A few years ago, I spent a day in Salem, Massachusetts with my husband. Somewhere between our stops at the town's historic cemetery, a bookstore or two, and the House of the Seven Gables, we came across a small shop called Aroma Sanctum Perfumes, where I sampled a few "house blend" fragrances and purchased a bottle of perfume oil called Scarlet Letter as a souvenir of our visit.
Scarlet Letter is the creation of Akuura Kulak, the owner and resident perfumer of Aroma Sanctum. It's one of three scents in Aroma Sanctum's "Olde Salem" collection, and it includes notes of carnation, Egyptian jasmine, lily of the valley, gardenia, vanilla and musk. When I first apply it, I notice the lily of the valley note, which is a bit greenish. This note fades within a half hour of so, releasing the spicy-creamy carnation heart of the fragrance. At this point, Scarlet Letter is like a sweeter, more casual cousin to carnation classic Caron Bellodgia or more recent carnation fragrances such as Etro Dianthus, so if you love those, you'd probably enjoy Scarlet Letter; if you prefer clove-y or peppery carnations like Floris Malmaison or Lorenzo Villoresi Garofano, you might find this scent a bit tame. The far dry down is a soft, lightly musky vanilla that becomes more and more like a skin-scent as the day goes by. Scarlet Letter perfume oil has excellent staying power, lasting up to eight hours on me.
I love Scarlet Letter, although it seems a bit gentle and romantic for Hester Prynne, heroine of the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel that gives the scent its name. Now I'm wondering which fragrance Hester would choose at Aroma Sanctum. Perhaps she would wear October Moon, another "Olde Salem" scent, for energy and confidence. It's an brisk blend of orange-spice and patchouli — a true woody-herbal patchouli, not the cleaned-up version in so many mass-market fragrances — with basenotes of frankincense, amber, and oakmoss. Some of Massachuetts' other female residents might have preferred Witchfire, a smoky brew of allspice, jasmine, incense, exotic woods, and dark musk.
I've visited the Aroma Sanctum website many times since our travels to New England, and wish I could go back to Salem. In the meantime, Scarlet Letter reminds me of the beautiful autumn day we passed there. Are you spending this Halloween weekend anywhere interesting? Are you wearing a fragrance that evokes memories of past autumns?
Aroma Sanctum Scarlet Letter and October Moon are sold as perfume oil (.25 oz. for $23) and cologne (4 oz. for $18.95), and Witchfire is sold as perfume oil (.25 oz. for $35 and .50 oz. for $70), through the Aroma Sanctum website. Samples are also available.
Note: image is Map of Salem Village (1692) [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.