Sunday, July 09, 2006


Solitaire, originally uploaded by Michael J Metts.

Now that I have sufficient quantities of a few more rare floral absolute – broom, cassie, linden blossom and osmanthus – I went straight away to work on my corresponding soliflores.

Creating soliflores is one of the most challenging tasks for the natural perfumer. But to top it all off, I have my own personal challenge when I create my soliflores. I am not a keen soliflore wearer. Being drawn to complex perfumes, I believe I make a good judge for which soliflore will be interesting enough to wear…

The technical challenges of creating a soliflore are many, and I believe I can sum this up in three main categories that are of concern to me when I go up for the task of designing them:

Natural building blocks are extremely complex. One needs to remember that each and every single oil contains myriads of single chemical components, all interacting with each other in a magical way to create a “note”.

Blend too many of those to create an all-natural perfume, and you are in danger of producing a cacophony of scents: a muddy, indecisive concoction that doesn’t know what she is thinking or saying. That is not something I would want to wear.

So you can imagine how difficult it is to make a soliflore that will smell distinctively of a specific flower or plant.

Evolution, Lasing Power and Consistency
I love complex and evolving scents. With a passion. I dislike and stay away from linear scents that do not evolve and simply hammer the same note or accord over and over and over into my olfactory existence.

To create a soliflore that smells distinctively of a certain flower or plant, I need to create an evolution that is consistently related to the specific note, in one hand; and does have an interesting life and a story to tell while on the skin.

A perfumer that uses synthetics hase less technical limitations and is more often able to use the same note over and over in the different layers (i.e.: jasmine top note, jasmine heart note and jasmine base note). A natural perfumer is prone to have substantially more limitations here. Jasmine can be found only as a heart note. Therefore, there is no particularly jasminey note to keep the composition alive for long enough.

To overcome this obstacle, I incorporate other notes, that are not the same, but are similar or close to the theme of the soliflore, in order to prolong the perfume’s life on the skin. For instance: in Yasmin, my jasmine perfume, I have included cassie in the base, a floral note from the family of mimosa, along with subtle, delicate amber and sandalwood, in order to extend the jasmine notes to the roots of the perfume. The result is perhaps a bit more complex than other jasmine soliflores I smelled before, but it is, nevertheless, a jasmine dominated perfume, made only of natural essences.

The challenges are to do so without losing the “soliflore” on the way, without overloading the base with long lasting but muddying notes, without losing track of what we are here for – singing praise for a certain beautiful note that nature conceived and bringing it from the garden to our own skin-covered temple.

This may seem marginal and unimportant. Naming a soliflore can be quite a challenge. Most frequently, soliflores bear the name of the flower or plant they mimic. If you want to be particularly imaginative, use a foreign language, such as French or Italian. I try to stay away from that, simply because it’s confusing: there are so many “Fleur d’Oranger” and “Osmanthus” now that one cannot distinguish a soliflore of one house from the other. I also prefer names that are more imaginative and alluring, perhaps a tad mysterious, and that have more meaning – beyond the simply name of the flower.

My rose soliflore is called Rosebud (inspired by Citizen Kane) and is a symbol of purity through roses.

My lavender soliflore pairs lavender with vanilla and orris to create a modern-day love potion, and is thus name Lovender.

Viola, my violet soliflore, is also a woman’s name and a string instrument.

The jasmine soliflore I created is called Yasmin, the Hebrew word for jasmine, and also the name of my best friend.

My ornage blossom soliflore is named Zohar, also after my (other) best friend, and “Zohar Water” is the common name in the Middle East for orange flower water.

My new version of my Linden Blossom soliflore is going to be called Tirzah, which is the name of the lindern tree in Hebrew, and also a beautiful women’s name.

I am having a challenge naming the two other new upcoming soliflores I am working on at the moment: Osmanthus and Mimosa. I seem to have been running out of inspiration.
Cute names on their own, but are they ever overly-used?!

I am considering calling the mimosa perfume Acacia. That reminds me of desert. I kind of like that. But it’s not desert-y enough. And it’s not different enough either. Also, I already have plenty of perfumes that begin with “A”. But I digress. The bottom line is, as much as I love different permutations of the name of the plant – Mimosaique, Mimosa pour Moi, Acacioza, Farensiana… - The have already been used! Why can’t I come with something new?!

As for Osmanthus – that’s such a long name. Did I also mention it’s over-used? Probably another 4 houses that I think of at this moment have a perfume called “Osmanthus” with very slight differences. How about osmanthus in Chinese? 丹桂 dān guì. No, it may look good in Chinese, but it doesn’t sound very appealing… Maybe Japanese? Kinmokusei. Turns out it’s also the same pronounciation of a name of a planet in an Anime classic. I like that! But who is going to remember this name? Or know how to pronounce it? Maybe it’s not such a great idea…

So I will just concentrate on making these two soliflores last on the skin and be interesting and alluring for now, showcase the natural beauty of the flowers they are representing. I will worry about the names later. But if you have a good idea for a name, you are more than welcome to share it. If I pick the name you offered, I will give you a bottle of the soliflore you helped naming!

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At July 09, 2006 8:33 PM, Blogger Anya said...

How about keeping the Osmanthus simple, Ayala, and using one of its common names - Tea Flower? Olive flower? Tea Olive Flower? Olivia Dulce Flor?

