Monday, March 31, 2008

Good News re Perfume Oils

Due to the growing demand for oil based perfumes, I have decided to offer as many as my perfumes as possible in this formulation. It may mean more work for me (not all of the essences readily dissolve in this medium), but it will be well worth it, as the results are always soft, rich and seductive.

Most of my perfumes are now available in the luxurious, highly-concentrated form of
perfume oils. These are rich and soft, wear close to the skin yet for a prolonged time. They are packaged in 10ml roll-on bottles, to be easily carried in your purse/pocket/suitcase without spillage and for easy touch-ups.

The only perfumes NOT offered as parfum oils are:
Immortelle l'Amour
Les Nuages de Joie Jaune

Also, until further notice, we are unable to offer parfum oils in the frosted glass flacons. We apologize for the inconvenience and will keep you informed as for any changes.

Last but not least, the same outrageous discounts for Perfume Wardrobes apply to the roll-on parfum oils, whenever you purchase 3 or more bottles you receive a 35% discount (that means that the third bottle costs you even less than $000.00!!!)

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Friday, March 28, 2008


Resurrection, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

You are sown in order to blossom again.
The Lord of the harvest goes forth

and gathers us in sheaves

when we have died.

What awaited me at the very end of March were the last breaths of winter, persistently attempting to overpower the burst of cherry blossom with a flood of cold caressing cotton balls. At the same time Mahler’s symphony no.2, AKA “Die Auferstehung” (Resurrection) is playing, and I am wearing the first mod I’ve created for “In A Station of the Metro”. Interestingly, both perfume and music were inspired by a poem. One is longish, the other very short as you may know.

The great Romantics of the late 19th century were not merely death obsessed; they saw death as a positive thing, mulling over concepts that perhaps before were more prevalent in the East, such as incarnation, the rise of spirit above matter and so on. I am not particularly inclined to connote Spring with death, but through the lessons of life, I’ve learned that spring is not always just sunny daffodils and birthday parties. Early spring is a time of struggle, a battle fought wearing coat of arms made from bursts of showy flowers. While to some, waking up in the morning is an appealing and easy task, the rise from near-death sleep (or a dark Winter hibernation, for that matter) takes a lot of energy, and we may need all the flowers we can get to get out of this death-bed.

* “Wieder aufzublueh’n wirst du gesat!
Der Herr der Erhnte geht
und sammelt Garben
uns ein, die starben!” (from “ Die Auferstehung” by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, translated by a mysterious translator who works for Decca record label, and copied from the pamphlet accompanying the 1975 recording Zubin Mehta & Wiener Philharmoniker and soloists Christa Ludwig and Ileana Cortrubas)


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In A Station of the Metro

Sparrows' acts, originally uploaded by tearoom.

Visit Memory and Desire to read my olfactory interpretation of "In A Station of the Metro" - a poem by Ezra Pound.

Readers who comment on this blog entry or all other Memory and Desire posts related to the Perfume Inside a Poem project will enter to win an extravagant sample package of rare perfumes from all the 14 perfumers who participated in the project, including a few perfumes that were inspired by the poem.

If you comment on this post on Smellyblog, you will be entered to win 1 of 3 samples only available of my own olfactory interpretation of "In A Station of the Metro" - the first draft, that is... Simply add a comment below and as long as it's related to the poem or the project, you will be included in a draw which we will hold here as well on March 31st.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Must Read: Why It's Good to Smell

"We can render 10,000 smells and yet we only have two words to describe them - good or bad. Apart from that the only language we have is metaphors and the slogans of perfume adverts." - Sissel Tolaas, a smell-revolutionist, in a Sunday Herald interview.

- Thanks to Robin for the link!


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Just For Laughs

Thank you to Marian Bendeth for the link to this very funny perfume "commercial". Enjoy!


Friday, March 21, 2008

Gaucho - The End of a Journey

Cansando o cavalo, originally uploaded by Eduardo Amorim.

Crisp. Bright. Sweet. Melancholic. Herbaceous. Where Spring meets Autumn and Autumn meets something else... I knew it but I only had to make the grass grow in the right direction now.

The end of my search for those final drops that will make or break my Gaucho schemes was certainly the most challenging part. Too much was at stake now so my adventurous side was a bit timid (a disadvantage?); On the other hand, I was so close I knew what I need is just the minute amount of the right essences, and it would be perfect. Jasmine auriculatum in minuscule amount seemed to be adding the right effect - rounding off like this indespensable floral note yet without smelling like a flower. I wanted more bitterness though. Would wormwood be too much? I think not... Let's just try it and if it doesn't we'll have to start all over again... Yes, just this tiny bit was perfect. Getting very close now... But something IS missing. Something to add to the quirky, unusual side of things. All of a sudden I realize: booze. Yes, booze to let my Gaucho a little loose... The formidable green cognac absolute. In this context not so much as a booze breath, but rather adding a juicy, green-grape quality, chiming like a crystal bell with the galbanum top notes. Perhaps even metallic. All of a sudden it's the brass band in a Steely Dan intro, streaming vocals filtered through studio acoustic effects and all blending together into oneness.

