Monday, October 29, 2007

Sexy in the Bedroom - or the Boardroom?

Visit CBC's Living in Toronto to get tips from Marian Bendeth about how to pick a scent for your significant other.
Marian Bendeth is a Canadian Fragrance Expert with an international reputation and the founder of of Sixth Scents.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Portobello West Today - Big Sale!

All Ayala Moriel fragrances will be offered at 25% off tomorrow at Portobello West. Don't miss on this rare opportunity to get your favourite scent for only $75 instead of the usual $100 price per bottle.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
For more details visit Portobello West website.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

September's Monthly Draw: Virgo Perfume

the letter writer, originally uploaded by traingel.

I can't believe September (and soon - October) has flown by so fast without me even announcing the winners yet for the monthly draw! Sorry to have taken so long... Indeed, the holiday season seems to start in September...

The winner was selected blindly and randomly by a third party (my little daughter Tamya) from amongst those of you who ordered online from during September. The Lucky winner of September's Monthly Giveaway is:

Yoko from Japan

Congratulations, Yoko!

You will be receiving in the mail a 10ml roll-on bottle of Virgo perfume shortly.

At the end of October we will announce the October winner, who will receive a luxurious roll-on bottle of a Zodiac anointing oil - Libra perfume!

We will continue with these monthly draws until the end of the year.

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Time is Ticking for the Zodiac

Endlessly, Hopelessly, originally uploaded by Alistair Craven.

Ever since I've announced the discontinuation of the Zodiac perfumes, there has been a revival in the interest in them. I'm even beginning to get desperate emails from devastated customers that couldn't find them on my new website.

Well, here are a few good news for those who were unaware of Ayala Moriel's strict policy about making all scents available as special order. Even ones that were discontinued. That is upon two condition:

1) You must order a full bottle (either 8ml flacon or 10ml roll-on) - samples are not available for discontinued perfumes (for a simple reason: we only make these fragrances on special-order basis so we don't usually have them in stock).
2) The ingredients for making the perfume in question are available in the market. If a building block is "discontinued" so to speak (meaning: it's not in prodution and therefore we cannot acquire it anymore), there is not much we can do about it. Unless, of course, we change the formula!

Some of you may remember that the Zodiac perfumes are on a huge 50% clearance sale ($65 per each 10ml roll-on parfum oil bottle!) until the end of 2007. This is true as long as quantities last. Which means, that if you order a perfume that is no longer in stock, and we need to make a special batch for you - you will still be charged the full amount ($130).

To place your order, simply visit my old Quinta-Essentia website, on the Zodiac page. Select the Zodiac sign you want to purchase, and with one click you will be able to order your favourite Zodiac perfume oil (or creme parfum). If the fragrance is still in stock, you will be refunded immediately for the 50% discount. If we need to make it especially for you, the full price will be charged.

For your information, here is a list of the Zodiac perfumes still in stock:

Taurus - Oriental rose deepened with patchouli and vanilla and a sprinkled with a hint of palmarosa and tangerine.

Gemini - Citrus Chypre, with lemongrass, oakmoss and agarwood

Cancer - Deeply sensual amber with luxurious jasmine and mysterious notes of camphor and anise.

Leo - Incensey and bright, with olibanum, Roman chamomile, cinnamon, rose and vanilla.

Libra - Soft floriental with tuberose, tonka bean rose and sandalwood and a hint of green galbanum and clementine.

Scorpio - Leathery and naughty with lotus, tuberose, smoked benzoin, jasmine, tonka, zantoxylum, opoponax and black and pink peppercorns.

Sagittarius - Exotic, warm foresty and spicy with fir absolute, black tea, champaca, carnation and star anise.

Aquarius - Fougere floral with Linden blossom, green cognac, lavender, rosewood, Buddha wood, blue cypress and myrrh.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Interesting Read: Interview with Jean-Claude Ellena

Visit the LA Times to read an interesting article and an interview with perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena - about his inspiration, philosophy and work environment.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Biche dans l'Absinthe

Astute Deer, originally uploaded by Razzy Raz.

Doe through the Artemisia bushes… Her coat glows in the warm autumnal sun. Freedom is happiness. And the single notion that being is all there is to life.

Victoire Gobin-Daudé, a gifted French independent perfumer, who unfortunately whose line was discontinued, unfortunately, uses only natural essences in the five perfumes she released to the world to enjoy for a limited period of time.

Biche dans l’Absinthe offers yet another perspective to the bittersweetness of green and aromatic fougeres: the pairing of animalic with herbaceous.

