Roxana Villa Illuminated Perfumer

“Survey Select” is more than an art exhibition. It is an art salon, a historic happening featuring many artisans who create films, music, interiors, written archives and surprisingly, perfumes. Yes, a feminine, yet therapeutic “welcome” into a creative space that overwhelms your sense of sight, sound and smell. And if you were present during the July 15 private opening your sense of taste was well-treated, as well.
Roxana Villa is an imaginative painter and illuminated perfumer who created a signature perfume for “Survey Select.” Read on and discover Roxana’s approach to her illuminated perfumes, a pleasant change of pace to the otherwise visual overload typically covered within this blog.
Mm : Since you have a creative background as a painter, how has that helped you create your illuminated perfume line?

RV : As a painter I harness inspiration that has presented itself to me, mold it into shapes and forms through the process of conceptualization and guide its existence. I approach the formulation of a perfume in the same manner, albeit the tools are different, but the creative steps and intention remains the same. My colors are influenced by nature. The canvas becomes the bodies of individuals who adorn the illuminated fragrance upon their skin.
Mm : What is the narrative or story telling that you reveal in your illuminated perfume line?
My line of perfumes are derived from nature, a tradition that goes back to antiquity — fragrances were created by hand, in small batches and the plant materials used were like precious gem stones As a painter the story I was most interested in telling is the interconnection between humans and the plant kingdom. This story is vital and clarifies the authentic nature of my illuminated perfumes.

Each essence is a single note in my aromatic palette. Each botanical perfume is unique in it’s evolution as the fragrance transpires slowly, revealing a sequence of rhythmic beats that stir the senses and evokes meaningful memories.
Mm : What makes your perfumes and botanical essences “illuminated?”

The word illuminated has two meanings, the first relating to the illuminated manuscripts of the 13th through 15th centuries. Illuminated manuscripts were extraordinary—labored with several steps: beginning with text, preparation of the raw materials and to the final step of painting the figurines. Botanical perfumes follow a similar path: planning, preparing and blending all components to achieve an alchemical elixir. Manuscript artists drafted their works on vellum or parchment, made from sheep or goat and illuminated perfumes are affixed to the skin.

The second association is creating a deep awareness to the lost art of botanical perfume and the irreplaceable beauty of Mother Nature. Sadly, almost every perfume in the marketplace is formulated from synthetic aroma chemicals. Alternatively, I am presenting an option on an illuminated path, where perfume is hand made with raw materials known to herbalists and aromatherapists. Or as I like to say, “Derived from Nature, for Nature—restoring our own Essential Nature.”
Ezra Pound by Graeme Mitchell Photography

Mm : Tell us a little bit about your approach to creating a perfume for the “Survey Select” exhibition:
When I was invited to participate in Survey Select I recalled a composition reaching back to March 2008 when I participated in a challenge by poet Heather Ettlinger. Heather invited fourteen perfumers to interpret the Ezra Pound poem titled “In the Station of a Metro.” At the time the perfume was theoretical, although I had begun a few sketches in the form of accords. For “Survey Select” I have resurrected the formula and made several alterations.

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
— Ezra Pound—

The new perfume and image, (created by my husband Greg Spalenka), is entitled “Gracing the Dawn,” referring to three nature sprites which have descended on a branch of a tree. The sprites have arrived to ignite the Spring and bring light into the dark.

Orchestration of the fragrance begins with deep dark base notes featuring vetiver (essential oil obtained from the root of an Indian grass). The heart of the perfume is composed of sweet woods harmonized with rich, yet delicate floral notes (representing the triad of sprites). For the dawn, revealing luminous deities—citrus and spice notes.

Experience Roxana Villa’s new fragrance at “Survey Select” now and until September 5 at 1400 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101.

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