: very good. Longevity: all day.

-John Reasinger, Senior Editor

Posted in anise, apple, best fall fragrances, ceremony, daring, double apple, drawing, essenza, facebook perfume, fragrance, fragrance guru nation, free perfume, hookah, hookah perfume, house of matriarch, malek mohammed, narguile, new perfumes, niche, perfume, sacre, sacred, Seattle, seattle fragrance, seattle perfume, shisha, starbuzz, sucre, top artisan perfumes

NEW NICHE FRAGRANCE: From Seattle to Sweden, Sacre Tabac, 1st Edition, 'Sucre'

Posted on October 22, 2013 by Matriarch Blog

When our Perfumer read about Malek Mohammed's seemingly endless search for a hookah inspired perfume, she offered to create one for him. 

In creating his personal wish-list for the fragrance pyramid,  Malek requested accents of rich vanilla, sweet caramel and spicy anise to accompany the sour burst of red and green apples.  He wanted it to be "REALLY, REALLY SWEET".  The aroma is identical to the tangy zing of double apple" shisha.   

Sucre is a syrupy unisex scent voyage, marrying the fun and drama of a concept fragrance with the refinement and sophistication of a Matriarch High Perfume.  Due to the quality of the materials used (natural fruit isolates, precious woods,) and the extrait concentration, this hypnotic perfume lasts for an incredible 24 hours on the skin. 

Universally adored for it's comforting nostalgia, tobacco has a special ability to connect us to our Ancestors and the Great Spirit.  This perfume was created in homage of that relationship and those memories so many of us hold dear.  

 

Vintage 2013

 

Posted in anise, apple, artisan, bespoke, conceptual fragrance, daring, double apple, facebook perfume, fragrance, fragrance guru nation, gourmand, green, high perfumery, hookah, hookah perfume, house of matriarch, limited edition, luxury, malek mohammed, matriarch, molasses, narguile, natural, new perfumes, perfume, red, sacre, sacred, Seattle, shisha, starbuzz, sucre, tabac, tobacco, top artisan perfumes