Crisp. Bright. Sweet. Melancholic. Herbaceous. Where Spring meets Autumn and Autumn meets something else... This is where my Gaucho was heading, with herds of cows and spreading wilderness ahead of its horse. It was time to set my Gaucho free, let him loose to meet the world outside of my mind's internal trails and grasslands.

Well, the big day has finally arrived March 21st 2008: it's time for Gaucho to go to his journey on his own. This time to meet new people around the world. For a limited time only, it will be packaged in a different shape of bottle than the rest of my collection - a crystal-clear rectangular bottle rather than the frosted teardrop one. After all, this is my first big release that is decidedly masculine (even though the first two customers who bought it were ladies).

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gaucho's Journey - Part 6: Evolución

evolución, originally uploaded by faw.

Further refinement was evidently needed, even though I really liked the way the bergamot was working out in this composition. Thinking about it, there was no other time I enjoyed bergamot that much in a composition, nor did it remind me so clearly of Earl Gray tea before in a scent. Must be the yerbamate base, even though it is not quite a tea leaf.

Concluding that the henna, although interesting and peculiar, does not quite do justice to the other elements and promotes murky qualities, I set for a new mod, now eliminating the henna (or helycrisum for that matter) and arrived at a place that felt, all of a sudden, like a new starting point. I was as they say it – back to square one. I was also a lot clearer on what I wanted to achieve and was very weary of wasting more material… Everything from now on was added scientifically, keeping very careful log of each addition, and making sure I also keep the “pure” original “blank slate” version on hand at all times. It was my new blueprint.

I have to admit, the next few batches, from batch no.6 and on to no. 10 are so similar, that I won’t bore you with the details too much. Suffice to say that each one evolved slowly from the previous one, and to make it simple I’ll just draw a basic set of notes and show you how it grew into what is going to be the perfume of tomorrow (literally, as Gaucho will be launched tomorrow!).

At this point, I have created, in fact, two blueprints – one with and one without angelica.
Mod. 6 had the following notes:
Base: mate, hay, Africa stone tincture, liatrix tincture, angelica absolute
Heart notes: guiacwood, honey, broom, lavender Seville
Top notes: Bergamot, French Neroli

Mod. 7 is the same, less the angelica and plus a new element: a relatively high dosage of galbanum of a very sparkling, green and fresh quality, as well as the sweetly herbaceous rosemary absolute
Base: mate, hay, Africa stone tincture, liatrix tincture, angelica absolute
Heart notes: guiacwood, honey, broom, lavender Seville, rosemary absolute
Top notes: Bergamot, French Neroli, Galbanum

From there we move on to Mod. 8, which is identical to mod. 6 only with the addition of galbanum.

While mod. 9 introduced the idea of a floral note – the quirky jasmine auriculatum absolute - it was still very much lacking the depth and finesse I was searching for. Jasmine auriculatum is a grassy-green jasmine (which also happens to be the only jasmine I dislike when smelled straight up…); Mod. 9 still maintained the presence of rosemary, but with no angelica in sight.

At this point I felt I was walking on a very tight rope above a busy street… Every little thing could distract me from my task: to focus and achieve that exact green perfection I have been so challenged by for so long. I felt that I was almost there, but not quite there yet. Something was missing – something to add true character, to push it forward even just a little more and at the sime time round it off and make it come together for real. My only rival here was myself, with my whimsical impulses to skip to the end...

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Happy No Rooz: The Persian New Year

Today is Persian New Year, and interestingly enough, also the even of Purim, a holiday that all began in Persia, once upon a time... Tomorrow is the beginning of Easter too, so I'm doing the undoable and dedicating this post for holiday wishes for all of my friends of different faiths and cultures, all coinciding in th beginning of Spring. It is also a full moon, which I'm sure counts for something as well... So:
Happy Persian New Year
Happy Purim (only time in the year Jews are encouraged to get drunk and cross-dress!)
Happy Easter
And Fabulous Full Moon

The picture is of the "Haft Seen" - the display of the 7 S's in the tradition of Persian New Year. You may want to click on the photo and read about the beautiful symbolism of the Haft Seen spread.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Gaucho’s Journey Part 5: Scouting the Grasslands

Rumbeando ao pago, originally uploaded by Eduardo Amorim.

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2007 that I had the materials I needed to realize my Gaucho theme. By now, my olfactory concept has morphed into something greener and stranger. That’s what I wanted it to be: green and strange. I have to admit, I was already greatly convinced that Gaucho is going to be a fougere at this point. A fougere along the lines of Villoresi’s Yerbamate – something very green and at the same time also very sweet.

