Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best of 2006

Well, everybody else is doing it, and I love making lists, so I am joining the party!
Instead of using the usual categories (i.e. the best of fragrance family this or that or evening or day time perfumes, etc.) I am going to summarize my olfactory events of this year, perfume-wearing wise (My next post will cover my personal view of the year past from my point of view as a perfumer). I invite you to join me here and tell me which perfumes brought laughter and pleasure to your life this year, and that you would like to remember this year by.

The Discovery of the Year:
Farnesiana by Caron.
This pure parfum of acacia flowers (relative to the mimosa but with deeper notes) is brilliant and original. Paired with vanilla and almondy heliotrope notes, it is modern even decades after it was created. It makes most of the current gourmands look shallow and silly, and shows that there is no end to innovation in perfumery, even when it comes to … well, florals…

Favourite New Niche Perfume of the Year:
Songes by Annick Goutal
I finally found a Goutal I love!
This magical white floral by Isabelle Doyen is everything I need in a floral: a soft opening (rather than heady), a complexity (ylang ylang, jasmine, gardenia, nost just one note) and a sweet, comforting base to ensure interest, richness and longevity. This is soft, opulent and envelopes me with comfort and beauty.

Favourite New Mainstream Perfume of the Year:
L by Lolita Lempika.
I was so underwhelmed by it when I first smelled it on a scent stripe when it came out in the summer. Wait till the weather cools down, and try it on your skin – it’s like melting vanilla on your skin and like melted buttery cookies in your mouth. I don’t find the immortelle particularly apparent though. A tint of orange and cinnamon makes it a bit interesting at the top, but overall it’s a wonderfully linear scent. It’s another loveable creation from Maurice Roucel, with his signature chic vanilla.
Favourite scented body product:

Favourite Classic of the Year:

Le Parfum de Therese
This genius of a Chypre seems to have so much to offer yet is very lighthearted. I think it’s exactly what I need and it is now my most favourite of all the classic Chypres that I own. I like the cheerful sparkling citrus and tart plum, the rejuvenation of basil and the watery melon notes, the luscious yet light jasmine, and the subtley complex base notes, with just a hint of leather for dryness and the classic Chypre accord. It seems to be perfectly balanced and balancing, as a good Chyre should be, and oh so flexible. The only reason I don’t wear it all the time is because I savour it for warm days so it will remind me of the gorgeous hot spring days in Jerusalme in my previous visit there, when I wore it between dry stones and beating, blinding sun rays and it was as appropriate as a simple linen dress.

My Surprise of the Year:
I like Jo Malone’s Vintage Gardenia. In fact, I enjoy Jo Malone quite a bit recently, but this scent is going to be an all-time favourite. It just hits me in the right spot. It’s elegant and clean and simple, but not too simple. It reminds me of things past but not painfully so. I like it on its own or with a tiny amount of Black Vetyver Café, which I think works utterly well with the cardamom note in it. But otherwise I find layering quite confusing to my nose… I found myself wearing it day after day for over a week's period which is quite unusual for me. Yet another white floral I like, besides my own Tamya and White Potion, and this year's new love - Songes!

My 180 Degrees Twist of Fate of the Year:
I love Narciso Rodriguez!
Well, after having a longish love&hate affair with Narciso Rodriguez I finally settled down and am ready for commitment. I have just about every size possible of this scent and carry it almost always with me when I travel. This spring I really ennoyed it immensely, and I find that it is one of the most original modern creations possible. I am even going to give it full attention by dedicating a review of it on my blog. Really soon!

The Re-Discovery of the Year:
(And by this I mean a scent I haven’t worn for a long time and re-discovered it’s beauty this year).
I am afraid to say – none. I have been mostly indulging myself with perfumes that are new to me, and for some reason staying away from my old time favourites for the most time. I have worn very little Mitsouko, Shalimar, Vol de Nuit or any other Guerlain classic this year. Which is kind of sad in a way… I think I needed to stay away from the flood of emotions they contain within them. I think Miss Dior (or more so, the mourning of it’s reformulation) was the main event for me in that area. I have fallen in love with it again, and have been really digging the lighter Chypre qualities in it (the green top notes, that is). Perhaps is says something about me – is it not wanting to go to deep emotionally? Is my taste changing? Am I becoming a shallow gal who can only get excited about new things? I think it’s seeking simplicity and enjoying a perfume for a more extended amount of time, and it was new ones (to me) that really answered to my mood this year.

Self Discovery of the Year:
I like lighter scents.
I find myself staying away from my heavy orientals and chypres more than usual, and leaning towards woody, musky compositions more often than ever. Scents that I find myself surprised to return to over and over again are the ones that I have been wearing the most this year (see below).

