Monday, June 29, 2009

Backblogged


This week is consumed by transitioning into summer and all the demands it poses. Unfortunately, I will not be able to dedicate much time for blogging at least until Monday as I try to get my bearings with all the changes the end of school year brings to working parents. I have a tremendous amount of backlog with my blogging - still at least 3 pieces I'm trying to complete from my trip to France and many new topics of interest (geranium for example).

Hope to have more time next week! For now all I can do is try to relax in between packed days with some tea for two (which happens to be my perfume du soir).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blunda's Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibitions #4 - Artemisia Natural Perfumes

My dear friend and colleague Lisa Fong of Artemisia Perfumes is today at Blunda for part 4 of the Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibition - Part 4. It's unfortunate I was unable to post this earlier (the event is due to close in 30 minutes), but it is my hope this will at least inspire you to go to Blunda and experience her line, which will be available in its entirety at Blunda following the exhibition today.

Lisa Fong's perfumes are well-composed, her ideas are original and harmonious and they bloom beautifully on the skin. My personal favourite is Saffron, which is no longer available on her website; but Voile, Yuzu Citrus and the rest of the collection are definitely worth smelling and wearing.

Here's Persephenie's personal invitation to the event:
Lisa Fong of Artemisia Perfumes will be gracing the Blunda Aromatics studio this
weekend for The Natural Botanical Perfumery Exhibition #4

I am a HUGE fan of Artemisia Perfumes. They are well defined in character, beautiful, and incredible on the skin.

Come enjoy hand made chocolates (perfumer Ayala Moriel's delicious recipes), refreshing tea, and a beautiful floral perfume sculpture that Lisa crafted specifically for this event.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moonwalk Scented

In honour of Michael Jackson, who died prematurely but was able to accomplish a lot in his short life, including scaring the hell out of me with his groundbreaking Thriller video when I was just 7 years old more than just one scent after his name (Mystique de Michael Jackson, Legende de Michael Jackson, Magic Beat Unwind, Magic Beat Heartbeat, Magic Beat Wildfire, Michael Jackson Mystery - although Basenotes.com only lists Mystery (2000).
I've never smelled any of them, so if you have please comment, not that I expect much from a celebrity scent.

What could moonwalk smell like? According to The Gap, Moon Walk would be “a sumptuous tapestry of soft, nuzzly notes like creamy paperwhites, vanilla orchid, nubuck suede, and a touch of clean musk”. I was searching for it at the nearby Gap location and it was nowhere to be found, so I won't be surprised if it's discontinued.

I would imagine a Moonwalk scent to be cold and metallic yet smooth. Not as sharp as other breakdance moves since it is so seemless and fluid. And it should certainly create the illusion of walking forward, while in fact it will be walking backwards (in time, perhaps, to an era when raw material regulations don't pop up on an hourly basis?). Just a thought... Perhaps notes of metal, milk and white flowers will do the trick. What do you think? Are there any scents out there that are particularly appropriate if you want to pull of a Moonwalk stunt?

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Package From India Contest Winner


Nutmeg - Conchorde - GRENADA, originally uploaded by markgreat.

Nutmeg - Conchorde - GRENADA, originally uploaded by markgreat.

My sincere apologies for taking FOREVER to finally do the draw for the Package from India spice-ID contest.

The spices were green cardamom (that one was pretty obvious) and... Mace!

Those who guessed rose petals - I don't blame you. It really looks more like a flower than anything (my immediate reaction was - WHY did my brother send me dried baby octopuses?!). Mace is the coral pink shells in which nutmegs are enrobed. They have a unique aroma, not unlike nutmeg, but a little different.

And now you must be curious to know who won the contest? Tamya helped me with the draw and the winner (amongst those of you who posted the correct answer) is:

Sharon Mason

Sharon wins a 5ml perfume roll-on from my line that has either cardamom or mace in it. Here is a list of both:
Perfumes with Mace
Perfumes with Cardamom

Congratulations Sharon!
(Please contact me with your choice and

Flowering Teas


Beaut-Tea, originally uploaded by TangoPango.

