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Foxglove - An armful of wildflowers and herbs

A while ago, a friend gave me her bottle of Foxglove, a woody floral from the D. S. & Durga HYLNDS collection. She knew I already own two scents from the 2014 collection (sadly now discontinued) and she thought that her bottle of Foxglove would get much more love from me than it had been getting from her. Judging by the dust on the box, the love had definitely not been flowing, so her instincts were right. With Foxglove and me, it was instant love.

There’s a simple reason for this. David Moltz, the self-taught nose of Brooklyn-based independent perfume brand D.S. and Durga, is a superb story-teller and one of my favourite perfumers. He says on their site that the core of his aromatic vision includes… “off-notes, unexpected combinations and novel constructions…perfume has the ability to conjure unseen worlds…a world you can return to over and over – a keyhole into another realm. Perfume is armchair travel”, he says. Basically, his words express my own perfume philosophy. Stick a perfume bottle under my nose that fuels my olfactory pleasure zones, and watch me take off into an out-of-body experience. Time travel is a real phenomenon.

David’s stories conjure a lost world – see Gwen’s post about Mississippi Medicine. After reading William Butler Yeat’s Wanderings of Oisin, a poem about the Irish warrior poet, David was hooked on Celtic and Norse mythology. So off he went to visit Scotland and Ireland to experience the land himself, to climb in the highlands, walk moors and glens, to stand in ancient sites and absorb the grandeur and raw scents of the living landscapes. The result was the 2014 HYLNDS Collection, four non-gendered “atmospheric” scents, each one connecting the story of a myth with its Celtic landscape.

Spirit of the Glen captures Speyside in the north-east Scottish Highlands. The rocks, the flowers, the moss, the earth, the rain, the mist, the mountains, the rivers, all wrapped inside the distinctive aroma of The Glenlivet single malt whiskey, because one is made from the other. Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake is set in Northern Ireland, on a fog-shrouded mountain in Armagh, the land of Oisin the Warrior. The perfume is a study in solitude, it creates the extraordinary sensation of being in the presence of something much greater than yourself, of being connected to a landscape and part of a vast continuum.

Foxglove was also inspired by the story of Oisin (pronounced Oh-sheen), the warrior poet. The foxglove respresents his fairy lover Niamh (Nieve), who lures him from the real world to live with her in Tir Na Noq, a land of perpetual youth. After three years with Niamh, actually three hundred years, Oisin is homesick, and returns to Ireland to visit his people, where he immediately dies of old age. Niamh truly loves him, so comes to watch over him forever, in the form of a solitary tall foxglove in lonely vigil by his grave.

Foxglove bursts open with lemony citron up top, zesty peel and juice, layered over vegetal carroty Queen Anne’s Lace, and the soft spiced woodiness of rosewood. The sensation is cool and damp, clean and crisp, with a vague medicinal quality that soon sweetens slightly and becomes deliciously inviting, like a just-picked armful of wildflowers and herbs. The vegetal carrot note becomes a powdery ethereal iris as Foxglove dries into the heart, then segues into a subtly narcotic feminine floral accord with the warm heady notes of champaca absolute and neroli.

The base is magical. Leather, soft sueded supple leather layered with the toasted velvety waft of immortelle is strangely seductive, moving the scent into a more masculine vibe, and when these two notes merge with animalic ambergris and the sweet fuzzy warmth of peach skin, the effect is deeply sensual and totally disarming. The spirit of the warrior poet and his fairy lover are united, I feel the power of their myth, I am there in the Irish landscape, smelling the damp scented air, the woods and flowers, feeling the mist on my face, and the ancient earth under my feet. 

Foxglove is sophisticated and very original. It has a vintage quality that I didn’t expect, but which is astoundingly beautiful. Foxglove is the fifth and last fragrance in the HYLNDS collection, and I think it’s the very best.

Foxglove is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml. 

Image - Wikipedia - Foxglove flower and bee by Sylvia Wetzel, 15 Jun 2013