PHOTO CREDIT unSEEN Peek™ – Naomi Campbell styled with Paul Gauguin sensibility and shot by Peter Lindbergh for Harper’s Bazaar in 1992.
THE OLFACTORY VOYAGE
A Metaphysical Calendar
Encre Noire pour Elle by Lalique 100ml EDP
In the Beginning, before history was written…
This scent which was inspired by black ink conjured a fragrant tribute to the Ancient stories painted upon cave walls in South Africa, Namibia and Algeria.
The great maxims and teachings of Old World scribes in Upper and Lower Egypt were evoked within the opulent floral and woody notes.
The African origins of China’s Xia and Shang dynasties were recalled by the ripe accord of osmanthus.
Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford 100ml EDP
The Berlin Conference ended on February 26th 1885 and facilitated the Scramble for Africa.
Tobacco Vanille is a modern interpretation of the scent of an old world private member’s club – can we call such men “gentle” in hindsight? – and infused with the opulent essences of economic goods produced during the imperial annexation of Africa: tobacco leaf, tonka bean and cocoa.
The scent transports you back in time to the conference atmosphere: the heat of open fires, the earthy fug of slow-burning cigars, a lustrous accord of beeswax-polished exotic wood floors and a flash of spirits – toasted cognac, gulped whisky and covetous souls.
Blessings by Belinda Brown 100ml Parfum
“For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” Mt. 26:11-13
Ode to the Essene Jew, Yeshua Ben Yosef : Jesus Christ.
The Spring Equinox leading to Easter Sunday 2012 fell on March 21st.
Belinda Brown is recognised as the first Nigerian luxury perfumer.
Her signature fragrance was inspired by her Christian faith and childhood body pomade with an unforgettable fragrance of jasmine and vanilla.
Directed by an adult appreciation of the finest things in life and the nose of perfume visionary Roja Dove, Belinda Brown ensured the successful elevation of her olfactive memory to the highest heights of botanical excellence and perfume mastery.
Blessings by Belinda Brown has fresh top notes of Bergamot, Lemon and Mandarin, a refined heart of Jasmine de Grasse and Rose De Mai with a rich base of Cedar, Sandalwood, Tonka and Vanilla.
The scent quickly became a cult modern classic after its 2010 launch, favoured by some the most discerning personalities within global high society.
Habanita by Molinard 75ml EDP
An African goddess made flesh, Josephine Baker breathed life, rhythm and panache into the city and Arts of 1920s Paris.
She fled racism in the USA, was honoured for her fight against fascism during WWII, championed the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and created her own “Rainbow Tribe” of multi-ethnic children.
In April 1966, La Josephine performed in Cuba for Fidel Castro but still experienced racism in the land of good times and exquisite miscegnation.
This Peek was unSEEN at the time of Habanita‘s selection:
Habanita captures the decadent fragrance of the Jazz Era and fetid accord of Cuban and American plantations with notes of sweet tobacco, sharp leather and pungent musk.
It is a classic scent that has long been one of my personal favourites. It works well on men as well as women; whether on their own skin or drawing them into your presence.
If approached with confidence and mindfully spritzed, Habanita‘s enveloping and intoxicating fragrance will delight mature senses and make conscious minds take a deeper look at the social issues Josephine Baker fought against during her life time and the world has yet to transcend many years after her death on 12th April 1975.
Malabah by Penhaligon’s 100ml EDP
Malabah evokes an enriching and pivotal era of international trade and cultural exchange necessitated by the East Indian spice route.
This sensual fragrance showcases to luscious effect the botanical assets traded by historic civilisations in Asia, Northeast Africa and Europe: ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and sandalwood to name but a few within the composition.
Malabah paid tribute to the indigenous civilisations and Dravidian black deities of the Indian sub-continent.
Tea is harvested in May and connects the disparate economies and diverse cultures of the global African Diaspora via agricultural methods and daily ritual.
L’Eau Guerrière by Parfumerie Generale 100ml EDT
African American soldiers in the Union army during the American Civil War (1861–1865) fought for more than freedom from enslavement; they fought and won a battle for equality: in June 1864 Congress passed legislation granting blacks wages equal to their white fellow soldiers.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery throughout the United States of America.
Unspoken by Roja Dove 50ml Parfum
Roja Dove launched his perfume line Roja Parfums in July 2011.
The ever-evolving collection of scents sublimely showcases the finest essences from the global African Diaspora and elevates the ancient alchemy of distillation and ritual anointment practised across Africa over the millennia to higher heights.
Unspoken by Roja Dove was a member of the Chypré fragrance family which is named after Cyprus, the place Greek legend tells us Aphrodite – Αφροδίτη; (Afrodíti) – goddess of love, beauty and sexuality was born.
