Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thinking as a Perfumer Seminar with BCAPA

On April 5th, I will be presenting a seminar about natural perfumery for aromatherapists with BC Association of Practicing Aromatherapy @ the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.

While there are some similarities between the two fields – aromatherapy and natural perfumery are fundamentally different. Having taught natural perfumery to aromatherapists in the past couple of years, it is clear to me that switching from one field to the other requires a shift in the way you think about aromatic botanical essences. Thinking as a perfumer requires a different approach and utilizes different techniques and approaches, which will be the focus of this one day seminar.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

FiFi Awards Nominees 2008

The following are the nominees for this year's FiFi Awards - the "Oscars" of the fragrance industry held by The Fragrance Foundation.
Incidentally, FiFi is now also a friendly Facebook member; s/he is listed as a 60 years old single. Just thought you might like to know...
(I'm assuming first name is FiFi, last name is Awards; 60 is how old the Fragrance Foundation is).

Online voting opens April 27th. I'm not quite sure where the voting will be taking place but will post a link here once it has become active. In the meantime, there's plenty of time to decide who to vote for in the following categories:


Absolutely Irrésistible Givenchy Parfums Givenchy
Burberry The Beat P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere Chanel
elle Yves Saint Laurent YSL Beaute
Fairy Dust by Paris Hilton Parlux Fragrances, Inc.
Fancy Jessica Simpson Parlux Fragrances, Inc.
Gucci by Gucci EDT P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
Guess by Marciano Parlux Fragrances, Inc.
Harajuku Lovers Fragrances - Love, Lil' Angel, Music, Baby, "G" Coty Prestige
John Varvatos Eau de Parfum Beauté Prestige International
Lilly Pulitzer - Wink, Beachy, Squeeze Gary Farn Ltd.
MA DAME - Jean Paul Gaultier Beauté Prestige International
Magnifique Lancôme
Ralph Lauren Notorious Ralph Lauren Fragrances
Sensuous Estée Lauder
Shiseido Zen Shiseido Cosmetics America
Vera Wang Look Coty Prestige
Viva la Juicy from Juicy Couture Elizabeth Arden

212 Sexy Men by Carolina Herrera Puig Beauty & Fashion Group
9IX Rocawear Elizabeth Arden
Boss Pure P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche Chanel
Deseo for Men by Jennifer Lopez Coty Prestige
Dior Homme Sport Christian Dior Parfums
Dirty English from Juicy Couture Elizabeth Arden
Dolce & Gabbana the one for Men P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
DY by Daddy Yankee Falic Fashion Group
Emporio Armani Diamonds for Men Giorgio Armani Parfums
Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
Guerlain Homme Guerlain
I Am King - Sean John Sean John Fragrances
IZOD Gemini Cosmetics
Perry Ellis Men Falic Fashion Group
Pi Neo Parfums Givenchy
Polo Modern Reserve Ralph Lauren Fragrances
Prada Infusion D'Homme Puig USA, Inc.
Versace Pour Homme EuroItaly Inc.
Zirh Ikon Zirh Holdings, LLC

Nouveau Niche
B de Boucheron YSL Beaute
Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Union Square Bond No. 9 New York
Chloé Eau de Parfum Coty Prestige
Dark Amber & Ginger Lily Cologne Jo Malone
David Yurman Clarins Fragrance Group
Dolce & Gabbana l'eau the one P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
India Hicks Island Night Crabtree & Evelyn
Jeanne Lanvin P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
Love, Ralph Lauren Ralph Lauren Fragrances
Onde Collection by Giorgio Armani - Extase, Mystère, Vertige Giorgio Armani Parfums

Burberry The Beat for Men P&G Prestige Products, Inc.
Cartier Roadster Cartier
Gant Silver Elizabeth Arden
Sweet Lime & Cedar Cologne Jo Malone
The Essence by Porsche Design Clarins Fragrance Group

Unique Boutique
Category encompasses women's, men's and unisex fragrances
Acqua di Parma Profumo (women's) Acqua di Parma
Aedes de Venustas (unisex) Aedes de Venustas
Azzaro Couture (women's) Clarins Fragrance Group
Bendelirious (women's) Henri Bendel
Guerlain L'Art et La Matière Cruel Gardenia (women's) Guerlain
Guerlain Les Elixirs Charnels Gourmand Coquin (women's) Guerlain
Homage (unisex) Amouage Ltd.
Jil Sander Scent 79 Man (men's) Coty Prestige
Jubilation 25 (women's) Amouage Ltd.
Jubilation XXV (men's) Amouage Ltd.
Karl Lagerfeld Kapsule - Floriental, Woody, Light (unisex) Coty Prestige
La Collection Particulière -Passage No. 4, Passage No. 8, Passage No. 9 (women's) Christian Dior Parfums
Les Exclusifs de Chanel Beige (women's) Chanel
Lisa Hoffman Variations - Japanese Agarwood, Madagascar Orchid (women's) Lisa Hoffman Beauty
Lyric Eau de Parfum Woman (women's) Amouage Ltd.
Lyric Eau de Parfum Man (men's) Amouage Ltd.
Neil Morris for Takashimaya New York (unisex) Neil Morris Fragrances
Tom Ford Private Blend Champaca Absolute (unisex) Tom Ford Beauty

Popular Appeal
American Beauty Beloved BeautyBank
Bijan VIP Women Five Star Fragrance Company
Blue Seduction for Women by Antonio Banderas Puig USA
Celine Dion Sensational Coty Inc.
Hilary Duff's Wrapped with Love Elizabeth Arden
Samba Fresh Woman The Perfumer's Workshop International, Ltd.