Here are the formulas for the two initial trials:

January 30th, 2007
Gaucho Mod. 02
10 Mate absolute
1 Hay absolute
2 African Stone Tincture
1 Patchouli Absolute
4 Guiacwood
2 Seville Lavender Absolute
2 Rosemary Absolute
2 Henna Flower Absolute

January 31st, 2007
Gaucho Mod. 03
8 Mate
2 Hay Absolute
2 African Stone Tincture
1 Helycrisum
4 Guiacwood
2 Seville Lavender
2 Broom Absolute
4 Galbanum

The result? Exaggeration of everything green and coumarin I could fear. Murky and herbaceous in an almost medicinal way. Reminiscent of dry fava beans (one of my very few least favourite smells…). I let them sit for a long time, and don’t come back till June. At which point I add a few redeeming elements to the idea presented in Mod. 03 (the one with the Henna absolute): tincture of liatrix (a new element that I have prepared myself by steeping the dry leaves in pure grain alcohol); angelica root oil and angelica root absolute from China (which has a smoky, carroty aroma), rosemary absolute, broom absolute – and finally, the final touch: an abundance of bergamot and a minute amount of French neroli. The result is very sparkling at the top yet deeply rooted into the ground. It’s almost balanced, but I’m here for more.

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Last Chance to Vote in Prix Eau Faux 2008

Don't miss the chance to vote for the best hilarious ad-copy in Now Smell This' Prix Eau Faux competition. Not only will you laugh your head off reading these ridiculous (yet not far from the truth) imaginary perfume ad-copies, you will also help our drying-up minds in the corporate perfume world discover the next star ad-copy-writer to convince you to buy more perfumes in the future. The reward for the winner is a $100 gift certificate from LuckyScent.

Poll is closing tomorrow morning, so hurry up and vote!!!

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Sahleb Reviewed on Perfume Shrine

Perfume Shrine has just reviewed my (not yet released) creamy orris scent, Sahleb, as part of Elena's Travel Memoirs from Istanbul.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gaucho's Journey - Part 4: Maté Break

Beauty Behind Bars, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Straying from chronological order (skipping ahead, that is…), we will now take a little mate break to talk about the Gaucho perfumed tea. This is the third one in an ongoing collaborative project between myself and Dawna Ehman, an incredibly knowledgeable woman who has her ways with plants and beauty like no other. Dawna has worked for years with people, plants and plant essences, studying and utilizing both their therapeutic and aesthetic properties. Her connection to nature and her deep understanding of human-plant-environment relationship never ceases to amaze me and I feel blessed and very fortunate to have met her and be able to learn from and work with her.

The concept for the perfumed teas in general was conceived with the launch of Tirzah in June 2007. Later that summer, we sat in a park in Kitsilano after a short walk and I let Dawna smell some of my new creations that I have been working on – among them an earthy sweet vetiver scent, a gardenia soliflore (which turned out to be Gigi which will be launched this spring), and Gaucho – the perfume that I was working on for several years now, and now dreaming up the possibilities of turning it into a perfumed tea with Dawna. All I knew was that it had to be mate based. I was also hoping that the bittersweetness of green will somehow come across it as I was hoping it would in the perfume (I was still struggling at that point though…). I knew Dawna is the only person that will know how…

It wasn’t difficult to decide about launching the perfume and the tea in the spring, for the therapeutic value of the bitter herbs and the ways they work to stimulate the liver after the long winter “hibernation”. The choice of a green, fougere perfume paired with a bitter mate based tea seemed perfect for the beginning of spring and the re-awakening of nature and people.

And yesterday I came face to face with the result. Let me just tell you, by spending 2 hours with Dawna sipping various brews of the Gaucho tea, I’ve learned that the art and science of tea does not begin just in creating the right blend, nor does it end in the tasting. The preparation of the tea itself requires attention to detail, consideration of factors such as the water, its temperature, the temperature of the container used for brewing, the type of herbs or teas brewed, steeping time, the temperature in which the tea is sipped and what to serve it with, to name a few.

The experience of sipping Gaucho was familiar and peculiar at once. It is quite bitter (though not overtly bitter, Dawna took careful care to create a very balanced blend…), and even long after it was sipped, the tea left a sensation in the mouth that was both sweet and tingling. A sensation that is familiar to me from overbrewing lemongrass leaves from my garden back in my home village, and many of the organic tisanes we would brew from fresh herbs in the wild and from our organic gardens.

Of all the perfumed teas it is the most earthy, herbaceous, even medicinal. From all the perfumed teas created for me by Dawna, Gaucho is clearly the most therapeutic one by nature. Just imagine the cleansing your liver gets from drinking this magical herbs… It is, I think, exactly what I need after a winter’s hibernation.

Here are a few tips for how to successfully brew Gaucho to make the most out of it:

1) Use hot water rather than boiled, in order to eliminate some of the bitterness. However, be careful as to not let the water cool too much, this will create a completely “wrong” impression of the tea (emphasizing the spearmint and the lemongrass and making the tea seem too light and almost floral, which was not our intention!).
2) Make sure the teapot is hot. Rinse it with hot water before you add the tea leaves, to make sure the temperatures don’t drop too low as soon as you add the water for steeping.
3) At this point, when you being brewing, you may want to add a pinch (not more!) of green stevia as a sweetener. If you prefer other sweetener such as honey or sugar, add them after steeping. And of course, if you like the bitterness of mate, embrace it unsweetened…
4) Serving suggestion: serve with an apple and rosemary polenta. We couldn’t quite find the recipe to share with you, but the rosemary note will beautifully accompany this perfumed tea. Or any pastry that is not too sweet and has some herbaceous accents…

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Gaucho - Perfumed Tea no. 3

by Dawna Ehman

mate?, originally uploaded by itsjustanalias.