Beaut-Tea, originally uploaded by TangoPango.

Although the term most often refers to hand-tied teas (see picture above), I would like to talk about notes that smell like infusion of dry flowers. Most of you are probably familiar with chamomile tea, with its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties. And there is also chrysanthemum tea, which I was only introduced to recently by my dear friend Tina. The latter has an earthy, herbaceous and both medicinal and floral note to it. It’s full bodied like a tea leaf, and a very interesting tea. And of course one can also infuse dried rose petals, lavender, etc.

Below is a short list of notes that remind me of these qualities of flowering teas (chamomile and chrysanthemum in particular).

Helicrysum Oil
The essential oil of immortelle is rarely used in perfumery because of its extremely high cost. It is more valued in aromatherapy for its healing properties, in treating rheumatic and muscular pain as well as various skin conditions. The scent itself is honeyed, herbaceous, sweet and floral – similar to marigold – and just a little earthy.

Manuka Oil
Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is a flowering shrub native to New Zealand and Australia. The essential oil from the leaves and flowering tops has tremendous anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties (you can use it neat on the skin to treat fungal infections). But it also smells fantastic, the closest thing to chrysanthemum tea, herbaceous, earthy, fruity and peculiar.

Roman Chamomile
Roman chamomile has an intensely sweet, fruity and apple-like scent, and at the same time it is also slightly herbaceous. My friend Andrea is a sucker for chamomile tea; personally I find it too medicinal – I have too many association of bathing in it as a child (it is an anti-inflammatory so it helps soothe the skin). But it does make a beautiful, smooth infusion and it’s really nice with a little honey. The essential oil is rarely used in perfumes, perhaps more popular in flavouring. But it can be used creatively with other florals and herbs to create a very rich, honeyed, tea-like fruity floral.

Marigold (Tagetes)
This intensely fruity note is reminiscent of honey, berries and a brings to mind summer garden (it is a natural insect repellent and helps keep bugs away from tomato plants). It is steam distilled from these golden, brown and bright orange flowers and creates special effects in perfumery and flavouring – imitating berries.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Herbal Tea Notes


Energy Herbal Tea, originally uploaded by Thorsten (TK).

Energy Herbal Tea, originally uploaded by Thorsten (TK).

Although not strictly “tea” herbal teas are part of the tea experience – sipping plant-infused hot water. While the effect on the mind is a little different than with the energizing tea leaves (depending on the type of herbal tea), I have witnessed herbal tea drinkers turn this experience into a sort of a ritual. Therefore too me these notes are also strongly associated with tea.

Spearmint
Spearmint is the minty component in Moroccan mint tea. Fresh sprigs of spearmint are added to gunpowder tea, and generously sweetened with sugar. Perhaps it is by association as well that I chose to include spearmint as a tea note. But it really does register in my mind as “tea”. Comparing to peppermint, spearmint is much more round, sweet, smooth and warm. I never get bored with its fragrance, and find it perfect not only with tea and herbal tea notes, but also with florals. It really brings out the greenness and light heartedness in jasmine.

Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla/Lippia citriodora/Verbena citriodora) is one of the most uplifting and beautiful perfumes in the world in my mind, a scent I grew up with and always feel like home when I smell it. It scent had a profound impact on my life. It was through the experience of helping a family in my village in verbena harvest (they owned an organic herbal tea company) that I got my most significant inspiration to find my path in perfumery. Although native to South America, it has found it’s way to Spain and from there to North Africa (similarly to spearmint, lemon verbena is very popular addition to tea leaves in Morocco). Lemon verbena has a lemony characteristics (citral makes about 30-35% of the composition of its essential oil) but also floral and rosy due to the presence of nerol (neroli-like) and geraniol (rosy).

Lemongrass
This tropical lemon scented grass will always remind me of tea because growing up in Clil, we always picked this fresh from the garden to brew our herbal teas (along with lemon verbena – see above).