Men's - Also includes Private Label/Direct Sell
Bijan VIP Men Five Star Fragrance Company
Brooks Brothers New York Gentlemen Eau de Toilette Inter Parfums USA, LLC
McGraw by Tim McGraw Coty Inc.
Mustang Blue for Men Fragrance The Estèe Lauder Companies
Samba Fresh Man The Perfumer's Workshop International, Ltd.

Private Label/Direct Sell
Avon Bond Girl 007 Avon Products, Inc.
Black Amethyst Bath and Body Works
Brooks Brothers New York Ladies Eau de Parfum Inter Parfums USA, LLC
Go Red Five Star Fragrance Company
Secrets d'Essences Iris Noir Yves Rocher
Victoria's Secret Sexy Little Things Noir Eau de Parfum Victoria's Secret Beauty


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mandarin Sandal

Tangerines & Incense, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Mandarin Sandal is another new addition to the One-Of-A-Kind section on my Etsy shop.

Mandarin Sandal was inspired by the scent of sandalwood incense and the appeal of fresh mandarins in mid-winter. It evokes colorful silk prayer banners and whispering saffron robes.

You may remember me mentioning working on Mandarin Sandal on my blog this winter.

Top notes: Clementine CO2, Tangerine Murcott, Red Mandarin, Pomelo Tincture, Citron Tincture
Heart notes: Saffron Attar, Nagramotha, Orange Blossom, Egyptian Jasmine, Turmeric, China Tea Rose
Base notes: Indian Sandalwood, Vanuatu Sandalwood, Australian Sandalwood

Fragrance family: Woody, Citrus

The One-Of-A-Kinds are distinct signature perfumes that will never make it to the Ayala Moriel ready-to-wear collection. The formula will be kept in file exclusively for the one customer who chooses to adopt this unique perfume as their own Signature Perfume.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tuberose Lei

tuberose and orchid lei, originally uploaded by NoeLani2006.

Tuberose Lei is the newest addition to the One-Of-A-Kind section on my Etsy shop.

Tuberose Lei is a humid, heady tuberose wrapped around the neck like a snaky flower lei. Four types of tuberose essences were picked for this living piece of jewelry, including two different tuberose absolutes, Indian tuberose attar and a unique distillation of organic tuberose are laced with other precious attars, creating an intoxicating tuberose infatuation.

Top notes: Kewda Attar, Ho Wood, Bergamot

Heart notes: Tuberose Absolute, Tuberose Attar, Organic Tuberose Essence, Attar Mottia, Orange Blossom

Base notes: Sandalwood Vanuatu, Peru Balsam, Labdanum, Liatrix, Vanilla

The One-Of-A-Kinds are distinct signature perfumes that will never make it to the Ayala Moriel ready-to-wear collection. The formula will be kept in file exclusively for the one customer who chooses to adopt this unique perfume as their own Signature Perfume.

Photo: tuberose and orchid lei, originally uploaded by NoeLani2006.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Charisma Perfumed Tea

Ayala Moriel is pleased to announce the launch of Charisma tea - the 5th creation in our series of authentic perfumed teas made for us exclusively by Inner Alchemy Tea Co.

Of course, Charisma originates in the perfume of that name – a concoction of green tea, jasmine sambac, osmanthus, kewda and spearmint that creates a very distinct scent. But it also has another significance for me personally which I would like to reveal here.

Back home in my little organic village in Israel, we hardly ever drank proper “tea” from tea leaves – but only tisanes brewed from fresh herbs from the gardens or wild ones from the hills and meadows surrounding our homes. My favourites since childhood were lemon verbena, lemongrass and spearmint. The brewed fresh leaves are magically refreshing and calming. A true pleasure to the palette as well as the nose.

Inspired by my friend and colleague Dawna and the exceptional teas she has created for me, I set on experimenting with my own stash of herbs and tea to create a matching tea to my original refreshing and Charisma perfume.

Those of you who visited the studio in the past year are probably familiar with my “secret house blend”. I took my all-time favourite freshly dried herbs from my mother’s organic garden in Israel – lemon verbena, spearmint and lemongrass – and added an equal amount of authentic perfumed jasmine green tea, and a touch of dried osmanthus blossoms.

Wanting to share this beautiful blend with friends and clients around the world, I asked for Dawna’s help to refine the ratios and create a small batch of this beautiful tea. In her skilled and sensitive hands and with her expertise in the flavour and aroma profiles of teas and herbs, Dawna has transformed this beautiful tea into something out of this world. The jasmine tea was replaced with a rare pomelo blossom perfumed tea*, which seems to have captured the essence of Charisma more fully – including it’s rounded floralcy and pungent aroma from the kewda and spearmint. When I first tasted Charisma tea I felt like I was sipping an orchard in full bloom. It left my mouth with a tingling sensation and with butterflies in my tummy.

- Traditional ‘Pomelo Flower’ Tea, premium grade (Fujian region, China)

- Lemon Verbena Leaf, organically grown (Turkey)

- Spearmint Leaf, organically grown (USA)

- Osmanthus Blossoms, premium grade (China)

Brewing Instructions:

Bring freshly drawn water to a boil. Infuse 1 tsp. per 5 oz. cup of tea desired for 1 ½ to 2 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly to appreciate full taste profile. May be re-steeped up to 4 times.

* The reason why pomelo blossom tea is so rare is because pomelo trees don’t have that many blossoms to begin with. The pomelo fruit being so large, the tree can only burden itself with few fruits; and the blossoms are few to begin with.

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Blunda Perfume Exhibition No.1: Velvet & Sweetpea's Purrfumery

Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweetpea's Purrfumerry will be a guest perfumer at Blunda's very first Perfume Exhibit this weekend, opening a series of 8 perfume exhibitions at this unique perfume studio at the heart of Los Angeles.

Meet Laurie Stern, California Bay area perfumer and the founder of Velvet & Sweetpea's Purrfumery, her beautiful line of botanical perfumes, and other aromatic jewels she creates. Laurie will be present to talk about her inspiration, her perfumes, her rose filled bathtub, and any other curiosities you may have.