Fresh herbaceous notes of lemongrass and rosemary highlight bitter green yerba mate and sencha tea leaf to capture the Fougere-like essence of 'sparkling greenery' that is Gaucho. Damiana leaf, spearmint and the true coumarin quality of red clover blossom soften the aromatic finish and taste profile of this beguiling tea.

Gaucho perfumed tea is the perfect balance of spring color and flavor- and in being so, gently and safely stimulates the very activities that support spring's expansive, rising qualities within us. When sweetened with a slight amount of raw sugar or green stevia, Gaucho tea balances the stimulating energetic actions of spring in a form that is unique in quality and pleasure.

Brewing Suggestions
Bring fresh water to a boil. Let sit to cool slightly and infuse 1/2 tsp. of tea for every 5 oz. cup of tea desired. Steep for 1 to 2 minutes. Strain and enjoy. If desired, sweetened with a slight amount of raw green stevia leaf, honey or sugar to bring out the natural sweetness and flavour balance.

Ingredient Listing - All Ingredients 100% Certified Organic
Damiana Leaf - Mexico (Turnera aphrodisiaca)
Lemongrass - Guatemala (Cymbopogon citratus)
Japanese Sencha - Japan (Camellia sinensis)
Green Yerba Mate - Brazil (Ilex paraguariensis)
Rosemary Needles - USA (Mentha spicata)
Spearmint Leaf- USA (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Red Clover Blossom - Canada (Trifolium pratense)

Dawna Ehman is the founder of Inner Alchemy Tea Co and has lectured, taught and written extensively on the intricate relationship between plant energy and human experience. The essence of Dawna’s work arises from a wholistic perspective and is informed by a vision of re-connection with the Natural world. Drawing on her expertise in the plant based healing modalities of herbalism, aromatherapy and flower essence therapy, as well as the art and culture of tea, Dawna creates unique plant based tonics, elixirs and formulas for clients worldwide.

Copyright © 2008 by Dawna Ehman.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick and the Challenge of Green

making a clover chain, originally uploaded by amber_b..

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy St. Patrick’s Day before it's over! – Enjoy the rest of the night if you are celebrating, and especially your Guinness beer!
I’m not much of a beer person but I heard this particular kind is actually really healthy…

Without much time to post (the day was very busy with Spring Break starting today and lots of work remains undone as a result), this would be just a quick post to tell you that my day started with trying Gaucho tea for the first time. There will be a lot more about it tomorrow. For now, before I pass out after a very long day, I just wanted to share a few thought in regards to the challenge of green.

One of the things that both Dawn and I experienced when creating the perfume and the tea, was the challenge of creating something that is different from our own personal tastes and overcoming our own prejudices and preferences. As much as I find it difficult to wear green fragrances, I can tell you that mate is not Dawna’s favourite tea kind. We both had to overcome the natural impulse of rejection that comes from the smell and taste of sharp, bitter greens.

Interestingly enough, what this as an exercise has taught me (I can’t speak for Dawna but I can sense that she enjoyed the challenge…) how close opposites really are. As I was sipping Gaucho this morning with increasing curiosity as we let the tea steep longer and stronger – I noticed that strangely, the more bitter the herbs are, the more sweetness they leave in the mouth after sipping the tea. This sensation has left such an imprint on me that I can still feel it in my mouth as I write…

Tune in for a guest appearance tomorrow – a piece by Dawna Ehman about Seasonal Attunement and the Therapeutic Use of Flavour

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Perfume Inside a Poem on Memory and Desire

Heather Ettlinger of Memory and Desire has initiated a unique project titled Perfume Inside a Poem, reqcruiting 14 independent perfumers to the challenge of distilling a perfume out of a very short and very beautiful poem by Ezra Pound. Yours truly is one of the fortunate perfumers to be invited to this inspiring and exciting project.
Each perfumer's response will be published on Memory and Desire in alphabetical order:

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Diamond in the Rough?

Ever since I watched Jennifer Lopez’s mind blowing performance in U-Turn, I’ve been waiting for something like this to happen in her perfume line. I know, this is a rather nive wishful thinking, but we can all dream a little… I don’t know what the future holds for the J. Lo perfume line, but so far the only one I can smell myself wearing is the newest one - Deseo. That is not to say that Deseo is even remotely close to mind blowing in perfume terms. But at least it’s nice to find a fragrance to like bearing the name of such a talented actress (and I do prefer Ms. Lopez acting than her music). However, while Glow was too soapy, Still just not interesting, Miami Glow mouthwateringly artificial (and so were most of the others to follow – Live and the rest of the limited edition sequels for Glow) – Deseo is easily wearable and falls exactly into the fragrance category I would have belong to if I was the typical modern woman of my typical social cross section (which I’m not).

