Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice!

Celebrating the longest night of the year with lots of Chanukah candles and burning Fete d'Hiver incense cones, and inevitably eating shortbreads that are overdosed with frankincense resin. I heard that frankincense is good against cancer. So I guess it's okay.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scent Event: Mandy Aftel at Cacao in PDX


Attention Portlanders: Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, author of the new book Fragrant will be in PDX tomorrow night, Thursday at Cacao Chocolate Shop from 5-6pm. 
They have divine chocolate from small-batch makers, and it's also the only place that sells her Chocolate Body Oil and Cacao perfume! 

Mandy will be talking about her new book, as well as serve chocolates flavoured with her Chef Essences. More details on Facebook, where you can also RSVP and invite all your chocaholic friends. There will also be a lucky draw to win a Chocolate Saffron body oil and a Cacao perfume mini.


Where:
414 SW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97205
 

When: 
Thursday, December 18th, 5-6pm. 

For additional information contact:
info@aftelier.com 

 (503) 241-0656

Labels: , , , , ,

Narkiss, Sixth Round



Here I waned to come back to the 6th mod (in round 4), in which the narcissus and coffee flower absolutes create a mysterious, dusky character. I wanted it to also be a very close replica of my first round (mods 1 & 2), in which I used essences I can't source again, or ones that have some issues (i.e.: the oakwood absolute contains a plasticizer). I looked for other woody substitutes and wanted to still create that unique, very retro warmth that is reminiscent of the great aldehydic florals of the turn of the century, yet with my own personal twist.

I ended up making full circle, as this round (AKA mod. 08) is truly a reflection of mod. 01, which I've created back in 2007). 

Base notes: Vegetal Musk Compound No. 3, Liatrix Absolute, Ambreine, Costus, Africa Stone, Pinewood

Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Coffee Flower Absolute, Orange Blossom Absolute, Orris CO2, Styrax

Top notes: Bergamot, Szechuan Pepper

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Chanukah!



Here in Vancouver the days have become frighteningly short. We are sitting in the headquarters of Ayala Moriel Parfums and savouring the growing light in front of our 2 family menorahs* and marveling at the many wonderful fragrant friendships, amazing students, some of whom also helped me achieve the impossible and get my book published!
So much generousity, creativity, and lots of support for my fragrant art in the past year. I'm very grateful, and sending you all love and light. 

Happy Chanukah to all of SmellyBlog readers who are celebrating!

* I finally bought one for my daughter, because she turned 18 this year.

Labels:

Narcissus, Fifth Round


Like I mentioned in my last Narkiss post - I realized at this point in my process that I need to pick between one of two directions, and concepts. For the fifth round, I decided to focus on the puddle and mushroom concept.

Pairing down the puddle and mushroom, pine forest and break in the clouds imagery and sensory concept, to highlight the freshness even more. In this round I used pinewood, green spikenard, angelica CO2 and pine needle absolute along with pinemoss to create that Mediterranean pine grove feel, in all the winter wetness and rainy glory.

To that I added, of course, narcissus absolute with some supporting notes of balsam poplar buds, ylang ylang and jasmine for more floral presence, but still keeping it light and green. Top notes included cabreuva, to create an illusion of rain and wetness, and orris tincture for that wet soil, roots and violets after rain effect.

Base notes: Pinewood, Green Spikenard, Angelica CO2 and Pine Needle Absolute, Pinemoss

Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Balsam Poplar Buds Absolute

Top notes: Orris Tincture, Cabreuva, Szechuan Pepper CO2, Palmarosa
Ylang Ylang Extra, Bergamot

The result totally captured my heart. Although the narcissus is not so apparent in this one, it truly portrays the scenery of Mediterranean winter in the pine forest. Puddles, pine mushrooms picking, etc. My only reservation on releasing this mod was that it's echos too much the other fresh, woody underlined fragrances that I already offer in my collection, i.e. Orcas and Bon Zai.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent



I've had the pleasure and honour to receive a media copy of Fragrant, the new book by Mandy Aftel. It is no secret that Mandy is a great writer, and diving into her book was quite a treat. Especially after months of hard work on my own book - it was like a retreat from all the editing, polishing and spell-checking...

When Mandy initially told me about the book, its premise sounded like a personality study of five essences, and how they correspond to five different appetites of the human nature. The essences are: Cinnamon, Mint, Frankincense, Ambergris and Jasmine. A companion kit was also sent to me from the publisher (which you can purchase at Aftelier.com), with a beautiful chunk of frankincense in the middle, and little vials of the other four essences. In reality, the book covers way more than just five essences, extending to spices in general in the chapter on cinnamon; other herbs in the chapter on mint (botanically speaking, many of the fragrant plants used in perfumery are in fact from the mint family - including lavender, basil, sage and the like); the chapter on frankincense talks about many other resins, wood essences and incense in general; amebrgris covers all manner of animal extracts and the myths surrounding their phenomenal magic; and the chapter on jasmine talks about the rarity and fleeting beauty of floral extracts, which are at the heart of Aftel's aesthetic philosophy.  



From the outside, the book is exceptionally beautiful, with meticulous attention to detail as would be expected from any other product that comes under Mandy's artistic direction. The dustcover is a shimmering orange-and-purple colour combination that has become the Aftelier trademark, brimming with historical illustrations from the author's personal collection of historic perfume books (as many would have expected to find after reading Essence and Alchemy), and with deckle edged pages (AKA uncut pages), which allude to a period when most things, even printed books, had a handmade component to them, namely the reader had to slice open each page, as they read along.