Join Persephenie and Laurie for an afternoon tea, noshes from local Los Angeles producers, and the opportunity to meet these fine works of art called natural botanical perfumes.

Laurie's perfumes are cruelty free and made of botanical essences only (except for bee products) and are phthalate free. Laurie also uses tinctures from aromatic plants growing in her garden, including many different kinds of scented geraniums.

Spaces are extremely limited, so please RSVP by via email with the title "RSVP for Perfume Exhibition #1 March 28, 2009" and number of people participating or by calling (323) 658-750.

Related press:
Eco Fabulous
Vital Juice
Organic Beauty View

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Perfume In A Poem, March 2008: 15 perfumers were invited by Memory & Desire blog editor Heather Ettlinger to interpret one poem. Hanami is my contribution to the project. And although it refers to the Japanese tradition of flower viewing, it is really about the contrast of the botanical and the urbane; between real life and still-life.

Some of out most accurate feelings can be defined by tactile everyday details: Hot pavement in humid New York City; The liberating sense of anonymity in Montreal’s dusty Metro; The surprising blooming cherry boulevard above Burrard SkyTrain station, washed out by the Vancouver rain; Almond blossoms wasted in the dusty desert wind like wilted butterfly wings.

I wanted this perfume to be subtle and urban, floral but also dusty-dirty. The kind of dirt you wash from your hair after commuting back from work in the Metro, your clothes and skin contaminated with the lives of strangers and passers by. And for a moment you give away a part of yourself just so that you can return back home…

I want this perfume to randomly create an ever-changing, estranged impression on the beings that weave in and out of its presence… And the notes I chose to spell this emotional haiku are:

Top notes: Cabreuva, Frangipani, Mimosa, Rosewood

Heart notes: Pink Lotus, Magnolia, Tuberose, Violet Leaf, Oleander

Base notes: Haitian Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Cassie, Siamwood, Vanilla CO2, Copaiba Balsam, Bakul Attar

Hanami is now available online, just in time for the Hanami season which spans from end of March to beginning of April (varying with location and weather). Cherry blossom are hesitatingly opening up to the doubtful spring air in Vancouver, while in Japan they are at the peak.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Lovely Collection

I just caught a sniff of Sarah Jessica Parker's new fragrance trio, that has just arrived to Shoppers Drug Mart in Canada.
The three fragrances are called Dawn, Twilight and Endless - and each is said to be inspired by lovely moments in SJP's life.

After the disappointment of Covet (original, but not something I would want to wear) and Covet Pure Bloom (which smells too much like others) I have to say I was surprisingly impressed with this collection, and with Twilight in particular.

My very initial reactions, based only on a paper application are:
Dawn smells like freshly cleaned and dried laundry. I still am not sure if it smells like the laundry detergent or dryer sheets or both.
Twilight is a sheer amber, and very similar to Ambre Fetiche (Annick Goutal) and in a way is what one might have hoped to get out of the solid perfume of Stella in 2 Amber.
Endless was a nice and a fruity floral on the more interesting side. It was crips rather than sweet.

All three deserve a skin test, and I am hoping to do this very soon and post more thorough impression of their evolution on my skin.

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SJP Upcoming New Fragrance Survey

SJP is running a survey to help with the development of yet another new scent. This new perfume will be packaged as a fashion accessory and is supposed to represent Sarah Jessica's unique fashion style as well as her funky NYC context.

It's a really fun survey and I hope that those filling it are going to ask for something new, surprising and original (I certainly did). So if you are into a new, original and surprising scent from SJP than please contribute your opinion by answering the survey questions.
If you are into more fruity florals from celebrities please don't answer it at all, as I'm sure you will get a lot more of those on the shelf without ever asking!

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Byzance (Rochas)

Byzance opens soapy, aldehydic and with a big perfumey blast that characterizes olfactory decade of the 80’s with an obvious wink towards the floral aldehydes of the 20’s. A big tuberose comes through right away with a heady bitter-sweetness and a touch of greens. Underlining base notes of musk and amber make themselves immediately apparent as well. And a spicy yet balsamic warmth of cardamom makes for a slightly exotic opening. It settles into a green yet sweet tuberose for quite some time. The dry down reveals more of the woods as well as vanilla, and sweet berry-like undertones which reminds me of the final dryout of Ivoire. And there is always a sense of sweetness about it – although not as overbearing as the first few moments.

Byzance interestingly has some characteristics of a chypre (perhaps the juxtaposition of potent florals with greens creates that illusion), but it is not. It is a flamboyant, outgoing floriental.

I am still trying ot figure out what is the connection to the name though. It does not smell particularly typical of the region or the religious connotations of the Eastern Church. The bottle design is the only point of reference I can see (the circle being reminiscent of that found inside the basilicas in Turkey) - see image below. It also reminds me of the bottle design of Soir de Paris.

Fresco, Kariye Camii, originally uploaded by Feuillu.

Byzance also happens to be the perfume that Fiona from Urban Rush was not able to find. It is, however, still on display at Shifeon in Vancouver (though I’m not sure they have any left in stock), so you can try it there. And it’s also still available on various online outlets. I am not sure if it is officially discontinued or just hard to find.

Although no one guessed the perfume correctly, I will be giving the Magnolia Petal bottle to Mark, who had the right brand (Rochas). Congratulations, Mark!

A more through search for the notes leads to the Perfume Addicts Database:

Top notes: Citrus, cardamon, spices, greens, mandarin, aldehydes, basil
Heart notes: Jasmine, tuberose, Turkish rose, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Sandalwood, vanilla, musk, heliotrope, amber

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My very favorite smelly things this winter

Although spring has started, I have no illusions - we're going to have many gray days in Vancouver, with pouring rain and cold temperatures; and it's probably going to snow sometime in April, as it usually does (yet somehow everybody is shocked time and time again when that happens).

