Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia

White Beauty, originally uploaded by tropicaLiving.

Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia delivers what its name promises and does it well. The execution of this grand floral is surprisingly tame and not in the least obnoxious. Although I can’t say its lacking sillage, it is definitely quieter than most of Estee Lauder fragrances not to mention many other tuberose-themed perfumes.

Tuberose Gardenia remains polished and soft like a white novak purse that’s inevitably saturated with it’s owner’s perfume. Inside the purse you’ll find very few accessories - just what’s necessary for that particular outing. In this case: tuberose and gardenia accords underlined by a woody vanilla base (which halfway through the journey brings to mind the overall impression of Songes). If Fracas is the point beyond which everything is too loud, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia marks the point on the same spectrum beyond which tuberose starts to whisper.

While Fracas makes me think of other things (disturbingly intoxicating and unrecognizable flowers at night), Tuberose Gardenia leaves me just comfortably pampered with buttery, creamy tuberose and gardenia. There is none of the greenness or complexity you can find in Fracas and which makes it so intriguing as it bounces between gasoline, white flowers, rubber and greenery until it settles down into a creamy tuberose. Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia is straightforward and shows all its card right from the start: it reminds me more of tuberose floral wax than anything else, with its velvety, pampering tuberose headiness. Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia seems to give us what we need in this day and age (aside from the very long name to type over an over again - a trend that I hope would come to an end one of these days!): it brings a simple pleasure just like a much needed vacation.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vetiver Racinettes Reviewed by Perfume Shrine + Sample Giveaway

Vetiver Racinettes is reviewed on Perfume Shrine today. Ayala Moriel offered 10 free samples of Vetiver Racinettes to Perfume Shrine readers.
- All samples are already spoken for now, but we still have more in stock for those who want to order it online via our online boutique.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008


tuberose, originally uploaded by Buttersweet.

Fracas: An over-the-top white floral; a moon-garden outrageously populated by fragrant night-blooming flowers: honeysuckle vines curling their lashes against the dark skies, pale tuberose skeletons trembling in the summer wind and night blooming jasmines exploding their indoles like fireworks. Cool and warm wafts of winds alternate as one walks through attempting to survive this intoxicating olfactory temptations without falling flat on the ground and becoming fully sedated.

Fracas from French translates straightforwardly to “crash” but more specifically - a noisy, disorderly quarrel, fight or disturbance (which is what could possibly happen if this perfume is applied in abundance by a government employee in Canada). If worn in a different setting, the disturbance is bound to be rather pleasant. There is nothing timid, restrained or shy about Fracas. At the same time, it is not nearly as obtrusive as I have expected after sensing the divided opinion about this fragrance, rivaled only by the opinions regarding Angel and Poison.

On the tuberose intensity-spectrum, Fracas sits just at the point where it leaves a (fondly) memorable impression; go any further you are approaching Poison’s aggressive territory. Tamer tuberoses, on the other hand, always live in danger of paling in comparison to this landmark fragrance.

With every wearing of Fracas, it keeps me on my toes as it bounces between gasoline, white flowers, hot rubber and greenery from the florist shops’ cooler. But it’s intrigue lies not only in its contrasting notes, but also in it’s ability to shift its weight between realism (the real living flowers) and the abstract of modern chemistry (bold molecular statements), while never losing its balance.

In its evolution, Fracas starts out as an intense heady floral, yet with depth rather than being high pitched. It was described before me as “sparkling” and I can’t agree with this description more - it has a certain vivacity that makes it seem very light hearted, almost humorous. You could say it’s Narcisse Noir’s blond sister or the glamorous Norma Desmond when silent films were still in production (both perfumes share the intensity of white florals overtop incense, sandalwood and rubbery animalics, with Narcisse Noir being darker and bordering on the decay).

Tuberose and green cool notes (violet leaf?) are further intensified and sweetened by orange blossom and jasmine absolutes. I also smell something reminiscent of stephanotis there though I’ve never seen it listed anywhere. In the first hour of wearing the various floral notes competing simultaneously for the diva role yet somehow end up singing a polyphonic and harmonious coral and acting as counterpoint to one another (they are all bold, loud white florals so the competition is close). Once settled on the skin, Fracas is linearly floral tuberose with the creamy aspect of the flower taking centre stage. From this point on Fracas slowly but surely dissipates into the atmosphere, shedding one layer after the other of its tuberosiness until in the end we are left with a clean, smooth petal underlined with musk, wood and just the slightest hint of acrid oakmoss.