Most worn this year: The perfumes I have been wearing the most this year are also more simple, and tend to be more dry than sweet. I think the top-worn are:
Narciso Rodriguez
Le Parfum de Therese
Vintage Gardenia
Agent Provocateur

The Disappointment of the Year:
Black Orchid by Tom Ford
I am neither a fan nor a hater of Tom Ford and his olfactory concepts. When his first scent was approaching, I was easily able to hold myself together and wait till whenever it hits the local counters. Though the packaging is quite beautiful (though not particularly original, considering the similar designs of Nuit de Noel and Habanita which preceeded Black Orchid by decades), the name is particularly corny and over used in my opinion. So you see, when I mean disappointment I refer to it purely in the olfactory sense.
At first, Black Orchid seems to stand up to all the expectations it tried to set in the packaging and marketing campaign. The opening notes are definitely luxurious, Femme-Fatale infuses mushroom sautéed in their very own arrogant sexual secretion while deeply inhaling spices. There is some nicely done chocolate accord as well… But if you think this is the base, you have been miserably deceived. These carnal notes wear off quickly, gradually revealing a phase of rum-soaked berries (not so bad on their own, really) and than a short lived rose opens up, only to be brutally murdered by an aquatic patchouli accord. From now on it will only go downhill, resembling a better-version-of-Allure-Sensuelle, which while is quite an achievement on its own rights, it is also frightfully disappointing in its own original way:
In Black Orchid, Tom Ford had proved to the world that it is possible to create a perfume with marvelous opening that smells worser and worser as it develops on the skin, thus creating the most disappointing fragrance of 2006.

* I can accept the idea of a perfume opening with less than lovely notes, and becoming better thanks to interaction with the skin (though this is not always the case, of course, because of body chemistry etc.). But to intentionally create such a devolution from fantastic to unoriginal is quite insulting.

Favourite Scented Body Product:
Azuree Body Oil
This is a really fun scent to wear, and I have been particularly enjoying it over the summer. It’s not so heavy as it may sound. And the texture is not too oily either, albeit rather moisturizing. You can read my full review here. I also found out I actually like body oils quite a lot, in the summer anyways. It adds a nice protective layer before swimming in an over-bleached swimming pool, or truely salty ocean - and the scent is nice when blended with either of these chemicals...

The Best “I Love It But I Never Wear It” Perfume of the Year:

Like Cait, I discovered this much later than anyone else, just this summer. Not the best time to try Chinatown if you ask me… It is one of the most unusual perfumes I recently added to my collection, though I know some will disagree and compare it to something else. I think it’s unusual for its combination of spices, florals and sweet patchouli and vetiver base. I only wish I had more occasions to wear it, as it just doesn’t work for me in every day use (and I am known for wearing whatever I want whenever I want). I hope I will find good opportunities to wear it, but overall I had more times when I found out it was the wrong scent to wear for the occasion (i.e.: dinner) or that I applied too much. The sillage on this one deserves a cautious label on the packaging. Preferably accompanied with illustrations and measuring droppers.

The Naughty yet Nice Perfume of the Year:
Agent Provocateur
Starting with a vintage Femme Fatale air to it, Agent Provocateur seems to be for a lady in the dark. However, if you spray it early enough before leaving the house, it dries down to a satisfactorily subtle musky and woody (vetiver, that is to say) with a hint of tartness – which is quite versatile really.

Best New Perfume House in 2006:

For the most part, this year has been quite disappointing in my opinion in terms of new releases. One refreshing standout was the launch of Anya’s Garden – a line inspired by botanical gardens from around the world. The perfumer, Anya McCoy, is also a landscape architect, and the director of the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild. It is not a surprise that her scents are dedicated to gardens. I love the concept as well as the perfumes. These are complex, well structured creations that are original and innovative and use unusual notes in an otherwise classic structure. The results are quite stunning, with complexity and imagery that sucks you in and transports you to their own realms. My favourite is Pan, of course, as it uses goat hair tincture, moss, Seville lavender absolute, hay and is deeply amebry as well as aromatically rejuvenating. Fairchild is also quite a standout, with its myriads of intertwining notes of exotic and narcotic flora singing in counterpoint. I can’t say I smelled all the perfumes that my fellow members of the Guild are crafting with much love and attention to detail, but McCoy is a great example and a leader in the field. I think I ought to also give Anya the award for the most promising perfumer for 2007, as I can’t wait to smell what else comes under her hands!
The image above, by the way, is a digital collage by Anya McCoy herself. I love it and wish you all a full and fragrant year, just as the image suggests!

Next post:
My personal accounts of the fragrant events of last year as a Natural Perfumer, and my outlook for the next year, fragrance-wise.

To read more year-end reviews of a few other perfume blogs, I recommend visiting these blogs (it's really interesting to see some repeating themes, and the comletely differnt systems each created for their categories):
Perfume Shrine

Perfume Posse
Perfume Smellin' Things
Victoria's Own
Pink Manhattan
Sweet Diva

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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 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 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.

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2006 Bestsellers

This post will be the first in a series of three to summarize the year 2006. It's going to be sweet and short, because I am very tired, but I may add a bit more and elaborate when I wake up tomorrow. This list, that is to say, is the bestsellers of Ayala Moriel Parfums.

Ayalitta has always been popular, without me needing to push it. I think it's natural charm and cheerful innocence makes it just hard to resist. That is if you a chypre lover of course, and particularly if you love greens. I am very pleased to see that there is still room for chypres in this world, even though this genre of fragrances is threatened to become extinct.

This year was definitley Espionage's breakthrough. After being an underground perfumes worn only by the perfumer (it's my signature perfume), it finally made its way to the hearts of a few others who seem to love it dearly.
Espionage is a leathery perfume, starting out smoky and woody, and drying down to a skin-scent comprised of vanilla and daring vegetale musks.

The perfume inspired by my daughter, Tamya, happen to be as heart-capturing as her expressive blue eyes. I feel like I've done something right here, as it seems to maintain it's fresh take on florals, and it smells superb on men too!