So the time is still perfect to summarize the scents that made my winter and make a little list of winter favourites for this year:

1) Sycomore
One of the first times I’ve worn this was when visiting Harrison Hot Springs this winter. In a way it reminds me of the scent of hot wood in a dry saune.

2) Hinoki Bath Salts
These are pretty close to the real thing and dye the bath in a bright green colour, alluding to fresh branches of these Japanese cypress. And – they can be had for a townie at Daiso.

3) Bois d’Hiver Candle
Even though I have a part in this product, I feel as though it’s a complete surprise every time I burn it. It feels very different from the perfume. And I just am so grateful to have had the privilege to work with Nikki on such a beautiful candle.

4) Roses et Chocolat Tea
Another fortunate experience of something that started with a perfume concept but ended up in another talented person’s hands (Dawna of Inner Alchemy Tea Co.). This tea is perhaps my first time falling in love with a black tea.

Interestingly, I feel like I’ve re-discovered the perfume when the tea was launched. It’s funny how when you revisit something you’ve done a long time after the fact you see it in a different light. Just a little more objectively I suppose? It smelled so much more perfumey and less obviously gourmand. I liked that. And the tea is a real treat (I ran out of over 2oz this winter just on my own).

5) Burning Sandalwood Incense
To clear my mind and make my home feel a little more tranquil, sometimes all I need is plain sandalwood incense that I got from Science World eons ago when they had an exhibit about China. That package seem to never run out…

6) Tea Rose perfume
Another rose and tea theme for me this winter. Rose seems to come back into my life. I created this one relatively recently. I have to admit I’m partial to tea roses. I think they are so much prettier and refreshing than the Damascena or Centirolia roses (this is due to the presence of the violety ionone in this Asian variety of rose0.

7) L de Lolita Lempicka
This is a winner yet another winter – a comforting vanilla and cinnamon scent that never feels overly done. It’s simple and easy to enjoy, but not as simplistic as, say, wearing plain vanilla from The Body Shop. It’s luxurious, comforting and sexy at the same time.

8) Immortelle l’Amour
My winter comfort scent, sometimes make me feel sticky like after eating pancakes with too much maple syrup…

9) Oeillet
Reminds me of washing my hair with dark sage tea in the winter time. A wonderful all-natural perfume!

10) Velvet Gardenia
The floral discovery for me this year. This is a truly haunting scent and is both pretty and mysterious, floral and sensual thanks to the labdanum base.

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Friday, March 20, 2009


Cherry Blossoms, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Spring has officially begun this morning, and I'm glad to see that the cherry blossoms are cooperating with the calendar and start creating the beautiful atmosphere that makes this season special, regardless of how cold it may be.

I am busy these days getting interesting print materials for the exhibit at Blunda that will showcase the perfume I created last year for Perfume Inside a Poem project on Memory & Desire blog. I'm putting together a few things with my graphic designer - including a postcard with one of my cherry blossom photographs of last year. The rest of it you will just have to visit Blunda to see for yourself!

From olfactory point of view, the perfume I created for this project is about the contrast between the botanical and the urbane. The images that flicked before my eyes as I was reading the poem were the dusty Metro in Montreal and the humidity of New York City, and in contrast to that – the surprise of discovering the cherry boulevard in full bloom at Burrard SkyTrain station in Vancouver. And because of its stunning beauty at this time of the year it was also chosend to be the centre of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Vancouver.

After much thought, I've decided to call the perfume Hanami. Not so much because it is particularly Japanese, but because Hanami (flower viewing) is totally not what Westerners might expect. It's not about Geisha roaming around in bamboo flip flops and writing haiku about cherry blossoms and playing on koto as the blossoms dust their coiffed hair. Hanami is really more like a picnic where people sit under the cherry blossom trees and drink so much sake they can’t remember a thing. I have to admit that I liked how the name sounds all pretty and romantic but in reality isn’t so. Plus I like the sound of it, and it will be my first perfume starting with the letter “H”.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ume on Wet Asphalt

Ume on Wet Asphalt, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

This little Japanese plum (Ume) blossom on wet asphalt reminded me of exactly a year ago, when I was working on the perfume interpretation for "In A Station of the Metro".
The perfume result will be shown in a special exhibit at Blunda in Lost Angeles April 18.

Not much more perfume blogging today or in the next couple of days as I'm just arriving home from a 3-day expedition to Victoria to allow my entire space (work and living) the treat of being re-decorated - "to serve you better", as they say. The inconvenience part falls mostly on my shoulders - and Tamya's, of course ;)

Besides, my wrists are going to be dedicated first and foremost for my students' perfume assignments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ode to James Bay

James Bay, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

James Bay looked beautifully moody on this grey spring day. The misty air smelled of salt and wet grass as we approached the hillsides, trimmed with strange hedges and covered with grassy meadows, specked with early daffodils. The beauty of this bay has the ability to soothe the most troubled soul with its harmonious horizon of snow capped mountainous islands.

James Bay, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

And it greeted me yesterday with the most smiling of all faces - the setting sun sending horizontal rays through the layers of grass and diffuses through the atmosphere with moving dots like swimming plankton.

Piano & Chess, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

The lobby at James Bay Inn smells vaguely of almonds and baby powder and has everything one needs to pass time meaningfully - a piano and a chess set. The only thing missing was people to play with (or play the piano for me). But even just looking at the space and the antique Victorian sofas and upholstered chairs creates a lively conversation in one’s head.

