A few years ago, I went to an exhibition of paintings by iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo at Tate Modern, London. I have long admired the woman as much as her art.
Kahlo trod her own path, overcoming childhood polio and a horrific bus accident to live life in a truly uncompromising and passionate way. Her sheer determination and refusal to let potential limitations hold her back, is endlessly inspiring to me.
Even when confined to her bed, she managed to transform great suffering into great art. Kahlo is testament to the healing power of creativity; she once said “I am not sick. I am broken. But I am happy as long as I can paint.”
Artisanal perfumer Shelley Waddington seems to feel the same way about her:
“Although her body was wrecked by pain; Frida was fearless, feminine and revolutionary; cross dressed, smoked cigars and has been a part of pop culture for over 50 years. A world-travelled sophisticate who had love affairs with both men and women, Frida remained happiest at Casa Azul, her traditional family home.”
Frida Eau de Parfum has the following structure:
Top notes: Fruits, herbs and leaves of Frida’s garden. Agave, Green pepper
Heart notes: Tuberose, Hibiscus, Cactus flower
Base notes: Light woods, Sugar, Oakmoss, Aldehydes, Myrrh, Frankincense and Copal, Tobacco Accord, Sexual animalic notes, Musk, Amber
The beginning of Frida is so vivid I’m immediately reminded of one of Kahlo’s many self-portraits where she is depicted in vibrant colours with a back-drop of lush tropical plants.
We are transported to a surreal version of Frida’s garden in Mexico where we find a tangle of giant cacti and mammoth plants surrounded by dripping foliage. The scorching sun beats down so all that greenery is hot and pungent. The scent of refreshingly cool and juicy watermelon cuts through the intense humidity.
The presence of hibiscus represents the flowers in Frida’s hair, but tuberose makes up the heart of the fragrance. The natural absolute used here is very sensual; fruity, fleshy and intoxicating. Shelley uses it with great effect to pay homage to Kahlo’s ravaged body.
The base is soft woods, light resins and a faint trace of smoke from one of Frida’s cigars. There’s also a dash of sugar syrup along with the lingering warm breath of tuberose. Frida stops short of coming across as animalic.
It has a nice amount of sillage and lasts fantastically well. The high percentage of natural materials used is very evident and gives the composition a striking sense of vitality.
Frida is a celebration of the woman, the artist and her Mexican heritage as well as her incredible endurance and love of nature. It is a fitting and evocative representation of a highly courageous and unconventional woman.
Do you know any of the fragrances by En Voyage Perfumes? Do you admire Frida Kahlo?