Deseo joins the growing family of modern chypres, and to me smells like a hybrid between Pure Turquoise and With Love (Hilary Duff). It starts fresh and citrusy, yet not as brisk as Pure Turquoise. It brings forth some milky notes, but is not quite as milky as With Love, as it stirs towards beachy coconut-milk, skin and sand notes. The floral heart is obscure and I can’t say I recognize any particular note, but if you are familiar with star jasmine, this might be the only thing I can somehow relate to that resembles a living flower. Star jasmine is not a true jasmine, and has a fresh, fleeting green-floral note. It is easy to see why it’s getting so popular with recent fragrances released – it’s a white floral sans the drama, i.e. with the indole left out. The underlining notes are not any more articulate than the heart notes – mostly musks and woods of vague origin, yet upon dry down the oakmoss starts to really shine through, which is very encouraging for all of us true chypre lovers who are being fed a non-oakmoss chypre diet for quite some time…

Judging by the packaging and name (Deseo means desire in Spanish) is meant to symbolize something deeper than it may seem – the bottle being in the shape of a diamond in the rough, and that got to have some deeper meaning in regards to Ms. Lopez’ life story, perhaps even with some implications to other diamonds out there yet to be discovered... What I’m smelling though, is fresh citrus notes of no particular identity, slightly beachy with nice smelling yet nondescript floral bouquet, over woody and and slightly warm and skin like base anchored in moss and salty mineral notes. The base would definitely suit a man very well. Deseo is simple, clean, easy to wear (even more easy to wear than Pure Turquoise), cool yet neither aloof nor distant, fun but not overly beach, serene without being pretentious - and that is precisely what I like about Deseo. After all, any diamond, even a diamond in the rough, is just a cold stone; and unless it's adorning a certain piece of jewelry, it is about as meaningful as a virtual lover or an imaginary boyfriend...

Top notes: Watery Bamboo Leaves, Garden Yuzu, Sicilian Bergamot, freesia.
Heart notes: Star Jasmine, Pink Geranium Flower, Orange Blossom, French Mimosa.

Base notes: Warm Amber, Oakmoss, Sensual Musks, Creamy Sandalwood, Atlas Cedar, Patchouli, Mineral Accord.

Image of bottle via Fragrantica

Other reviews of Deseo:
Now Smell This
The Scented Salamander

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Friday, March 14, 2008

And While We Procrastinate...

A new Facebook group was created for you, dear SmellyBlog readers. This is a place where I hope to see you post your ideas for what you'd like to read on this blog in the future. Any material you are particularly curious to learn about? The story behind a particular perfume? Requests for perfume reviews?

No, I'm not having a very dull Friday night to have even bothered starting a group... I'm just in the mood for experimenting and seeing if Facebook could be actually used for something (aside from spying on friends from high-school, which is quite an achievement on its own...).

And of course, it would be nice to meet some new readers that I don't know about. After all, there are 8,000 visitors going through this blog every month, and I can't say I've met all of you just yet... So maybe this is our chance to meet, at least virtually...?


Gaucho's Journey Part 3: Glamour Profession, Procrastination

To fill in the gap in of nearly 5 years that followed the unsuccessful first 2 mods of Gaucho (February 2002) and the renewed trials in the lab (January 2007), here is the next track from Steely Dan’s Gaucho album – ironically titled Glamour Profession… True, it’s pretty glamorous if you ask me, being able to sit on an idea for 5 years and not be bothered by anyone...

I personally prefer the recorded version, which I invite you to listen to as long as you ignore the photo montage (sorry for repeating myself but this is really important; just close your eyes and make your own story board in your head; or read the lyrics as you listen. Do whatever you possibly can to always avoid watching photo montage from Youtube...

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gaucho’s Journey Part 2: Premature Steps

I have left for the Pampas as soon as the spark was lit. I first went on a short expedition trip and explored the lands with whichever tools I had with me. I jumped right at the vision of bonfires, ponchos, Asado, gray wool blankets, horses and cows grazing on dry thorny grass, and pretty much everything that I personally associated with the South America cowboy and could somehow relate to scent or texture...

In the very beginning, besides my imagination and vision for the perfume, I had only limited essences that seemed appropriate for achieving what I wanted. All I had was the exotic South American woods to play with, along with some smoky notes. Some other materials I couldn’t even think of at the time as I haven’t smelled them yet. Guiacwood, rosewood, cabreuva, this is where I started. Rosewood seemed too lighthearted for what I was looking to achieve, so I stuck to the guiacwood and cabreuva and added Virginian cedarwood to the top notes, to accentuate the smoky elements I was trying to play up.To this I added tobacco and cade to create and even smokier, leathery impression which was what I mostly associated with the concept of a gaucho; and costus for an animalic presence. For no clear reason, I’ve included basil, a note that seems completely out of place now, many years later… Thinking back I’m not sure what was I thinking putting it in there. Perhaps it was to represent the grassy elements of the landscape. Whatever the reason was, it did not seem to do justice to the blend at the time. It created too much of a dissonance with the other elements. To sum it up, here’s the list of notes for my first Gaucho attempt:

Top notes: Cabreuva, Virginian Cedarwod, Basil, Juniper
Heart notes: Guiacwood, Allspice Berry, Clary Sage, Rose Geranium
Base notes: Cade, Costus, Peru Balsam, Blond Tabac, Vanilla Absolute

5 maturation years later (for both me and that jus…), I have to say that this first Gaucho attempt does not seem so bad at all. The basil does add a bit of grassy and fresh linalool element at the opening that I now find interesting and not as out of place and dissonant as it did back than. This first Gaucho mod is very similar (not surprisingly, if comparing the elements in both) to Espionage, but with the additional herbaceous green notes. Still yet, I think it is a bit too muddy and I’m happy that I have, after this initial failure, decided to wait several years until the right time and let the ideas evolve within me.