In Fragrant, Mandy Aftel really opens up about her creative process, aesthetics and philosophy. To me what was most surprising element of the book. I had many expectations from this book, which was greatly anticipated (Mandy told me about it being in the works about two years ago), but this by far was not anything I would have expected to find there. There is more detail than usual about the creative process, and this is also demonstrated in building subsequently more complex perfumes in the formulae provided for each chapter (another pleasant surprise - but I should have known better: all of Mandy Aftel's book include recipes, so why would this book be any exception, right? I still did not expect it, somehow). For each chapter, you'll find a collection of recipes that are themed around this chapter's theme. For each of the essences, there is a simple accord of 2-4 essences for a solid perfume, a perfume oil and a body oil recipe, and then also an alcohol-based perfume formula, which is more complex and builds upon the initial note and its companions in a more intricate, sophisticated way. There are also some intriguing edible recipes from Deana Sydney's blog, Long Past Remembered. For example, frankincense and lavender shortbread.

The book is very similar to Essence and Alchemy in its breadth and attention to detail, presented in an almost fairytale-like style. The beauty of this new book is the perspective of the author some 13 years later, which comes from both experience in teaching her craft, and running an artisan perfume business. It is delightful to see that much passion still infused into one's art after all these years.

The two books - albeit the 13 years that separate between them - beautifully complement each other, and I recommend both for anyone who cares about perfume, and also for those who are beginning to delve into the art of blending. Last but not least, the book truly highlights the value and benefit of artisan perfumery in our day and age, and anything that is handmade. And with now being the season of excessive consumerism, I think this book brings to the fore important food for thought about our relationship to the material world and how it reflects our culture, innermost desires, connections to others, and more.
  
Fragrant can be purchased via most major book stores and online, or better yet - directly from Aftelier, where you can also get the companion kit. 

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Narkiss, Fourth Round



This time I tried to illuminate the rustic, ambery, hay-like aspects of narcissus and bring to the fore the scenery of Mediterranean winter. Although relatively mild, the winter in this region is a very dramatic season: thunderstorms, hail, floods (especially in the desert). Kinda like the storm that is attacking the West Coast right now.

Just as fast as these storms appear, they also disappear. And then the mushroom pop up, the bulb flowers bloom, and nature awakens to life thanks to the power of water. The next day would be as sunny and bright as an egg yolk, and as the central cup of Narcissus tazetta.

To capture in a bottle that feeling of picking flowers after the storm, I used quite a lot of pine essences, which are a very wintery scent - pine moos, pinewood, and pine needle aboslute, with its slightly sour, off-note of crushed needles and crackling branches. The balsam poplar buds absolute accentuate the honeyed floralcy of the narcissus.

Base notes: Pinemoss, Pinewood, Spikenard (Green),  Africa Stone Tincture, Clary Sage Absolute 74%, Pine Needles Absolute, Liatrix Absolute, Musk Compound

Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Coffee Flower Absolute, Balsam Poplar Buds Absolute, Orris CO2, Orris Tincture

Top notes: Szechuan Pepper CO2, Ylang Ylang Extra (Organic), Palmarosa

The verdict: Although I really liked this version, and how the supporting florals did to the narcissus, I felt lack of clarity in the concept. I felt that I had to *either* go fully with the wintery, puddle concept; *or* go fully with the dusky, mysterious olfactory concept that I first conceived when working with the narcissus absolute in the first round.  Not both. So I had at least two more trials to go... Which I will tell you about next week.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oud Truffles



Yes, you heard it right:
Oud truffles.
As in chocolate, with oud in it, to eat and enjoy.

This is very unconventional flavour. It creates more of an aroma that enhances the chocolate.

The occasion is my book signing event: I was thinking - what would be reminiscent of old libraries, leather-bound books, something mysterious, alluring and totally out there? First I was thinking ambergris (which I've already created before for my Orcas perfume launch - with amazing result). I had a sniffing session of oud the other day with my student (who's originally from Kuwait - she's in fact, the daughter of an Arabian perfumer and oud merchant). As a result, oud was on my mind... I had a hunch that oud would create a similar effect to that of ambergris - bring the best out of the chocolate. I was right.

I've used an incredibly animalic, rich, and slightly berry-like oud (the same one that I use in my Razala perfume). The result was everything I hoped and non of the bitterness I feared that would result from adding wood oil to the already-bitter 72% dark cocoa. It blossomed into this spectacular, slightly flowery chocolate. Rich in aroma, intriguing, intense, but also very refined and not in the least overpowering. I'm going to pair it with a nice big red, spicy wine like Zinfandel or Shiraz tonight!
Please join me!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Night At The Library of Scents



Celebrate the holidays with Ayala in this last special event of 2014: Book signing at her perfume apothecary on Twelve Thirty Haro Street, Dec. 11th, 5pm-10pm. Ayala will read select passages from her new book, answer questions, let you sniff some special aromatics, and sign your copy of "Foundation of Natural Perfumery" - her new, self-published book. 

Also introducing: the new perfume, Narkiss (a haunting narcissus soliflore); and debut art exhibit by the perfumer's daughter, Tamya.  

Also planned are wintery libations and brews, old-library-scented chocolate truffles (with pure oud essence - yesss!!!), and after-hours shopping for goodies that can only be found in person.