GreenWitch was conceived as a fragrance in 2004 when I set out to construct a traditional floral chypre perfume. The fragrance has become my best selling perfume and received the most accolades from the fragrance community including several Best of 2010 lists on perfume blogs. Gaia of The Non-Blonde says:
Here is the origin story of the making of the GreenWitch, outlined in detail.
The construction of a basic floral chypre consists of labdanum, oakmoss and patchouli in the base, a rich floral heart and citrus at the top, bergamot being the most favored. Some formulas include vetiver and sandalwood in combination with the prior mentioned trilogy. Being a huge fan of vetiver I choose to include it in my chypre base. Once the preliminary outline was complete I began a few sketches with different chypre bases to get a nice melding of oakmoss, vetiver and patchouli. Two base chords were created; one with a light use of oakmoss, the second a traditional formula which utilized copious amounts of the lusty lichen resin. As the different chypre chords melded, I created a veggie musk accord and several floral chords, one of which went very green, which I lovingly termed Fern.
The book on tape I was listening to at the time period of creating the initial formulas was “Greenwitch” by one of my favorite authors, Susan Cooper. Inspired by the story, I decided to create a green chypre using the very green floral accord, Fern, as the heart of the perfume and calling it Greenwitch. Green notes in the botanical/natural perfumers palette include primarily galbanum, in a variety of forms and violet leaf.
For the tinctures I initially decided upon kelp and onycha for the sea element of the White Lady (the goddess of the sea) and both hawthorne flower, leaves and berries for the greenwitch. I was not able to strain the special tinctures I made in time to add to the first version of greenwitch, due to a deadline.
The story of the making of the greenwitch is associated with the vernal equinox. The creation of an offering to “Tethys, the ancient ocean goddess and Queen of the Wild Magic”, also called the White Lady. There are references to the greenwitch also being termed as the bride of King Marks. After some research I am still not clear if there is an actual making of the greenwitch in Cornwall as described in the book or if it is a fictional rite
I created several versions of the fragrance. My favorite was labeled number one, however, a few friends adore version number two. The second version, which is the formula used for the perfume in the shop, is more in line with a classical Chypre fragrance.
The first edition of GreenWitch was close to the trial version but with more sea notes woven in. I think the sea elements and the evolution of the fragrance are my very favorite aspects of this perfume. I began by interpreting the basic formula from "An Introduction to Perfumery" by Tony Curtis and David G. Williams, for example instead of Musk keytone I created a Faux Musk Chord (accord) and instead of gamma-methyl ionone I used Orris Root.
From there I looked at other formulas like the one in "Perfumes of Yesterday" by David G. Williams.
I then evaluated both formulas and created a Chypre Base chord with:
- Sandalwood, Mysore
- Vetiver, Haiti
- Patchouli, Indonesia
- Oak Moss Absolute
- Labdanum Absolute
- Seaweed Absolute
- Celery Seed
- Peru Balsam
To further the "green" aspect I added a chord I call Fern, which also makes an appearance in Hedera helix and Gracing the Dawn. This chord contains 29 different plant essences including:
Once I had my chords I combined varying amounts of each and added more essential oils to deepen the fragrance.
After this synergy matured I added the tinctures and the Organic grain alcohol.The tinctures in this edition were: Kelp, Hawthorne flowers, leaves and berries.
This fragrance contains Africa stone, technically not a botanical ingredient. I used a dilution (tincture) of Africa stone absolute, Procavia capensis. Africa stone is one of those particularly odd ingredients that has made it's way into the palette of natural perfumers. It is the fossilized urine and excrement of a small African mammal called the Rock Hyrax. Before going into a perfume the substance has gone through a number of alchemic transformations. Africa stone adds an animalic quality to a natural perfume, or in this case an accord. In GreenWitch the ingredient is barely in the perfume since there is minimal amounts of the Faux Musk Accord, however, I wanted to let you all know that it is there.
Greg created an original, digital image for the illumination of GreenWitch based on details I provided for him, including the specific color hues and reading snippets from the book.
For the creation of the crochet pouch that would be used for the packaging of the flacon and cases I met with Martha to take a look at color options available to me in the thread that she works with and discuss iconic imagery that could be used for the border treatment and added elements. We end up choosing a rolling wave/sea shell pattern for the edging and a little sea shell for the liquid pouch. All these added details, along with the intricate compacts and French flacons add to the higher end cost of these versions of the fragrance.
While Martha worked on the pouch and Greg on the image I set out on finding the right wax, which ended up being a challenge to this day. Eventually I came across a beautiful, metallic sea green wax which is currently in use.
Photographs by Roxana Villa, illustration by Greg Spalenka