Opening with sweaty notes of cumin and the underlining warmth of immortelle, the doe has just paused from a brisk morning gallop in fields of semi-dry hay. It is mid Autumn, and the first sunrays are warming her shiny coat, releasing steam of animal sweat and morning dew from the surrounding vegetation. Citrus notes play a subtle role of diffusing the bitterness of Artemisia (absinthe) while bergamot creates a soft powdery aura, complementary to the cumin.
There is a hint of floral in the heart, alongside the Artemisia. It might be orange blossom, or perhaps neroli. It is very subtle and is present only to soften and blend the phases together. The base is at once dry and sweet – with dried tobacco leaves, the abovementioned immortelle and its animalic yet herbaceouse-dry sweetness, and hay of course, for a good measure of coumarin and nourishment for the doe so she can run freely on my skin for hours to come.

Top notes: Lemon, Cumin, Bergamot, Lemon Leaf
Heart notes: Artemisia (Absinthe), Neroli, Lavender Absolute
Base notes: Tobacco, Immortelle Absolute, Hay Absolute

For more information about this line you can try to contact:
Gobin Daudé Parfums
34, rue de Penthièvre
75008 Paris
Phone : 33(0)142250386
Fax : 33(0)142250669
Email :
Manager : Victoire Gobin-Daudé
Sales contact : Christophe Bourgeois

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Coutorture Must Reads 22/10/2007

My review of Narciso Rodriguez for Him has garnered the interest of Coutorture editors and appears on today's Must Read. Yey!

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Immortelle l'Amour and Vetiver Racinettes on

Karin of has published her thoughts on my latest two perfumes - Immortelle l'Amour and Vetiver Racinettes. While Immortelle l'Amour is to be lauched this November, along with a beautiful tea blend made by Inner Alchemy Tea Co., Vetiver Racinette's launch date is still undercover...

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Fougère Recipe, Literally

fougère naissante, originally uploaded by jean.avenas.

Edible Fougere Recipe: Fiddleheads in Lavender Butter

Fiddleheads are the budding, coiled “leaves” of ostrich ferns ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). The fiddleheads are present in early spring, and are considered a delicacy. They have a very similar to asparagus in both flavour and texture.

This recipe pays a culinary tribute to the “fougere” family by using an edible fern in combination with lavender.

1 lb (or one large bunch) fresh fiddleheads
3 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. lavender buds
2 Tbs. white wine
Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the lavender buds. Add salt and spices.

1. Boil the fiddleheads in water until tender.

2. Strain the water, and boil again (this will remove bitterness as well as possible toxins such as tannins in the fiddleheads).

3. Strain the butter through a sieve, to remove the lavender buds.

4. In a frying pan or shallow sauce pan, lightly sauté the fiddleheads in the lavender butter, and add white wine. Cook until most of the wine has evaporated.

5. Garnish with dry lavender buds or sprigs of fresh, flowering lavender tops.

6. Serve warm or in room temperature.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007


me ~ sitting on some concrete, originally uploaded by striatic.

In contrary to the low expectations I had from Narciso Rodriguez for Her, which lead (after several twists and turns of the plot) to a surprising delight from what seemed to be just another non-descript trendy floral – the launch of Narciso Rodriguez for Him had at least a seed of expectations on my part. One would expect that it would do to Fougere what For Her did to Chypre – meaning: disregard it completely and instead, invent a new modern floral category (abstract musky floral). In the case of fougere (also a composition reliant on oakmoss, this time contrasted with lavender), one would anticipate we’ll see the birth of a musky lavender, something not all that far from Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely – but perhaps a bit masculinized.

However, I am sorry to report that none of that happened. I stepped into Holt Renfrew the other night accompanied by my brother Noam - a budding perfumista with a collection that could not embarrass a gentlemen twice his age (of course I will only take partial responsibility over his interest in fragrance). His immediate reaction was disgust (and we are talking about a young man who consents to the title fragrance whore –seriously, there is hardly anything he doesn’t like!).

From the moment For Him was sprayed on the paper stripe, I could not help but think of concrete. The opening notes are bizarre and somewhat disturbing. There is a hint of honey, reminiscent of the honey flower note in For Her. But one can tell right away that there is nothing groundbreaking about this fougere at all. Like most modern fougeres, the lavender is very refined, the oakmoss very subdued. Synthetic notes take over, usually with a metallic coolness that reflects more of the methods the scent was created (by machines) than the human inspiration (if there was any involved).

To me, the scent just confirmed a strong connection to the bizarre choice of colour for the bottle – a concrete gray of the most depressing hue I’ve seen in a long time. If this was fabric, perhaps I would be able to find some comfort in it. But being made of a thick cold shiny glass makes one feel just that – cold and “correctic”. Nothing more. It seems Narciso Rodriguez has simultaneously run out of ideas for his bottle’s colors and the scent of their contents. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And I think the posted ad for this fragrance says it all: it’s the cliché of a fragrance ad for men – chest exposed medium shot of a young man - nothing surprising, except, perhaps, the extremely dark thick hair and the supposedly-mysterious lack of eye contact.