One of my earliest yet most controversial concoctions, the dichotomy of this fragrance seems to work its magical spell to this very moment. The white florals (tuberose, orange blossom and jasmien) are intoxicating, while moss and wild mushrooms add an earthy and sexual depth that is carnal and free and classy, all at once.

The most approachable Middle-Eastern peacemaker - dark-roasted coffee sweetened and spiced with cardamom - seems to bring peace to those who wear it in a parfum form rather than drink it. It's not the caffeine, but rather the aroma of coffee, sweet balsams, honey and spices that brings a sense of well-being and comfort.

I want to thank all of my customers for making my dream come true. Your support of my business makes it not only sustainable, but also keeps alive something that I feel is really special in the world of perfumery.

The next Year 2006 Summaries will feature:
Ayala's Favourite Perfumes of 2006
Year 2006 in Natural Perfumery

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We Have Winners!

Here is the list of the lucky winners to the advanced screening in Vancouver and Toronto and the Ayala Moriel gifts certificates:

1. Laura Ralph
2. Katherine Greig
3. Nat Murray
4. Emily Vinegar
5. Alisony *

1. Searcher *
2. matt matt matt *
3. Hilda Rosa
4. drp *
5. Joanne Smale
*The winners who have left a comment on this post, and didn't contact me personally, please do so ASAP so the tickets can be mailed to you and arrive in time to watch the movie!
(All I have now is the nickname you used on the post). If I don't hear from you by the end of the day, I will not be able to send them to you in time and will have to send them to the enxt contestant in line!

Congratulations for the winners - and thank you to all of you for reading and participating!

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Art of Giving Fragrant Gifts

One of the most fun things about the Holiday Season is matching gifts to the people I love. And of course, I want to give them something that I love too, something that I would be excited to receive as much as I am to give… This can make for an interesting outcome, and not necessarily the desired effect. We tend to want to give people things that they will enjoy, but also, something that we like and will be proud of giving and be remembered by. And so, as a shameless and hopeless perfume lover, nothing pleases me more than finding fragrant gifts for my friends and family.

However, this is not an easy task. Scents are very personal, some love certain scents and some hate them with a passion. This gets particularly complicated with more complex scents that can trigger a wide range of emotions, from ecstatic pleasure, through all degrees of ambivalence and all the way to profound repulsion. So you got to be careful! You don’t want to give someone a scent that reminds them of their ex-boyfriend or dying grandmother. This might make them sad or upset them. On the other hand, this is unavoidable in some cases, unless you know the person really, really, and I mean REALLY well. The following are a few tips for scent-giving.

Give a person a new scent only if you know them really well. You’ll need your intuition (more on this later), but also there are a few pieces of information that can be helpful:

Which perfumes is s/he wearing at the moment?
If you know which fragrances s/he likes already, you will be able to pick something similar. Do you notice a similarity or a connection between the scents? If you don’t you can search online and gather information about the scent – which family does it belong to (oriental, chypre, floral, citrus, etc.)? Which notes are in it? You may be reminded of other scents that you noticed your friend liked when you look at those notes. I recommend these two sites for getting information about perfume notes:
Perfume Addict Database
Basenotes Directory

Which foods and/or beverages does s/he likes?
Taste and smell are closely connected. In fact, there is very little to be experienced in food without our noses’ capability to discern the different subtle aromas. Taste is limited to only 5 possibilities (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami) while there are thousands of aromas perceived by humans which affect profoundly the way we perceive what we put in our mouths. If a person hates cinnamon in their food, most likely they will hate it in a perfume too. On the other hand, if they love certain aromas in their food, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will want to their body to smell like this all day long. But this would still be a good starting point for getting some ideas for scents.

And last but not least – use your imagination and intuition!
Is s/he playful or serious? Is s/he trendy, individualistic or classic in his/her fashion tastes? These traits will give you a hint of what to look for – a newly released perfume can be an exciting gift for a person who likes to keep up with the current trends; a classic perfume would be a good choice for a person who strives for elegance and simplicity; an unusual, cutting-edge niche perfume might be the choice for your individualistic friend.

If you require assistance in finding a fragrance for a loved one at any time of the year, you can invite them to take the Fragrance Consultation via Ayala Moriel Parfums. This consultation is free of charge for the Ayala Moriel’s customers. If you require assistance in choosing perfumes from other lines, you will be charged a fee of $25 per consultation. For any further inquiries email Ayala.

A few last tips to remember:
* Give a perfume only to a person you know their taste really well.
* You won’t fail if you give a refill or a gift-set of their favourite perfume.
* It’s also courteous to give them a gift-receipt so that they can exchange it if they don’t like the fragrance.

The big NO’s:
* Don’t give a perfume to a person who is allergic to perfume
* Don’t forget to include a gifts receipt

For your friends who don’t indulge in perfumes particularly often, there are many other delightfully fragrant gifts to choose from. Finding a scented gift other than perfumes is just as fun to receive, will leave a lasting impression - yet a bit less demanding to pick (or use). My top suggestions for other scented products are:

The beauty of candles is that they can be shared with others. Because they are less personal (not worn on the skin) they can be given as a gift to more than one person – i.e.: a family or a couple. It’s also a sneaky way to give a romantic gift to yourself (I get my boyfriend candles all the time, but we end up enjoying them together!). Candles truly make a beautiful gift, especially in the season of defeating darkness with light… (see, there is even a spiritual reason for treating yourself and your loved ones to candles!).
My favourite candles this year are Origins’ “Into The Woods” candle, which smells like fir absolute (sweet and foresty at once), but unfortunately this has been discontinued. My new favourite is Annick Goutal’s Noel candles, a limited edition for the Holiday Season which comes out every year – and smells like freshly crushed coniferous needles and an underlining delicate olibanum base. They smell quite realistic, and burn for many hours emitting a subtle yet definite smell of forest everywhere in my house (which has a very tall ceiling, by the way).