Top notes: Yellow Mandarin, Bergamot, Honeysuckle, Gardenia
Heart notes: Tuberose, Jasmine, Stephanotis, Lily of the Valley, Jonquil, Violet, Orange Blossom, Iris
Base notes: Musk, Vetiver, Cedar, Sandalwood, Oakmoss

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Feature on Natural Living for Women

Ayala Moriel is featured in Natural Living for Woman. Click here to read.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ineke's Garden

Angel's Trumpet, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

It was a cold-gray-wet mid-November day in 2007. Ineke and I sat at the Starbucks across from Vancouver Public Library (the main branch, which Moshe Safdie has humorously designed to resemble the Colosseum and give my city an imposed air of culture). This was my first time smelling Evening Edged in Gold and my immediate reaction was that of familiarity. I couldn't quite pinpoint it at the context, so Ineke mentioned the influence of the grand woody-floriental scents from the 90's - Feminite du Bois and Dolce Vita, both with a pronounced cedarwood and fruity notes.

Months later, Ineke kindly sent me a sample of her new opus (by the way - Ineke has a new and beautifully packaged sampler set, with all her 5 fragrances, titled “Volume 2” and meticulously wrapped and packaged in their miniature matchbox-like case within a larger drawer-type box), as well as the three floral bases used in the perfume. Two of the bases are ones that Ineke has created “from scratch” so to speak, using flowering plants in her garden as a reference and inspiration.

Although these floral bases play a modest role in the formulation percentage-wise (the woody and musky notes play a more dominant role here, accounting for more than half of the composition), they sure are what sets Evening Edged in Gold apart from, say, Dolce Vita and Samsara.

The Angel’s Trumpet (aka Datura) base is reminiscent of lilies and reminds me greatly of the lily-and-orange blossom saturated Lys Mediteranee, yet with a far more pronounced lily-of-the-valley note (most likely from Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol and other muguet molecules).

The Midnight Candy base is a lot less floral that I expected it to be and smells very candy-like indeed, and has a dusky, smooth ripe-plum-like texture which goes very well with the more complex, apricoty-osmanthus base (Ineke used both osamnthus absolute and an osmanthus base for Evening Edged in Gold - I have to say I personally prefer the absolute as it is).

The Angel’s Trumpet I’ve taken pictures of (see above) did not have much of a fragrance (at least not in broad daylight). Keep in mind that I've met in in mid-day; according to Bill (Ineke's husband and business partner), it is at night time when the flower releases it's lily-like scent into the air, and the yellow variety is the one to look for (the bush I've found being peach coloured may not be as fragrant but I'm bound to check out if it's still in bloom this very evening).

Midnight Candy is the flower that “stars” in this fragrance’s packaging. Unfortunately, I haven’t smelled it either. Again, according to Bill this finicky dusky flower will only show off its olfactory capabilities on a hot day after 4pm. In a cooler day it won't be as generous sharing its fragrance. I am very curious to hear if any of you who have tried Evening Edged in Gold are familiar with these two fragrant flowers and could “find” them within Ineke’s perfume. I would love to hear from you more about the plant inspiration for this perfume.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Licorice Side of Herbs

bees love anise hyssop, originally uploaded by Pocket Farmer.

About a week into the game, and my violet-lavender perfume has developed beautifully, softening and at the same time becoming more extremely sweet and powdery. The vanilla I've used in this particular fragrance is a rare find - a food-grade vanilla absolute extracted with
sugar-cane alcohol as a solvent, making it sweet and rum-y. It's as if the iris and the violet have become more creamy and

The other experiment I've blended August 11th, inspired by the ice cream of the day before, still requires more maturation before I can judge it further. So far all I can say is that I'm really enjoying this odd aspect of licorice-y herbs, a side-track of my attempt to marry lavender and basil together. I've used a methyl-chavicol type basil, which is heavier and spicier, with that licorice aftertaste to it. And than of course tarragon oil to accentuate that and tarragon absolute for the base. I have initially intended to use cocoa absolute at the base as well (as you may recall, it was the basil-chocolate ice cream that is to blame). However, I am finding myself using chocolate in too many situations so I'm going to try to stay away from it at least in one of my developments for the lavender-basil theme. I may need to add more tarragon to the August 11th formula to contribute to the overall underlining herbal sweetness and accentuate the licorice aspect of basil a bit further; and than start another one that would have chocolate at the base, just so I have a point of reference (and don't feel like I'm missing out on anything).

And last but not least - this weekend I have promised myself (and a few other people) to make basil-flavoured chocolate truffles. Cross your fingers for me, I really want this to turn out smashing!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Lavender Out of Context

La casa Gelato, originally uploaded by 芋姫のたび.

Aromatic landmark of the day is La Casa Gelato (1033 Venables Street, just off Glen Drive).
From the 508 flavours, I picked two scoops: chocolate-basil and lavender. The lavender was surprisingly green. Rather than being flavoured by the dry buds, it is flavoured by fresh green lavender leaves. So does the chocolate-basil, where one can spot green pesto-size specks of basil leaves.

