Like many cities around the world, here in Western Australia, our social identity is defined by many diverse cultures. Our colonial heritage, mixed with the influx of southern european immigrants in the early 20th century, and our proximity to south east Asia has resulted in a state with abounding ethnic diversity. Living in a modern city, however, it is sometimes easy to forget the indigenous tribes that live and have flourished here for millennia. The Noongar people are an ancient aboriginal group who live in urbanised towns in the south west of Western Australia, and are the spiritual custodians of the land. In recent years, there has been considerable interest in re-focusing on Noongar culture and Noongar visual arts... a 'reawakening' of our indigenous cultural heritage.
Nomad Two Worlds is a company founded by fashion photographer Russel James, that serves to elevate public understanding and respect for the world's indigenous and marginalised cultures through art and commercial product collaborations. These cooperations are intended to cast light on indigenous craftsmanship, and assist in creating economic opportunities for their communities. In 2012, Nomad Two Worlds conjured the concept of "meaningful luxury" and developed the first of several socially-conscious perfumes that offer indigenous enlightenment. Raw Spirit - Fire Tree is a limited edition perfume oil using materials sourced from Western Australia, and whose key component of fire tree oil has been held in high regard by the Noongar people, much in the same way Oud is revered in the East.
Fire tree, aka Grass tree or Balga (Xanthorrhoea preissi) is native to Western Australia, and has been used by aboriginal people primarily for the resin it produces when exposed to fire or extreme heat. The resin is very tacky and is used chiefly as glue. It was harvested by early European settlers to make varnishes and lacquers, and the nectar-rich flowers were gathered to sweeten and scent water. But beyond the physical, Fire tree is an ancient symbol of rebirth. When the oil is worn as a fragrance, it is believed in aboriginal lore to possesses the unique ability to amplify the wearer's energy and attract like minds.
Fire tree oil has a very unique and complex odour profile, and it's one that is a little difficult to describe. It is somewhat saccharine and almost floral to start off with... but rich, sappy, honeyed resin notes shift forward in this constantly revolving carousel of accords. There is a slightly smokey, woody aspect which dances between dryness and dampness, and an almost urinous (think: castoreum) quality that is deeply sensuous. A 'clean-sweat' tangy bitterness feels almost leather-like and proffers a musky, animalic facet.
In perfume legend, oud oil and fire tree oil both share a certain DNA... both are regarded by their own cultures as a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical, the earthbound and the esoteric. Both have complex, multi-faceted aromas, and both can be somewhat polarising/challenging to an untrained nose.
Luca Turin has commented "In terms of natural ingredients, I find the Australian Fire Tree amazing - it's practically a perfume in itself".
Fire Tree is a genderless perfume and is the first of several that Nomad Two Worlds plan to release through its fragrance partnership with World Senses and Atlas South Sea Pearl in 2013.
It is presented as a 7.5ml roll-on parfum and retails for $95.
It is available exclusively through:
Atlas Pearls and Perfume - Bayview Tce in Claremont, Perth (+618 9284 4249), and
ABC Carpet & Home - 888 Broadway in New York (+1 212 473 3000).
See also: www.rawspirit.com.au
A portion of sales will be reinvested into Noongar community initiatives.