The neat thing about getting bath and body products is that for the most part these are enjoyed in the bathing time, but linger afterwards only very gently. This makes them a lot more widely acceptable than perfumes. Also, even if their scent is not the absolutely perfect one, they will be at least embraced for their functionality… My new favourite thing is sugar body scrub, and of these my most favourite are Nyakio’s Kenyan Coffee & Sugar body scrub
(the scent is fantastic, and the experience is phenomenal!), and Crabtree & Evelyn’s Lemongrass & Brown Sugar Body Scrub, which is actually also a moisturizer, with tuns of rich shea butter.

For those of you who like to get your hands dirty and give truly original gifts, you can easily make your own bath products. Bath salts and bath/massage oils are very simple to make, and you can customize your own scents. Below is a recipe for the one and only Black Truffle & Cassis Bath & Massage Oil and Bath Salts!

For other interesting tips for gift giving visit this site.

Image credit: Gift of My Heart
by JeffClow

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Black Truffle & Cassis

I have been enjoying fooling around with truffle oils (both white and black) recently, and the result was delicioius Christmas/Channuka gifts for friends. I prefer black truffle, as it has a deep, soft, warm aroma. The white truffle is sharper and edgier. Both work tremendously well with other gourmand aromas (i.e.: chocolate, coffee and spices) as well as the sparkling citrus oils (mandarin, orange, lemon, etc.).
You may use the recipe below, or create your own unique blend of oils!

The following is a sensual and delicious recipe for both bath & massage oil, as well as bath salts. Black Truffle oil is olive oil infused with black truffle essence. It can be found in many gourmet and grocery stores. You will only need a really small bottle ( but do not get alarmed by the price: this is potent stuff and would last you very long!)

Black Truffle & Cassis Bath & Massage Oil
50 ml almond oil
1 capsule vitamin E
2/3 tsp. Black Truffle Oil
20 drops Tarragon Absolute
3 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil (use the "Extra" grade, or Ylang Ylang 3, which are the creamiest versions of the oil)
20 drops Black Currant Bud Concrete

* Fill a bottle with the almond oil. Add the truffle oil and than the rest of the oils, drop by drop.
* Stir gently with a glass rod or a bamboo skewer. Let mature for a week before use.
* Pack in small bottles of your choice. I like to recycle miniature liquor bottles for that purpose and add my own labeling for an extra personal and/or humourous touch...
* To be used for a sensual massage, or add a teaspoon or two to your bath and enjoy.

Black Truffle & Cassis Bath Salts
2 cups Sea Salt (coarse)
2 cups Epsom Salts
1 capsule vitamin E
2/3 tsp. Black Truffle Oil
20 drops Tarragon Absolute
3 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil (use the "Extra" grade, or Ylang Ylang 3, which are the creamiest versions of the oil)
20 drops Black Currant Bud Concrete

* In a large clean bowl, mix together the sea salt and epsom salts.
* In a beaker or a small shot glass, mix together the oils.
* Gradually, pour the oil mixture over the salt and stir well with a large spoon or a fork
* Pack in airtight jars or in nicely decorated and personalized envelopes.
* Use about 1/4 cup for each bath.

Image credits:
White & Black Truffles by MatthewA

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Perfume the Movie – Contest and More Exciting News!

Ayala Moriel Parfums and SmellyBlog are pleased to announce a special contest celebrating the release of the long awaited film PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER.

Enter the contest and win:
1 of 10 DOUBLE PASSES to the promo-screenings in Vancouver and Toronto, January 3rd and 4th
$25 GIFT CERTIFICATE from Ayala Moriel Parfums

What you need to do to enter the contest:
1. Email us or leave a comment on and tell us what you thought of the book, and what you hope for from the movie.

2. Don’t forget to mention which city you’re from - Toronto or Vancouver (we will be running two separate draws for each city)

3. Tell all your friends about the contest! Simply forward them this message, and invite them to participate in this contest for a chance to see the film before anybody else in Canada does!

We also have very exciting news for those attending the promo-screening in Vancouver:
Ayala Moriel will be present in both nights, and will give one of her newest perfumes to a lucky winner from the audience: Razala and Film Noir!

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the perfumer in person and for your chance to win a beautiful flacon of our finest juice!

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Happy Hanuka!

To all of SmellyBlog readers celebrating Hanuka - Hag Urim Samecah (= Happy Celebration of Light)!
It is the first day of Hanuka today, and we enjoyed lighting the first candle last evening, and eating Nutmeg Scented Yam Latkes!

Below are the recipes for both traditional latkes (potato pancakes) and my own original Yam Lateks:

Traditional Latkes
4 large potatoes (any kind is good, and there is no need to peel them!)
1 large onion
3/4 to 1 cup flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 egg

Grate the potatoes and onion using a grater. Add the egg and mix well. Sprinkle the flour and spices over top, and mix well until all the ingredients are blended equally in the batter.
Heat the oil in the pan. Drop spoonfuls of the batter and flatten them well. Fry on both sides until golden.
These are particularly delicious when served with a bit of sugar on top!
Strawberry jam or marmalade is nice too if you like the contrast of savory and sweet (the onion and black pepper against the sweetness of sugar).
Some like it served with apple sauce and sour cream, but I don't think this is necessary.
If you prefer to keep them savory, serve with Israeli Style Vegetable Salad (see recipe below), or as an appetizer. I particularly like the taste of the latkes when they get a bit of the salad dressing in the plate, but that might be just my thing...