If it was indeed inspired by the “great fougeres of the 80’s" than we must look back and try to remember these. Cool Water by Davidoff comes to mind, with its antiseptic Jacuzzi cleaner sillage and metal bladed breath. Anything inspires by that (or the 80’s, for that matter) is likely to make me shudder… Considering that real, sophisticated, original fougeres are originated in the 80’s of the previous century, it does make one wonder.

For Him opens with a disturbing bouquet of both dry cement and wet concrete, unrecognizable spices and a honey note. The intrigue dissipates quickly when the scent becomes a familiar, I’ve-smelled-this-before modern fougere accord – a hint of fake herabceous water, some non-descript fruity sweetness that is fortunately not quite nausearing, but just almost (it reminds me quite a bi t of the sweetness of Jean-Payl Gaultier for men, only with the sillage toned down 10 fold); a glimpse of violet leaf coolness and a certain smokiness that my brother describes as ‘ashtray smell” but at the same time he also detects some good smelling fresh herb notes. The dry down settles within about an hour – a close to the skin, rather soft, undecisive mélange of amber and musk (it is also said to contain patchouli, but I can’t say I am recognizing any). Nothing offensive in the drydown, and the sillage is soft and non overpowering – the contrary of what I’ve expected after the magical sillage and staying power of For Her (it has a tendency to stay everywhere after it was applied, and even withstand a laundry – yet it does it with a nice touch of mischevious elegance – almost like Josephine’s deliberate musk contamination before leaving Napoleon’s palaces). The only thing that truly stands out (if you take a very close look) is an animalic ambergris note, somewhat fecal, but with such low-key vibrations it can never offend and unelss you’ve smelled it before it would be very hard to put your finger on it. It reminds me of l’Antimateirer; unfortunately, in this instance one needs to wait a long time for it to emerge. And this might just be its chance for success.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Goats and Lavender

Lavender bokeh, originally uploaded by borealnz.

While Pan perfume takes its inspiration from the fascinating tale of Pan as it’s told over the magical pages of Jitterbug Perfume – the fragrance itself is not as inspirational as it could have been. If the perfume in Jitterbug was designed to mask the carnal, throaty aroma of the goat god with beet blossoms, citron and patchouli - in Pan it is an extract from that exact animal itself that lends the perfume a glimpse of a godly nature.

Pan can be credited to be the first perfume to employ goat-hair tincture (a cruelty-free animal note). Aside from that, it is a straight-forward ambery-fougere, employing the berry-like Seville lavender absolute as an anchoring note, and the required oakmoss absolute as the base to create a fougere reaction. Other notes include cedar, white lotus, beeswax, patchouli and labdanum, and create a smooth ambery-fougere with hints of suede-like leatheriness, mostly resulting from the presence of the above mentioned Seville lavender and labdanum.

Pan is a rather simple, yet very pleasing natural fougere. Aside from the animalic herding-goat note, there are no surprises or turning points within its evolution. This is precisely why it provides a redeeming point from the tropical clutter of Fairchild or the muddy vanilla-citrus of Riverside (now discontinued) from the same perfume house. In the end, it must be its goaty charm that appeals to me the most – growing in the countryside amongst herding goats gave me no option but to take into liking anything remotely goatly. And now only one question remains: will goat hair tincture become a staple on the natural perfumer's organ? And even if it doesn't - what else can be achieved using this unusual raw material?

To read other reviews and opinions of Pan, visit:
Anya's Garden
Perfume Shrine

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall into Fragrance

Fall into Fragrance, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Whether it’s because there is too much to do or too little – lists are always good. They give you a sense of direction when you lack one, and even better – help you pick a direction when there is too much chaos!
It’s no wonder lists always show up more often at the beginning or the end of a year, as a reflection or a way to find a new sense of purpose, even in the most vane and superfluous realms of life such as fragrance and fashion…

This time of year, when the wooly sweaters make a come-back and some days even a pair of tights isn’t a bad idea – we look for a perfume that reflects the most moody of all seasons. Annual lists are particularly interesting, because they show us what happened in that 9- month gap of the seasonal cycle. What’s new? What stayed the same?

One thing is evident - my choices for Autumn usually include more than one perfume that is either spicy, leathery or chypre. Several years ago I’ve also discovered the charm of a coumarin overdosed fougere during this temperamental and impulsive yet introverted and mellow-mooded season. These types of fragrances (i.e.: chypre, fougere, leathers) always make me feel confident and strong. Something that is much needed when facing a long, dark, cold and wet winter. Spices add warmth and also sweetness that is both cozy and comforting.

