Thursday 22 August 2019

ALPH by the House of Purple Rose

One of the great joys in life is disappearing into a good book. The words on the page are offered freely from the writer to the reader but it is in your own mind that the people and places are given their landmarks and features. They become personal to you and that’s one of the reasons why a film or television adaptation is always met with mixed reviews. When Samuel Taylor Coleridge first published Kubla Khan in 1816 he could never have dreamed that it would still be in print over two hundred years later, and certainly never imagined that it would also be possible to experience a journey down its famous Alph river.

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea.” These first five lines of Coleridge’s epic poem surely sit alongside the opening of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice as two of the most quoted pieces of English literature. This mythical river that runs through the poem conjures up the power and force of the natural world and it’s this that has been captured so beautifully in Alph by the House of Purple Rose. From crashing water to cathedral-like caverns, it’s time to discover this “miracle of rare device.”

When Anne Onwusowulu originally founded the House of Purple Rose back in 2016 it was with the goal of releasing natural skincare products that, whilst suitable for all women, were specifically aimed at women of colour. She had discovered through her own experience that there wasn’t a product that addressed all of her particular concerns and so, with this in mind, decided that she needed to create it herself. Anne’s background as a cosmetic formulator and herbalist was obviously an advantage but it still took a lot of hardwork and dedication to finally release her Regenerating Gold Concentrate Serum.

The success of this led to the skincare range expanding and, at the same time, the decision was made to release a signature fragrance. Now, when a company isn’t specifically known for fragrance it can be a risky jump because the perfume needs to sum up, in scent, exactly who they are. Perhaps because of Anne’s herbalist background, Alph took on a very mythical direction and seems to celebrate the pull of earthy, cavernous resins against uplifting and explosive citrus. Anne says that Alph will transport your senses to another world,” but will Coleridge’s “damsel with a dulcimer” be waiting?

Alph opens with the immediate pairing of piercing bergamot and a rich oud note but, as soon as you lock onto this combination, you are quickly drawn off into a different direction. A wonderfully decadent unisex heart of rose and jasmine comes through the centre, seeming to crash headlong into the aroma of blood orange, and there is a definite feeling of water colliding with rock in its mineral echoes. An earthy vetiver and dry cedarwood perfectly capture the river’s journey “through wood and dale” but the final destination of cavernous leather and amber really is the “tumult” that Coleridge promised.

Alph is available from the House of Purple Rose website at priced at £60 for 50ml. [Sample provided by the company]

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