Sunday, February 18, 2007

Better-Know-A-Niche Perfumery: elizabethW

Golden Gate Bridge
I am noticing an interesting trend in the world of niche perfumery. While once concentrated in French and British locales, there are an increasing number of top-notch niche perfumeries arising in the USA. Many of these are located on the West coast, particularly in California and Oregon.

elizabethW Magnolia Eau de Parfum
One such perfumery is elizabethW, located in San Francisco, California. Founder Albert E. Wightman was deeply influenced by his dynamic and free-spirited great-grandmother, Elizabeth, for whom the line is named. He was also influenced by the scent of fresh flowers and herbs he found on Elizabeth's western ranch during his youth. With his background in architecture, Albert applied his appreciation for careful design to the creation of his perfume line. This aesthetic is reflected in the clean lines and modern packaging of his fragrance, skin care, and home fragrance products.

The elizabethW collections are, in Albert's words,
clean, simple, sophisticated, elegant, and totally original. They reflect an emphasis on quality and beauty, valuable lessons passed down through the generations from Elizabeth Wightman, my great grandmother.

The Eau de Parfum collection consists of 10 fragrances, each built around a dominant note. While each stands on its own, the fragrances readily lend themselves to layering in order to create one's own unique blend.

Here are the fragrances, in alphabetical order:

CITRUS VERVAIN: Refreshing, embracing, awakening. Extracts of star ruby grapefruit, mandarin, and lime peel entwine with lemon scented verbena leaves.

LAVENDER: Herbal, meditative, soothing. Dominant lavender notes blend with other herbaceous and woody tones in this distinctly harmonious scent.

LEAVES: Fresh, evocative, clean. A soft, woody base of Atlas cedar and sandalwood balance amber with green, leafy top notes.

LILAC: Romantic, fresh, intensely floral. A single note from boughs of spring-time lilacs brightened with subtle hints of jasmine, neroli, and freesia.

MAGNOLIA: Soft, feminine, sensual. White magnolia petals deepened with saffron and sandalwood, mingle with mimosa and gardenia.

NEROLI CHAMOMILE: Nurturing, tranquil, softly soothing. A floral bouquet of neroli, ylang ylang and iris extracts, enlivened by the rich balsamic, freshly herbal notes and wild roses enhanced with hawthorn.

ROSE: Irresistible, passionate, sophisticated. Moist green notes and wild roses enhanced with hawthorn.

SWEET TEA: Gracious, spirited, elegant. Enticing oriental black teas, juicy fresh Amalfi lemons, and the sweetness of almond honey.

TUBEROSE: Lasting floral, compelling, a classic bouquet. A richly sweet, heady aroma, accented by gardenia, jasmine, amber, and orange flower.

VETIVER: Earthy, woody, confident. An original creation of heavy vetiver, balanced with light, citrus tones and green tints of bergamot from peels of nearly ripe fruit.

I find the entire collection to be light, beautiful and easily wearable. My top three picks are Magnolia, a luscious white floral (think: daytime garden party); Tuberose, a rich, classic floral (think: puttin' on the Ritz!); and Sweet Tea, a warm, tea-scented fragrance with a little kick of lemon (think: laid-back Saturday afternoon). I like that that this collection has a wide range of scents, from leafy green Leaves to light citrus Citrus Vervain to full-on floral Rose so that there is bound to be something for everyone.

The line is available in select boutiques and online at the elizabethW website.

Full-size 2-oz. Eau de Parfum spray: $35; Travel-size 1/2-oz. Eau de Parfum spray: $20.
Golden Gate Bridge image source: daniel steger at
perfume image source: elizabethW


Madelyn E said...

Dear Chris,
Beautiful photo. I ususally associate Europe , particularly France with niche scents.

New American collections are a welcome addition !

christine said...

Hi Madelyn E,

I agree!