I even tried an identical version with added champaca, hoping this will smooth out the composision, but alas, it made it too sweet, albeit somewhat reminiscent of a different perfume I’ve created that same year – Rebellius.

And now comes the song to soundtrack this part of the journey - Hey Nineteen, about a love affair with a 19 year old that is practically doomed, just like jumping at a perfume theme without knowing what you're doing... I'm posting this link from Youtube because of the music not the visuals; although I'm very thankful for the photomontage artists out there who put a lot of good songs out on Youtube, I can't say this artform is my cup of tea. So do me a favour and hit play and move on to read the rest of the blog entry please...

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gaucho’s Journey: The Spark of Two Flintstones

The creation of every one of my perfumes is signified by a succession of events that typically evolves as follows: a spark of inspiration lights a fire that feeds itself - an unexplained desire and longing, which in my case grows stronger and stronger the further I am away from reaching it. It is best defined as an obsession. And as most obsessions do, they are followed by a compulsive behaviour that is designed to settle that obsessive thought and bring it to peace and resolution.

Gaucho started with Steely Dan’s album of that name. I will let you on one secret: if there is any band I would seriously consider acting like a groupie around (well, I don’t think I would waste my time considering if I would ever meet them in person…) it’s Steely Dan. And it has very little to do with how the two musicians that form that band look (both are certainly not what you would typically refer to as good looking). There is something oddly powerful and particularly mysterious about their music. And lyrics. Which leave a lot to the imagination and therefore are both seductive and personable.

But let’s get back to Gaucho and why it stirred a perfume inside me. It is not particularly the theme song, but rather the general mood of that album that to me is the epitome of that distant/internally charged mood, and somehow the songs are all connected to each other. Most of the songs in Gaucho create an atmosphere of emotional distance that is disturbingly heart aching, as if you are watching a film, only that this film is about yourself.

The other part of the inspiration was that of smoky woods from South America. Namely Guiacwood, though this is not the only unusual South American wood I had in mind. The smoky, honeyed waxy rosiness made me want to create a perfume that smells different, and will evoke the proud loneliness of a gaucho in the middle of the deserted grasslands, surrounded only by animals and a vast silence not to be disturbed by a word but only the sounds of whispering grass, small explosions of branches caught on fire, the cries of animals...

There an than, between those two flintstones - the urban sound of Steely Dan and the woody essences from South America - flew the spark that started the search for my Gaucho perfume…

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What's New for Spring 2008?

Spring 2008 will bring two new perfumes from Ayala Moriel: Gaucho and Gigi.
Gaucho will be accompanied by a matching tea, based on Yerba Mate.
Gigi is a limited-edition gardenia soliflore, the newest addition to The Language of Flowers - Ayala Moriel's Soliflore collection.
The following posts will be dedicated to Gaucho - the perfume and the tea. Gaucho was a particularly difficult to conceive perfume, for various reasons, and I would like to share with you some of my experience of this 6 year journey that took me to create it.
There will also be some guest appearance blog entries by Dawna Ehman, who created the Gaucho Perfumed Tea. So tune in for an exciting series surrounding mate, bitter herbs and the story behind the scenes of creating this perfume...

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Spring Fling - Rundown of March Events

Spring wedding, originally uploaded by driababe.

Here's a heads up for several exciting spring events where Ayala Moriel Parfums will be present to add fragrant pizzazz with our cutting-edge perfumes and lovely presentation, and last but not least - our very personable customer service, always giving you the best of ourselves in your search for that perfect scent... Now that the Spring Living Fair is over, we have two wedding-related fund raising events, and finally, at the end of the month, Portobello West is making its 2008 Spring comeback with not just one but TWO full days of art and fashion!

Attention Brides and Grooms - there are two fantastic events coming up
hosted by My Wedding Notes, both with a fundraiser for the BC Centre for
(yes, the place that provided speech therapy and occupational
therapy, excellent workshops and just general support to me and my daughter
in those stressful early diagnosis days - not to mention thousands of other
families with special needs in the Lower Mainland) and I will be donating
beautiful bridal packages and Signature Perfumes for the silent auction, valued at over $1,300. I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to give back to such a great organization with wonderful professionals supporting other children and families going through the hardships of being different.
If you wish to support the Center for Ability regardless of the event, click here to become a supporter or a donor.

