By Kim Taylor

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Anyone familiar with the enchanting and subtle aroma M. perfumes already knows that this geisha-inspired line is the olfactory version of a masterpiece gallery – or a field of cherry blossom trees in full bloom. The artist behind these artistically-crafted, complex perfume creations, Maria McElroy, is a fine-arts painter as well as an aromatherapist, flower arranging and tea ceremony expert, Japanese harpist, shiatsu masseuse and global trekker.

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After receiving an MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art institute, Maria traveled to Australia where she became a certified aromatherapist with the Queensland Institute of Natural Science. Then she moved on to Japan to study Kodo, the ancient art of fragrance and Japanese incense. She spent seven years steeped in the Japanese culture, and met her Tokyo-born husband there as well, artist and co-founder Shinya Yokota. He designs the line’s gorgeous packaging and graphic design, and travels far and wide for aromatic inspiration in Turkey, South Asia and the Middle East.

This quality parfum line has attracted an impressive roster of celebrity fans, including Michelle Yeoh, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Parker Posey, Robin Wright Penn, Roseanne and Patricia Arquette and Kyra Sedgewick. The line includes Geisha O-cha, Geisha Nobara-cha, and Geisha Hana-cha, as well as Geisha Noire, Rouge, Pink, Blue, Blanche, Violette and Green. Each fragrance is unique and lovely in its own right, like so many paintings arow in the Louvre. Perfumes are offered in roll-on bottles decorated with handmade Yuzen paper or in bottles decorated with vintage silk kimono prints.

Green has metrosexual appeal and its key aroma is absinthe, a dazzling green, tart, licorice-flavored liqueur mixed with violet, tonka bean, amber, black current and mandarin. This is one of aromaM’s most popular fragrances.

Rouge is a spicy concoction of cinnamon, star of anise, clove,, sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla and tonka bean. Reminiscent of traditional Japanese incense, this fragrance imparts great vitality for both genders.

Pink is rife with sugared plum, tangy orange and vanilla. It’s girly and it’s great; so charming and delicate, not cloying or too sweet at all.

Blue is the favorite of New Yorkers, perhaps because it’s calming. Imbued with blue chamomile, green tea, leafy greens and jasmine, it’s ideal for night or day.

Noire is dramatic and memorable, perfect for big occasions. Exotic bazaar spice aromas intermingle with amber and sweet tonka bean.

Blanche is a lovely white-flower bouquet, suitable for everything from weddings to work, and is comprised of jasmine, hyacinth and lychee. My personal favorite is Violette, flavored with the scent of dark chocolate and spices, and truly addictive.

O-cha, or green tea, is another one of aromaM’s most popular fragrances and is based on the scent of tea. Hana-cha is flower tea, and nobara-cha is wild rose tea.

You absolutely cannot go wrong with any of these fragrances in this exquisite perfume line. They’re available at as well as and Bergdorf Goodman stores; or call 1-877-284-2412.

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Originally published April 2006
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