Thursday 1 August 2019

ANCIENT LAND and RING O' ROSES by Claira Carnell

Perfume is something that we take for granted in our modern lives but, if you do a little digging, the combining of scents and ingredients played a much more powerful part in the past. Apothecaries, herbalists, and even those practising witchcraft depended on the flora and fauna around them to produce perfumes, potions, and preparations. It was therefore with some trepidation that I ventured into the world of Screaming Mandrake Perfumes, a range of fragrances that have been created by Claira Carnell, but I quickly found myself bewitched by the simplicity and style of Ancient Land and Ring o’ Roses.

When Claira first stepped into the world of fragrance it was with the simple goal to produce perfumes that were “creative and unique.” This could be the mantra of every new company but, in the case of Screaming Mandrake Perfumes, it went a little deeper. Claira originally studied Advance Art and Design at Coombeshead College in Devon but she had an attachment to the area that couldn’t be broken. She says that growing up in the countryside gave her a connection to the spirituality of nature and was also why she chose to join a growing number of modern-day witches.

Screaming Mandrake Perfumes was launched in January 2019 and aims to create fragrances that are inspired by the earth and history. Through a combination of natural and synthetic oils, Claira Carnell has released a collection of ten scents that are both magical and contemporary at the same time. The fragrances come as 10ml rollerballs, rather than sprays, and the perfume is contained within coconut oil as opposed to the usual alcohol. You don’t need to have an interest in witchcraft to enjoy these fragrances but it does make you realise just how important, and divisive, scent was in the past.

Ancient Land was the first fragrance that Claira created and it feels like it was intended to transport you to a place of relaxation and contentment. It opens with a delicate apple blossom and tea accord before a note of crushed ivy comes through. This forest green quality teases that we’re in the chypre area but it actually stays very much in the woody arena thanks to a wonderfully dry cedarwood. This crisp elegance never leaves but, just in the background, you get the faint glimmer of a leather note that definitely helps to ground the scent.

Ring o’ Roses is inspired by the various flowers and herbs that would have been contained within the doctors’ masks during the Black Death. It opens boldly with the pairing of a rose accord and an animalic jasmine before notes of orange blossom and rosemary come into the mix. This fragrance has a richness but, thanks to the impression of lilac, also retains a much needed buoyancy. The development brings out notes of labdanum and vanilla but, just in the background, there also seems to be an intriguing blend of powdery heliotrope and leather. It really does smell as wonderfully evocative as it sounds.

Ancient Land and Ring o’ Roses are available from the Screaming Mandrake Perfumes website at priced at £10 for 10ml. [Samples provided by Claira Carnell]

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