If you are getting married soon or know someone who is, let them know about these
two events:

Thursday, March 20th, 7pm-Midnight
Player's Chophouse Restaurant & Lounge (808 Beatty Street)
Admission: $30

Thursday, March 27th 6-10pm
Stonegrill Restaurant in Granville Island
Admission: $30

And last but not least - Portobello West is re-opening in March 2008 with a
full weekend of fashion and arts made locally.
Come see me and the many other talented vendors and artists and support
local businesses.

Rocky Mountaineers Station (Cottrel & Terminal)
Saturday & Sunday, March 29-30, 12-6pm
Admission: $2 (children for free)

Not sure how to get there? here's all you need to know:

By Skytrain and Shuttle
Get off at Main and Terminal (Science World), walk East along Terminal Avenue to Cottrell Street (on the South side behind Home Depot). Turn right and walk about 70 meters to the station OR we offer a free shuttle to the Station from the corner of Station St and Terminal Ave right in front of Cloverdale Paints. It runs from 12:00 to 19:00 every 20 minutes. Just wait by the sandwich board and we’ll come and pick you up!

By Car
Going North on Main Street – Take a right on Terminal Avenue and continue East towards the Home Depot or Clarke Avenue. Stay in the far right lane and take a right on Cottrell Street. Continue straight to the end of the road and you will see the Rocky Mountaineer Station on your right.
Going South on Main Street - Take a left on Terminal Avenue and continue East towards the Home Depot or Clarke Avenue. Stay in the far right lane and take a right on Cottrell Street. Continue straight to the end of the road and you will see the Rocky Mountaineer Station on your right.
There is plenty of free parking available in front of the Station but if the lot is full Home Depot offers additional parking spaces.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Male Perspective on l'Instant de Guerlain

Archaeological cocktail, originally uploaded by Ignissa.

I spent the better part of the morning with my friend Elliot* browsing the Guerlain counter in downtown Vancouver in search for nothing more than the fabulous Guerlain “fan” – that beautiful display article that shows the different notes, inspiration and bottle designs etc. for a wide array of the (used to be widely distributed) Guerlain scents. I promised Elliot that I will come with him to find the legendary fan (last time he came searching for it they pulled out a fan sprayed lavishly with “Insolence” and waved it at his nose). On that I got a report that immediately cracked me up: “Insolence is sold with the requisite images of pouting, pulsing hot-eyed young damsels, but the scent reminds me of my Great-Aunt Doris - sweet, powdery and cloying”.

The aforementioned fan (i.e. the one we were looking for), normally displayed openly, is now kept behind locked cabinets and hidden so well that it was nowhere to be found at Sears, and only to be found by a twist of faith at The Bay (the Guerlain rep accidentally came through the counter on her 10 o’clock lunch break).

As we were waiting around I couldn’t help but conduct a little private market research on my friend. For background – Elliot is a born Maritimer, Caucasian male in his early 40’s, creative, witty and intelligent and while not quite your typical male fragrance user, I noticed that he quite keen on carrying intelligent conversations and arguments with me on the topic of olfactory experiences and his own memories through the sense of smell.

I started my little survey with l’Instant de Guerlain (pour homme of course), which oblivious to the paper-stripe rituals, he decided to spritz straight on his wrist – Elliot had produced such a boldly remark that I couldn’t help but curiously insert various masculine Guerlain scents under his nose and try to memorize his reaction immediately so I can report back here. So here goes – in a very manly style, just few words and at the very most a sentence or two to describe some of the leading masculine scents from the esteemed house of Guerlain, described by a complete fragrance novice:

Vetiver – Incense, church; smells like an altar boy.

Eau de Cologne Imperiale – wow! For something that dated I would have not expected it to smell so fruity and edible. It really makes me think of food like no other scent.

Heritage – unoriginal, makes you crave a melon fruit-salad.

L’Instant de Guerlain pour Homme – let me remind you that this was the scent that originally started this tirade of masculine perfume commentary. Let me just say that the first remark has established in my mind that men may very likely have a completely different evaluation systems that other organisms. In this case, Elliot seemed to have quite spontaneously develop a scent rating system that is based on how low it makes his testicles hang (sorry ladies, I am trying to bring some of the original wording used in the scene of the crime – so there you have it now… (Habit Rouge, strangely enough, has only got a halfway-down-testicle rating on Elliot’s system). For those who can't get the idea and need it spelled out to them (like me), this means how masculine the scent is perceived by the male evaluator. Hopefully it will provide some useful insights into the male brain (or not).

When repatedly smelling l’Instant pour Homme, visions of growing sideburns have recurred and intensified every time he got back to either the scent stripes or his wrist… and to use some of the terms he used to describe l’Instant I’ll just quote him now with no commentary of my own: “charge of the light brigade” and “military, soldiers of the 19th century” (which he later illustrated to me in his little orange pocket sketchbook – a stiff little soldier a-la Carmen’s Don Jose encased in his 19th century uniform with sideburns growing with every inhale of l’Instant’s march tune.

I will never be able to look at the Guerlain counter the same way ever again, and for a change, l'Instant pour Homme will not be ignored by me next time but rather inhaled or applied before I go to the next mask ball dressed as a man to complete the illusion.

