Roxana Villa is the founder of Illuminated Perfume, practising aromatherapist and award winning visual artist hailing from Southern California. With an emphasis on utilizing natural ingredients, Roxana creates rich botantical fragrances that encompass both the romance and traditional craft of perfumery. Devoid of any synthetic ingredients, Roxana strives to concoct unique scents that express her passion and reverence for the earth and all the beauty that lies within it.
Price: (Sample Sizes) - The 0.5 gram solid perfume samples are listed at $8.00 USD. Liquid samples are encased in one gram glass vials and are available for $25.00 USD.
The solid perfume samples come packaged in a pink screw top pot with Roxana’s signature, color coded beeswax seal adorning the lid. The liquid samples are stored in small glass vials with a black screw top lids and accompanying label. The one thing that really caught my attention about the Illuminated Perfume’s aesthetic was the attention to detail. Roxana puts a lot of time and care into presenting her product in the most delicate and beautiful way possible. The use of descriptive cards detailing each scent and the romantic, vintage illustrations that accompanied my package really pulled me into Roxana’s sacred creative space. It was an intimate touch that allowed me to delve into her world and gave the perfumes their own sense of narrative and identity.
Fig. 1 NOIR
Notes: Musk, patchouli, green vetiver, Mysore sandalwood, orris, valerian, buchu leaf, black cumin, green cognac and davana.
Fig. 1 NOIR is best described as an earthy patchouli blend laced with a bitter sweet, musky undertone. When you first open the vial the scent can appear quite overwhelming, but once it settles on the skin it unveils the intricate, underlying notes quite harmoniously. In my experience, Fig. 1 Noir smells even more intoxicating after about a half an hour of wear. I like that it begins to form a sweet yet murky wood like aroma that offers continuous surprises as time goes on. It’s neither overbearing, nor does it smell like any traditional perfume I’ve tried. It’s quite simply, an enigmatic scent that seems to meld with my body chemistry quite perfectly.
Notes: Jasmine, jatamansi, spikenard, vanilla, nutmeg and ginger.
Chiaroscuro is a gentle breath of jasmine that seems to whisper its way across the skin. It’s ultra feminine, soft and romantic. I like to think of it as a lush, yet innocent aroma with just a hint of warmth and spice. As it wears, it provides a powdery resonance that is reminiscent of Victorian floral scents.
Notes: Resins, wood, peach leaves, flowers, oak moss, vanilla and jasmine.
Hedera Helix is Roxana’s ode to ivy. The scent conjures up images of a stone wall clad with ivy, a dense ancient forest or an overgrown English garden. I particularly swooned over this fragrance as soon as I put my nose to the lid. I usually prefer warm and smokey scents but this whimsical, chypre musk bewitched me from the very start. The mossy base and hints of floral notes seem to weave into one another seamlessly and lend an invigorating yet peaceful feel.
Notes: Sweet tobacco, tonka bean, resin, wood and vanilla.
Aumbre is a smooth and spicy scent infused with an array of sensual incense notes. It offers a warm and exotic embrace on first contact, beckoning images of fall, the slow burn of firewood and effortlessly evolves into a seductively smokey finish. I often burn incense to help me relax and this perfume perfectly embodies that experience by presenting both a sweet and smouldering scent that seems to hum on the skin with continued wear.
Notes: California white sage, frankincense, precious wood and oud.
Chaparral has a very strong herbaceous scent with a bold undercurrent of incense. It reminds me of great expanses of woodland, roaring camp fires wrapped within a dense canopy of frankincense and sage. I think Chaparral could be considered a unisex scent as it doesn’t boast an overly sweet pervasion. I like to think of it as an energizing, outdoorsy scent that seems to conjure strong imagery of the romance and adventure of the Old West.
Notes: Vanilla, resins, wood, spice, mimosa, sweet clover absolute and beeswax ( infused with honey comb from local hives.)
To Bee is a harmonious mixture of honey, amber and leather. It was created as Roxana’s ode to the ‘winged alchemist’ and is inspired by the natural smell of beehives. My first initial impression of this scent carried a wave of honey drenched spices that quickly evolved into a soft, symphony of leather musk at its core. It has this beautiful powdery honey scent that peaks through after some wear, making it appealing for those that prefer a sensual day scent as well as a more daring, night time fragrance. I love the consistent depth found within this fragrance as the sweet honey and rich, earthy spices seem to meld together quite gracefully.
Notes: Rose, lotus, frankincense, Mysore sandalwood and citrus.
Vespertina is a citrus blend interspersed with floral and sharp, earthy spices. The woody base notes linger on the skin with slightly bitter top notes present a confusing sensory experience, given the intense herbal characteristics and peppery finish. This is certainly not a scent for the faint of heart. The spicy, pepper aroma is quite prevalent, with the floral notes barely seeping through to balance the harsher herbal tones. As time passes, it becomes a bit softer with fragments of ylang ylang and jasmine peaking through the surface. This is certainly a scent that I found difficult to connect with at first, but slowly I began to understand and appreciate its complexity the more I let it mingle with my skin and body chemistry.
Notes: Oak leaves, resin, amber, citrus, wood, vanilla and labdanum.
Inspired by the Coastal Oaks in California, “Q” is nothing short of enchanting. It’s best described as a woody chypre with a hint of smokey amber at its core. It’s an interesting contrast since it combines the fresh, crisp scent of greenery with the added depth of incense. This could also be worn as a unisex scent and finds a surprising balance between the richly exotic base and the uplifting vitality of the oak top notes. I like to think of “Q” as a the dark sister scent to Hedera Helix. It’s a bit more mysterious for those of you that want a diverse fragrance that is still grounded in a natural, woody base.
My Favorite Scents
I have to admit that each and every scent has captured me in some way or another. They all provide such a unique narrative and mood in their own right and surely this can be attributed to the passion and integrity possessed by Roxana. Despite the fragrances having their individual merits, my stand-out favorites are Fig. 1 NOIR (How appropriate!) Hedera Helix, Aumbre, Chaparral, Too Bee and “Q”. I know this is nearly all of them, but it was almost impossible to narrow it down. I see a patten emerging here, Scully. They’re all musky, wood scents with underlying, incense notes! I know, how predictable of me. Even still, Hedera Helix surprised me as it’s quite a bit more wood like than most of the scents I tend to wear. I’m glad I found it though, because it is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine!
Where To Buy: If you’re interested in any of these scents you can find all of the products mentioned above and more by visiting Roxana’s Etsy shop.