Yam Lateks
2 large potatoes
1 medium yam
1 medium onion
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp (or to taste) freshly ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Canola oil for frying (or another bland vegetable oil of your choice)

Shred the yam, potatoes and onion in a grater. Add the egg and mix well. Sprinkle the flour and spices over top, and mix well until all the ingredients are blended equally in the batter.
Heat the oil in the pan. Drop spoonfuls of the batter and flatten them well. Fry on both sides until golden.
These are great served with either sweet condiments or as a side dish for savoury food. It can also be a meal on its own - with some salad on the side.

Israeli Style Vegetable Salad
The exact quantities of the vegetables are not improtant. But tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil and lemon juice are mandatory!
Here is a sample version -
5 small hot-house cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers (or half an English cucumber; do NOT use field cucumbers, as they will ruin the salad!)
2-4 small or medium tomatoes, firm but ripe (either Roma tomatoes or Campari tomatoes are the best)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
green onions (optional), thinly chopped
juice from 1/2 lemon (I prefer to squeeze the lemon directly into the salad, this way some of the essential oil from the peel makes it to the juice and adds a wonderful lemony aroma!)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste, but absolutely not mandatory! The salad will be delicious without them too. Other spices you can use is a bit of Za'atar spice mixture (can be found in most Middle Eastern food stores).

Chop all vegetables into small squares and put in a medium salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice and pour olive oil. Toss together and serve.

Other delicioius additions to the salad:
Chopped green olives
Chopped dill pickles (preferably homemade)
Carrots, chopped very thinly or shredded
Cauliflower florets
Feta cheese or other salty firm white cheese, cubed or crubmled
Fresh herbs (i.e.: Basil, parsley, dill)

Photo of Hanuka courtesy of dimgol

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Quantum Spectrometer in My Nose

Physicists are now looking a bit deeper into Luca Turin's controversial theory that claims our sense of smell is based on recognizing molecular vibrations rather than molecular shapes.

"Most strikingly, some molecules can smell different — to animals, if not necessarily to humans — simply because they contain different isotopes (atoms that are chemically identical but have a different mass).

Turin's explanation for these smelly facts invokes the idea that the smell signal in olfactory receptor proteins is triggered not by an odour molecule's shape, but by its vibrations, which can encourage an electron to jump between two parts of the receptor in a quantum-mechanical process called tunnelling. This electron movement could initiate the smell signal being sent to the brain

This would explain why isotopes can smell different: their vibration frequencies are changed if the atoms are heavier. Turin's mechanism, says Marshall Stoneham of the UCL team, is more like swipe-card identification than a key fitting a lock.

Vibration-assisted electron tunnelling can undoubtedly occur — it is used in an experimental technique for measuring molecular vibrations. "The question is whether this is possible in the nose," says Stoneham's colleague, Andrew Horsfield."

To read the rest of the article visit News @

My brain can't stop speculating what could be the impact of proving this theory. Would it explain why natural aromatics smell better than synthetic aromachemicals? Would it provide a new scientific (rather than psychological) explanation for the the time-travelling experience of smelling something from the past? And what about the practical and commercial implications: besides the outcome (and income...) of companies such as Flexitral, would there be anything new and exciting to be offered - how about a quantum-leaping olfactory time-traveling machines?

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

Thanks to Mark for the tip!

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Interviews with Ayala
Interviewed by Marlen Harrison
December 5th 2006

Interviewed by Grant Osborne
August 17th 2006

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Reviews of Ayala Moriel's Perfumes

Here is where you can read reviews of Ayala Moriel's fragrances:

Now Smell This

High Fibre Fragrances (review of 8 scents from Ayala Moriel Parfums)

The Non-Blonde
Epice Sauvage
Roses et Chocolat

Ca Fleur Bon
l'Ecume des Jours

Scent of the Day
Espionage & Rainforest

Scent Hive
Advent to Hanukkah (Fete d'Hiver)
Bee Here Now (The Purple Dress)
Palas Atena

Fashion Tribes
Beautiful Things in Small Packages: Baubles & Bottles (Cabaret mother of pearl perfume pendant)
Scent Twins: If You Like This, Than You Should Try... (Fetish)

Nathan Branch
Natural Perfumers: Ayala Moriel, Claude Andre Hebert, Red Flower, Social Creatures

One Thousand Scents
Underground: Ayala Moriel's Vetiver Racinettes

Perfume Shrine:
Christmas '09 Gift Ideas: Last Minute Gifts (Ayala Moriel Mini)
Vetiver Racinettes
Making Love in a Gardenia Garden (Gigi)
Travel Memoires from Istanbul Part 3 (Sahleb)
Jasmine series: Part 4 ~ mellow jasmine suggestions (Yasmin)

Perfume Smellin' Things
Ayala Moriel Hanami

Chocolate Zoom Magazine
The Scent of Chocolate by Cristina Jaleru
- Guilt and Film Noir

Cognoscented (Suki McMillan's blog)
Espionage (July 20, 2006)
Indigo (July 21, 2006)