At July 09, 2006 9:03 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Thank you Anya! I actually like the name Olivia...That's very sweet of you. I thought about the idea of olive in the name. Just didn't quite find the right one yet...I was thinking of adding olive resin to the base. It's the most delicate and intriguing tree resin ever. But it's very rare and scarce. My brothers in Israel are avid collectors of olive resin - especially for me. They are as sweet as olive gum... Really!

At July 10, 2006 10:09 AM, Blogger The Scented Salamander said...

I love mimosa, it's one of my favorite blooms. When I was in boarding school in the south of France I would attend the mimosa winter festivals. So here are some of my suggestions:

Because, since it was transplanted from Australia it has kept its original natural rythm and blooms in winter in France:

Mimosa en Hiver*
Mimosa L'Hiver*

Because it is a festive flower:

Mimosa en Fête*
Viva Mimosa!(if your perfume is very energetic*)
Vive Le Mimosa!*
Mimosa en Joie*

Because it blooms in the south of France and is an emblematic flower of this region:

Mimosa du Sud
Mimosa Méditerrannée*
Mimosa du Midi

Mimosa exhibitions are sometimes called Mimosalia.

I have put a star next to the ones I like best, that sound most evocative to me in French.

In English I could see a name like Mimosa Addiction or Mimosa Heaven, if you can capture that addictive fresh smell of the mimosa in full bloom. Some of these names sound good in English too, like Mimosa in Winter.

Hope this helps:)

At July 10, 2006 8:29 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Thanks for all the wonerful ideas re mimosa!
And I loved reading about the mimosa winter festivals in Southern France. I will need to see how the perfume develops to see what kind of atmosphere it evokes. I am not sure how energetic it is... It's kind of green and only slightly sweet. Perhaps what I would like it to be is give a tickly to your nose just like the airy, round yellow pompons of the flower.

In Israel, I think the mimosas bloom in the spring. But everything (flower wise) in Israel gets confused with global warming and so on.

At July 12, 2006 10:33 AM, Blogger Hilda Rosa said...

Osmanthus is one of my favourite scents in perfume but most perfumes don't resemble the osmanthus blooms I smelled in China.

The city of Guilin in China is the centre of osmanthus trees. They grow everywhere and are used in everything from wine to tea. The appearance of the flowers coincides with the Moon Festival in autumn and are associated in a legend with an emperor smelling the flowers at night and seeing the full moon. I can't recall the details of the story. But the flowers are also associated with the crisp days of autumna nd the silver of the full moon. The flowers are fairly small and nondescript and are golden or orange or yellow or even silver in colour. But piled on the ground they appear yellow and green.

I saw you had 'dan gui' as the word for osmanthus in Mandarin. 'Gui' is the word for osmanthus and guilin actually means 'osmanthus forest'.

There are many types of ormanthus but the Guilin variety is a large tree, not a shrub at all. The smell is like dry fruit, often said to be like apricot or prune, but it is also a bit crisp and acidic. They say that the best way to smell the fragrance is in the rain when the blossoms fall from the trees and the smell is both sweet and fruity but also aromatic.

My favourite osmanthus perfume is Mille de Patou.

At July 12, 2006 12:25 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Dear Hilda,
Your travel stories, as always, are so fascinating and descriptive!
You nailed it right there - it's the kind of osmanthus I am trying to create: a dark one. I was very much inspired by an osmanthus image on a dark wet land after the rain... And was planning to launch this in the fall. Now it all ties in together. I also like the reference to the moon. The only thing I am missing is an appropriate name.

Now I must try 1000 by Patou!
I will get to the perfume boutique in a few hours just to try it out. I am so lucky there is one just a block away!

At July 13, 2006 6:39 AM, Blogger Anya said...

Olivia Thé -- I really like that one.There is an olive absolute, made from the fruit, hard to find, but I'm meanering off base here.

Thé Olivia. Osman Thé. Thé Osman. You can see I'm really into variations on the olive flower and tea references that most commonly show up for this flower.

At July 13, 2006 6:47 AM, Blogger Anya said...

Oh, I forgot we're supposed to work on the mimosa name also. Hmm.. Hard Rock. LOL!

Acacia d'Or
Oro Acacia
Acacia Mimosa
Mimosa d'Or
d'Or Mimosa
Dulce Mimosa
Dulce Acacia

At July 13, 2006 7:46 AM, Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Dear Ayala,
I love hearing about your process and I am crazy about the name Tirzah. Thanks for sharing all of this with us.

At July 13, 2006 9:41 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Dear Anya,

I really like your ideas. Especially Osman Thé. It might just be the right name, actually!

As for the mimosa, an idea for a name is forming in my mimosaic mind...the Salamander's ideas were superb and inspirational, thank you!), but I will keep my thoughts to myself for now... It will be just funner this way.

Keep them coming! Please!

(And thank you).

You've been all very helpful. Really!

At July 13, 2006 9:43 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Dear Cait,

Thank you so much for delving into my perfume process. I love the name Tirzah a lot, too. In fact, if I had to change my name, this would be it!

At July 16, 2006 5:00 PM, Blogger chaya ruchama said...

Acacia des Sables, Cuir d'Osmanthe ?
Peau d'Osmanthe? Mimosa Ensoleillee?

So many fine suggestions from the previous folk!

At August 06, 2006 10:28 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

For those of you who have offered a name and/or commented on my soliflore name searching posts, I am offering a free sample of my newest (mimos!) solifore Les Nuages de Joie Jaune. Email me with your address so I can send it to you.
I haven't used any of the names you suggested, but nevertheless - your comments helped me move to the right direction!


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