Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thunder and Berries

Lighthouse Park

Our evening walk in the woods turned into a little thunderstorm adventure. After many dry days and static humid air, the thunder started roaring and gotten nearer and nearer. The rain began to drop gently, tapping on a leaf here and there, and then tap-tap-tap it went on, chasing us from the forest back home and even though we ran part of the way, we got soaked to the socks.

Thunderstorms are a rare occurrence on the West Coast, and it always reminds me of home, because even though the smells are different -  there is always the excitement of the noise and the bolts of lightning. And there is still something familiar, even though the petrichor here was wrapped in luscious smells of salmon berries and blackberry leaves as we were meandering through the forest; and the wet earth mingled with the smell of white roses and the last indolic rhododendrons in the garden... And then the smell of wet pavement and concrete, wet hair and breathless warm skin of a child as we ran all the way home from the park. Strange as this may sounds, to me this smells like a prelude to a summer.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Correspondence Courses Launching Soon!

Citrus Blossom

This is a time of transition for me and my family, and so I've prepared some provisions in place for students who wish to continue studying even when my courses are on hiatus for the summer (and possibly also for the fall semester).

You can register for the correspondence courses anytime, and complete the entire 8-module program at your own pace. Studying will progress according to the self-study guide that will be sent to you upon registration, which will include:

List of raw materials that are key components for this particular genre (AKA Fragrance Family).
List of tools and equipment you will need for this module.
List of the exercises in the book, and in which order to perform them.
Additional reading materials and links to relevant suppliers.
Additional creative thinking and exercises that are not in the book, and usually take place.
Online support via email or Skype chat - offered up to 6 months from date course was purchased.
Additional sessions via phone or Skype conference are also an option - but require an additional cost (these are billed at $200/hr).
{Future component of the correspondence program (still in the making): Access to online video tutorials, and essence kit for each module}.

The first course I'll be releasing is Citrus & Cologns + Lab 101.

Citrus & Cologne Week May 4-8, 2015

In this module, you will:
  • Learn Basic Lab Procedures & Etiquette
  • Become proficient and confident with the technical aspects of perfume creation and production, including: 
  • Dilutions
  • Tincturing of fresh and dry botanical matter
  • Adding water to an eau de cologne or eau de toilette + problem solving 
  • Scale-up
  • Standardizing Formulae
  • Scale Skills (including levelling, calibration, tare, count function, zeroing, etc.)
  • Basic Smelling Skills, primarily identifying essences 
  • Learn how to follow a formula and measure it properly
  • History of alcoholic perfumes, with focus on Aqua Mirabillis and medieval times 
  • Understand the Cologne type and basic accord 
  • Understand - and be able to recognize via smell - the difference between fragrances from the “Citrus” and “Cologne” genres
  • Understand the sub-categories for the Citrus family (i.e.: Citrus Fresh, Citrus Floral, Citrus Green, Citrus Fantasy, etc.) 
  • Follow and research historic formulae for Eaux de Colognes, i.e. Florida Water, Eau d’Hungarie, Carmelite Water, etc. 
  • Understand and be able to apply basic concepts of formulation, such as top notes, fixative, etc. 
  • Basic composition skills only: add 1-2 ingredients to a given formula, without taking away from it’s existing character (meaning: staying within the genre of Eau de Cologne, Citrus, etc.)
  • Basic manipulation of formulae to make it belong to a sub-category (i.e.: Citrus Floral, Citrus Fresh, Citrus Green, Citrus Fantasy, etc.) 
The course will become available at the end of May. It is now offered at an introductory price at 50% off. In exchange for this generous offer, we ask our first correspondence students to provide feedback about this course format, and be part of making future correspondence modules a comprehensive and excellent option for students of perfumery the world over!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Girls...

Girl

Through many twists and turns two extra teeange-ish girls were brought into my life. So that brings the total female humans in the household to four. Multiply that by 100 and you can get a pretty realistic number for for the amounts of products (some scented, some not) that each of us uses for her beauty regime, fragrance included. Thank goodness there are two bathrooms in my apartment, as we all know that girls don't use them just for straightforward business but for myriad of other mysterious purposes. It makes me think of how raising children is such a risky business - they start all adorable, helpless and easy to control and by their early teens could very possibly morph into a kind of a roommate from hell.