Legerdenez (Caitlin Shortell's blog)
Finjan (June 24, 2006)

Notes from the Ledge (ScentScelf's blog)
Vetiver Racinettes (September 28, 2008)

Of the Rain blog
Rebellius (January 2, 2007)
Immortelle l'Amour perfume (January 2, 2008)
Les Nuages de Joie Jaune (December 31, 2007)
Bon Zai (December 29, 2007)
Tamya (December 4, 2007)
Ayalitta & l'Herbe Rouge (December 3, 2007)
Gigi (December 1, 2007)
Immortelle l'Amour tea (December 1, 2007)
Sutul (November 30, 2007)
Coralle & White Potion (November 29, 2007)
Indigo & Song of Songs (November 28, 2007)
Ayala (November 27, 2007)
Charisma (November 26, 2007)
Razala & Yasmin (November 25, 2007)
Lovender (November 23, 2007)
Film Noir (November 20, 2007)
Espionage (November 19, 2007)
Épice Sauvage (November 18, 2007)
Moon Breath (November 17, 2007)
Palas Atena (November 16, 2007
Autumn (November 15, 2007
Custom Perfume (November 8, 2007) (Marlen Harrison's blog)
Espionage (November 7, 2007)
Fetish (June 27, 2007)

Perfume Shrine (Helg's blog)
Film Noir (November 16, 2006)
Fête d'Hiver (December 01, 2006)
Yasmin (June 7, 2007)
Zohar (April 26, 2007)
Sahleb (March 8, 2008)
Gigi (May 16, 2008)
Vetiver Racinettes (August 20, 2008)

Sakecat's Scent Project
(Reviews of Finjan, Film Noir, Moon Breath, Palas Atena, Bon Zai, Black Licorice)

Savvy Thinker
Film Noir & Razala (May 30, 2007)

You can read as well as add your own reviews here:


Make Up Alley

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Monday, December 11, 2006

I Love Perfume

I love the purity of perfume and their wordless stories
Their condensed intensity and shameless, nameless personalities
Encompassing contradictions, voicing conflicts harmoniously
The way perfume develops with time, grows and blossoms
The way in which it captures a moment in time and imprisons it in a vial.
Rows and rows of vials for each moment exhaled by internal universes only to be inhaled by the external one.
I encapsulate in a bottle all that there is to say. The risk of spillage is unknown to me. Some things are better spilled than spoil in prolonged fermentation in the darkness within.
I love perfumes.
Their song is endless beauty that fades into the air
Their momentarity makes them even more so beautiful


Friday, December 08, 2006

New Perfume: Film Noir

Ayala Moriel is proud to announce the debut of our new perfume this winter, the




This perfume is as dark as a Film Noir plot. It’s as dark as a dim-lit alley in Chinatown and musty as the sewer in The Third Man where the ambivalent heroes and heroines find their inevitable death, over and over again… Film Noir is as dark as the soul of the genre’s script writers, directors, actors and… viewers. In fact, it is so dark that it includes only the darkest base notes: cruelly luscious dark cacao absolute, musty-sweet patchouli and the mysterious bitterness of myrrh. The result is a smooth, rich, dark, bitter-sweet chocolate elixir that glides on the skin and is as flawless as the black&white skin of a Film Noir actress.

Film Noir was initially inspired by the multi-layered mustiness of patchouli, yet was designed to impart a rich, warm, enveloping sensation that is a departure from the headshop stigma that stuck to patchouli since the 60's. To break that stereotype, we used five different types of patchouli, including a stunning Vintage Patchouli - patchouli that was aged for several years. Age and oxidation add sweetness and an almost powdery feel to the otherwise earthy and dry note.

The addition of cocoa absolute, with it's full-bodied caramel richness adds a sensational sensuality. Myrrh, with it's bitter-sweet medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities adds sophistication and mystical allure. This precious resinous oil was used for thousands of years for beautifying the skin and for its alluring and seductive qualities. The overall impression is a multi-layered, spicy, hot and naughty dark chocolate. Think Mayan chocolate elixir, rather than the sweet, North American rendition of the beverage.

GOOD NEWS for those who pre-ordered Film Noir: The tags for the perfume (which incldue the story behind Film Noir) are back from the printer, and your Film Noir will be shipped to you today!

Order your Film Noir today, as it is getting sold out fast!!!

You can also read & add your own reviews of Film Noir on MakeUpAlley and Basenotes, or visit Perfume Shrine for a feature review of Film Nonir by Helg.

Images: Above - Fay Danaway in Chinatown (courtesy of
Below - less known actors in production stills from the dark short film "Rondo" by David Griffith

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Interesting read: Interview with Tom Tykwer

I highly recommend you visit Michael Guillen' The Evening Class blog to read the interview with Tom Tykwer, the director and screenwriter of the film PERFUME.
Guillen talks with Tykwer about synesthesia, the power of smell and music, the twists of fate attached to releasing a film based on a bestseller (and with names that are perhaps too famous), his reactions to the Perfume Coffret inspired by the film, and about the process of transforming the book into a screenplay.

Read our film review and leave a comment there or here - tell us about what you thought of the book and what you hope to find in the movie, and you will be entered to win a double pass to the premiere screenings in Vancouver and Toronto. Don't forget to mention which city you are from as we will be running two different draws for the two cities.