Chypré scents are noted for their harmonious synergy of the masculine and feminine fragrant materials and their inherent warmth and dryness, so Unspoken was the most expressive scent to pay homage to both Roja as a man and mind that enabled The Olfactory Voyage to take shape and reach fruition.
Unspoken was a multi-faceted scent that whispered many unheard or muted stories rising like smoke signals seen by some and invisible to others from the experiences and endurances of the citizens and sub-cultures of Africa and her global Diaspora prior to, during and since 2012.
From the shimmering aldehydes that are produced by the refraction of petrol and herbaceous lavender which is a staple resource in the wellbeing of the African-American community of Martha’s Vineyard within the top notes to the rich spices, balsamic resins, musky moss and farinaceous orris root at the base which each could tell one thousand unspoken and unheard stories to those who seek them out and listen…
AFRICA: Seen & Heard officially launched on July 14th 2012 and during The Launch Experience event gave voice to many unspoken facts, chapters of African history and contemporary cultural subjects.
Orchidèe Extraordinaire by Van Cleef and Arpels 75ml EDP
Although the enslaved African Edmond Albius‘s scientific innovation on the Indian Ocean island of Rèunion launched the global vanilla industry and bought him his freedom, he died in poverty within a heavily segregated society on 9th August 1880.
Edmond’s legacy is the hand-pollination technique “le geste d’Edmond” still practised on vanilla plantations across the globe.
X for Women by Clive Christian 50ml Parfum
Black Blood and Blue Veins
The coronation of Queen Charlotte Sophia, consort of George III took place on 22nd September 1761.
Queen Charlotte was of African descent via Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a descendant of Alfonso III and his mistress, Mourana Gil, an African of Moorish heritage.
Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a princess of Dahomey, godchild of Queen Victoria and ancestral relation of my family was immortalised in four photgraphic portraits by Camille Silvy on 15th September 1862.
In September 1999 world attention fell on the burial site of Bilikisu Sungbo, an 8th Century Yoruba noblewoman connected with the legend of the Queen of Sheba.
Sungbo Eredo is reputed to be the largest single pre-colonial monument in Africa.
As a construction project, it required more earth to be moved than the Great Pyramid of Giza. The site was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 1995.
Lyric for Man by Amouage 100ml EDP
Islam’s first muezzin Bilal ibn Rabah was of Ethiopian heritage.
Lyric for Man evoked the beauty of Bilal‘s legendary calls to prayer in October, the month of 2012’s Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez 100ml EDT
The Princess Who Never Danced?
Louise-Marie Thérèse was born on November 16th 1664.
She lived her life cloistered in a French convent, took the veil at 31 and was immortalised in oil paint forever to be recalled as The Black Nun of Moret.
Louise-Marie Thérèse was the daughter of Queen Marie-Thérèse of France and her African page Nabo, a dwarf given to her as a present by the Dahomean King of Arda.
Contemporary reports at the court of Versailles elucidate the hushed royal scandal.
Although confined behind convent walls, Louise-Marie Thérèse was paid visits by her royal family throughout her life. In 1695 King Louis XIV granted her an annual pension of 300 pounds “to be paid to her all her life in this convent or everywhere she could be, by the guards of the Royal treasure present and to come”.
Louise-Marie Thérèse never wore a tiara but her radiant aura transcends her death aged 68 in 1732.
Blue Agava and Cacao by Jo Malone 100ml EDC
They Came Before Columbus…
This scent honours the African contribution to Mexico and the New World.
Notes of sea salt illuminate the ancient trail of West African traders reaching the shores of Pre-Columbian Mexico and their contribution to indigenous civilisations including the Ocos and Olmec, alongside agava and cacao: the goods produced by black hands and painted alongside African subjects in social portraits of Mexican racial castes in the C18th.
Blue Agave and Cocoa are both harvested in December; Agave in Mexico, Cocoa across the African Continent and Diaspora.
Pre-Columbian civilisations forecast that a major cosmic shift would occur on 21st December 2012.
The Maya of Mexico believed that the rise of the Sun on this day would mark the first time in 26,000 years that it would be in conjunction with the intersection of the Milky Way at the Galactic Centre upon its ecliptic path.
The alignment formed a cosmic cross which the Maya interpreted as the Tree of Life which is a sacred concept and archetype across global spiritual cultures.
In the years that have passed since the end of the debut Olfactory Voyage, I am inclined to agree with the Pre-Columbians.
The cosmic cleansing process they foresaw raising vibration and ushering in new energy worldwide does appear to have occurred and with it has come great inspiration and opportunities for many more Olfactory Voyages to be charted and launched..
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