Whenever I feel the slightest urge to complain (like, when I see a cotton swap covered in kohl, hairballs, and myriad varieties of makeup mess) - I remind myself of the days when I was living at my friend Zohar's family. She has 3 more sisters, to with her mom there were 6 ladies in the house (but only one washroom). And it makes me feel ever more thankful and appreciative of their kindness and patience with me at that rough teenaged year of my life.

Now, back to painting that olfactory picture of what's happening right now (and yet again I'm reminded of my friend's many sisters) - every morning (or whenever they decide to wake up) - you'll get a immersed in fruity shampoos, conditioners, hairsprays, deodorants, celebrity perfumes (Brittany Spears Hidden Fantasy is the "everyday" scent around here). A similar regime will take place in the evening if one of us goes out, but then there is a chance that Flowerbomb will be applied as the final touch. And then there is a mystery fragrance of roses of violets that I keep forgetting to ask one of the girls what it is... Plus Miss T takes after her mom and sprays a bedtime perfume almost every night (she hasn't fallen far off the tree). At least she does not get to wear In Control Curious because her mom stocks her up with cult scents such as "Girl Perfume", which is how she calls The Little Prince (which is a harmless, lemony eau de cologne), the classic AnaisAnais, and a designer scent and a celebrity scent I actually quite like - "Pink Bottle Perfume" (KenzoAmour) and Harajuku Lovers "Love", AKA in this household as "Mickey Mouse Perfume".

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

New Perfume: Lost Lagoon

 Inspired by a hidden garden of azaleas

Lost Lagoon

Happy May Day!
I'm excited to share with you my new perfume for spring and summer: Lost Lagoon.

Every spring, the rhododendrons awaken - first slowly, building anticipation. By early May, they simply burst with colour and aroma, some of the bushes so dense with flowers that you can't even see their leaves and branches...

These fragrant azaleas paint the edges of Lost Lagoon with myriads of flowers of tropical colours and exotic scents as versatile as the number of hybrids planted there: some are reminiscent of lily, others are like ylang ylang and some smell like cool suntan lotion. Bluebells, violets and other bulb flowers and annuals are planted among them; and magnolia, lilac and syringa contribute their luscious perfume to the already fragrant air. Freshly cut grass from the Pitch & Putt is the only reminder you're still in the Northern Hemisphere and not in the tropics...

Lost Lagoon

In case you can't experience this extravagant botanical explosion in person - don't be sad: I've bottled that scent especially for you!

Lost Lagoon is the third installation in "Perfume For A Place" series, which is inspired by my favourite places in Vancouver. This perfume will transport you to a secret lagoon surrounded by tropical flowers. Lost Lagoon is a refreshing Chypre with exotic floral notes of magnolia and ylang ylang and loaded with bergamot and green notes of rhododendron buds, violet leaf and galbanum.



Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Galbanum, Violet
Heart Notes: Rhododendron, Magnolia, Ylang Ylang
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Amber, Iris


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Absence

Absence

"C'est drôle, l'absence... Il me semble que Guy est parti depuis des années. Quand je regarde cette photo j'oublie jusqu'à son visage, et quand je pense à lui c'est cette photo que je vois. C'est tout ce qui me reste de lui.
(Absence is a funny thing. I feel like Guy left years ago. I look at this photo, and I forget what he really looks like. When I think of him, it's this photo that I see." 
- Jacques Demy's Geneviève Emery in Le Parapluie de Cherbourg

Absence leaves a negative space that at first feels like a soaring pain. The silence hurts the ears and sends shivers down the spine like creaking chalk on a blackboard; the empty seat is a constant reminder of anticipation for something that cannot be. Every bit of the routine when that person used to participate has the sense of a phantom presence - the mind fills in the gap with an internal dialogues and scripts.

This void is painfully palpable when it has a trail of scent behind it: A grandparent's scent in their home after they've passed away, lingering after their last breath was exhaled - reminding of the life they've lived, the food they cooked, still nourishing those who are left behind; A lover's scent on their pillow or the scarf they've left behind.

