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Two Clean Beauty Rebels, One Electric New Fragrance

Two Clean Beauty Rebels, One Electric New Fragrance

Rose-Marie Swift was never a fragrance person until she discovered the naturally derived scents of Heretic Parfum. Shortly after connecting with Heretic founder (and fellow clean beauty rebel) Douglas Little, something electric happened—and Scarlet Moon was born. Read on to learn what sparked the Savannah-inspired scent, and get a glimpse inside their chemistry. 

On The Scent, Scarlet Moon

Douglas Little: Since we don't have smell-o-vision yet we want to really do something where everyone that's reading this can kind of get an idea of what Scarlet Moon smells like. You and I both know what's in this, but I want you to use adjectives to describe how this makes you feel. Got it?

Rose-Marie: Yes!

DL: All right. Let's do it. Okay. So a little on the wrist... What are the first words that come to your mind?

RM: Happy, joyous… A little spooky!

DL: Would you say mystery?

RM: Yes, a mysterious depth. 

RM: Lightheartedness?

DL: Absolutely.

RM: There’s a bit of innocence in a way, depending how you kind of, you know, absorb that into your aura, so to speak.

DL: Absolutely. I think aura is an interesting word choice for this because for me, this is a fragrance that is ecstatic. It's this feeling of ecstatic joy that it really does have this depth to it that feels very much like it is of the aura. It has this incredible presence to it because of it being quite grounded, but with feelings of electric elation. It's so vibrant and brilliant and juicy and it's really, really wonderful. Now, would you describe it as sweet?

RM: Yeah, in a way. This is why I said there's kind of two things happening for me when I smell it. Maybe it's just on my skin, but I feel there's a depth to it that kind of just trails behind. This little bit of innocence and sweetness, like an apparition, that makes you say 'Oh my God, what is that?' and you want to smell it again, but you can't pinpoint it. 

DL: Now, we are currently sitting in your extraordinary home in Savannah, Georgia. How does Savannah, Georgia play into this fragrance?

RM: I used to come down here for my makeup jobs all the time, and I thought it was the most beautiful set I'd ever seen. One of the ways I always used to describe Savannah was hauntingly beautiful. I wanted this fragrance to be my version of ‘hauntingly beautiful’. 

Within Savannah there’s this vibrancy to the city when you smell the flowers as you're walking around, and yet there's also a spookiness from the Spanish moss that hangs off these trees, which is then coupled with the sweetness of the magnolias and jasmine and all these flowers around here.

Then all of a sudden you get these haunted looking houses while simultaneously being hit with a beautiful breeze that comes from the ocean that just cools everything down. It's almost meditative in a way, but yet there's still this eroticness that kind of oozes. That's what I wanted to capture with Scarlet Moon and I think we did it. 

DL: Yes, right on the money! Savannah, to me, is such a hypnotic place, and I think there's something about this fragrance that straddles this line between this feeling of ecstasy, this feeling of opulence, and of joy… It's got this beautiful sophistication to it. 

The Heretic Difference 

DL: My theory about fragrance is that I'm an artist at heart, and I believe that fragrance is this invisible form of art. I don't believe that there's any wrong or right way to make art.

I also believe you can make art from trash, or you can make it from 24-karat gold. I think that perfumery as a whole, whether you're doing it synthetically or you're doing it naturally, it's all about making art. I chose to work with natural perfumes, which is a very different thing. I know that they are quite polarizing, and I don't think that they are for everyone, but neither am I.

I'm not for everyone and I love that. I really wanted to make a product that was for someone that was looking for something different, that didn't necessarily want to blend in with everyone. Someone that was looking for something special, that was looking for something unique, that was looking for something that was vibrant and bright. Our fragrance does all of those things.

When people find Heretic, they're so electrified because they feel like they found something that is unique and their own signature and that they're not going to be copying, or they're not going to smell like every single other person that goes out to a nice restaurant or, you know, one of those things. I believe that's what makes our fragrances so special.

An Instant Connection

RM: Well, first of all, I'm not a perfume fan. I find perfume to be a really undesirable intrusion on my aura and on my personal space. That said, I had gone into a store here in Savannah a few times and saw your fragrances, and so I'm smelling them all and I think, wow, I like that. Another one. Well, I like that. And I just thought, okay, we've got to contact this guy. We ended up talking and hit it off like a ton of bricks.