Clary Sage
The shared characteristics with bergamot (linalyl acetate) may create an association with Earl Gray tea. But also, if used in very low dilutions, clary sage adds a green, tea-like nuance to light fragrances such as citrusy colognes.

Rosemary Absolute

Herbaceous yet warm and sweet, rosemary absolutes is about the closest you can get to fresh sprigs of rosemary brewed in warm water. It is not as camphoreous and sharp as the essential oil.

Rose Geranium
Although very floral, since these are the leaves, I decided to include rose geranium in this category of tea notes. Rosy and green all at once, with minty and even camphoreous nuances, rose geranium can add a full-bodied, fruity yet tea-like aspect in perfume. Of course the context is everything… Some like to brew the fresh leaves with herbal teas or in addition to black tea.

Next: Flowering Teas

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

After the Rose Fields

Roudnitska Garden

“Je ferai fleurir les pierres et chanter les oiseaux”
(I will let the rocks bloom and the birds sing)

I’ve never really got around to tell you what I did after the rose fields. I will now.

The taxi picked me up from the gate of GIP. It was driven by a lady shauffer, and as soon as I’ve given her the address, she jumped out of the taxi to ask another driver for advice on the route – revealing an attire that most women I know would reserve for a night at the concert hall listening to chamber music or contemplative choir pieces: a black buttoned shirt and a silver brocade skirt with a floral pattern.

On the way I have to admit, I was getting a little nervous. I was about to meet someone whose work and knowledge I admired greatly.

We drove to Carbis, about 20 mintues away from Grasse (traffic permitting) and she pulled off the freeway. There it was, and a metallic art-nuveau sign confirmed I was in the right place. It read: “Atelier Art et Parfum”.

I was a little early for my meeting and the place seemed so quiet it almost seemed as if its inhabitants were having a siesta. I finally found the courage to knock on a little door that had an office sign on it and a lady opened it and told me quietly that Michel will meet me shortly. I noticed an olive tree near the building. I pulled out my camera and than and there my battery, which struggled with death for a few days now finally gave in. This photo you see above is the last of them, which is great – because this way I could focus my attention entirely on my real senses without the camera to “remember” instead of me. Besides – Michel is a far more talented photographer than I, and have captured the beautiful garden that his father has planted and you can find his photographs online.

Now, Michel came down the stairs from the top floor of the Atelier. He was tall and pensive, just like the olive tree I didn’t take photo of, and was just as kind in person as he always seemed in his correspondence and photographs. We walked down the road and a lower level on the other side of the building revealed a lab full of bottles and drums of raw materials; and below it was the garden.

The garden was like no other garden in the world. Parts of it looked like a Japanese garden, and other parts like an the exterior of an Italian villa. The most magical point though, was standing right in front of a little patch of green leaves, which I knew right away were those of lily of the valley. Seeing them, even after the blossoms dried out, made my heart skip a beat.

The flowers were all gone (it was already the middle of May, and these plants need the most tender weather conditions to bloom – it was already too dry by then…). Nevertheless, there was nothing quite more powerful than staring at the patch of green leaves where Edmond Roudnitska planted while he was creating Diorissimo – which was the perfume I worn on my wedding day and one of the very first perfumes I’ve worn. It is told that he would crouch to the ground to study the scent of the flowers in their real surrounding – the dirt, leaves, moss and rocks on the ground… And there I am, standing next to no other then Michel Roudnitska, an accomplished visual and olfactory artist that continued his father’s yet has his very own, unique voice both artistically and from a perfumery point of view.

After we walked around the garden and saw the view of Grasse from Cabris, we went upstairs into the atelier, and sat on the balcony sipping orange juice and discussing what most concerned European perfumers at the time, and the rest of the world would suffer from after – the takeover of our art form by the EU beaurocracy, IFRA and the like. It is so sad to think that oils such as bergamot and oakmoss can no longer smell true to themselves after removing the “allergenic” molecule in them, which are an important part of their odour profile. With all the heaviness of the issue, it was clear to me that although this could make continuing the use of many beautiful natural raw materials in commercial perfumes, the human need to adorn themselves and their environment with pure, beautiful scents will continue, and while the legalities of it may become more complex and cumbersome, people will continue to want to smell good and connect with nature through her smells as they did for thousands of years.

