Someone once remarked that there are only two state names that function as adjectives when combined with the word “girl”: California and Jersey. The US may produce 50 states worth of women but for all intents and purposes only California and Jersey contain immediately recognizable types of them.
Jersey is not the chic one. Unfortunately. I should know, I live here, but California is an entirely different matter. We all want to be California girls, or all have at some point in our lives. California is not only a style but more importantly, a life style, an atmosphere, and when you are in the business of bottling atmospheres, possessing an enviable one becomes important.
Sage Machado has built a business around her own personal version of that lifestyle. She is not only a perfumer but also a jeweler who likes to work with found materials and with stones in polished but uncut states. The results are beautiful but have a worn lived in quality that fits the natural elegance of California. There is something easy and almost nonchalant about the look. Her choices of stone even have curative qualities, she’s been known to create jewels to help heal broken hearts after break ups and divorces.
Sage also produces perfumes and perfume oils, she’s been doing this for quite some time, has a acquired a celebrity following over the years, and the scents are all named for different stones: garnet, onyx, pearl, and recently diamond.
Oils are an interesting subset of the perfume world. They are inherently just a bit softer than alcohol perfumes. They don’t have the lift or the diffusion of alcohol scents, don’t have the hard edge or the sparkle, but then again, also don’t have the harshness. Oils can have a soft glimmer that is part of their attraction. They’re skin scents.
Sage sent me three out of her line of fragrances, Garnet, which is a woody musk set with sandalwood, Onyx is a coconut fragrance studded with tobacco, and finally Diamond which is a light musky woody fragrance shimmering with sandalwood.
They were all easy to wear and had down that California’s girl’s trick of mixing the precious with the everyday, putting the two together so unselfconsciously that the results are effortlessly chic.
The cheerful warmth of Garnet makes it an ideal daytime scent and the perfume radiates some of the richness and color of garnet together with a sunny quality which reminds you of perfect summer days. The notes include watermelon, black currents, gardenia, musk and rose. What emerged for me was a smell that replicated a very fruity neroli, which is fine with me because I happen to like neroli very much. This is a playful fragrance, light hearted, though I did not catch much gardenia in it unfortunately.
Onyx is a surprising perfume, partially because you don’t think of combining coconut with tobacco, but the results are not at all the heavy or clunky. Instead Onyx is almost the ideal perfume for Fall. The tobacco is also remarkably subtle, there is no point in Onyx where the fragrance becomes heavy handed and surprisingly coconut and tobacco make very good partners.
If anything it improves over time being the opposite of the usual front loaded department store scent. Onyx is a soft but dark fragrance, and my favorite of the three. Not surprisingly Onyx turns out to be the cult perfume of the line.
Finally there is Diamond. This is a floral, but the scent is more abstract and after a slightly acqueous note, it becomes more and more woody the wood in question being a sandalwood and then musk.
Like Onyx, Diamond improves distinctly over time, the second half of the perfume is definitely the highlight. But Diamond is the sort of diamond that Sage herself might select for a piece of jewelry: rounded, uncut, tumbled possibly, with a shimmer, and a glow but no sparkle. The diamonds we’re talking about are ones that could be worn in daylight to walk the beach, barefoot. These are diamonds worn without ceremony or pretense, to show off as Sage puts it the beauty of the wearer. They’re California diamonds after all. On Monday there’s a brief interview with Sage, to let us in on her thoughts about her perfumes.
The artwork is Donna Schuster’s from the early decades of the twentieth century.
The bottom line: Cult favorite is Onyx, Sage’s favorite is Pearl, and predictably I liked Onyx too!