DL: I heard your voice on the phone, and I thought, ‘this lady is awesome’. Like, I want to party with this lady. As soon as I felt that energy coming across the phone, I knew I wanted to work with you. So I took myself into a Credo and did a deep dive into RMS, swiping and feeling all the textures and colors and I was shocked. Everything felt like it was making my skin a better version of my skin.

The reason that I love working with the natural materials that we use at Heretic is because I don't believe that these natural materials cover anything up. I call them watercolors because they're sheer and they're bright and they're transparent, and I really love the fact that they layer well. They also don't disguise your own personal smell, which I think is so important that your pheromones come through. That's where I saw this collaboration explode. I just felt like, oh my gosh, these two brands make perfect sense together, because, to me, that’s the essence of the RMS philosophy as well. 

It All Started With A Spark... 

MOD: So, how do two rebels come together and start the process of creating a scent?

RM: Well, two rebels first have to click. But really, we were just the same vibration, and it didn't take long from there. 

DL: It's funny, I get asked this a lot from people what the process is like for creating a fragrance, and, you know, it's such a loaded question. The process is so dependent on the other party…. It's like dancing! You know what I mean? It's like if you have a good dance partner, it's very seamless. I've had some collaborations where I've just had to abandon the project because there was no chemistry.

I do everything in-house. So, I sit at a bench and I tinker with my oils until I find a balance. And I mean, right out of the gate shipped two fragrances, and the first pass, you were like, nope, nope, nope, maybe on this one.

RM: He sent a sample to me of Blood Orange, and I just went, never in a million years would I think of using Blood Orange or even citruses. But anyway, I thought, oh my God, it reminded me of Savannah in there in some funny way. Then I remembered you had another sample that you did that had the Japanese Hinoki. And that’s a type of sandalwood, right?

DL: It's a type of cedar.

RM: Because one of the main things that I wanted as a scent was the smell of burning wood, and so that Japanese Hinoki with the Blood Orange and all the rest of the stuff you put in, I'm like, okay, we're getting somewhere. It took me back to my vision of emulating the feeling of hauntingly beautiful. So in a way, this fragrance has that because I still think that that cedar brings it down, that smoky kind of smell to the base, just to give that haunting feeling, and then the lightness in that citrus, it really took me by surprise. 

Talking Notes...

DL: The fragrance is broken down into three categories of what they call top notes, heart notes and base notes. The reason they’re classified in that way is it's the way that the fragrance dissipates or the way that it evaporates.

Top notes are highly volatile, so they're going to be the first thing that you notice in a fragrance. And again, in our conversations, you were describing how you wanted to create this hauntingly beautiful fragrance that represented Savannah. This, to me, is the idea of love and beauty and tradition, and, for me, the top notes of this, like the way that the top notes are in a fragrance, I thought that the top notes should be the way that you and I met. 

When we came together, it was like two meteors colliding. Do you know what I mean? Like it was meant to happen. So I did the top chord on this where it's this extremely explosive top chord of Mandarin Lemon and Blood Orange to replicate that electric connection. 

But the heart of this fragrance is built around Violet Leaf, which has this very mysterious odor to it that is humid and green and smells like ferns. So I wanted that to be buried in the heart of this fragrance so that once all the sparkly top chords go away, you end up in this kind of green, lush, verdant garden that encapsulates the storytelling of this fragrance.

A Non-Gendered Approach

DL: Growing up, I was always fascinated with fragrance and my mom was an avid gardener. I remember having this curiosity about fragrance, but it was very strange to me how there was the men's fragrance counter and then there was the women's fragrance counter.

So for me, it was so important that we of course do this fragrance that is non-gendered because it's for everyone. I think if everyone's being truly honest, there's a masculine and feminine aspect in all of us and, you know, fragrance allows us to kind of drop into that space. Fragrance can allow you to feel grounded, it can allow you to feel cozy, it can make you feel sensual, it can make you feel powerful, it can make you feel alert and awake, and it can also cause you to calm down at night and go to sleep. None of that has anything to do with your gender, you know? 

 

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