Frost by St. Clair Scents

img_3336

Notes: bergamot, mandarin yellow and green, coriander, petitgrain sur fleur, Meyer lemon, honeysuckle accord, rose geranium, elderflower absolute, petitgrain absolute, cistus, labdanum absolute, vanilla absolute, vetiver, cedar, smoke, and clove absolute.

St. Clair Scents is another independent artisanal fragrance house. I wrote about their newest scent, Casablanca, here. Diane St. Clair has a dairy farm in Vermont and, luckily for us, she also makes perfumes! The dairy farm sounds lovely and happens to be near to Robert Frost’s historic summer writing cabin. Frost the scent is based on Robert Frost’s poem To Earthward:

I had the swirl and ache

From sprays of honeysuckle

That when they’re gathered shake

Dew on the knuckle.”

To Earthward, Robert Frost

The poem is full of olfactory references like the honeysuckle mentioned here. There is indeed a noticeable honeysuckle note in Frost, along with a whole cavalcade of other notes. Frost opens green and bracing for me. There’s a sparkling bergamot note and a fir note that really gives me that fresh evergreen vibe. The blend of other notes prevent this from coming across as a Christmas-y evergreen, so it’s completely fine wearing this in the post-Christmas winter.

The opening of Frost mostly smells like the outdoors. It smells like fresh air and open countryside. This puts me in mind of Jane Austen novels where the local doctor often prescribes going to the countryside or to the seaside for a “change of air.” It’s good for the mind and the body. I get the honeysuckle and more of a floral bouquet around 3 hours into wear time. I get something slightly animalic underneath the florals, which makes the heart notes well-rounded and substantial.

As Frost wears, I get much more of the underbelly of the countryside, and a representation of the darker themes of To Earthward. There’s a cedar note that smells very true to real cedar. The clove note here is the richest clove I’ve smelled. Again, this is a true clove. The vetiver is definitely there, although my nose has a hard time specifically pinpointing it among so many other notes. What I sense most in the base, is a smoke note underpinning everything. It’s sort of distant and close at the same time, as though the next neighbor over has a bonfire going and the scent is wafting to your backyard.

The wood/spice/smoke accord gives Frost an Autumnal feel to me, which I find interesting. I feel this would wear well during all seasons. The sparkling citrus opening would play well in warm weather. I will have to save up my sample to try this out during spring weather. But there is something special about the name “Frost” and wearing it during winter. It just feels right.

I have now tried two of the offerings from St. Clair Scents, and, all I can say is, I want to smell more! I will sample their other two scents Gardner’s Glove and First Cut when I am able to, and I will definitely do a write-up here when I do! The house offers a 13 ml travel size bottle, so you don’t have to commit to the full bottle if you happen to love multiple scents. I will say that the full bottle price point is not cheap at $125 for 30 mls. On the other hand, the fragrances that I’ve smelled so far are extremely high quality, vibrant compositions, and long lasting. I’m at the point where I would rather give more of my money to independent and creative perfume houses, but it’s all a personal choice. Either way, St. Clair Scents is an independent house well worth seeking out and supporting.

______________________

I ordered my sample directly from St. Clair Scents. It arrived in this adorable matchbox-like packaging. The house offers a general sample pack as well as 2 ml individual samples of each fragrance, so there is plenty to choose from.

The info on notes is from St. Clair Scents.

The photo of my sample was taken by me.

Comparative Perfumery

I posted this photo and a little summary on my instagram, but I wanted to do a more in-depth post here on the blog.

I recently ordered a sample of Casablanca from St. Clair Scents, which is an indie artisanal brand based in Vermont. Diane St. Clair is the perfumer. Casablanca is the newest release for 2018 and it’s definitely a winter-appropriate scent. You can tell just by looking at the juice in the bottle, this scent is a rich and intensive experience.

Soon after first applying and testing Casablanca, I was reminded of Baptême du Feu from Serge Lutens, which I recently wrote about. Both scents have a striking animalic undercurrent. They have a dark vibe, a sort of dark fairy tale. I decided to wear one on each arm and do a little comparison test.

The result is that they are definitely not dupes of each other, but I feel they are in the same family. Baptême du Feu leans more foodie. There is a gingerbread note and the familiar Lutens dried fruit note. It’s not quite gourmand, but it’s a well-rounded composition and feels very festive for this time of year. Casablana is not foodie at all. It opens with some lovely citrus notes that bring a real radiance to the composition. This bright radiance balances out the deep animalic notes, which include civet and hyrax. Casablanca is really an animalic scent for me. There are white floral notes in the heart, including jasmine and tuberose. But the animalic notes are most present on my skin.

The animalic note in Baptême du Feu is castoreum, and it has a dark oily undercurrent for me. The hyrax and civet in Casablanca are also dark and have a black oiliness to them, like oily animal fur. It’s sensual, but it goes even further than that. It’s like an unnamed beast lurking outside the castle grounds. This is the dark fairytale aspect. It’s the theme of a beast that cannot be named but is undeniably present.

My favorite book from 2018, The Essex Serpent, deals with similar themes: the fear of a medieval beast re-appearing to wreak havoc in the present day. Both Baptême du Feu and Casablanca recall these medieval kind of superstitions. Both scents feel appropriate right now, as we come to the winter solstice and the darkest day of the year. But, ultimately, these scents and The Essex Serpent aren’t about fear, but about wonder and awe related to the unknown out in nature.

_________________________

I got my sample of Baptême du Feu from Luckyscent (and I have now completely drained it!)

I ordered my sample of Casablanca directly from St. Clair Scents.

The Essex Serpent was published in the US in 2017 but I did not read it until this year. I highly recommend it!