Saturday, September 22, 2007

Making Peace with the Angels

Þoka og hvönn - Fog and angelica, originally uploaded by Harpa J.

It is no co-incidence that as of yet, angelica is nowhere to be found in a single perfume in my collection. For the longest time, I had the toughest time tolerating being in the vicinity of this particular note.

To the perfumer, each note has its own unique characteristics and can play an important role in a perfume. No building block should be neglected, and a good perfumer should really know better than to impose his own personal preferences on his compositions. I have always followed this principle, creating perfumes from fragrance families that I don’t care for my own personal use, or employ notes that I am not particularly fond of. But when it came to angelica – I have garnered very little success in my attempts to overcome my personal prejudices. It rarely happened to me before with any of the precious botanical essences that I’ve met on my path of perfumery. But angelica has simply made me ill if I got near it. The same feeling I would get just before fainting or “seeing black”; the same near-nausea I got when I was harvesting fava beans, green or dry, and the combination of sun-stroke and blood-drained brain after bending for too long, along with smelling the poisonous fumes emanating from the abovementioned fava beans and other weeds, them too, over exposed to the heat of the sun.

It has been my goal for quite some time now to get over this angelicaphobia of mine. And recently, the opportunity has arose in the form of two new samples of angelica oil and angelica absolute from China, as well as the advanced stages of a fougere type fragrance that I have been working on for nearly 7 years now. I have also noticed some shifts in my own relationships with green notes (which formerly caused me a similar, though not as intense reaction as angelica) – one of the significant changes in me olfactory wise in the past year was the acceptance of No. 19 as one of my favourite perfumes to wear (a perfume which before now caused me deep grief every time I’ve worn it). There is no apparent reason or cause from my own life that I can connect to this shift of change. But I am sure the explanation will surface and I will become aware of it when it’s the right time…

So, the following posts will be dedicated to angelica, as my relationship with this difficult note shifts and transforms. I will discuss some of its characteristics, medicinal and folkloric uses, and the history of using angelica in perfume. Finally, I will share with you bits and pieces from my journey with angelica in my recent creations and experiments.

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