Illuminated Perfume To Bee
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By Josie Plumey
Co-Founder, creator and artist of A Dozen Roses, Sandy Cataldo, signing bottles
Roxana Villa’s creativity shines through her line of botanical fragrances, Illuminated Perfume. An illustrator and certified aromatherapist, she strives to create fragrances that both paint a picture for their wearers and uplift their wearers.
I was first introduced to Roxana with the arrival of her fragrance, To Bee. I was intrigued by the concept of a perfume created to reflect the smell and energy of a buzzing bee hive. I love honey, but am often not fond of how honey is used in perfumes. Perhaps my exposure to scents with honey has been limited, but I always found the smell of honey to be artificial and overly sweet. I jumped at a chance to purchase the sampler set off of Roxana’s Etsy store, which contains both the liquid and solid versions of To Bee.
When I first applied To Bee to my skin, I had an instant “OH MY!” reaction to the fragrance. Never had I smelled such a complex natural fragrance. What I find to be most stunning about it is how sultry and animalic the scent is despite its exclusion of such typical animalic notes as musk or civet.
To Bee starts as a spicy, warm fragrance. There is only the slightest hint of honey, initially. My nose picked out a delicious ambrette, a lovely sweet vanilla, and the freshest of hay. There is also a decidedly musky overtone to the fragrance, and unless my nose deceives me, there is a leather accord hiding out as well - however, both of these notes are not derived from animals. Herein lies Roxana’s genius: her ability to create such accords leads to the formation of unique fragrance compositions.
Bottom line: regardless of how Roxana did it, she succeeded in creating an unabashedly sexy fragrance, and one of the most perfect Orientals my nose has had the pleasure of enjoying in the niche catagory.
As To Bee develops on the skin, the scent lightens up considerably. The animalic edge dissipates, and the amber and vegetal musk takes on a skin-like quality. The spiciness takes on a chai-like quality: it is a warm, comforting cup of tea.
Oh, and that honey! The honey makes a stunning re-emergence, its arrival perfectly timed to sweeten our chai spiced-skin. This is the freshest of honey, creamy-sweet and deeply flavorful. As the perfume reaches its final hours of wear, the honey takes over completely. Warm, musky, and accented by a hint of jasmine - utterly perfect. There is nothing fake, nothing overwhelming. I imagine myself anointed with honey, a crown of flowers atop my head. Skin, blooms, sunlight, sweetness: they melt together like heated beeswax.
Now, the above description is of the liquid version of To Bee. Let me not neglect the solid! The solid differs from the liquid, but mostly in its drydown. If the liquid version of To Bee is unapologetically naughty, the solid version of To Bee is unapologetically innocent. It is from the start not quite as spicy as its liquid counterpart, and not quite as animalic. The skin-like quality of the scent is more prominent, as is the sweetness. The solid is definitely more honeyed, and the jasmine evident in the drydown of the liquid version is more prominent in the solid’s drydown. My preference is actually to layer the liquid version over the solid, as I like to amplify the jasmine note.
I highly recommend trying both the liquid and the solid version!