On the mention of Michel’s artwork combining perfume with film, Michel spontaneously offered to screen some of them just for me. We walked to his home, which is right next door to the atelier and facing the beautiful Italian pond and sculpture. On the coffee table there just happen to be a few scent strips with a perfume in progress, which was beautiful, and had a dominant immortelle note (it was in Grasse that immortelle all of a sudden showed its versatile, albeit stubborn side to me, i.e. – beyond maple syrup). And that was also when I first got to smell Eau Emotionelle – a bold, beautiful jasmine contrasted with juicy cantaloupe and delicate violet petals. While preparing for the screening, Michel was also telling me about the vigorous perfumery training that he underwent with his father.

And then the private movie screening began… Michel was both the projector man and the senteur of his own creations. I was shown three pieces out of his 8 short films that make Un Monde En Senteurs (Wolrd Scents), each accompanied by a perfume that is misted in intervals into the atmosphere of the theatre (in this case – Michel’s study within his own home).
http://www.art-et-parfum.com/mondensenteurus.htm
I’ve been fortunate enough to be shown three amazing pieces:
Pangaea – Creation of the World Aboriginal Culture, which was showing imagery of Australia’s nature and aboriginal people, and was scented by a completely natural perfumer that was made entirely of plant essences native to Australia, such as eucalyptus, fire tree and what smelled to me like Buddha wood. I’m no eucalyptus fan, and this film and perfume alone made me not only intrigued by this strange, medicinal plant, but also curious for the first time about Australia’s nature and culture. It was so touching to experience both the scent and the visuals, as well as emotionally charged music (composed by Nathalie Manser).

The second film was called Aquarium – and was visually focused on the Polynesian lagoons and underwater life, beginning with what looked like a perfectly shaped shimmering pearl, and had beautiful flowing movement of dolphins throughout it. The scent for this was dominated by calone and coconut and I have to admit I did not feel too well smelling it and starting coughing a bit… The fragrance is described as “Salty sea-mist on the reefs and dried coprah in the coconut grove” on Atelier Art et Parfum’s website.

The third chapter in the world’s scented story was called Cherokee – and was about the Native Americans in North America. While I expected smoking sage, cedar and sweetgass, It smelled very incensey, rich woody and a little smoky - described as Cedar forests, tujas and tanned hides (Beaver, bear, buffalo).

And like all wonderful things, the visit came to an end with this vignette, and Michel drove me back to Grasse to my hotel and the next day I was back in school “as usual” but felt inspired for months to come.

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Happy Summer Solstice! Happy Father's Day!

Have a Sunny Day, originally uploaded by ! . © Angela Lobefaro . !OFF ☺☼ OFFING !.

I'm meeting clients all day today but taking just a little break to wish you all a very happy father's day and a happy summer solstice!
May the sun shine on us all today :-)

Not sure I'll have time to make any special post for today (as usual, it's lack of time, no lack of ideas!), so this may just be it for both occasions.

P.s. My apoligies for the extreme delay with the draw and announcements for the Package from India. I will reveal the answers and the winners tomorrow, after Tamya comes back from school and performs her lucky-draw act. She's the only unbiased person around that can be fully trusted for such task ;-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Floral Tea Notes


Camellia Japonica, Tsubaki, originally uploaded by ROSS HONG KONG.

Although tea flowers are not used in perfumery for their fragrance (something I cannot comment on since I am yet to smell a true living tea flower), there is a surprising number of flower notes that closely resemble tea or have a dominant tea note in their evolution. Than there are the less conventional flowers that may not be universally perceived like tea, but have a honeyed, hay-like black-tea aspect that can be utilized to create a a dark tea ambiance.