The combination was everything but ordinary and oddly comforting. Which reminds me of how well basil and lavender might just do together. Maybe not with a violet - but perhaps with tarragon absolute, to bring out even more the licorice like nuances found in some varieties of basil.

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Why No Spray?

Ms. Ayala,

Hope you are doing well.

I would like to know, is there a particular reason as to why natural perfumes are hard to find in spray from? What's your personal opinion in regards to this type of packaging?

Thank you for your time,


Dear Maria,

Thank you so much for your email and for your interest in Ayala Moriel Parfums!

I can only speak for myself and say that the only reason I do not offer my perfumes in spray form is because I haven't found the right bottles for my company that are spray bottles.
I used to sell my perfumes in either large 1oz or 2oz bottles, as well as small 1/4oz purse spray and I found that:

A. the purse sprays sold the most (most of my customers like to buy more than one perfume at a time)

B. The spray mechanism did not seal the bottle properly, so there was too much leakage and evaporation. I could just not find a bottle to my liking (visually) that would also function well (keep the perfume from escaping the bottle that is).

Other advantages of flacons (bottles with dabbers):

1. More control over the application (which is of special advantage if the perfume contains a staining ingredient, such as saffron or coffee absolute)

2. Many of the natural perfumers create their perfumes by hand and filter them by hand so some particles such as floral waxes may be still present and could clog up the spray mechanism

3. Lastly, the element of marketing and packaging comes into play: since natural perfumes are often made with very expensive raw materials, they are best sold in smaller volume to make them more affordable. The small spray bottles usually look cheap while the flacons with the dabbers make the perfume reflect the elegance and preciousness of the perfume.



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Saturday, August 09, 2008


Girl in violet dress, originally uploaded by Chrissie White.

Lavender and violet have a few things in common. They are both a colour. They are both powdery (depending on context, of course). And they both have a strong Victorian-moral and olfactroy association - violets associated with modesty and lavender with cleanliness and purity (the Latin name for lavender - lavandula - is from the root "lavare" which means "to wash). It's easy to fall into one of these cliches when working with those materials, and difficult to avoid it and create something new. But it's possible.

After re-blending previous reference formulas from my past lavender endeavors, I set to try out my new idea: lavender and violet. I have already used violet in the formula for Branka's perfume (which along with the rose makes it more floral). At the same time, I really wanted to maintain that suave, velvety quality in my fougere sketch from 2001. And so on August 6th, I've experimented with adding on to the accord of lavender-violet-vanilla a few more notes to accentuate the violet. I've used orris butter to extend the violet heart note and make it more soft and floral and less green-leaf-like. At the same time, cassie absolute was added to the base, adding a perfumey complexity that has both the violet-like nuances as well as its own odd characteristics of wet wood. Tonka bean and hay absolute at the base along with ho wood (very linalool rich) at the heart complete the fougere picture and the pine was replaced by rosemary verbenone to add clean, herbaceous freshness.

It's only three days into maturation and all the notes have already smoothed into each other (i.e.: the orris and cassie don't stand out as much as they did in day 1).
To summarize, here are the notes I've used in this violet-lavender experiment:

Top notes: Kashmir Lavender, Lavender Mailette, Lavender (High Elevation, France), Rosemary Verbenon, Ho wood

Heart notes: Violet Leaf Absolute, Orris butter 8% Irone, Seville Lavender Absolute, Lavender Absolute, Clary Sage

Base notes: Lavender Concrete, Oakmoss, Tonka Bean, Hay Absolute, Cassie Absolute, Vanilla Absolute

I like the result, but think it's still too tame and it does remind me of both Viola and Lovender - combined with a little more lavender oomph added in (from both the Seville Lavender absolute and the lavender concrete - both very unusual and bold notes). Perhaps amplifying the cassie would create more of the quirky effect I'm looking for - something more unusual and less familiar. Another thing I might consider is adding some rosemary absolute, but than I might be repeating some of my accords from Gaucho too much.

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Basenotes in Men's Vogue Top 50 Websites

Basenotes has been selected by Men's Vogue as one of the top lifestyle website among their list of 50 recommended websites.
Congratulations for a well-deserved spot!

Luminous, Bold Lavender

Herbaceous & Bold Lavender, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

My interest in lavender as a theme awoke while researching and comparing the different lavenders, and I felt tempted to construct a lavender-violet perfume, inspired in theory (yet not actual result) by the iconic Gray Flannel. As I've been resurrecting my notes about lavender (later to form a more comprehensive text), I've also dug up and re-blended a couple of old formulas surrounding this spectacular note.