Whether if the person's return is anticipated or not makes the perception of it either immensely painful or pleasurable (though the latter in a bittersweet way). What used to be a comforting, nostalgic perfume that creates the illusion of closeness to grandma, now pinches the heart because she is now gone.

But if the hope is there - I savour every bit of Eternity that clang to the T-shirt that you forgot to pack, and more importantly - your own smell that is hiding underneath. And I am afraid it will disappear every time I smell it. I'm wondering if you'll return before it loses its scent completely. Yet I'm consoled that at least in your suitcase there are the healing oils that will accompany you on your journey. Scented things that maybe will make you feel like I'm by your side sometimes.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Transitional Scents

Transitions

Transitional times can either be the best times to try new scents, or the worst possible idea. It really depends on what type of transition is taking place, isn't it? Transitions happens when we find new love, lose an old one, move to a different place, complete or begin school, embark on a new career or let go of a previous one, take care of an ill loved one, or welcome a new family member.

At times like this, I find myself doing one of three things: find comfort in familiar, tried-and-true scents with which I have strong positive associations; try something new; or just avoid scent altogether.

1) Leaning on familiar fragrances to bring comfort
Like catching up with a good old trusted friend, it's wonderful to have a perfume (or two) which you know you'll always find comfort in wearing. To me, many of the classic Chypres have been just that: Miss Dior, Mitsouko, and my own Ayalitta. However, you should be warned that new scent-memories are ever changing with new experiences and new associations. For example: when my daughter broke her leg many years ago, I took my bottle of Mitsouko EDP to the hospital to make me feel better. It worked at the time. But then I was unable to wear it again for many months without remembering this harsh week at the hospital.

This is not surprising, and is also true for the memories themselves: they change every time we recall them. Each time we tell our story, it is being edited, so to speak...  Every time we experience a fragrance, we not only recall our past experiences, associations and emotions with that scent, but also create new ones. There is a dynamic relationship between our emotions, memories and scents. Every time we wear a perfume, we deepen the relationship with it as we encounter new people, feelings and memories along the day.

The beauty of this is, that we can change our own stories and give happy ending even to the most traumatic chapters in our lives. On a more perfumey notion: perfumes that we hated or brought sad, painful memories, can be turned around and become the bearers of happy thoughts and good news.

2) Experiment with a new fragrance, which will create new scent-memories for such significant time. 
This is the philosophy of "new life - new scent". It does, however, depend on a state of mind that fosters curiosity. Curiosity and playfulness have room to exists only when there is a sufficient amount of confidence and safety in place. Only when we feel safe enough - we will feel curious to explore a new environment and experiment with new possibilities.
I often have clients come to me at times of transition wanting to imprint this time of their life with a  unique scent. Once again, this is proactive way to shape your own scent-memories. The wind of change is often scented with new scents - of the a new home, a new work environment, smells of new people and whatever they've chosen to scent their lives with... Rather than passively waiting for new scent associations to come by (which they are bound to anyway!) - you'll remember this change in your life by something that you have chosen yourself.

3) Avoid scents altogether, as to avoid creating new negative scent associations.
Change makes many people uneasy or uncomfortable. Even if it's a so-called positive change, the unknown always has an element of fear, and cause of major stress. Even excitement for the future has more than a hint of anxiety mixed in. When embarking such unpredictable journeys, I often find it difficult to embrace scent in my daily life. There is so much to take in that scent may feel as imposing another excessive stimulation on an already overloaded system.  When a million thoughts are going through my head, sometimes it seems that experiencing the emotions that a scent inspires would just be an overkill.
If you feel like this, don't push yourself to wear perfume. Perfume is meant to be a pleasurable, enjoyable experience. Not a painful one. With that being said, you may find a renewed interest and comfort in simple scents from nature, or notice that your sense of smell is more keen now and notices more subtle aromas. Take pleasure in small things such as savouring the fragrant steam of a cup of tea and more nuanced smells of objects that you've never noticed before, such as linen, straw hats and wool. 