Tea-Like Florals:
Floral tea-like notes include flower notes that closely resemble tea or have a dominant tea note in their evolution (interestingly, a significant portion of these contain ionones):

Osmanthus
This flower, rich with carotenes, has an aroma reminiscent of apricots, leather and green tea. A beautiful scent from the tiny white flowers from a Chinese tree from the olive and lilac family. Osmanthus has a rich and complex scent, combining green tea, leather and apricot notes – sweet, fresh and leathery all at once. The yield of Osmanthus is pretty low – 3,000 kilos of flowers yield one kilo of absolute, and it is therefore one of the more expensive materials in perfumery. Osmanthus is rarely used in mainstream perfumery; you're more likely to find it in niche perfumes and very upscale ones i.e.: the dense 1000 de Patou, the sheer, peppery tea veil of Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan, and the even lighter Osmanthus by Ormonde Jayne.

Boronia
Rich with ionones, boronia has a scent reminiscent of yellow freesia, green tea and raspberry.
My first creation with boronia, a soliflore I named "Eau de Tinkerbell" (it was very bright green in colour and with a cheerful character, hence the name) relied on tea as the base note. The two definitely enhance each other. If osmanthus is rare, boronia is even rarer. You won't find it in many perfumes at all, and you're more likely to find it among the creations of natural perfumers.

Linden Blossom
Not so much floral as it is green, honeyed, woody and reminiscent of both tea and hay with a hint of fruitiness. Just like tea, it stays cool and quiet. It is not a coincedence that the first theme for my perfumed teas was linden, to accompany the launch of Tirzah. While linden blossom is not so popular as a single note (Tilleul by Roger et Gallet and Lime Blossom by Ormonde Jayne are the only two I can think of that put linden blossom in the limelight), it works really well within tea-like compositions in general (i.e.: in Kinmokusei).

Tea Rose
Originated in China and usually orange in colour, Tea Roses have beta carotenes and ionones which make them smell fresh and dewy and tea-like. I just recently came across the essential oil of such rose (Rosa odorata) and created a scent inspired by that - Tea Rose with ionones derived from osmanthus, and with the added accent of green tea.

Dark Tea Flowery Notes

And the following herbaceous, spicy, honeyed, somewhat earthy florals:

Champaca
The golden-glow of this Indian magnolia is not only in its colour but also in its backdrop of cured black tea leaves. Champaca evokes simultaneously red ripe berries, orange blossom, spices and dark fermented tea leaves. Champaca is an exotic note and quite foreign to Western perfumery in general and French perfumery in particular. Also, Champaca prices are rocketing sky high these days, (well over 5,000 a kilo) and so you can imagine it’s rarely found in mainstream perfumery. But it seems to have been finally “discovered” by niche perfumeries with perfumes such as Ormond Jayne’s Champaca, where it also paired with tea and rice, Tom Ford Champaca Absolute which highlights its berry, wine-likenotes.
In my attempt at a champaca soliflore (which turned out more complex than what one might expect from a soliflore), The Purple Dress (schedule for launch in winter 2010) is decidedly reminiscent of chai spiked with star anise and underlined with black tea notes.

Broom
Broom is a rare note as well. The flowers have to be hand-picked in the wild (when I was in Grasse I learned this is one of those tasks reserved for Grassoise children as a way to earn their pocket money). The bushes grow wild on the mountains and have a heady, intoxicating pollen and scent that fill the air in the springtime. Broom absolute is reminiscent of bees propolis and is vaguely orange-blossom like with undertones of tobacco and leather, and what I can see also as similar to black tea.

Henna Flower & Leaf
Extracted by solvent from the henna (Lawsonia inermi) leaf, henna has a dark, earthy-muddy, tea-like scent, very much like the paste for Mehendi. The flower is also extracted in India, but I can’t comment enough about its scent because I’ve only tried the attar, which is very subdued and not as heady as I expected. I don't know of any Western perfume that uses that note, and it's not surprising - there's nothing "pretty" about it but it adds substance and depth, and a certain powdery-woody-floralcy.