In the evening, as we walked on Toronto street, approaching Beacon Hill Park, a strangely familiar scent permeated the air: brewing tea! Was it Early Grey, or something else? It was obviously present but also slipped away quickly before I was able to fully analyze it. It reminded me mostly of wet tea leaves. A few steps later, it was Blueberry tea. “Hmmm, Victorians must be true tea lovers if their streets smell like this!”. I was determined to come back through the same street on the way to the inn, but the winding trails on the parks mossy belly distracted me and I was walking in a different street. I almost just arrived at the hotel, when the tea waft appeared again. This time, it was more like a lychee tea. Cleverly, I stopper right there and than and bent over the nearest branch of flowering bush that happened to be just by my feet. Sure enough, this was the source of the scent. The bush looks like pittosporum with green blossoms. And smells amazingly like fruity black tea.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Greens for Patrick

Happy St. Patrick's Day, originally uploaded by jciv.

I’m in the ferry boat to Victoria, British Columbia’s capital whose downtown is dotted with Irish pubs. I’m on a strange spring break-meets-spring-cleaning tour. In other words, my space is being redecorated and I’m trying to avoid the chaos of living and working among scattered furniture and splashes of paint (the walls will be green, of course, when I return home in two days).

The sea route goes through the lusciously green Gulf Islands, where Celtic hippies reside; and today I’m told they will summon the devil with their squeaky violins as they drink alfalfa juice specked with spirulina powder. Therefore it is only appropriate to talk about green scents.

And although I’m away from my explosive library of samples and my head is dizzying as the ferry spiraling in-between the fjord-like moss covered rocky islands in an attempt to enter Salt Spring Island’s dock - I will make an attempt all the same to list all those green scents that make life worth living and hay worth harvesting.

There are all kinds of green. This has become even clearer to me as I had to go through swatches of paints to choose from - dill pickle green, or avocado mayonnaise? We went with the timothy hay after all. But I digress, as my intention was to talk about green scents and not so much the colour. Yet, there is some kind of equivalence - green being a mixture of blue and yellow can lead to difference direction - dark and cool with more blue; or bright, lively and vibrant with more yellow. There are the olives, which are more dirty; and than there are greens that are bordering with grey.

Similarly with scent, there is the green the evokes crushed living leaf and than there are the greens that reminds us more of dry stacks of hay. Green goes both ways - sharp and fresh or warm and sweet-herbaceous. There is coniferous green and than there is also floral green. And I haven’t even mentioned green tea yet!

Galbanum - Sharp or Sweet:
Galbanum, the resin from a plant related to carrot and fennel, is responsible for the green bite in scents such as Vent Vert and Miss Dior. However, in its absolute form it is sweet and soft and almost berry-like. Yohji perfume accentuates galbanum’s sensuality by anchoring it with caramel and berries, resulting in a delicious, powdery-green-caramel confection.

Green Tea - Sheer and Fresh:
Miller et Bertaux Eau de Parfum #3: Green, green, green and green, is exactly the kind of scent that has both green tea and freshness. Balmy Days & Sundays by Ineke brings a more brisk and minty aspect to the theme of tea. And if you like the tea but not so much the greens, opt for Eau Parfumee au The Vert or Osmanthe Yunnan.

Not-So-New Mown Hay
Many fougere fragrance play on the bitter-sweet aspect of the coumarin present in hay or liatrix. Yerbamate is an example where the sweetness is amplified.

Tomato Leaf - Quirky Garden:
For a floral green, get a taste of originality with l’Ombre dans l’Eau’s juxtaposition of green tomato leaves and dewy roses. Tomato leaf appears in only very few other fragrances and adds the distinct aroma that rubs to your hands along with the colour green while attending to your tomato vines.

Cucumber, Violet and Iris:
Violet leaf has a cucumber-like, floral powdery scent. The accent on the cool rather than the powdery-sweet-floralcy of violet appeals to me especially in No. 19 and also in the more recent Kelly Caleche.

P.s. And as if my day wasn't green enough, when I arrived to Victoria I had dinner at Green Cuisine.

Photo: Happy St. Patrick's Day, originally uploaded by jciv.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Surprising Seaweed and a Lost Perfume (Contest)

Seaweed, originally uploaded by Ed Wenn.

My brief yet effective encounter with Shaw TV's Urban Rush hosts Mike and Fiona is an example for how different creating custom perfume for different people can be. Among custom-perfume seekers, I think there are two main kinds of people: There is the fragrance connoisseur (knowingly or unknowingly) that indulges in every moment of the process without necessarily knowing what they want the perfume to smell in the end; and than there is the very determined, goal-oriented person who know exactly what they want to achieve by the end of the process.

Fiona knew exactly what she wanted: a perfume to replace her favourite of 11 years, now sadly discontinued. She researched the notes, and came up with top notes of citron, rosewood and cardamom, heart notes of jasmine and lily of the valley, and a base of musk, vanilla and amber. And sure enough, a fan containing these notes (except for the lily of the valley, which does not yield its scent successfully to any form of distillation) brought back some of the spicy floriental characteristics of her signature scent. Sweet yet spicy and bold and delicious.

Mike, on the other hand, always goes au naturelle and seemed to be generally unaware of having any particular interest in fragrance (unless someone else is wearing it). From lack of a better word, he guessed he likes “musky” scents. But we quickly found out that he really “clicked” with my archetypal masculine scents ArbitRary and l’Herbe Rouge, and fell in love instantly with juniper, key lime, Seville and Kashmir lavender and liatrix. Even though there was hay and oakmoss and patchouli in both ArbitRary and l’Herbe Rouge he did not enjoy the notes on their own. Just before we run out of time, I decided to pull out a little unusual note - seaweed essential oil. To everyone’s surprise, this was an immediate love, and added an incredible lightness of sea breeze to the other herbaceous and woody notes.

There is never a right way or a wrong way in making your own custom scent. But each way is different, and walking a different path or following a different approach will definitely create a completely different scent in the end. The result depends on the person's sense of adventure and willingness to take olfactory risks; and ultimately - on the perfumer's listening abilities and attention to detail as well as intuition. I'm very curious to see how these two perfumes might turn out!