However, some things have changed indeed. First of all, some new perfumes! Perfumes that I haven’t been wearing regularly before (either from lack of interest or because they are relatively new – or at least to me). Than, I notice some craving of more simple scents. Even a Chypre gal can play down her sophistication sometimes… There is also the odd uber-fresh and dry choice, which is odd but it just shows that even I can surprise myself from time to time.

Tokusen Body Incnese (Shoyeido)
The house of Soyeido has been preparing premium incense blends for Japanese monks for the past three hundred years.
According to their site, “Shoyeido's traditional body powders are derived from recipes created two centuries ago in an esoteric temple on Mt. Koya. Made completely of natural ingredients such as cloves, cinnamon, patchouli, sandalwood and borneo camphor, they enhance awareness, clarity and purification. To use, apply a small portion on the ear lobes or on the wrist.” Apparently, as Persephenie from Blunda (which is where you can get both the perfume and the ebony powder box for travel and elegant & economic application of this unusual dry perfume) explained to me, monks used this to purify their hands before prayer, meditation and touching others (though it is not quite clear whom and why – perhaps their teachers? Or saints?). One thing I know for sure: wearing this body incense makes me acknowledge the sacredness of my body more than any other perfume ever did. As for the scent itself – it is at first very camphoreous, woody and musty. Once applied, the camphor evaporates quite fast, transforming into a sweet and spicy perfume.

Bois des Îles
My most sophisticated choice for the season. Bois des Îles has enchanted me with its rich woods (sandalwood, vetiver) and classic aldehydic floral notes (ylang ylang) and just a touch of spices in a most deliciously subtle way. It was said before me that there is a little of the “gingerbread” feel to Bois des Îles. Basenotes, to which the image to the left is credited, goes as far as listing it as a note. And it’s true. Nutmeg and ginger and a very controlled pinch of cloves create that sensation, but in the most abstract of ways. Don’t expect a gingerbread man to pop up with colourful candy-buttons any moment – you’ll be only getting a gentle waft from a remote oven, like a flash of a childhood memory…

L de Lolita Lempicka
Despite its very simplistic composition (as far as notes go, I can only smell 5 components: cinnamon, sweet orange, vanilla, musk and immortelle), L is a perfume with a potent synergistic power, with a beauty that has nearly therapeutic side effects. Something I very rarely encounter with fragrances of such synthetic composition. The body line is coming out any day now to The Bay in Canada, and even though I hardly ever use any scented body products, I will be one of the first to jump on the opportunity to have another nose-candy around to smell whenever I seek comfort and a quiet, peaceful moment of happiness. As an interesting note, this is the one perfume I got this year that I'm about to empty its 1oz spray bottle. I even went as far as aquiring the (painful to open but blissful to wear!) flacon as pictured above. It looks better in real life.

Pure Turquoise
Those who know me well enough know I’m not a Ralph Lauren material. To me Ralph Lauren represents a culture that not only am I not a part of, but it was never an intriguing one for me either. I will probably never be the type of lady who wears Ralph Lauren clothes, attends Yacht Club galas and plays golf and tennis. I will gladly leave that to 5'10" ladies like Natasha.

Tags and preconceptions aside, I really do like his latest “serious” perfume launch (putting aside all the teenager targeted ones which I wasn’t even able to follow!) – Pure Turquoise. The only thing jewel-like about this perfume is its extreme coolness. Like a semi-precious stone that is looked at rather than worn, it is cold, yet very appealing. There is a salty feeling about it, which has nothing to do with fall except that I’m really enjoying it these days! I find it to be an excellent all-purpose fragrance. With its intense grapefruit opening (reminiscent of Herbal Essence shampoo!) and clean patchouli base it is utterly non-sweet, which is sometimes all I really need. The pure parfum is outrageously priced, especially in Canada (for a mere $425 – keep in mind that the Canadian currency is stronger than the USD these days!). I was especially lucky to find this on eBay for a fraction of the price, because there is nothing more sensually bracing than gliding a smooth cold piece of glass dipped in concentrated juice across one’s skin…

This list will not be complete without something to scent the room when you are cuddling with a good book after a hard day at work. I've just discovered Gabriel's Aunt line of naturally scented candles, and I have to share with you the excitement of finding an interesting scent in the realm of naturally scented candles. These burn with a delicate, radiating throw and emit a gentle scent even when are not burnt. My favourites are the more summery ones, but I have to mention both Hugs & Kisses (cardamom, sweet orange and cloves) and Slow Dance (Sandalwood & Patchouli). The latter is an interesting thing to burn while wearing your Bois des Îles.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Up for Grabs: Two Gorgeous Poison Rings

I've just updated my website to include two new and gorgeous poison rings
- one is a special for October, with the months' unique Birthstone - a Blue Fire Opal Poison Ring with colourful, glittery flames of turquoise, green, yellow and a hint of orange-pink.
The ring works particularly well with our signature pendents, but also makes an amazing stand-alone conversation piece. It is already filled with a solid perfume of Yasmin - our luxurious jasmine soliflore.
This ring is brand new, made of sterling silver and is size 7.

