Back in June, I wondered whether we'd see any independent perfumers responding to the events of 2020 through their fragrance work. Yes, as it turns out: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has been creating a series of fragrance "sketches" inspired by her home surroundings (see my review of Hot Masala), and now Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery has released Luminous Lemurs. Laurie writes, "COVID-19 has made it even more clear to me that the purpose of my work is to help animals and indigenous communities," and Luminous Lemurs is a tribute to these endangered creatures and their human neighbors.
I'm a longtime fan of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Black Cat, Honey and Moonlight, so I would have been curious about Luminous Lemurs if I hadn't known that it's being launched for a good cause. Laurie is donating portion of its profits to Centre ValBio, a Madagascar-based organization working to save lemurs through research and conservation. (From the Centre ValBio website: "Centre ValBio works to protect Madagascar’s unique and biologically diverse ecosystems through conservation science and projects that directly benefit the local people, including rural health care delivery.")
Just in case you were wondering: Luminous Lemurs wasn't designed to smell like an actual lemur, and does not include any animal ingredients! Instead, its starting point was ylang ylang oil from the lemur's native Madagascar, complimented by vintage sandalwood and vanilla essences (obtained before over-harvesting was a threat) as well as blood orange, cinnamon, clove, carnation and nutmeg. This perfume's "luminosity" owes a lot to the blood orange note, which I detected even before I read the full description for this fragrance: it's juicy and tart-sweet and it threads its way throughout the fragrance's evolving spice and wood notes as well. The cinnamon and nutmeg are subtle enough so that I don't end up thinking about holiday potpourri, and the citrus also encourages the ylang ylang to reveal its fruity aspect, rather than its indolic or custard-y facets. Luminous Lemurs' dry down is cheerful and cozy, a gentle amber skin-scent with hints of vanilla.
Luminous Lemurs, like all Velvet & Sweet Pea fragrances, is made entirely of botanical ingredients. On my skin, it has average sillage and staying power for an all-natural perfume, so that I'm ready to re-spritz by mid-day.
One last fun (and appropriate) fact about these fascinating animals, shared by Laurie Stern: "Did you know that male ring-tail lemurs attract their mates with a scent gland on their wrists that exudes a lovely, fruity floral smell?" That scent reportedly evokes cucumber, coriander, and pear more than ylang ylang, blood orange, and sandalwood, but the idea is a perfect footnote to this fragrance.
Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Luminous Lemurs is available as 4 ($48) ml, 15 ($110) ml or 30 ($195) ml Eau de Parfum and as 3 ($46) ml and 5 ($64) ml solid perfume. It can be found at the Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery website.