Now to the “contest”: Guess Fiona’s lost perfume correctly and you’ll be entered to win a bottle of hand-painted Magnolia Petal 30ml spray bottle.

* Enter the contest simply by adding a comment to this post. Contest closes March 21st.

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31 Rue Cambon

Me at AE, originally uploaded by sallyTV.

For some reason, I can never get overly excited about furniture. And when trying to think what is the best visual way to portray 31 Rue Cambon, I cannot stop thinking of neutral coloured furniture. I can admire the architecture of the bottle (magnetic cap maintains the alignment of the mirrored "cc" logo at all times). I can intellectualize about the validity of oakmoss-free chypre and analyze the construction of the fragrance. But as of yet, I remain unaffected, no matter how comfortable or elegant this fragrance may be.

At this age of technology and the internet leaking inside information about perfumes well before anyone could sniff them, it’s hard to keep an open mind and untainted or opinionated approach when smelling perfume for the first time.

I’m trying to remember what was I expecting from 31, Rue de Cambon before getting directly acquainted with it. I wasn’t expecting a particular kind of scent or mood or notes. No, the emotions were a mix between high-hopes and advance disappointment, combined together to create an accord of mixed feelings and suspicion. Keep in mind that 2007 was marked by serial niche releases – i.e. launching a collection of even as many as 12 perfumes instead of focusing on just one. Tom Ford Private Blends and Le Coffret from Thiery Mugler (to coincide with the movie release of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer) are just two prime examples of what is perhaps a new strategy to avoid bad reviews: overwhelm perfume bloggers and critiques with so much information that they simply don’t bother testing, thus avoiding possible negative criticism. The rationale, of course, is to get the consumer to such a heightened sense of confusion that will prompt him/her to purchase the entire collection instead of just one perfume.

So here I am, 2 years after 31 Rue Cambon saw the light of day, finally trying to pay more attention to it as a single fragrance. In the context of the entire collection released back in 2007, 31 Rue Cambon stood out right next to the quirky, nutty unpolished ambrette seeds of No. 18. Back than it reminded me of the understated woody and aldehydic-floral juxtaposition of Bois des Îles. Two years later, I’m still impressed with the first few moments of intrigue, where 31 Rue Cambon smells like how you’d expect a luxury good boutique to smell like (reference: Hermès Poivre Samarkand). For a few moments, the juxtaposition of orris, pepper and vetiver seems equally classy and fresh (in the sense of “new”). But is that really how “the best chypre of thirty years” that would “permanently change the landscape of perfumery” suppose to smell like?

31 Rue Cambon, originally uploaded by PallasAthena1081.

Or is it even a Chypre? Taking a closer sniff of it in recent weeks I’m even less convinced than I was ever before. Despite the fact that 31 Rue Cambon has the Chypric characteristic of creating a general homogenous impression at first, refusing to unveil what it’s made of right away, the threads that connect the elements are not as tightly woven as in a classic Chypre. And even though it does provide the sudden emergence of voluptuous flowers (jasmine and narcissus) it is not enough to get one’s heart racing as florals soar into the atmosphere – as one would experience in great Chypres such as Mitsouko, Femme or Miss Dior. And finally, lest me remind you that there is no oakmoss here so even when you get to the base of things I never got the satisfaction of dusting my feet in crushed dead autumn leaves or dampening my leather sandals in mossy forest floor. Instead, all I got was a thin layer of a vague woody-synthetic mixture of vetiver and patchouli that have been stripped down to their minimum representation – thus lacking any of the earthy foundation that makes a Chypre perfume so alluring and timeless. Chypre, after all, the epitome of urban chic born of the chaos of nature. It is complexity that made Chypres so near and dear to the perfumer and have in many ways, defined what was to become of modern perfumery.

I’ve been wearing 31 Rue Cambon for a few weeks now before bedtime and almost every single time I do I wake up 20 minutes later with an overwhelming olfactory sensation of heat and dryness. Testing it again yesterday morning, I was not surprised to find out that 20 minutes in this is the point where the synthetically-amplified patchouli kicks in. More than the lack of oakmoss, it’s the synthetic patchouli part that disturbs me in 31 Rue Cambon. Just as it does in Coromandel, Allure Sensuelle and earlier on – Coco Mademoiselle (and maybe also Chance, which I never was able to watch through the end because of its sharp edges and aggressive sillage). While the last two I’ve mentioned are far less hostile and have that sense of refinement – achieved by using the “precious woods” aspects of vetiver and patchouli.

And one last observation about the Les Exclusifs collection – I now realize that the six scents have more in common than I even thought before: An iris thread goes through the green and fresh Bel Respiro and 28 La Pausa (both contemporary reflections on No. 19), through the sparseness of No. 18 and on to the more complex 31 Rue Cambon* which in addition to iris also has the same patchouli theme as Coromandel. And the vetiver finally leads us Sycomore, the redeeming point in the collection.

Top notes: Pepper, Bergamot
Heart notes: Orris, Narcissus, Jasmine
Base notes: Patchouli, Ambrette, Vetiver, Labdanum

* Both No. 18 and 31 Rue Cambon being reflections of Bois des Iles

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Urban Rush Appearance

I spent the day at the Shaw Tower filming for Urban Rush. You can watch it tonight at 11pm (two shows already aired at 5pm and 7pm) or tomorrow at noon. It's on Channel 4 and I believe plays in both British Columbia and Alberta.

No other blogging for me today - the heavy TV make up is very tiring ;) Otherwise it was a very fun day being inside the television (first time for me - all my other TV appearances were filmed at the comfort of my own studio).

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Easter Picnic

Madonna Lily, originally uploaded by sugarflower.

