Painting is one of the greatest ways to confront, express, and release your inner most struggles. At least that was the case with me in my teen years. The canvas was my battlefield. Fear, anger, grief, guilt, despair, hope, love… Every single canvas was filled with multitudes of emotions that were buried deep behind my quiet and withdrawn demeanour. I wasn’t good at showing my emotions in front of other people including my own family. For me, painting was the only way I could freely express myself.
I encountered Frida Kahlo’s paintings when I was fourteen; it was an eye-opener for me. I found their mesmerising colours and bold and esoteric imageries were weirdly in unison with my inner states. Many people are disturbed by some of her gruesome expressions but, for fourteen-year-old me, they were like embodiments of my own inner world, depicted skilfully in ways that I couldn’t bring out. Frida seemed to have known all the agonising emotions and what lies beneath. She and her work became an epitome of strength in my dark world. So when I heard about the new fragrance created by Shelley Waddington, En Voyage Perfumes, I was so curious and a little bit apprehensive to say the least.
I first tried Frida in the hottest summer month and, to tell the truth, it didn’t go well. I sampled it in the over 40 degree Celsius heat and I was immediately hit by the overripe watermelon and I couldn’t fully enjoy my sampling experience, even though I appreciated the juicy greenness peeking through it. I put the sample vial away in the “Try Again” box and decided to test in the cooler season.
A few months have passed and sitting in front of the fire has become my nightly pleasure, I finally decided to take the sample of Frida out again. Interestingly, the perishing watermelon was no more. Instead, what I smelled first was fresh dragon fruits rather than watermelons. Isn’t it funny how the climate conditions change the perspective of the same perfume so drastically?
There is something very corporeal aspect in Frida. Initially it feels like a bright fragrance with juicy fruits and lush greens, but underneath the shimmering veil, there exists something physical and dangerous and it is slightly unnerving. As the top notes settle, something wild appears out into the otherwise peaceful garden. It steps out into the open; you can feel the warmth of its body, and you become aware of its body exuding the musky – and slightly sour – smell. Is it a beast or a person? Faint smooth tuberose suggests that it might be a woman but I cannot determine it. It is wounded and tired, yet valiant. After 2-3 hours, Frida reaches the dry down stage; through the remnants of sweeter notes, smoke starts rising gently. The final phase of Frida stays close to the skin and remains for some more hours. In an air of peace and a sense of silent acceptance, in the end, the being bends its knees, gently lie down on the ground and exhale its last breath.
Frida is an enigmatic perfume. What I find fascinating about the perfume Frida is that the story it tells trough its transition. The feminine side and the masculine side of Frida Kahlo, the pleasure and the pain in her physical existence, her love, her anger, and ultimately the emotional and physical relief in death… Frida’s life was ladened with two extremes, and I cannot help thinking that she perhaps knew these two polar opposite aspects were the same essence expressed in differing degree. I don’t know whether this was the perfumer Shelley Waddington‘s intension but she certainly captured the life of Frida Kahlo and artistically created her superlative biography in a bottle.
Frida was launched in 2015.
Nose: Shelley Waddington
Notes according to the En Voyage Perfumes Website:
Top Notes: The fruits of Frida’s Garden including Apricots, Watermelon, Peaches, Lemons, and Lush Greenery
Middle Notes: Tuberose, Hibiscus, Cactus Flower, Champaca, Ylang Ylang, Gardenia, and Jasmine
Base Notes: Light Woods, Sugar, Oak moss, Aldehydes; Myrrh, Frankincense, and Copal; Tobacco, Green Pepper, Sexual Animalic Notes, Musk, Amber
It is available in 15ml ($75) and 30ml ($95) Eau de Parfum. Sample ($6) is also available from En Voyage Perfumes.
Read what others are saying about Frida.
The Candy Perfume Boy, Perfume Polytechnic, Olfactoria’s Travels, The Scented Hound, CaFleureBon, Megan In Sainte Maxime, The Sounds of Scent, Colognoisseur, Fragrance Daily
Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I received from En Voyage Perfumes.
I also tried this perfume when it was hot… and with the similar result. I should probably try it again now.
As a child I liked to draw/paint but I’d never been good at it so in my adult life I stopped even trying (if not to count a couple of silk scarves and Christmas decorations I did – but it’s mostly craft not creation). The more I admire those people like you or Asali, who can envision things and present them in an interesting and unusual way (great illustration, BTW!)
Frida’s work leave me completely cold but I know that many people admire it so I assume that either their aesthetics are different than mine or they see something I cannot.
Thank you, Undina! 😉 I don’t think I would be able to hang Frida’s painting on the walls now but when I was dwelling in the dark, I was certainly attracted to her work a lot. I’m not drawn to them like I used to, although I still appreciate them. 😉
I’d love to see the scarves you painted! Do you still have them?
You can see one here – I used it in the post about iris perfumes.
Undina, that iris scarf is gorgeous! Love it! Silk painting is one of those things I’ve been thinking about trying. 🙂
Great take on Frida. Weather conditions can make a huge difference.
I enjoyed how you expressed the opposite extremes in the perfume which were also evident in the woman. It reminded me of her painting, The Two Fridas.
What a fantastic illustration!
Thank you, Tara! Perfumes certainly behave so differently depending on the weather conditions. I sometimes wonder about those perfumes I hated in the past… If I try them again in different environments, I might like them better. The problem is that I don’t want to increase entries on my “want list”. 😉
Wonderful review, I love how you connect it to your own experiences painting 😊
Thank you, Melita! I guess I’m a sort of person who needs some kinds of inspiration or emotional connections to write about stuff. 😀 Awkward, in other word!
As always, I love your illustration!
Ohhh, thank you!! 🙂 One of the reasons I started this blog was that I wanted to get back into drawing/painting again. In daily life, I completely lost touch with my creative side for a long time. Now I have an excuse!
Great review and love the picture – you and Asali are so talented! I was also not drawn to this perfume in the summer because of the (to my nose) fiercely vegetal opening. Another trial is indicated maybe. You certainly have had a bit of an epiphany with Frida now, and been able to appreciate how the development follows the twists and turns of her challenging life and work.
Thank you, Venessa. 🙂 I think Frida the perfume is also a challenging one like painful paintings of Frida Kahlo. I must admit, going back to the memories of teenage years wasn’t exactly a pleasant one since I believe I’m not that girl any more. Even though I decided to go through the Frida experience, I don’t think this is a perfume that I can wear…
Hi and thanks for the link. I know this perfume is probably quite challenging up front but I loved it even in the hot weather but temperatures can make all the difference in one’s appreciation or lack of it! Lovely picture too.
Hi thanks for popping in! Temperature, climate, environment, all give totally different experience to a perfume, don’t they? I really need to revisit some of the perfumes I initially put out of the way.:)