* The name is completely fictional, to ensure my friend fears no criticism when coming up with more witty remarks about perfumes in the future. That was the only way I could have gotten permission to publish these here today…

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Spring Living Fair Tomorrow @ Heritage Hall

Come support small local businesses in the Vancouver area offering a wide variety of organic, sustainable, eco-friendly products and services for the spring season. This event, organized by BCIT, includes FREE admission and musical entertainment. There will also be a donation box for non-perishable food or clothing in support of International Women’s Day.

Ayala Moriel Parfums will be there with our two new scents coming up for spring (this is a surprise you will have to discover in person!) as well as our beautiful perfumed teas, Immortelle l'Amour and Tirzah.

Saturday, Mar. 8th, 10am - 4pm at the

Main Street Heritage Hall (3102 Main St.)

The event is organized by SIFE and ACE BCIT, a global student organization that promotes entrepreneurship skills in their communities.

For more information about the vendors participating in this fair visit Spring Living Fair.


Thursday, March 06, 2008


In Waterflower I have found a serenity that is rare. Inspired by the spiritual and sensual symbolism of the Lotus, this quiet perfume captivates with its unusual combination of notes, subtle elegance, clarity and complexity.

Lotus of three colors (pink, blue, white) is at the centerpiece of Waterflower. Lotus in its concentrated absolute form is sweet, somewhat powdery and with an underlining mystery that is hard to describe. That depth and dimension can be easily attributed to the dark murky waters from where the root brings power to the rest of the plant, giving birth to the pure beauty of the flowers. Liz Zorn plays on these qualities and expands on the theme beautifully, adding carefully measured doses of contrasting elements – the warm spiciness of cloves, the bite of pink pepper, and a woody yet sweet base of sandalwood, vanilla, ambrette and chypre.

Waterflower, albeit not particularly watery, creates a unique mood that to me is reminiscent of the caress of cherry blossoms’ petals on a warm spring wind. The sweetness of vanilla and lotus is apparent yet well balanced with the woods and spices and musk, and become more apparent upon dry down. Waterflower is pretty but never prissy, and delicately floral and powdery without ever becoming moody. It’s a perfect poem.

Notes: Blood Orange, Pink Pepper, Clove, White Pink and blue Lotus Absolute, White Lotus Concrete, Pandanus, Beeswax Absolute, sandalwood Mysore, Vanilla Absolute, Ambrette Seed, Chypre Base

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Burnt Amber

Amber, originally uploaded by pmarella.

I always loved amber notes, yet somehow find most amber-oriented perfumes to be too much of a good thing, almost over-satisfying. In Burnt Amber I found a balance that makes it at once luxurious and impeccably wearable. Burnt Amber may seem at first like nothing new – the idea of marrying the smokiness of burning incense resins with rich sticky balsams has been explored before (for instance: Ambre Sultan, Ambre Narguille).

The main difference is that Burnt Amber this actually works. Perfectly. The notes in Burnt Amber blend convincingly, creating an illusionary world where sweetness is dry and smoke is moist… In one breath, oozing honey, balsams, labdanum and storax crystallize themselves into incense resins burning with thick, lung-invading smoke that uplifts the spirits and hugs the heart.

Burnt Amber is one of Neil Morris’ vault perfumes, which are only available in person (not even through his website just as yet…), and is the second perfume he co-created with Ida Meister (known to most as by her Hebrew name Chaya Ruchama). Ida tells me that she insisted on the inclusion of a plum blossom note; and while I cannot quite recognize such note (in all honesty, I don’t recall ever smelling plum trees in bloom), I do experience some wine-like fruitiness that is not overtly artificial like most fruity notes tend to be nowadays… Burnt Amber is more than just a comfort scent – it’s a feel-good perfume. I’ve worn it even during a flue yet I can still enjoy wearing it now that I’m in good health. It has about it an extravagant simplicity that can take you confidentially from the red carpet to that dirty sheepskin by your fireplace (or anywhere else where you like to just kick back and relax with no glamorous pretences).

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Ginger & Amber

Ginger Root, originally uploaded by cfwhitney.

Craving of recent weeks: ginger and amber perfume. Maybe it was the cold that stroke me, I was craving a ginger perfume, with the gorgeous authenticity that I've found only in one essence: organic ginger CO2... Instead, I was reaching out for Burnt Amber, and imagining the ginger part. This must have helped to chase away that cold...

Today at the lab I was playing around with the idea, and as I feared, this is not going to be an easy task. I always find it challenging to blend orienal ambery notes (mainly labdanum) with both citrus and spices without creating a mess. And by mess I mean a muddy, cluttered sensation, no definite statement and of course the downside of materials gone to waste... Very easy to get there, and this is what happened as soon as I got tempted to add some fresh ginger essential oil to the mix.

The next day will require a careful mixing of one of my amber bases along with ginger CO2 only. More to come...

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

In My Own Language

Those who are new to SmellyBlog may not understand the connection to perfume... Well, there is none. Except that the author of this blog happens to have an 11 daughter with autism. She has recently (3 years ago) learned to speak our language yet we are still very delighted to speak hers to the best of our ability. Our communication relies heavily on other means rather than verbal...

Related article: The Language of Autism in the New York Times