Saturday, 20 February 2010

Strange and beautiful

I am one of those people for whom olfactory memories are hugely sentimental. The smell of nutmeg takes me back to the comfort of Saturdays at my nan's house, watching the football results and eating an egg custard tart. Creosote is the buzzing whine of distant lawnmowers and the drowzy heat of our back garden as my brother and I splashed in our paddling pool.

When I first read Perfume by Patrick Suskind, I was overwhelmed by it. I wanted to read and re-read it, to sink myself into its pages. I was drawn to the hideous, murderous Jean-Baptiste Grenouille because his search for the perfect fragrance was so pure, the descriptions so evocative. I loved the idea of having his amazing sense of smell and the skill to create such riot-causingly delicious scents.

Some people will say their favourite smell is cut grass or baking bread, fresh coffee or the top of a baby's head. I like all of those but my favourite smells are rich, loamy earth, rain on hot rocks, wet plaster and the damp sediment of a cave. I cannot get enough of them, they have such a depth and freshness to me.
I used to love Lush's Waylander Rhassoul Mud soap (originally called Middle Earth Turns to Rock) but it was discontinued. The soap contained mud and pumice stone and was fragranced with earthy patchouli. It smelled glorious and one bar unwrapped in the bathroom would fragrance most of the house. I recently discovered it is available again online from Lush Retro so I stocked up.

My quest to find earthy body products received a massive boost when I discovered the wonderful London Makeup Girl blog . Whilst devouring the archives, I read a post about an American line called Villainess and specifically a body product called a Grundy Smooch. When London Makeup Girl described it as smelling like 'moss and fresh earth' and that if you like Demeter's Dirt perfume then you'd love Grundy, I was sold.

The Villainess products have great packaging and all the fragrances seem to be a little bit unusual. Grundy is described as
Swamp moss and fresh-turned earth with a ruthless heart of vetiver, and a distinguished splash of bay rum.
All the fragrances come in an array of products - typically a Smooch (sugar and oil body scrub), Whipped (lightweight body cream) and soap. The Grundy Smooch really does smell of fresh earth and moss, it has a nice scrubby texture which dissolves on massage against wet skin. The oil in the scrub helps moisturise the skn and helps the fragrance linger.

I have bought smooches in a couple of other fragrances, but have yet to try them.

The Grundy soap lasts well and has prompted me to purchase several other soaps from the Villainess range, including Asphyxiate - 'rich and resinous, accented with shreds of earthy patchouli, and sharp sandalwood' and Crushed - 'crushed black raspberry against dark chocolate and serrated sandalwood'. I'm looking forward to working my way through all of them.

Villainess also do a product called Smack which is a foaming body scrub for use in the bath. The product (pictured left) consists of four layers of different fragrances which combine to create a recipe. I have a banana split Smack which includes layers of chocolate mousse, berry patch, tropical fruit and vanilla bean. It's a little sweet for my tastes, though the texture and effectiveness of the product is very good. I've just received a new Smack called Envy which includes a layer called Unearthed which basically smells of wet dirt. Far more my cup of tea.

Villainess is stocked in the UK by Posh Brats which is where I've purchased all mine from. I can recommed Posh Brats as delivery is quick, packaging is good and free soap samples are often included. Posh Brats also sells its own products as well as soaps by Arcana which also look fab. If you like slightly unusual smelling body products, I'd definitely recommend you check it out. Reading the Villainess fragrance descriptions is entertainment in itself.

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