Anya McCoy has been making perfume since 1991, using only natural ingredients. She is not only a perfumer, but also teaches her art as well as having her own line of scent. She is also President of the Natural Perfumer’s Guild and a fellow of the American Society of Perfumers. Based in sunny Miami, which feels like South Wales today I should imagine (we’re having a heatwave and we can’t cope!) Anya kindly sent me some samples and told me her story.
Anya was seminal in recently helping to bring a Philadelphia cologne recipe back to life. This cologne recipe ( pictured top) is 155 years old, so you can imagine the excitement of finally sniffing it after all these years, like unearthing a long lost photograph or tasting an ancient cognac.
Following the recipe exactly as it was written, and using only natural ingredients (and thus adding yet more authenticity), Anya brought the Randolph Parry 1859 cologne back to life and in doing so has produced an elegant heritage cologne that interestingly, does not smell out of place in the Twenty First century.
It was a knotty puzzle that had to be unravelled. Anya worked with historical fragrance expert Andrine Olsen, who spotted and corrected a small error which then unravelled the formula. From the recipe we can see Lemon, Bergamot, Rosemary, Cloves, Neroli, Musk and of course, alcohol.
The Randolph Parry 1859 cologne is full of herbs and citrus and smells fantastically refreshing and clean. It seems especially apt that I am testing this on what is predicted to be the hottest day of the year in Wales. There is something almost sherbet-y about his- it has an effervescence that won me over. Imagine if someone poured a gin and tonic onto your skin and the sharp lemony bubbles popped agreeably on your skin- that’s what this smells like. This could easily blend in with the best of the traditional colognes available today and if it was British it would be at home in Penhaligons for sure.
You can find out more on Anya’s blog here.
Anya also kindly sent me three other samples which I will tell you about. The samples are small but they are pure perfume and can be purchased from her website.
It was so interesting to finally smell a tincture of Ylang. I knew it was a flower with a hint of banana, but until I smelled this I didn’t realise that it has a slightly dirty tang to it, like light but unprocessed patchouli oil. Almost, but not quite indolic, Ylang Ylang in this form has more in common with heavy duty Jasmine than bananas! In fact, once it settles, it is a little like a patchouli/white flower mash up without the creaminess. Fabulous.
Described as ” An exploration of the most seductive aspects of the narcotic tuberose flower, with skin and musky notes bringing the perfume warm, soft nuances.” Enticing certainly packs a punch. This musky floral runs deep, and has a richness that almost borders on de trop, but doesn’t quite overstep the mark. If you like your tuberose rich and “narcotic” rather than perfume-counter sanitized, you are going to love Enticing. Not for the fainthearted, but unforgettable for those who dare.
Sharper and more cologne-y in style than Enticing, Light contains grapefruit, citrus, neroli, frankincense and juniper berry, making this simultaneously light and spicy. It’s a perfect summer cologne that make me want to eat it, but I don’t know why. NB Please don’t lick your arm when wearing this. The grapefruit is dominant, but not enough to drown out anything else. The juniper berry again reminds me of a refreshing gin and tonic ( I’m going to have to pour myself one at some point today- the universe is telling me so).
Stockists: To buy or try any of Anya’s Garden scents, check out the website here. There is a good sample service if you don’t want to blind buy.
Many thanks to Anya for thinking of me and sending me these lovely samples.