Vespertina is a concept perfume inspired by the story and album created by artists Greg Spalenka and Michelle Barnes about a fictional 14th century mystic.
The two began their musical collaboration during the eighties while living and working in New York City as professional illustrators, aligning their creative juices by fusing their passions for both art and music. Together they laid out their premise and after a six year gestation period birthed the CD, complete with a 24 page color booklet of their art. Later the CD was picked up by Celsius Records and sold at Tower Records.
Greg and Michelle had asked me to create a scent, or series of scents, for the CD several years back, but, the timing was never quite right. Then, while Greg and I were in London in 2005, we came across a poster of the painting “Vespertina Quies” by Edward Burne-Jones, posted above. It was this painting that inspired Michelle to title the CD, “The Visions of Vespertina.” The introspective looking young maiden stands on a balcony of what might be a convent, looking out as she gently touches a ring on her finger. Thus, the painting informed their original story for the CD.
I have lived with the music and story of Vespertina since meeting Greg in 1999, facilitating him with story points as he continues to morph the initial story concept into a graphic novel and eventually a film. My knowledge of medicinal herbs, alchemy and mystics has been quite useful.
The first ingredient I choose to lay down the foundation of the fragrance with rose, since the energetics of the flower aligned well with Vespertina’s devotional nature and her feminine qualities. As I contemplated the importance of the heart in this perfume, I choose to create a rich floral triad, spun of the luxurious rose by adding jasmine and a white lotus attar from India. Continuing to contemplate the evolution of the story I choose to recline this floral chord on a bed of ancient resinous wood.
For the heroines visionary and mystic attributes I choose precious essences that have been associated with heightened consciousness, such as frankincense, and a very special vintage, sandalwood distilled from an old growth tree found in the forest of Mysore, India.
Since this epic tale has a backstory of her romance with a handsome young knight named Dante, I added co-distilled essences and attars, these aromatics brings in the concept of a marriage of two separate parts.
The composition has been woven like an intimate seduction, images of a golden Byzantine crown come to mind with the rubies, emeralds and opals replaced by precious essences distilled from the deserts of Arabia and lush ancient forests.
The original formula contained over twenty individual, plant essences which vary slightly with each edition depending on what is available at the time of the orchestration. The 2020 version contains the addition of blue lotus attar and a locally distilled essential oil of gold.
The rose, lotus, sandalwood and frankincense anchor the scent and have strong connections to the divine. Cypress was included to facilitate fixation as well as adding in the story element of the souls journey after death.
The orchestration also contains angelica for its affinity to the realm of the angels and the inner landscape. The floral triad at the heart revolves around rose for the strong presence in the story as well as the aroma therapeutic associations with the heart and healing. The top notes include zests and herbs relating to Vespertina’s upbringing in a fourteenth century English convent and a bit of spice for her ancestral roots.
Vespertina as a fragrance has a progressive evolution moving from resin, wood and spice into a floral heart. The dry down varies depending on skin chemistry. In some cases the vestiges of the evolution remain a floral hum, while on others the scent transcends into incense with wood or a wood and leather.
It was at the San Diego Comic Convention in 2007 where this perfume was debuted. I had the pleasure of witnessing, with complete fascination, the aromatic scope of this fragrance and its molecular disbursement on varying skin types, which was a perfect pairing with Vespertina's adventure from the earthly plane to the astral and back again. I highly recommend taking a scent journey while listening to the music. Divina at the Fragrance Bouquet Blog states this about the liquid version of the fragrance:"Meaning “Evening”, Vespertina™ is a glorious, floral scent with rich veins of spice. Its construction is absolutely marvelous, with top notes that you’ll want to chase after like fleeting dreams, floral heart notes so deep they make you feel like you can get lost in their nuances forever, and spicy, woody base notes that linger comfortingly on the skin until the skin’s own beauty shines through."
"The red rose whispers of passion
and the white rose breathes of love
O, the red rose is a falcon
and the white rose is a dove
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
with a flush on it's petal tips
for the love that is purest and sweetest
has a kiss of desire on its lips"
Vespertina was created as a solid, liquid and eau de parfum atomizer, although they are made in editions which tend to sell out and return like the ebb and flow of Lunar tides.
SOLID PERFUME OPTIONS
ROUND COMPACT: (pictured above) There is approximately 8 grams of natural perfume by weight within the replaceable tin contained in the embossed round case. 1-5/8 inches x 1/2 inch deep. The compact is available in different finishes and is stored in a burgundy, handmade crochet pouch. The item is then placed within an adorned purple box, ready as a gift to oneself or someone you cherish and appreciate. The heirloom, limited edition pouch was designed specifically for Vespertina with a gothic design along the top edge.
MINI COMPACT & LOCKET: The mini compacts and lockets measure 42mm tall (just over an inch and a half) by 33mm wide (1 1/4 inches) and the inside recessed circle for the solid perfume pan measures 23mm. The small tray that fits within the case contains at least 1.5 grams (by weight) of solid perfume which will supply about 30 applications of the fragrance. 1 gram is equal to .036 ounces. The cases are available in a variety of finishes as well as with stones. The compact arrives in a small pouch within a box with four informational cards.
OVAL COMPACT: The pan within the case contains approximately 9 grams of natural solid perfume by weight. The oval compact measures 2-5/8" X 1-5/8" X 1/2" deep. The case is placed in a simple velveteen pouch or can be ordered with the limited edition crochet pouch. The item is placed into a decorated purple gift box with informational cards
ROUND BEE TIN: Our bee tins are a simple round tin filled with solid perfume with a honey bee wax seal on the top. There is approximately 8.7 grams, over 0.3 ounces, of the solid perfume by weight in the round tin which measures 1 and 3/8" x 1/2". The tin is placed into a velvet pouch, arriving within a box including three informational cards.
Each solid perfume is poured into a separate pan that fits inside the finished metal compact. This insures lasting performance of this pure, natural, botanical perfume and the option to replace with a fresh tin when all used up.
All parts of the compact are made in he USA by a small family business who take pride in craftsmanship with vintage molds going back to the 1940's.
All lockets and compacts are lead, nickel, and cadmium free.
LIQUID PERFUME OPTIONS
Vespertina as a liquid perfume extract and an eau de parfum (EdP) share the same construction as the solid, the difference is that the liquid and EdP are suspended in 190 proof, organic grape alcohol and contains special tinctures.
Vespertina Quies painting by Edward Burne Jones, Tate Gallery, London.
Photos by Roxana Villa
"I've tried several of Roxana's perfumes and when I tried a sample of Vespertina, I knew I had to have a full size order. Gorgeous, layered and warm floral scent in a portable, elegant compact. Perfectly indulgent, beautifully packaged. I will definitely be back for more." ~ N. Vance, Vespertina Mini Compact
"As with all perfumes made by the divine Ms. Villa, this making of this fragrance harms none yet has bewitched almost everyone that I’ve let close enough to enjoy it. Vespertina has a quiet energy , created in the monastic image of the heroine who has inspired it, yet is a very seductive fragrance that is completely full of all of the forbidden nuances and subtle inuendos that can’t help but inspire a deep hunger filed with equal parts desire and passion. Wear it at your own risk and enjoy the results. If falling that deeply in love with yourself isn’t worth it, nothing is..........." ~ excerpt of a review by Beth at Perfume Smellin' Things
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