Madonna Lily, originally uploaded by sugarflower.

Easter came early to Hermès this year with the heady Madonna Lilies that bloom from a bottle titled “Vanille Galante”.

Unlike most of the other Hermessences, which quite clearly answer to their title (except, perhaps, Osmanthe Yunnan) - the vanilla here will not fulfill the craving of the vanillophiles who patiently awaited their dessert after clearing their plate from fresh peppers and a side of lavender.

Vanille Galante burst into the air like a flower rushing to display its colours from fear of loosing the attention of butterflies. Heady ylang ylang only but supports the main theme here - the infamous Madonna Lily, a symbol of purity and the Virgin Mary. Sliced cantaloupe sprinkled with salt brings to mind a giant Easter egg decorated by calone. Whether or not there is calone in Vanille Galante I cannot tell, but I’d like to think that this molecule found its way to the perfume to complete the picture of an Easter picnic under the sky. It’s the same cantaloupe from Un Jardin Apres la Mousson, just in a lesser dosage.
And when the vanilla finally makes an appearance it is more woody than dessert like, and perhaps will bring to mind a flavoured liquor rather than vanilla-dotted crème brûlée.
There is vanilla absolute in the base alright, but overall I would not describe Vanille Galante as a vanilla scent, but as a floral or a floriental at best. The dry down reminds me of Chanel’s Allured - a contrast of computer generated florals against a backdrop of woody vanilla. But Vanille Galante does not feel as artificial, and as with most Jean-Claude Ellena’s scents, this gown has such lightness and airiness about it that it’s easy to wear if it is not exactly your style or preferred colour.

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Fig & Mimosa

Next time you stumble upon Halle Berry, check out her bag. In an interview for Access Hollywood, Ms. Berry reveals her less-known-to-the-public perfumista persona, mixing fig and mimosa perfumes in her very own bathroom; and declares her loyalty to her new fragrance created for her by Coty. She's so happy with Halle the fragrance that she'll never be caught dead without a copy of it in her handbag (and on her skin). This is a refreshing attitude in a market segment that seems to care mostly about advertisement and the bottom line and hardly about the jus itself.

Aside from the fig and mimosa as top notes (that do sound promising), “there’s also olibanum root which is an African root that gives it a little spiciness and then there’s a sort of a creamy sandalwood that sort of brings it all together and smoothes it out.” (quote from Halle's interview - you can see the video there), as well as pear blossom, freesia, hibiscus, driftwood, cashmere musk, and sensual amber. I'll be sure to look for it when it widens distribution (it's only at JCPenney and Kohl’s for now) and makes an appearance in my local drugstore.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Myrtle & Myrrh

"... for so were fulfilled the days of their anointing: six months with oil of myrrh and six months with sweet fragrances..." (Megillat Esther, aka Book of Esther, Chapter II, 12)

The story of Purim is dotted with puzzling anecdotes about the royal life that on the surface do not seem to make much sense. One of them being the 12 months beauty treatment that Esther, the heroine of the story, has to go through before being seen before the king. Before being shown before the King Ahasuerus in a “beauty contest” for the crown of the Queen of Persia, the virgin contestants had to undergo an elaborate beauty treatment: Six months of immersion in myrrh was not enough (and some say only served the purpose of purification); it was followed by another six months of perfuming the body with perfumes. And we can only but guess what these might have been. I’d like to think they had rose and saffron in them, two fragrances that are so strongly associated with Persian culture. So the girls had to spend an entire year getting ready for this “date” with the king (or shall we say a one-night-stand?), until he finds the right woman to bear the Persian crown.

As the story goes, the winner of the contest was Hadassah (Hadass is Hebrew of myrtle), a Jewish woman who as per her cousin and guardian Mordecai’s instruction had to hide her identity and heritage. She changed her name to Esther - meaning star in Persian and supposedly referring to the star-shaped myrtle flowers. And because of her virtues of modesty, selfless kindness and devotion to her people - the Jewish people of Persia have survived a possible genocide, and the custom of dressing in disguise in Purim was born.

I think it is particularly interesting that Hadass (myrtle) symbolizes a person who does good deeds but is ignorant. Hadassah (or Queen Esther) used her will and wit to save her people. But she neither chose to be in that position (she was taken to the palace on the king’s order and against her will); and did not know that her people are in danger only until she was asked to come to the rescue. According to Western mystical traditions, associated with the planet of Venus and Aphrodite - the goddess of beauty and love. Myrtle is an evergreen bush and is used to decorate gardens in the near east both for this quality as well as its refreshing and potent aroma.

In contrary to the myrtle’s freshness, when Hadassah is transformed into her new role as Queen Esther, she undergoes a myrrh-cleansing ritual that has parallels to that of embalming the dead*. The reference to death can be seen as a passage and transformation, or as an ending to that beautiful fresh star-laden plant. In contrary to the fragrant evergreen myrtle leaves, myrrh is a desert tree that when gets hurt produces resin "tears" with a bitter, penetrating aroma ("marr" means "bitter" in Hebrew and is the root for "morr", the Hebrew name of myrrh). In ancient Egypt, myrrh represented the lunar goddess Isis and later on the Western mysteries associated myrrh with receptive, feminine powers, attributed to the planet of Saturn and the element of earth; and in the New Testament, myrrh was one of the three gifts of the Magi to baby Jesus and symbolizes the sacrifice of death that he was to go through later in his life; and was also used to ease Christ's pain on the cross (myrrh is an analgesic), so we see myrrh is repeatedly associated with death and suffering. On the other hand - in ancient Egypt, myrrh was burned in the temple of Rah (the Sun God) at high noon to mark the position of the sun - so the symbolism of myrrh in Queen Esther’s story could mean reaching of the peak of her power, when the sun is shining in all its might.

