2006 in Natural Perfumery
The year 2006 has been a significant year for Natual Perfumery. In this tightly-knit community of professionals from around the world, old bonds have been strengthened by the re-opening of the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild. New connections were created as the Guild attracts new members, and new members keep joining the Natural Perfumery study group (a free discussion forum hosted on Yahoo). At the same time, more recognition is garnered, for individual perfumers and their work, as well as the movement of Artisanal Natural Perfumery - in mainstream media as well as online - and this is happening world wide.
As the Guild’s Mentoring Program Coordinator, I was fortunate to meet and interact with teachers and working perfumers from around the world, as well as eager enthusiast members who are working hard on developing their olfactory skills and mastering the art of Natural Perfumery.
There were many new releases this year in the Natural Perfumery world – a few of them I will briefly mention here, but you will be better off visiting Natural Perfumery.com or the Guild’s website and visit the official sites of the perfumers to get a true picture of what we offer: innovative approach to perfumery, with the advantage of artisanal quality and the many new and exciting raw materials that were not available in previous centuries. Each perfumer has their personal touch added, their own unique style and at times their own unique raw materials, often from the place in the world they are from.
The following are brief reviews of what was launched this year - even though I haven't tried all of the scents, I know the body of work of most of the perfumers and can attest to their integrity and passion about their art. It's interesting to see the evolution and change in style and approaches, the new concepts that are conceived in the aterilers of my fellow perfumers. Despite the fact that we all create with a similar pallette of naturals (which is far more limited than what you'd find in the labs of a commercial perfumer using synthetics), the styles are completely different, and each of the perfumers seem to have their own unique "fingerprint" - a signature that can be recognized within the structure or style of the perfume (even if we don't necessarily have a signature "accord" a-la-Guerlainade).
Mandy Aftel of Aftelier (the founder of the original Guild and author of the landmark book Essence and Alchemy) has released two new perfumes – Orchid (a solid perfume based on orange blossom) and Tango – a mélange of champaca flowers and the sexy smokiness of roasted seashells (aka Choya Nakh).
Anya McCoy of Anya’s Garden, the reviver of the Guild, and the founder of the Natural Perfumery study group on Yahoo as well as NaturalPerfumery.com has finally released to the world her ready-to-wear perfume line inspired by botanical gardens from around the world. Pan is the first perfume to have ever used a unique cruelty-free animal essence of goat-hair tincture which adds a unique qualitiy to this herbal, ambery, rustic perfume. Her other creation, Fairchild, isn’t any less unusual in its choice of Mitti attar (baked earth from India), pure ambergris and pandanus (a heady , gigantic tropical flower), and tinctures of many different varieties of jasmine flowers as well as other tropical blossoms. The depth and richness of Anya’s creations are a reflection of her work as a landscape designer, and her passion for perfumes that started when she was as young as two year old. And her perfumes have the same playfulness about them ;)
This year I had the fortune to meet in person a special guest to my town – Lisa Fong of Artemisia Perfume and get an early sniff of her new creations. This year she created Voile – a delicate, fragile jasmine scent that is ethereal and impressionistic; Edwardian Rose – with a base of Tonquin Musk (the real thing!); and Anumati, a rich perfume tribute to the Indian Moon Goddess, bearing the unusual marking of Kadam tree blossom, black cumin and cepes.
My own line has flooded the world of aromatics with several new creations. I won’t bore you with the details now, as I am planning a whole post to summarize my own personal perfumery year. But you can read about all of them if you click here.
Isabelle Aurel of Desire in Sunlight created Gragie, an Italian memoir; Champagne, with pink grapefruit, kewda and cognac (sounds champagne like indeed!); Nandi – a Chypre perfume; and Sex in the Surf, with boronia and seaweed. She also added many delicious flavours to her fragrant Chocolat Ganaches!
Joanne Bassett of Le Bijou recently opened her own retail shop in La Jolla, Callifornia. She also launched her new French Collection, tributes to classy and sassy French woman and each perfume represents a different personality – and they all start with a “C”.
Nick Jennings of Sharini Parfums Naturels from France has a beautiful site that is worth visiting – as his creations don’t only look delicious and are beautifully packaged - they are also organic and are prepared in organic alcohol. The four perfumes are:
Floriental, with spicy and citrus top notes, floral heart notes of jasmine, ylang and magnolia, and a base of vanilla, cedar and patchouli;
Potion d’Amour, a love potion with notes of bergamot, mandarin, rose, jasmine, magnolia, lavender, benzoin and vetiver;
Mediterrane, a chypre with notes of verbena, bergamot, geranium, lavender, rose, oakmoss, vetiver and patchouli;
and Rhapsodie, a masculine scent with notes of bergamot, black pepper, cardamom, jasmine, ylang, sandalwood and frankincense.
Alexandra Ballahoutis of Strange Invisible Perfumes released two special edition scents - Anthony and Cleopatra, which must be doing well since it seems to be out of stock; and Agape, an oil-based perfume with jasmine and rose and cocoa. Her new scent, Magazine Street, celebrates the cultural mélange of New Orleans with notes of magnolia, vanilla, patchouli, vetiver and musk and donates 8% of the retail sales to Katrina Releaf.
Liz (Zz) Zorn of Zz’s Petals released her first ready-to-wear collection, and also opened her own boutique at her Peace Angel Farm in Cincinnati, Ohio. And she also released another new line of organic scents called Fussione’ Parfume. I have only tried one of Zz's perfumes, Jazz Trio No. 1, and am curious to try all of her other creations, which like Anya's, are very special in their quality as she uses her very own tinctures of aromatics that cannot be found otherwise (as an essential oil or an absolute). Blueberry tincture, Champaca wood tincture and maple syrup are just a few examples of scents that Zz puts her heart into tincturing and adding to her scents.
I think I am not alone here in feeling that the next year bears many promises for my niche of perfumery. And I am looking forward to it. What we are offering is refreshing, original and unique. Definitely something to look forward to in the New Year. What sets us apart from other perfume houses, including some other niche houses, is that we are completely
independent (unlike some niche houses which "borrow" a nose from the large perfume companies such as IFF, Givaudon etc.), thus having a full creative control over what we do. Our advantage is that we respond very fast to what our clients want and need (i.e.: creating custom perfumes and at times even adjusting formulas and concentrations to suit the customer's particular body chemistry and improve the performance of the scent on their skin). We also put our heart into every aspect of the process, from tincturing our own essences, to every detail in the packaging - both design, and the physical decanting, labeling and last finish of the look of what the final product is. This involves lots of work, sometimes till late at night or early in the morning, as most of us work alone or with very minimal help. The results shows in every part of the product, from the packaging to the very last drop of essence as it touches your skin and interacts with who you are.