Image from

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Interview on

Read Ayala Sender's Interview with Marlen Harrison of - it was published today, and you are invited to read and add comments as you please. One of the readers who posts a comment will win a free fragrance consultation and a sample pack of 12 samples from Ayala Moriel Parfums!

Ayala Moriel was also mentioned in the Perfume Advice Column today, together with no less than Anya McCoy of Anya's Garden - the dedicated director of the new Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild.

It's great to see Natural Perfumery acknowledged in such an appropriate time - as some of you know, December is Natural Perfumery Month!

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Stocking Stuffers, Naturally!

To celebrate Natural Perfumery Month this December, SmellyBlog provides you with a run down of stocking-stuffers offered by the Artisan Natural Perfumers’ Guild. The following are presented in an alphabetical order, with top picks particularly suitable for the holidays, as well as some fabulous ideas for stocking suffers!

I tried to keep all the items in this list under $40, and of course you are welcome to browse through the sites and find other super-special all-natural fragrant gifts, and read more about additional holiday specials.

Aftelier offers miniatures of most of Mandy Aftel’s parfums and essences (perfume oils). These 2ml sized each for $35, or three minis of your choice for $100:

A Little Olfactory’s Natural Wax candles: Votive candles for $2.50, and travel tin candles for $7.50. These come in four delicious fragrances: Carnation Fantasy, Lemon Verben Bouquet, Rosemary & Lavender , and Triple Mint. You can also find on this site a delicious Rose Petal Jam, incense and potpourri.

Anatolian Treasures – Natural Wax Candles
2oz votive candles range from $2-3, depeding on quantity bought. These are available in a variety of scents, including the particularly festive aromas of Fir/Spruce/Pine, Cardammom, Cinnamon & Orange.

Anya’s Garden just launched her new site (congratulations!), and offers Spray Samples for $30.

Artemisia Natural Perfume – offers sample packages for $12-20, and miniature eau de parfum splash bottle for $38 of which my favourites are Saffron (which reminds me of a warm-coloured silk sari), and Lavender & Cloves, and Anumati (scented with an unusually warm Kadam Tree Flower).

Ayala Moriel Parfums offers miniature vials of all scents this winter for only $31.99, or you can order a miniature wardrobe and get one for free. There is also a new scent in our collection for this winter: Bois d'Hiver, a refreshing take on the winter holiday scents.

Crimson Moon also offers candles, in many sizes colours and shapes. All scented with 100% pure plant aromas.

Desire in Sunlight
You can experience this line of line of perfumes and solid perfumes, samples of 3 for $15, or samples of all fragrances for $29
I haven’t tried all of Isabelle’s perfumes, but I fell hard and strong for her scented chocolate ganaches. My favourite is Jasmine Chocolate – a jasmine flavoured chocolate ganache, which is to die-for!
6oz for $18, 9oz for $24. These ganaches also come in other flavours, such as frangipani, lime, vervaine, lavender, blue lotus and tuberose!

Ecco Bella's scents in Bourbon Vanilla, Lavender, Ambrosia and Verbena run for $18.50 and can be also find in some brick&mortar stores across North America.

Fleur de Lis Parfums
The entire line of Fleur de Lis perfumes is offered in crème parfums in sterling silver boxes, for between $20-35.

Ganache for Lips
These gourment all=natural lip balms are the only lip balm that contains Scharffen Berger Chocolate - these all natural lip balms are offered in 9 delicious flavours, including chocolate mint, chocolate orange, mocha latte, chocolate raspberry, chocolate marzipan, chocolate hazelnut, lemon mousse, chocolate mousse and vanilla mousse.

Jeanne Rose’s Victorian Potpourri aromatherapy kit includes special holiday scent for scenting the room:
Anise, Cinnamon, Gifts of the Magi, Christmas Fir, Cedarwood & Orange Peel
$42.00 includes 6 Essential Oils packaged in a Handcrafted Tapestry Bag in a Santa & Teddy Bear Pattern

JoAnne Bassett’s new French Collection. 2ml vials are $35, and come in four intriguingly feminine, and sophisticated French scents: Chantelle, Camille, Colette and Contessa – all rich with pure floral absolutes such as rose, osmanthus, jasmine, tuberose and other rare essences. I am particularly intrigued by Colette, which combined cepes and cognac absolutes.

Lesle Abbot Gifts
Offers a Sample package for $20 and Be Still Meditation Blend $30 which includes calming and centering sacred oils of frankincense, myrrh, rose, blue lotus and more.

Perfume Oil Roll-ons $17.25
Comes in 11 different fragrances, in a base of organic jojoba oil.

Maui Perfumes Flower Butters
Exotic floral butters from Hawaii – solid perfumes in single notes for $17, and the signature scent
”Maui Sunshine” is a “lei in a jar” with notes of jasmine, orange blossom, pink lotus and more – for $24.

Mundo Botanica
Anatolia by Sevi Key
Solid perfume for $25, with notes of rose, chocolate, jasmine, vanilla, orange, tuberose and osmanthus.

Passionflower Perfume – Garden Collection roll on perfumes $30, available in Citrus Garden, Exotic Garden, Meditation Garden, Rose Garden and Spice Garden.
PassionFlower Perfume Boutique currently carries selected scents from Ayala Moriel miniatures as well.

Secret Garden
1/3oz perfume oil roll-ons for $7.50 Fragrances include: French Lavender in jojoba oil or try Amber and Lavender, Hippie Rose or Patchouli-Vanilla, which are mixed in a dry oil.