The other piece is a Peridot poison ring, hansomly faceted into a rectangular shape. The compartment is square and roomy - enough to fit quite a bit of solid perfume of your choice. This ring is empty, awaiting your command to fill it with a luxuruious cream perfume. We recommend it to be filled with either Grin, Bon Zai, Charisma, Bois d'Hiver, Indigo, l'Ecume des Jours, Megumi or Viola.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007


pennine mate, originally uploaded by itsjustanalias.

My struggle with green fragrance per-se has never been a secret. Yes somehow, Fougères never posed any struggle for me. Their intense complexity, the headiness of herbs tamed by mossy undergrowth and, as I said, the “bittersweetness” of green” makes it easy for me. Fougères make me feel confident. Perhaps it is their intense masculinity (by association or design? This is hard to tell, as we are pre-programmed to believe in the masculinity of Fougère simply by the bold packaging and the fact that most of our fathers – particularly the ones who shaved and bothered with aftershave – smelled like this kind or another of Fougère – and Brut comes to mind effortlessly as an example).

I’ve stumbled upon two unusual, modern, bittersweet greens: Yohji and Yerbamate. The first being more of a green oriental rather than Fougère – combining an unusual dosage of galbanum (to the point of choking! And what’s more – its combined with a weird aquatic top note as well that is almost off-putting at first, until one gets used to the inseparable oddness of the entire composition, which is precisely what makes it so wonderful on those days when you’re in the mood for it). The combination of galbanum, a spritz of ozone, caramel, raspberry and an overdose of coumarin and vanilla at the base, which turns powdery after hours of wearing is unusual, odd, strange and at the same time appealing.

The other scent, Yerbamate, is a lot easier to stomach at first. Starting terribly green, nearly to the point of an Absinthe poisoning, I was always surprised I’ve enjoyed it so. I detect a fair amount of lavender as well as Artemisia, and again a very odd green – this time not only from galbanum, but also from the unusual note of tomato leaf. But what begins astringent and bitter like a very dry Martini suddenly changes direction and turns into an uber-sweet concoction. There is non of the berries or caramel here, yet like most of Villoresi’s scents (I find), it ends with a very sweet amber. This time, the amber is cleverly concealed amongst heaps of dried hay and powdery coumarin. If you think of a hay ride (or a more grown up type of hay ride), this would be a surprisingly soft one. And this is to the point of extreme indulgence in powdery ambery feathery fluff bordering on the dessert kind. The sip of bitter yerbamate was rewarded by sweetness that would have made you forget you might heard that name earlier…

To give you a completely different view of this prestigiously sought-after perfume, I will have to share with you a little story which my perfume friend Alden shared with me – simply because it put a big grin on my face in a much needed moment: “I read so many wonderful reviews about Yerbamate. I adore all things greens. So I was on a quest for perfection. It was first on my list of must-smells last Thanksgiving in NYC. I read the company's description over and over until I was virtually spellbound. So, I go up the sixth floor of Yah-whatever the Japanese department store on 5th Avenue and wander over. I spritz. Smells exactly like Canoe. I giggle and leave with a silly smile on my face. Anyway, I just wanted to share.” Thanks for sharing, Alden!

I haven’t had the opportunity to smell Canoe in recent years (the one time it turned out in the drugstore as a candidate for grandpa’s Christmas gift there were no testers, and that was about 6 years ago), but I can say oe thing about Yerbamate: it’s a fougere. And the emphasis here is on the concept of fougere, of juxtaposing fresh green with dry green (literally – as in dried hay); of bitter and sweet; of sharp and soft. Yerbamate may be the name, but I wouldn’t say it particularly stands out. It just adds to the extremeness of bitters at first, and than disappears like a Gaucho into the night.

Top Notes: Citrus, Tarragon, Tea, Maté, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Galbanum

Middle Note: New Mown Hay, Tomato Leaves, Lavender, Tea, Maté

Base Notes: Galbanum, Labdanum, Benzoin, Maté, Vetiver, Sweet and Powdery Notes

* Yerbamate bottle image from

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fougère, Coumarin and the Bittersweetness of Green

Fougère, originally uploaded by Christian Bachellier.

