Getting to know a 100% natural aromatics line of fragrances can often be tricky. Most of us are acquainted with the notoriously uplifting quality of that first fssst of fragrance, which lands a hundred effervescent sparkles onto our skin, latching onto it for dear life, yet quickly dying like snow melting on wet tarmac. It’s a short lived experience, but one worth living for; one which is capable to make a dedicated perfume lover out of the casual consumer. It’s mood altering and shape shifting, true magic.
So, how could a line working with a palette of only natural materials, like April Aromatics, devoid of the fancy aldehydes, the luminous Helional, the trusty airy Hedione, and all those difficult to pronounce molecules of analytical chemistry, manage to ignite that frisson of excitement that only the choicest opuses of the best perfumers create? The clarity, the luminous quality, the fresh-as-tomorrow sparkle are all there in April Aromatics, like the first day of spring and beyond, and we have been hooked ever since our first sniff.
Tanja Bochnig, founder and leading force behind April Aromatics, is a natural perfumer, who, spurred by the all naturals movement of the 2000s set out to create her artisan line that would not only smell excellent, but also make you feel good, from the inside out. In 2008 Bochnig relocated in Berlin, Germany, taking the journey of aroma-making with her. "Each perfume is a journey in itself. The energy and intention that go into the creation is most important for us to complete a beautiful bouquet", Tanja says. One whiff of Unter den Linden (Under the Linden Trees), with its garland of very sweet, bitter and fresh tonalities at once, is enough to convince even the most sceptical among us that natural perfumery has made huge strides beyond the aromatherapy blends, which tend to smell like insect repellent. It is the eternal young Puck, playing his pipe for all the forest to hear. The note of magnolia and hesperides make the linden take on life, metamorphose into a summer vision in front of our eyes.
The process of creation in that genre can be a challenge, as the purest ingredients are almost always prohibitively expensive as well. Tuberose absolute, for example, will run you $175 (€127) for just 5 ml in the market for aroma materials. But smelling April Aromatics’ perfumes, you’re convinced that the cost is completely justified. The care with which the materials and sourcing are treated is one of the prominent qualities in April Aromatics, as not only are the best plant extracts selected according to their properties, but no animal derived essences are used either, due to the ethical problems those present. Although ambergris or civet, traditionally found floating in the ocean or extracted from the civet cats respectively, do not require killing the animal in question, their continuous use means sustaining an industry which preys upon the maltreatment of fauna nevertheless. The only animal-derived ingredient in April Aromatics is thus beeswax, a precious absolute which comes from the honeycomb, left by the industrious bees when the latter is extracted from the hive in apiculture.
Calling All Angels, an incense-y amber fragrance of seemingly lead-like weight, due to the bottom heavy pyramid of construction, never fails to put a smile on our faces. The synergy of the ingredients, and the artistry of the perfumer seem to make them refract into a hundred different facets like in a kaleidoscope. It makes us sense an imaginary pomander on top, that Christmas tradition of oranges and mandarins pierced with cloves; the smoky woody garland of holy smoke rising on the ether; and the honeyed effect of honeycomb recalling mystical proceedings of modern acolytes, waxy pews and polished wood. The effect is nothing short of subliminal, a prayer in scent form. No wonder the fragrance was the winner of the prestigious Art & Olfaction Awards 2014 (in the Artisanal category).
Berlin, where Tanja is currently based, after her stint in New York city, has become a Mecca for artists and musicians from all over the world, expanding into the perfect place to be in this new century to nurture artisan products that rely on new sensibilities. Therefore, April Aromatics were inspired to utilise another special touch, which is unusual for fragrance. Harnessing the beneficial elements of precious and semi-precious gems, Bochnig affords energy and harmony to the wearer. This holistic approach is the brand’s trademark.
You can find, for instance, Herkimer diamond dust and citrine in the composition of Ray of Light, a literal name, if there ever were one, in which the qualities of joy, confidence, and self-awareness pour forth from the intensely radiant medley of citrus (lime, pink grapefruit, orange, bergamot, and lemon) with earthy vetiver and smooth tobacco.
Perfect for the coming warm season, Liquid Dreams is one of her freshest yet, with the nectarous, bright and uplifting qualities of citrus fruits fanning the floral elements of green narcissus, decadent and heady, and osmanthus, a Chinese blossom with a delicate apricot tinge. This lyrical composition is so poetic and romantic, that it could serve as the perfect wedding scent.
For rose lovers, Bochnig catered with two exceptional specimens, which took our fancy the minute we put them on the skin, drop by precious drop: Rose L’Orange and Rosenlust (i.e. Lust for Rose).
Rose L’Orange feels like a tonic to take you through the day, with the delicious freshness of neroli, a distillate from the bitter orange tree, alongside orange blossom, therefore uplifting the rose otto from Turkey, creating a radiant alloy with vanilla and the French cultivar of Centifolia Rose; this latter has a more crystalline quality about it, slightly greener, with shades of a vegetal nature, as opposed to the headier and more narcotic bloom of the Damascena rose cultivated in Bulgaria. Optimism in a bottle, and then some!
Rosenlust on the other hand is better suited to a slow evening dance of seduction, as it serves as the marriage of several different rose extracts, the best sum of “the Queen of Flowers indeed. With otto from Turkey, absolute from India, Brasilian rosewater, and rose oil from England it’s completive. What makes it especially feminine is the delicate, dry touch of orris and ambrette seed, reminiscent of the starchy aroma of cosmetic powder. The formula also contains Herkimer diamond dust, and crystals, to enhance the healing properties of the rose, which acts as an aphrodisiac on the sensual parts of the brain.
For those seeking an earthier, more traditionally “natural” blend, then look no further than Agartha and Vetiver Coeur.
Capturing a serene moment sipping a herbal infusion by the ledge of the window, Agartha serves as a vision of calm, with its fruity note folding around the oud heart, tempering patchouli and labdanum lending them a grounding, anchoring quality that is rock solid and earthy like Mother Earth.
Last but not least Vetiver Coeur has entranced our male companions with its softer rendition of the “fragrance of the soil” which is vetiver oil. A superior grade of Haitian vetiver, smooth, velvety, cooling and beautifully earthy, with its smoky quality caressed by orange flower absolute and a touch of almondy tonka bean, this is the fragrance for the strong and silent type when in need of some calming and balance. The refracting crystals on the bottom of the yellowish-green liquid are a joy to hold on and to gaze, taking the slim and compact bottle upside down, holding it in our palm, playing with it…
All fragrances are based on organic alcohol, or organic jojoba oil in what concerns Tanja’s oils, and all packagings are recyclable.
"I strongly believe that people can feel the love and energy I give into my perfumes—may it be conscious or unconscious. Adding chemical ingredients into natural essences is like putting MSG on your organic food. Trust in the power of nature. That‘s all we need”, she adds.
That’s all we need, indeed. Calming, clarifying, and revitalising. This is April Aromatics for you, and we’re charmed.
© 2020 Helg - LKNU Parfumerie
Listen to our interview with Tanja Bochnig on Episode 5 of our Smell Tales podcast below.