Perfumer's Year End Review and an Outlook to 2007
This year has been particularly fruitful for me as a perfumer. It was marked for me as the year of acknowledgement of my work as the word is gradually spreading around about what I do in my little perfumery. But this was already discussed and announced throughout the year. What I would like to write about here today is how this year has been for me from a creative point of view and a little more about my vision and outlook for the upcoming year 2007.
The Search for Simplicity
It all started with Viola (in Summer 2004). The most simple perfume I’ve ever created, yet with an unmistakable scent of violet flower. As violet flower absolute is not available, this was quite an achievement – but this was more than a violet accord, this was a perfume on its own right. Viola has even less ingredients than I had in my two other simple and modest soliflores, Lovender (Summer 2002) and Rosebud (Spring 2003).
While in my earlier stages as a perfumer, I was lead to believe that what makes a perfume a true perfume (as opposed to just a “blend”), is how many essences are in it – and the more the better – I started to examine other approaches for perfumery besides that. As in many other cases - it’s more about the quality than quantity. How do the notes interact? What makes them beam and shine, what makes them want to play together and create something new.
So, instead of using as many essences as I can pack into a perfume without making it smell muddy, and still make a definite statement where the notes interact but not clash – this year I was mostly interested in stripping the perfume down to the minimum of essences that would be needed to create a perfume. I was enjoying the process and the results so much that I have launched a whole line based on that concept – “The Language of Flowers”. This collection of soliflores is an exercise in creating a perfume while respecting the original aroma of one particular note.
The Language of Flowers
This collection really is what it says – each perfume tells the story of a single flower. It’s not so much about fantasy like most of my other perfumes, as it is a minimalist painting of the essence of a flower and its surrounding. For those who know me well, the soliflore collection is somewhat of a surprise, because my favourite perfumes to wear are not florals at all but Chypres and Orientals. But for those who know me really well this should not come as a surprise at all, as I was in love and obsessed with flowers since a very young age, and was caught talking to them and searching for the fairies and the spirits that live inside them ever since I can remember myself (I did stop doing this literally as I grew up, and switched to more socially acceptable forms of expressing my interest though, such as perfumery, so you won't find me doing this now).
This year I have created several soliflores, all quite different from one another, yet there is a single thread connecting between them all: each is devoted to a single flower, and is extending different aspects in the flower while the main theme remains the evolution of the scent - a day in a life of a flower.
Yasmin is all about jasmine, from dawn to a summer night; Zohar is an orange flowers in an orchard in the spring; Les Nuages de Joie Jaune is a sunny spring day with mimosa pollen clouding the air to the point of intoxication; and Kinmokusei is the osmanthus apricot and tea and suede scented flowers washing in the dark rains of late Autumn.
The jasmine notes in Yasmin are lifted by a hint of mimosa to create a dewy, early morning blossoms opening just before sunrise, and are sustained till midnight with a light incensey amber base.
The orange blossom notes in Zohar are sweetened and lightened by citrus fruit notes (also to illustrate the fruit that is still on the trees at the time of the year and re-create that olfactory experience), and anchored by a honeyed amber base as well as the unusually dark note of broom absolute.
The mimosa notes in Les Nuages de Joie Jaune, which otherwise are a very fleeting and unstable top notes, are grounded by cassie flower absolute (a species of mimosa that is actually a base note), and a hint of jasmine acts as a bridge between the two.
In Kinmokusei, the fruity aspects of osmanthus flower are extended by wild orange and apricot essence, the the green tea notes are extended with linden blossom and green tea, while the base portrays the leathery, suede like qualities of osmanthus with notes of tobacco and hay absolutes.
Richness and Tranquility
My work on Film Noir may seem to contradict the simplicity I was seeking in most of my new perfumes this year. But a close look will reveal that this is actually just as simple: it includes only three components, and are all base notes. Myrrh, Patchouli and Chocolate. It is the use of different types of patchouli with different qualities that makes this perfume rich and project complexity and sophistication.
Razala, on the other hand, is another story. Here is where I really went wild and used my own “classic” method of using many different and rich essences, at times contradicting, and put them all together to create something harmonious and beautiful. Razala marks a point of what my favourite current notes are. Saffron, pink pepper, orange blossom, magnolia, broom, tuberose, rose, oudh, myrrh, antique patchouli (aged to the point of perfection) and to top it all off – ambergris tincture, the real thing!
However, as complex as this is, the result to me is harmonious and tranquil... Quite puzzling, actually.
Sabotage, the new masculine perfume in my collection this year, is actually a reformulation of an earlier creation by the same name, also surrounding vetiver, tobacco and citrus leaves. But while the original was quite rustic and earthy, the new rendition is far more elegant and refined, with more space inbetween the notes and the composition is of course slightly different and far more luxurious – with orange blossom absolute and orange flower water absolute. There is also some tonka bean at the base, which adds something unique to the tobacco and vetiver. Even though it’s very different from Razala, it has a similar air to it in the balance between complexity and simplicity.