It is the coumarin that adds the crystalline quality to Fougères, as well as its over all warm bitter-sweetness. Perhaps this is why I enjoy wearing Fougères at this time of year. It has the quiet melancholy of Fall, yet with a cuddly softness added to it.

It was Fougère Royale (1882) by Houbigant that marked the birth of modern perfumery. While many consider Jicky (1889) as the mother of modern perfumery, it was in fact precedent by the legendary Fougère Royale, unlike the prehistoric fern it was named after, didn’t survive as well and the fragrance is no longer in production. However, it’s fame can be measured not by its survival achievements, but by the fact that an entire masculine fragrance family (or perfume genre) is named after it. Despite of that, a closer look at the perfume timeline reveals that the concept of Fougère has existed earlier:

In 1873 English Lavender by Yardley was released, blending notes of Lavender, Bergamot, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Clary Sage, Cedarwood, Tonka, Moss and Musk. Considering that tonka bean contains mostly coumarin, and that all the other important elements of Fougère (lavender, oakmoss, coumarin and herbs) are present, this might have been the first Fougère .

1877 brought Wild Fern by Geo F Trumper (with notes of oakmoss, basil and amber), again with both a name and a composition that suggests a Fougère (but who had smelled it that could confirm???).

Fougère, or Fern in French, is most known for its remarkable botanical versatility and resilience (as I said earlier, it has been probably been around since the days of the dinosaurs, it is such an ancient life form that it reproduces with spores and has no real leaves, but “fronds” ) and little known for its scent. However, ferns have a rich usage in human history for various uses: the dried underground stems of several species used to be ground into a starchy meal-like substance that is nourishing in times of famine (and in particular - Pteris esculenta in the Pacific Islands they have been a staple food); and the ashes of burnt fern in Wales were formed into balls and sold as “Ash Balls” and performed similarly to soap because of their high alkali levels (Poucher, W.A., “Perfumes, Cosmetics & Soaps, Vol.2). Certain ferns might be extracted for medicinal purposes (for their filmarone content – a yellow, amorphous acid which chases away worms).

Natural Sources of Coumarin, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

In perfumery, however, any Fougère composition will have very little power for vermifuge purposes. It is simply a name for a complex blend of an aromatic, herbal nature. The key for compounding a Fougère is using the essential accord of lavender and linalol (either synthetic or from natural source – i.e. Ho Leaf or Rosewood), oakmoss absolute and coumarin (of synthetic or natural source – i.e. tonka bean or liatrix).

There are several sub-categories for the Fougère family:

Fougère Fresh
Dominant lavender freshness and dryness. These Fougères are herbaceous, spicy, fresh and woody. For example: l’Herbe Rouge

Fougère Ambery
Additional vanillic notes may increase the softness, to create a Fougère Ambery fragrance. These are soft and enveloping, and somewhat powdery. Canoe by Dana is an example of such composition, which is further sweetened by tonka and heliotropin.

Fougère Woody
Additional woody notes such as sandalwood, agarwood and vetiver create a cleaner and drier impression.

Fougère Floral
These Fougères are very complex, with the addition of bright florals such as neroli, lily of the valley, and cyclamen. The dryness of lavender and spicy, ambery and woody notes makes these more masculine. Jicky (Guerlain) is a good example for such floral – with neroli at the heart, and a soft tonka and amber base accompanying the Fougère accord.

The Modern “Face” of Fougère
Many modern masculine fragrances are touted as being Fougère. Scents such as Cool Water (for men) by Davidoff are such examples, and so are many others. However, the overdose of synthetic molecules (such as calone and other aquatic aromachemicals) and the declining percentage of important natural such as lavender and oakmoss in those compositions render the Fougère in these perfumes nearly absent. A good fougere in my mind has a balance of those intense, isolated molecules with a good measures of naturals that give it its aromatic flavour.

