I made many perfume industry acquaintances in my time at Fragrantica, some of whom I have come to consider good friends, even though we may never have met in person. Perfumer Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery is one of those people, and we have kept in touch over the years, even after I retired from my post on the site. Laurie reached out to me a few weeks ago to let me know she had a new perfume she wanted to share, and her timing could not have been more perfect, as I had just lunched this blog only two weeks prior, completely unbeknownst to her. Luckier still, her newest release–Luminous Lemurs–was going to be available in both solid and liquid format!
Like me, Laurie is an animal lover, with a special fondness for cats. The Purrfumery (get it?) was named after two of her beloved pet cats and their images are immortalized in the brand’s logo and packaging. Laurie currently has multiple cats as well as rescue pigeons, and also tends her own beehives, from which she harvests the wax for her solid perfumes. Charitable causes that benefit animals are also near and dear to her heart. Luminous Lemurs is the latest in a number of perfumes over the years that were inspired by animals and created with a charitable cause in mind.
A portion of the proceeds from sales of Luminous Lemurs will benefit Centre ValBio, an organization founded in 2003 by Dr. Patricia Wright, to help both indigenous people and the international community better understand the value of conservation in Madagascar and around the world. Madagascar’s unique ecosystem is worth preserving for many reasons, not the least of which are its marvelous gifts to the world of perfumery in the form of ylang-ylang, clove and vanilla (no coincidence that these are notes used in Luminous Lemurs). Madagascar is also the only native habitat for many animals, including more than 100 species of lemurs, many of which are now threatened or critically endangered. Laurie shares a fun fact about lemurs on the perfume’s listing: “Did you know that male ring-tail lemurs attract their mates by exuding a fruity floral smell from scent glands from their wrists?” The sweet-smelling, bright-eyed lemur is a very appropriate mascot for this incredible fragrance that celebrates the beauty of Madagascar and calls attention to the importance of its preservation.
Velvet and Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery Luminous Lemurs Solid Perfume Review
Size: available in 3 ml, 5ml and 10 ml quantities as a solid.
Packaging: depending on the size, the packaging is a plastic star-shaped compact with paper labeling and screw-top lid, a sterling silver opal-esque jewel box or a sterling silver compact. Smaller compacts arrive in a beautifully decorated velvet pouch. The sterling silver opal-esque jewel boxes are housed in an ornate, specially decorated box. All compacts, bags and boxes are reusable/zero waste. Each perfume also comes with a printed illustration card on heavy cardstock. The cards are recyclable but honestly, they’re pretty enough to frame and display, not unlike a vintage Valentine card, or they make nice bookmarks.
Base: organic jojoba oil, with the Purrfumery’s own beeswax.
Vegan-friendly: No, due to the beeswax, but Luminous Lemurs is also available in a vegan-friendly liquid parfum, made in a base of 10 year old tinctured vanilla bean organic grain and grape alcohol.
Color and Texture: a deep golden color, firm but melting easily under fingertips to become the perfect spreadable texture. (Once again, the magic of beeswax…)
Natural perfume or mixed media: all perfumes from Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery are 100% natural. The Purrfumery is also Leaping Bunny certified, cruelty-free and not tested on animals.
Fragrance description and notes: from the Purrfumery’s Luminous Lemurs page: “Inspired by the lush forests of Madagascar and the delightfully sociable lemurs who inhabit them, Luminous Lemurs opens with a rush of blood orange and Madagascar ylang-ylang – a double delight of rich, floral fruitiness. The scent evolves over time, revealing spicy, narcotic carnation at its heart and hints of antique nutmeg and clove, drying down to a sublime, soft bed of sandalwood and vanilla.
Notes: Blood orange, Madagascar ylang-ylang essential oil and concrete, Egyptian carnation, antique clove bud, nutmeg & cinnamon, 20 year old sandalwood, 20 year old Madagascar vanilla.”
Laurie comments further, “All of the sandalwood and vanilla that I use was purchased nearly 20 years ago. I have not purchased any more since then as these species have become threatened, and in some cases endangered, because of overharvesting according to Red List Project.”
Longevity: Good for a natural/solid, around 4 hours. Faint vanilla and sandalwood were still present around the 5 hour mark.
Sillage: intimate at a few inches above skin; becomes a skin scent after a couple hours.
The experience: Velvet & Sweet Pea’s creations are some of the best perfumes I have sniffed, natural or otherwise. If you love floral notes in particular, Laurie’s fragrances are a must-try. You’ll never be able to look at a commercial fragrance’s rose, jasmine or orange blossom notes in the same way after you try one of the Purrfumery‘s florals.
It’s no surprise, then, that Luminous Lemurs thrilled me the moment I opened the compact. Ylang-ylang is a wonderfully complex and versatile fragrance on its own, by turns a banana bubblegum, a narcotic floral and a medicinal root-beer, and it’s just one instrument in the symphony of this perfume. The sweeter overtones are bolstered by blood orange in the opening, but the spices and carnation (which itself has spicy aspects) in the heart soon tease out the subtle licorice and wintergreen aromas that hide beneath ylang-ylang’s candied surface. The fragrance evolves from floral gourmand to spicy floral-amber as the orange burns away, warmed always by the powerful combination of vanilla (think of the pods, not cake frosting) and sunny sandalwood. It’s a rich, layered aroma that both my husband and I have enjoyed wearing.
In the solid format in particular, Luminous Lemurs offers a deeply sensual experience, from the stroke of a fingertip across the velvety golden surface to the satisfying swipe of moisturizing scent across the skin. The beeswax base of the solid imparts an additional gentle honey tone to the fragrant medley. I also received a sample of the liquid version and it’s lovely, too, but with a slightly different effect on my skin, as the spices emerge sooner and linger a little longer. If the notes look interesting to you, it’s worth sampling in both formats, and the layering of the two presents another fragrance possibility.
Where to buy: available exclusively on the Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery website.
Additional notes: Tearing into a package from Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery is like opening a treasure box. Laurie is so kind and generous and wants to make sure you have a wonderful experience, whether you bought a small sample pack or one of her high-end limited editions in deluxe packaging. Right now, she’s including with all orders a gift of Soothe, a relaxation aromatherapy blend featuring French lavender, Cape chamomile and blood orange–something we can all use in these stressful times. Everything is always beautifully (and sustainably) packaged, with gorgeous artwork, deeply saturated colors, sensuous textures and a cheerful Victorian vibe that will charm even the most minimalist modern sensibilities. Your cats will love it, too!
Disclosure: I received Luminous Lemurs as a personal gift from perfumer Laurie Stern. All opinions are my own.
Image of purple lemur on green ribbons and box: courtesy of Velvet & Sweet Pea’s Purrfumery. All other photographs by me.