Sharini - Based in France, this natural perfumery offers 4 scents – 3 for women (Floriental, Méditerranée, Potion d’amour), and one for men (Rhapsodie). The roll on parfums come in a base of oraganic alcohol.
Roll on perfume 12 Euro
Crème perfume 16 Euro

Strang Invisible Perfumes offers sample vials for $7, and also holiday candles. You can also enter into a draw and win a free consultation and a perfume.

White Witch, from Ireland, uses no plastic to package her products. She is offering a new and interesting aternative: a scent stick. A beeswax based stick that glides on the skin to leave it fragrant, and comes in White Witch Gold (Cocoa, Tonka, & Pink Lotus), White Witch Sweet Heart (Pink Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang &Vanilla) and White Witch Mystery (Orris, Opoponax & Jasmine).

Zz Petals Absolute Amber Collection – roll on 6ml for $40 each, in 5 scents: Crème Vanil, Frangipani Rose, Sienna Sun, White Angel Musk, Mandalay.

Looking at all the website of the fellow perfumers is a feast to the eyes as well as the nose. I am sure I haven't quite covered everything so please visit their websites for more information. The directory for the perfumers in the guild is listed both in the guild's website, and on

Happy Holidays!

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tips for Watching "Perfume"

The following are a few tips for watching the movie “Perfume: A Story of a Murderer”, one being perfume related, and the other not so much so.

I most highly recommend wearing no perfume at all to the theatre, so that you can focus all your imagination on the olfactory world described in the film. This is what I did and it was quite fabulous. On the other hand, my scent-abstinence during the film was wildly shattered by the most bizarre experience in public set-up, (surpassed only by another peculiar event last Thursday, when I noticed a lady exposing her breasts for her date - and me, who happened to sit right in front of her - in an elegant candle-lit restaurant): in the middle of the film, and I can’t remember which part it was, someone in the audience suddenly remember that s/he forgot to put on perfume this evening. This must have been of utter importance, because s/he responded to that by spraying on a lethal dose of Poison. Even though she sat somewhere in the middle of the audience (while I was sitting on the side), this was extremely distracting and disturbing. I managed to block it off after a while and continue to enjoy the film. But I can assure you that even if you love perfume, and feel you have the right to wear it to the movies – be sure to put it on at least half an hour before you enter the theatre. Especially if you are going to a movie that is trying so hard to send an olfactory message to the audience.

As I said, I was fortunate to sit very far away from the Poison, which brings me to the next point: I was not seated in the best place in the theatre, which is a shame. If you want to experience the film to its fullest, arrive as early as you can to find a good spot. Preferable right in front of the screen. This way you will enjoy to its fullest the tactile filming style and the olfactory imagination it will trigger in you.

Lastly, I do recommend you read the book first, if you can (even though, as I mentioned earlier, I did enjoy the film much more; the second part of the book is particularly important to read in my opinion). Films cannot possibly cover an entire book to all its details, and some of the most entertaining ones from the second part of the book did not make it to the film (which did not really take away from the story, essentially). Some of the descriptions of perfume making are quite fascinating, and philosophical (especially from a perfumer’s point of view). But most importantly – if you are not a horror-movie fan, this will help you to be able to watch the film and all the bizarre moments and not get completely scared or grossed out. We all know that it’s the anticipation that creates the unbearable suspence in a film. And when it comes to serial killings, I am usually quite sensitive to that. But, because I already knew what to expect I could enjoy the film’s quirky beauty without getting my stomach turned (and, that is to add, I managed to watch the movie like a big girl, with a couple of friends, and without a boyfriend in sight to squeeze his hands in the scary parts…). The fear would have been a distraction from enjoying the film. For me, that is.

Don’t forget to leave a comment either for this post or for the film review, and mention which city you are from – Toronto or Vancouver – so you will be entered into the draw and win a double pass to the Premieres in those cities! And don't forget to tell all your friends from Toronto and Vancouver about it either. The winners will also receive a $25 coupon for Ayala Moriel Parfums.

Tune in for more special posts regarding the book and the movie, and also some special events to come in early January!

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Fête d'Hiver reviewed on Perfume Shrine

Visit Perfume Shrine blog to read Helg's review of Fête d'Hiver, my perfume celebrating the winter holidays, with the soft ambiance of snow and fur...
You'll also find there a brief mention of Bois d'Hiver, the limited edition this winter - foresty, with sweet balsams and flowers, and a hint of spice.

Image: Sugar Plum Snowflake by Piper

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December is Natural Perfume Month

The Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild has named December Natural Perfume Month in recognition of the growing interest in natural fragrances. The first naturally-perfumed gifts associated with the month of December were those given in Bethlehem of frankincense and myrrh. Those fragrant tree resins are found in many natural perfumes today.
During this month, ancient traditions called for a fragrant conifer tree, wreaths and boughs decorating the home. Today, the wonderful aroma of cooking with sweet spices like cinnamon and clove adds to the ambiance, creating a truly festive atmosphere.

Celebrate with us the beauty of natural perfumes during the Natural Perfume Month this December. Make this holiday season even more special and memorable, by choosing beautiful handcrafted luxurious scents offered by the Perfumers of the Artisan Natural Perfumers Guild. Visit the Natural Perfumery portal - a directory to natural perfumeries and associate members of the Artisan Natural Perfumers' Guild - and take advantage of the seasonal special offers!

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