How To Make A Natural Fougère?
Start with the basics – excellent quality building blocks that are essential for Fougère: oakmoss absolute, lavender essential oil, absolute and concrete, rosewood or ho leaf (for a touch of linalool), and last but not least – a naturally sourced coumarin note, either from tonka bean absolute or liatrix tincture (you can make your own by soaking the dried leaves in 200 proof alcohol). Other useful notes are patchouli and vetiver. To these essentials, you may want to choose additional notes that would add a particular character to your Fougère. The following are suggested notes to choose from for a Fougère composition:

Top notes:
Ho Leaf
Rosemary essential oil
Cedarwood, Virginian
Petitgrain, French
Neroli, French
Bitter Orange
White Grapefruit
Juniper Berries

Heart notes:
Lavender absolute
Clary sage
Rose Geranium
Jasmine absolute
Rose absolute
Rosemary absolute
Ylang ylang
Tuberose absolute
Litsea Cubeba
Orange Blossom Absolute
Clove bud
Carnation absolute

Base notes:
Oakmoss absolute
Tonka bean absolute (or tincture)
Liatrix tincture (or absolute)
Cedarwood, Atlas
Tarragon absolute
Clove bud absolute

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Interview on Fragrantica

Fragrantica, a new online perfume magazine, resource website and fragrance community, is now featuring an interview with Ayala Sender, by Dora Vagiana.
Originally it was published on in Croatian. Now you can read the entire interview in English, plus a couple of additional questions and answers. Hope you enjoy it!

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Many Colours of White

Gardenias, originally uploaded by Jim-AR.

"Dear Ayala,

First, I would like to say that I very much enjoy your perfumes (Fête d'Hiver is my favorite!) and your blog, and that I hope you are having a blessed holiday.

I know that you are an expert on perfumery, so I would like to ask a question that would settle a debate I am currently having. The question is: Is Lily of the Valley considered a white floral? My friend insists that it is, but I have never thought of it that way. To me, a "white floral" has always meant the heady scents of tuberose, orange blossom, and jasmine, with those wonderful, indolic aromas. Lily of the valley doesn't seem to fit there. I have always thought of it as a fresh floral note.

Thank you so much in advance,


Dear Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for your email – I am very pleased to hear you love Fête d'Hiver and are enjoying my blog!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday too!
As for the floral debate - you are right - Lily of the Valley, although white in colour, is considered "green" in terms of its fragrance.
The langugage of perfumery borrows terms from other art forms (i.e.: the “notes” of music) and senses, such as taste (sweet, sour…) touch ( textures such as soft, sharp, powdery) and sight (colours such as green and white).
Green florals tend to be heady and piercing, sharp, with a crystal-clear association to fresh flowers and greenery (as in the flower shop). Lily of the Valley is one of the best example for a “green floral” note. The reknown perfumer Edmund Roundiska described his perfume “Diorissimo” (in my opinion the most true-to-nature rendition of Lily of the Valley) as depicting not only the flower, but also “the forst where it grows”.
Other floral notes of the green floral category are hyacinth, linden blossom (which, like lily of the valley, is high in its farnesol content), neroli (orange flower essential oil), violet leaf, boronia and freesia. Although some of those are still "heady" and some may even have a fair amount of indole, they have very strong fresh and green elements which render them green rather than “white” in that context.

White florals are the indolic, narcotic, heavy and heady floral notes, at times also creamy – jasmine, tuberose, ylang ylang (even though its colour is yellow!), orange flower absolute, narcissus, jonquile (again, this flower is yellow in colour), etc. Lilies are another great example – even though some lilies are pink or orange (like the tiger-lily), their scent is so heavy and narcotic they would be considered white florals as well.

Warm regards,


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Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkins, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of SmellyBlog's Canadian readers celebrating this delicious harvest festival
May we all have an easy winter, nourished by these abundant crops we're blessed with. This is not something that should be taken for granted, neither should these corps be taken from someone else. May there be enough food for all of us, to nourish our bodies and souls on this earth.
And as a Haida wisdom tells us (and was passed to me by a friend over Thanksgiving dinner yesterday) - our wealth is measured by what we give of ourselves, not by what we possess.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

What To Do With Your Etrog?

Who are you looking at?, originally uploaded by Mor Miller.

Throughout the holiday of Sukkot, the Etrog is guarded with utmost importance, often in silver boxes, nestled amongst soft cotton balls. The wholeness of the Etrog is of such important, that it is carefully chosen – only the most perfected fruit are used as symbol for the holidays, and in European Jewish tradition, this means that the Etrog should have a perfectly shaped niplet*. So perfect is the fruit that there were stories inspired by it and tales about innocent children who were tempted t bite that niplet off and violate its preciousness.

But now that the Sukkot holiday is over, and the guard has been taken off the precious Etrog, what is there to do with the citron fruit left?

The citron fruit has a very peculiar flesh – almost nothing to remind one that it is a citrus fruit at all. Instead of the juicy, pulpy section, it has mostly a sponge-like extension of the peel.

Hence, it is ideal for making candied citrus peel! Every year, after Sukkot was over, our kindergarten teacher has made these for us. The process is lengthy, and may take up to a week’s time. It is therefore no surprise that now my kindergarten teacher runs her own little café in the village where she offers her clientele beautiful home-baked goods and fancy cakes. Last time I visited her café she served me an innovative version of Sahleb, served with a banana-split, which was far more delightful and nourishing than I have expected from this highly popularized winter beverage.