The first one, a masculine fougere utilizing the complex, velvety lavender-confiture of the concrete form (concrete is one stage before the extraction of the absolute, still containing all the floral waxes) contrasted by rosy geranium, sweet vanilla and musky oakmoss - resulting as I recall in a very musky fragrance (even though any animalic notes are deliberately absent). This was designed in 2001 as a sketch for wedding perfumes. Besides being that velvety-smooth fougere with buttery-musky feel to it, it can also work as a fougere base when a touch of fougere complexity needs to be added to a composition.

13.8 Lavender Concrete

10.3 Green Oakmoss Absolute

10.3 Vanilla

10.3 Lavender Absolute

7.1 Clary Sage

13.8 Geranium Bourbon

13.8 Lavender Oil

10.3 Rosewood

10.3 Pine


The second one, a custom scent to a dear lady named Branka (also in 2001), in an attempt to bring back the good memories of summer holidays before the dreadful civil war in former Yugoslavia, spent on an island in the Baltic sea - surrounded by cypress and pine trees, sage and lavender. Since this is a custom scent I will not reveal the exact proportions, just the fragrance notes:

Top notes: Pine, Cypress, Bulgarian Lavender

Heart notes: Violet Leaf, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Clary Sage

Base notes: Lavender Concrete, Oakmoss, Patchouli

It is a tad earthy to my liking, and somewhat "muddy" but it does create that rustic summer holiday - and in any case, it was created for Branka, not for me, and as long as it makes her happy it makes me happy too.

The next phase of this experiment was to create a new lavender, that violet-lavender thing I've been creatively craving. I will tell you about this later.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lavender Haze

Lavender Haze (Soft Focus), originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Among my lost work is those monographs for lavender of various origins. In an attempt to encourage myself to resurrect my work, here is the gist of it - all of which relates to lavender oils which can be found on

Lavender Essential Oils - Species Lavandula angustifolia

Lavender grown in high elevation (France)
Herbaceous, a little like rosemary. A hint of rose-geranium. Slightly musty undertones. You can kinda smell it had hard time growing on the Alps... Smells like a very short, struggling plant. Dry down: hints of musk & wood base.

Lavender Maillette (France)

Dray, clean, floral, woody. Sweet, hint of bery. Crystalline. Clean, clear, almost rosewoody.

Wild Lavender (France)

Opens sweet and soft and floral, almost rosy even. Dries down into a sweet and grassy, airy lavender.

Lavender Oil (Tasmania, Australia)

Berry, myrrh-like, soft, green yet spicy-herbaceous. Light yet warm & comex. A little like sage/clary sage?

Lavender Super (Bulgaria)

Heavy, dirty, earhty. Herbaceouse, very fern-like. Slightly wine-like. Clean-herbaceous undertones.

Lavender Kashmir
Velvety, suede, smooth, powdery, potent, powerful but soft. Slightly herbaceous, hardly medicinal. Floral, powdery like scented leather gloves. Woody, slightly musty undertones.

Lavender Absolute (Lavandula angustifolia) - France
Musty turquoise colour liquid. Penetrating. Musty, airy, etheral. Ambery base. Musty/musky yet clean & sweet, a little lemony even?

Seville Lavender (Lavandula
luisieri) - Spain
A non-lavender lavender. Raspberry, hay, almost like osmanthus and linden blossom. Sweet is not the right word but sour isn't either. Fruity in an odd, fascinating way. Dark like a herbal witch brew - over steeped rosemary and sage. Resinous and sweet, a little like fir absolute.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Night Blooming House Plant

Night Blooming House Plant, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I've mentioned before this night-blooming house plant - its buds open at night and fill the entire lobby of my building (as well as the elevator, even after it traveled to other levels) with an intensely intoxicating aroma redolent of kewda, honesuckle, hyacinth and wasabi.

When it was in full bloom I described it as "possessing a moist, humid presence that is difficult to describe, or ignore".

Can you please help me identify it?

Perhaps this photo of the plant in daylight will be more helpful:

DSC06216, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pride Parade!

Pride, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Have a wonderful Pride Parade - all proud Vancouverites.

My apologies for the long absence. The computer crash is at fault. I now have my laptop back. I got a new hard drive, with most of my data yet most of the photos I've ever taken are still absent (some of which I will recover from Flickr). This pretty much discourages me from taking any new ones!

I am going to the Powell Street festival today, with a camera, in hopes that it will inspire me to take shots again regardless of their virtual fickleness. Hopefully I will be back with something fragrant and colourful to share with you.

P.s. This colourfule fire hydrant spots were shot in San Francisco this Thursday - not a business trip, just a fun day trip courtesy of my friend Tina who works for an airline.