This year, for me, was truly marked with the admiration for particular notes. And while jasmine was nothing new to me as a perfumery material, I did discover things I didn’t know about it before by working on Yasmin. Orange blossom absolute, osmanthus and cassie were new and exciting notes that really fascinated me to work with. And so was broom.
Another re-discovery, or in fact, a true first discovery in a lot of ways for me, was patchouli. Breaking out of the box and the hippie cliché was a challenge, and I am now smelling patchouli afresh, from a completely different point of view. The sources for raw materials are what makes all the difference here. A patchouli that was carefully harvested, dried, matured and distilled is completely different from the patchouli found in so many aromatherapy and health food stores. It really makes all the difference, just like in wine – if this comparison is of any help. I think Film Noir really proves that patchouli is a luxurious and magical note that has a lot more to it than masking the fumes of marijuana…
Outlook for 2007
I am planning to tone down a bit the releases of perfumes. At this point, without counting the Zodiac perfumes (which, by the way, seem to have very little interest to anyone except me 6 years ago and therefore may become an “on demand only” production item) – I offer almost 40 different perfumes. This makes packaging really complicated, not to mention having samples and testers for all of them. I still have a few exciting perfumes that I would like to add to the collection, but I am going to slow down on the new releases and focus more on promoting the line as a whole and the “old favourites” which truly deserved to be known just as much as the new exciting thing.
My plans are to release three more soliflores, which I am going to try hard not to reveal their identities too soon; I will just tell you that one of them will come in the spring, and it’s called Tirzah – a linden blossom soliflore. It’s not completely a new perfume because I released a very similar scent in 2005, but had to discontinue it because I discovered the linden blossom sold to me was fake! The new formulation, however, preserves most of the sparkling qualities of the previous version, so those of you who loved “Linden Blossom” from 2004 would be delighted.
The other two soliflores will be released in the fall, as they are quite warm and sweet and even spicy, and will be a nice way to ease into winter.
I am also working quite feverishly on another perfume which will have to remain top secret. I will only say this: if you loved the intensity and boldness, and unusual gourmand richness of Film Noir, you will love this one. It’s also going to be quite simple, yet luxurious!
Coming mid-January and for the approaching Valentine’s Day, you will also be able to indulge in a limited edition called Roses et Chocolat – which is exactly what the name implies as these two notes are the theme for the perfume which tries to provide three gifts that declare love in only one flacon: roses, chocolate and perfume, of course!
The notes include pink pepper, mace and three varieties of roses, over a base of chocolate, amber and benzoin.
Roses et Chocolate will be offered on its own, in a heart-decorated box, or in a collection of Love Potions for Valentine’s Day: either with the two other chocolate based perfumes (Guilt and Film Noir), or with Guilt and Razala.
Significant Olfactory Event of the Year
This is my trip to Israel this spring. An experience that must be repeated every year to maintain my sanity. The inspiration that the desert flowers in springtime brings to me and the power boost I get for the rest of the year from re-connecting with the nature that raised me is something that I wish for myself I could do every single year as long as I live. It was thanks to this trip that I managed to truly complete my perfume Zohar, which really smells like the orange blossom orchards back home.
Second-runners for the fame are other not any less important events though not as emotional for me:
- The new packaging fro my perfumes (which will be even better next year, wait and see!)
- My trip to NYC and my perfume discoveries there (the most important one being that I really do enjoy traveling alone!)
- Stronger relationships with my esteemed suppliers
- And last but not least - this very humble blog, which I am loving and enjoying. My love of writing about perfumes seconds only my love for creating and smelling perfumes. I am also very grateful for all the new friendships I have forged with other bloggers and with SmellyBlog readers.
Technical Goals for 2007
I am the most clumsy tinctures the world have seen, and this is something that I would like to change this year. Tincturing is an art on its own right, and I think I will have to overcome my very unsuccessful experience in the past and learn this art from scratch. There are plendy of flowers and special herbs in my home village in Israel that I miss and I would love to be able to tincture them when I visit. My tinctures of olive resin (a true rarity which I will have to dedicate an entire post for) just reminded me of how fabulous it would be to incorporate indigenous plants from home in my perfumes. That would add a completely new dimension to the perfume itself, as well as the creative process, in all the sensual aspects (touch, smell as well as visually).
Wishes for the New Year
I wish for myself that you will love my perfumes as much as I do – or better yet – more than I do.
I also wish for my business to finally have its own space somewhere downtown, an attractive studio gallery space that will be as minimal and organized as could be, and plenty of fun. This way you could drop in for visits whenever you want to be pampered by genuine scents of our world that are out of this world gorgeous – the scents that Mother Nature allows us to steal from her and capture in little coveted flacons.
I invite you all to join me here on SmellyBlog and tell other readers of the olfactory landmarks in your lives this year. Be it a particularly marvellous perfume or a whiff of a special flower or herb - we want to hear what your year smelled like!