In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
- Ezra Pound -
I imagine the author "scences" in each face
A fragrance all its own,
A beautiful signature
Content to stand alone.
Sweet strawberries from the girl with the long blonde hair Vanilla from her mother, with face so fair
Musk from the man in the sharp tailored suit
Vetiver from his friend standing astute
Rose from the woman with the silvery hair
Maple from the cook selling his wares
Mint from the man with the bright red nose
Lily from the lady, ready in a pose.
Stirred together in their rush, a rainbow palette on
These hallmarks marry, lift up, support,
Like a bouquet, they rise up
To more than the sum of their parts
A glimpse of heaven?
A symphony …
A harmony of hearts.
Virtue and Valor
One morning in 2003, Rachel Jones awoke from a dream, inspired by biblical women and thinking of perfume. Before long, she set out to develop the company that would become Virtue and Valor. She started by "mapping the fragrance" she had in mind, choosing top, middle, and bottom notes, then selecting the perfect etched-crystal bottle reminiscent of an arched Persian dome. Of the process that brought Virtuessence of Esther to life, she says:
"Since I am a perfectionist and felt no rush, I took my sweet time, which is why it wasn't released until early 2007. (That and I ran into every thinkable roadblock of the process, and, the demands of my family can leave little time for other pursuits)."
What resulted from this four-year development is a single perfume "inspired by the integrity, strength, and beauty of Queen Esther." In composing the formula, Rachel was particularly sensitive to the imagined court of "Ancient Persia with the flower gardens, sweet incense, and rich oils." I heard about this intriguing perfume concept first on the Sniffapalooza forum and then on Perfume of Life and, reading her website, came to admire her spirit and her dedication to this singular vision. The story of Esther was one of my favorites as a child, and during long church services, I frequently re-read the ten short chapters of her story while my mind wandered through the flowered, perfumed halls of King Ahasuerus's court.
A subdued, elegant floriental, Virtuessence of Esther is subtle yet distinctive with a warm opening in which no one note clamors for attention. The blend is superbly balanced, and as the dry oil sinks into the skin, the oriental base of woody amber, spice, and comforting vanilla begin to appear. This is not a fragrance that most other people will know you are wearing; there is no sillage to speak of. It is as discreet and lovely as its namesake, and is perfect for the wearer who normally doesn't wear perfume or who finds the marketing of many contemporary perfumes to be distasteful. It's a fragrance that I particularly enjoy on evenings when I've seen and heard too much and simply want to return to myself for a while. It is available in an absolutely gorgeous etched crystal flacon, as well as in 5- and 10-ml sizes suitable for traveling.
Rachel guides her creations with a single-minded purpose: "We are motivated by the virtuous women of the Bible and want the women of today to see themselves in them as they triumphantly faced their fears, endured their hardships with valor, walked in the strength of God, and embodied virtue." Scents inspired by Ruth, Hannah, and Sarah are all in development. But no matter what short-term successes or hardships she might face on the way to fulfilling this dream, she says that the "most important result of it all for me is to have taught my girls to follow their dreams, tough out the hard times, and live with no regrets of an inspiration unfulfilled."
A vial of her beautiful, courageous Virtuessence of Esther will be included in our extraordinary giveaway on March 31, but all who are interested may to request a free sample (pay only shipping) through her lovely site.
Photo of Rachel Jones provided by the artist and used with permission.
Comments are encouraged! Please read the initial post in this series for the details on our extraordinary giveaway which will take place on March 31.