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Farewells

This past year has been mostly about bidding farewells. Change is inevitable and it brings with it, simultaneously, much excitement for a better future with more possibilities; and an increasing anxiety about the unknown. It is also has a destructive force as it puts strains on relationships and friendships, and also requires letting go of much of the past and erasing possible future chapters in one's life, so to speak.

We've spent 18 years in Canada, where we lived (me and my daughter) in Vancouver's West End. As my last year here approached, with the commencement of each season I was thinking how this would be the last time we will experience it here. It was bittersweet, as if seeing my daughter's entire childhood in the West End and bidding farewell to it: all the hardships of raising her alone in a strange, faraway country, of the diagnosis process, the different people that helped us along the way through all the phases, her daycares, schools, after school programs, summer camps... So many good people along the way that were like our family for the time they've accompanied us - and then, usually, moved on with their own lives. Looking back, I really feel that I've given my daughter an amazing childhood in this part of the world, and I feel more than a little guilty for plucking her out of her familiar environment and transplanting her into my own...

The last Thanksgiving and Halloween were especially emotional as they are also around the same time as my daughter's birthday and a very special time of the year for her.  But by the time the winter holidays rolled around I was beginning to see the benefits of my decision and being in transition phase. The things that usually bother me about this season - the isolation, the darkness and the sense that I don't really belong here - did not matter so much because I knew I will be leaving soon. So instead of being sad about feeling left out, I felt relief in knowing that I can engage in whatever social gatherings that I enjoy and that I will have plenty of family obligations soon enough to make up for all those years of being away.

But of course, just when I thought my path was already carved out for me and I was set with my nose toward Jerusalem, surprises and distractions started piling up along the way. I spent the past year helping a close friend recover from multiple addictions (including methamphetamine, whose recovery from involves all kinds of fun stuff such as hallucinations, paranoia and emotional bursts of all types); and then I got involved with helping a family of refugees to settle in Canada, which made those previous troubles seem like a piece of cake. And all along the way my own daughter began panicking about her approaching graduation and this being her last year in school and all the changes that we've been agonizing over, discussing and preparing for mentally for the past year.

For those reasons, packing my stuff now and leaving feels like too much for me right this moment. But I must do it. Vancouver has become a ridiculously expensive city and many of my friends are leaving for similar reasons. It has become an increasingly isolated and cold city, even more than it was before (and it was never friendly to begin with). The sense of alienation is piercing especially when big life events happen - good or bad. There is no sense of community and no matter how much people care about you - if you don't have family (of origin or one that you've built on your own, i.e. a husband or a significant other of some other title) - you're on your own in those dark and bright moments with no one to share life's most extraordinary aspects. It's not like that in other parts of Canada (including British Columbia) that I've visited, so I'm not ditching the entire country. I'm just saying Vancouver has become an increasingly hostile city towards the people who live in it and try to contribute something to its culture and community. It's quite astonishing really, that I was able to survive here - and at times even thrive - as long as I did.

So either way there is going to be a major relocation coming up (FYI for me, a routine-loving artist surrounded by millions of fragrant bottles and vials, who likes to dig my roots deep and stay in places for pretty long, even moving to a different neighbourhood in the same city is a big deal). Aside from my very nomadic early beginnings (a side effect of being born to a very bohemian mother), I spent pretty much half of my life in my home village and half of it in Vancouver. And as versatile and adaptable as I am, I don't like change and only take it up when I am absolutely forced to do so. As a dual-citizen, I've been always blessed with too many possibilities and I'm now suffering the consequences, so to speak.

But even a rather dark and personal post like this should end on a positive note: transitions aside, once that hurdles are past me (packing hassles, establishing my exact moving date, renovations on the other side of the globe, etc.) I'm very much looking forward to the next chapter of my life. There are going to be many more possibilities for me personally and also for my business, and particularly for my perfumery school. I'll have my own fragrant garden and and dreaming about dabbling deeper into extractions, distillation and tincturing of all those fragrant perfumery plants that are for the most part native to the mediterranean region. I'm looking forward to a simpler life, more community and family oriented, more connected to real people in real life and less distracted by social media and technology (for better or for worse - my home village is off the grid). Come visit me there and you'll see for yourself!

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