Since the white spongey peel is not as bitter as most citrus fruit, the result is worth the effort. The process entails peeling off the outer peel (the yellow part, containing the essential oils) and than soaking it in water for several days. Once the bitterness has been squeezed out of the peels, they are cooked in a sugar syrup and served, either covered with shredded coconut, or not. What makes these citron candies so special is their texture even more than their delicate flavour.

Etrog, originally uploaded by Alexander Becker.

In a similar manner, citron fruit can be made into jams and marmalades.
Apparentlay, it can be used in baking as well. Here are a few links to citron recipes:

Citron Cake

Citron Marmalade

Citron Liquor

Etrog slices in syrup - you can even scent them with rosewater, like the one I’ve found in a dusty jar at a local Persian grocery store. Perhaps orange flower water could be even better!

I think the main reason citron is so rare in cooking is because it is an expensive and difficult to find. Perhaps if it wasn’t so holy in the Sukkot holiday, we would have seen a lot more of it. But it wouldn’t be nearly as special, I suppose.
Citron essential oil is also extremely hard to get. I believe most of the citron orchards (aside from those grown by the Hassidic Jews at Kfar Habad near Tel Aviv) are owned by certain perfume companies and they just have a monopoly on them. I have just got off the phone with my mother this morning begging her to find me an Etrog and try to abuse it in such ways as to squeeze its essential oils so I can make a perfume out of it!

And for those of us far less ambitious, there is always the option of turning the Etrog into a pomander that would last for many years to come: simply stick clove buds systematically in every spot on the Etrog’s skin as to cover it completely. The Etrog will dry up and be preserved literally forever. This is traditionally served at the Sabbath table for the “Boreh Miney Besamim” blessing (thanking God for blessing us with different perfumes).

*The Yemenite Jews, on the other hand, use a far larger citron fruit that has a folded peel, much like kaffir limes, and no niplet at all

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Botanical Symbolism

Photo of Lulav & Etrog by Sam Feinstein-Feit

Aside from living in a hut just when the autumn breezes and first rains are due (in the Middle East, anyhow - if you live in Vancouver summer has ended over a month ago!) - is most unusual for its mysterious and rich botanical symbolism.

Unlike Rosh Hashana (“Head of the Year”), with botanical symbols that were passed from mouth to ear for thousands of years (i.e.: the eating of pomegranates, apples-in-honey, beets, carrots and other sweet fruit and vegetables), Succot’s symbols are actually mentioned in the bible: “"And you shall take for yourself on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook" (Leviticus. 23:40).

And what are these four species?
For as long as Jews can remember, “Fruit of goodly trees”, AKA “Etrog” has been the majestic citron fruit.
The branches of palm tree are not just branches, but the very beginning of a palm leaf, when it is still closed and looks more like a whip than anything else.
The “boughs of thick trees” was represented by myrtle branches.
And “willows of the brook” are simply willow branches. Not the weeping willows, but the upright kind which grows by the brooks.

The four species are symbolic representations of many things. Many of which I will not be able to tell you because I haven’t studied the topic more than an average Jew does. But the reason I bring these up and write about them on my blog (a blog about perfume, not about religion or Judaism) will become clear as we progress along my trail of thought...

The symbolic meaning of anything manifested in the material world is highly connected to its physical and tangible characteristics. And as every little Jewish girl and boy learn in kindergarten, the four species are four different permutations on the theme of smell and taste:
Etrog (Citron) has both flavour and fragrance;
Lulav (palm leaf) has flavour but no fragrance (this is in reference to the dates - the palm fruit - rather than the leaf);
Hadass (Myrtle) has fragrance but no flavour;
And finally, Arava (Willow) has neither fragrance nor flavour.

These qualities are symbolic of different qualities of a person – fragrance being attributed to good dees, while taste corresponds to knowledge and learning:
Etrog is a person who has both knowledge and learning and good deeds.
Lulav is a person who only has cerebral knowledge but misses the importance of good deeds.
Hadass symbolizes a person who does good deeds but is ignorant.
And finally, Arava (the willow), lacking in both taste and scent, represents a person who is both ignorant and that does not do good deeds.

I find it interesting that fragrance in this ancient oral tradition is corresponding to good deeds. Could it possibly be related to the fact that scent and emotions are so closely related? Is a person with a more sensitive sense of smell also more sensitive to other people’s feelings and therefore acts more morally? These are interesting thoughts, especially in the light of the sense of smell being so neglected in Western traditions for the most part, regarded as “inferior” or “animalic”.

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