Perhaps I found the Purim perfume - with myrtle and myrrh. Something to think about for next year when I run out of ideas for a costume, as usual.

* The other two parts of the article Feminist Aspects of Megillat Esther are quite an interesting read if you are familiar with the story. Here are the links to part 1, part 2 and part 3.

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Happy Purim!

Woman in Mask, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I've completely missed the Mardi Gras celebrations, real or virtual. So instead I'm acknowledging my own heritage of early spring carnival, aka Purim and wishing you all very happy couple of days of dressing up, drinking and making noise. We're just slightly ahead of the Irish St. Patrick's Day - so beware or you will end up partying for too many days and nights!

Strangely enough though, I'm wearing a perfume I can quite identify with today - my very own greenish chypre Ayalitta. And this time the neroli is sticking out for me like it never did before. I've thoroughly enjoyed this on a crisp and sunny spring day that turned into a snowy afternoon; browsing the city for new furniture to "dress-up" my studio with and create new beginnings this spring. I doubt that I will have an idea for a costume other than a fragrance alone by tomorrow; which might be more than Queen Vashti was allowed to wear when King Ahasuerus summoned her to show off her beauty. But this is, of course, debatable.

I've been trying to think which perfume would be most appropriate for such occasion - and of course the obvious choice would be something completely out character. Perhaps a loud floral like Nahema, Insolence or Un Jardin de Bagatelle (three of the only Guerlains I've never managed to get along with). What would be a good scent for you to conceal yourself with?

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Smaller is Better, Apparently

Finally the larger fragrance companies are responding to the need for smaller perfume bottles (but larger than minis!). Interesting article in The Globe and Mail titled The incredible shrinking perfume bottle.
Perhaps it's not only perfumistas who have very short love affairs with too many perfumes? Or perhaps the population of perfumistas and perfume collectors is growing more than we can imagine?
For me personally this is good news. It means that I can get to experience more scents for less price and without having too many orphaned perfume bottles of 100ml+ lying around (and taking space!).
And from business point of view - when I switched to smaller bottles it sure seemed to be the right decision. But perhaps I'm wrong - because ever so often I meet a customer who really wishes I had a 100ml bottle of my fragrances to indulge in lavishly without counting the drops.

Do comment with your opinions and ideas, I'd like to hear you!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Interview in Chic Galleria

Read Ayala Moriel's interview for Chic Galleria titled "Custom Created Perfume for Self-Expression", focusing on custom scents, and also announcing the new perfumed tea Charisma to launch later this spring (you can now pre-order it).

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rose Curry

Emo, originally uploaded by Prithaz.

Rose grabs you by the prick of a thorn. “I'm here! Notice me!”. It’s rosier than possible in real life, bigger and greener and sharp with overtly fruit-like a peach punch - to the point that it stops being a rose, and becomes an Indian curry. Or perhaps, an English take on what an Indian curry is all about. Meaning, a pinwheel curried chicken sandwich nibbled in a dark tea lounge while dreaming of an English rose garden in summertime.

The overripe fruit is intensified with rubbery, boozy opoponax only to be claimed by an earthy undercurrent. Vetiver, patchouli and turmeric are to blame for that effect; and while the imaginary roses shed their petals one by one, earth and curry take over like the sleepiness that follows a heavy meal.

Top notes: Neroli, Bitter Orange, Petitgrain, Rose Absolute from Grasse (Rose de Mai)
Middle notes: Rose abslute from Morocco, India, Turkey, Heather Absolute
Base notes: Vetivert, Vanilla, Plant musk

P.s. I'm experiencing some serious issues displaying the Flickr author information and links. Even though they were entered twice and I can see them in the blog editor, they dont' show on the blog. If you click on the photo you'll see who took it though. Any tips/advice/explanation for why this is happening and how to fix it?

IMGP3555, originally uploaded by elvis_hitler2000.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Lady in the Dark

Spotlight on Wild Sage - Image by Jane Siet © All Rights Reserved (published here with photographer's permission) jane.siet on Flickr

Oeillet takes me to times when taking a bath by the candle light was not a luxury but a necessity. Once a week, the “Geyser” was turned on to full-blast to heat up enough water for the entire family of 7 (this is not the natural phenomenon, but the name of an archaic gasoline-operated boiler that had such a tall chimney it looked like a rocket ship). One after the other, we went into the tub tired and dirty (the week was long but Friday seemed even longer with all the hard to get ready for the Sabbath); and we came out purified and rejuvenated.

Before my bath, I would pick a dozen branches of mountain sage and steep it to make the darkest tea possible to rinse my hair. The tea was so dark it nearly stained the bathtub. And it was so strong it made my hair smell of sage for the next couple of days (when it was rinsed again, but this time with whichever water temperature the tap had to offer).

Oeillet is dusky, dark, earthy and seductive. It reminds me of rinsing my hair with sage tea on those Friday nights but also more in general the winter life in our electricity deprived village - oil lamps and candles lighting the room and me and my little brother cutting citrus peels into strange shapes and than burning them in the fireplace.

Oeillet opens juicy and citrusy and with a definite hit of sage, cistus and galbanum absolute that gush out and breathes like drips of blood and wine on earth. Spicy heart of carnation is set against an earthy and musky backdrop of inky patchouli absolute.
Although oiellet means carnation in French, this is not a simple carnation soliflore. I don’t think of it as a floral perfume either; I would classify it as a herbaceous, spicy oriental. Original and vibrant to the point that it’s hard to believe all these plant essences aren’t real living and breathing animals.

Top notes: Galbanum absolute, Clary sage absolute, Bergamot, Indian Carnation Absolute
Heart notes: Cistus absolute, Basmati flower, Heliotrope absolute,
Base notes: Patchouli absolute, Plant musk

Scent Systems' Oeillet perfume is made of natural ingredients only and was designed by George Dodd.

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