After a blessedly long sleep that refreshed the senses and washed away some of the strains of the classroom and the repressions of office politics this week, I woke up this morning to a piping hot cup of Earl Grey tea and a new package of perfume vials from London. Maya Njie is a Swedish independent perfumer and designer of West African heritage who lives, and has her own studio on the Isle Of Dogs on the Eastern Thames: the collection, released in 2016, consists of five fragrances. Concise; delicately mellow, with what she describes as ‘nostalgic, addictive trails’, I particularly like Tropica.
It is not easy to combine pineapple and coconut in the same perfume without it becoming tacky. Here, in probably the best example of a tropical fruit perfume I have come across, an opening accord of fresh piña colada, deliciously fresh and photorealistic, needn’t overstay its welcome: the perfumer sensibly withdraws the luscious tropicalia gradually and lets the scent cede almost imperceptibly to a warm, but gentle, iris, Mediterranean fig and light sandalwood/cedarwood accord; an unanticipated further fruit element of rhubarb – often used in Swedish cakes – that is is energizing and relaxing simultaneously (all of the scents – also comprising Tobak, Les Fleurs – read as ‘casual wear’ to me; mood boosters with aura).
Another very traditionally Swedish component used in the range – essential as an ingredient in Scandinavian confectionary, in hefty and noticeable proportions, is cardamom oil, which graces the beginnings of both Vanilj and Nordic Cedar, two perfumes that are described as being closely related: the former the more gourmand (‘the less feral, slightly sweeter and more softly spoken sibling’). I like the forthright, less sugared Nordic Cedar more, a warmly woody scent that opens with a healthy spiced rush of cardamom and cinnamon, before softening down to a very skin-centric snuggling ambergris, cedarwood and musk scent that is unobtrusive, sensual; pleasing up close.