Jonquille & Narcissus
Definitely not identical, but both white florals, which in real life have a very heady note become very animalic and indolic upon extraction. Jonquille is softer and more powdery and also similar to broom; Narcissus absolute is more indolic and also with underlining notes reminiscent of coffee and hay. I think both to be ideal for dark, black-tea composition – if you want to add a floral edge but without breaking down the abstract tea atmosphere.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tea and Perfume, Part II: Tea Notes

Black Coffee No Sugar Please Oh And A Little Bit Of Milk, originally uploaded by geeo123.

Unlike the many fragrant plants that are used in perfumery, tea is a subtle note without much diffusiveness. But if you think about it – it makes sense: tea absolute, concrete or extract are made from various kinds of cured tea leaves (Camellia sinensis). And tea leaves have a very subtle fragrance. It is really through the boiling of water that the tea’s complex characteristics of odour, flavour, texture and taste come out. And so it is the perfumer'’s greatest challenge to simulate a tea experience without the essential elements of tea present, and stimulate the wearer’s imagination by fascination with tea.

There are several raw materials that can be used to create the illusion of tea. Some are made of tea itself, some are notes of plants or flowers that are popular in their pairing with tea, and therefore are associated with tea even though they are not necessarily “tea-like”. And there is also a handful of floral absolutes that are reminiscent of tea. Lastly, there are herbs and flowers used to brew tisanes and are popularly described as possessing a tea-like aroma.

Essences from Tea:

Green Tea Absolute
This dark sticky semi-solid mass is not exactly what you’ll think of as impressive tea note. The diffusiveness if very low and even with dilution in alcohol it only opens up very little. It lends an underlining sweet, slightly fruity (apricot) note with a dry woody base. Its very dark in colour and will make the perfume dyed a very dark green.

Green Tea CO2
Of all the tea essences I’ve experienced, green tea CO2 is the most true to nature and accurate. It looks like matcha powder mixed with a little water into a paste and smells pretty close to that to. It is more diffusive, and has a certain herbaceous and nutty element to it, as found in matcha as well. It will dye a perfume only light green but also leaves particles that are non-soluble in alcohol behind.

Black Tea Absolute
More intense than green tea absolute, and a little more mobile (just a little – it still largely resembles dark black molasses). Black Tea absolute has a more diffusive scent but is still quite subtle. I don’t find it as distinctly black as black tea may be. Again, it’s really difficult to have the effect of hot water on the leaf in the absolute form it seems.

Maté Absolute
Just like the tea, this absolute is bitter, intense, and reminiscent of hay. It lends itself beautifully to Fougere compositions (I’ve used this in Gaucho in a high ratio along with the coumarin from Liatrix, and while there was no oakmoss in there, it still smells very Fougere).

Rooibos Absolute
This absolute from this South African bush is sweet and rich like pipe tobacco. The absolute is very rare to find produced commercially, so it is also possible to make a rooibosn tincture, which has a faint woody slightly sweet aroma but is very subtle.

Connected By Association:

Notes that are often used to scent teas have become so strongly associated with perfume that it’s hard for us to separate them:

Bergamote
The key essence in Earl Gray tea. To many people, the association is so strong that they think of Earl Gray whenever they smell Bergamote.

Jasmine Sambac
The jasmine that is used to perfume jasmine green tea. Jasmine sambac is less animalic and more green and fruity (almost gardenia-like) than the Jasmine grandiflorum variety.

Lavender
Also used in Earl Gray tea as well as brewed as a tisane on its own.

Next: More tea-related notes

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tea and Perfume: Time is of Essence

Mariage Frères, purveyors of Tea, originally uploaded by maralina!.

Although tea and perfume both have a deep connection in the history of mankind through medicine, rituals and the magical species in the plant kingdom, it was not until recently that tea made its way as a note into perfumery.

Both tea and perfume are art forms and ancient rituals that take place in time: the many aspects of tea take place in time. Time is of essence in every aspect of tea: The art of growing, harvesting and processing the tea (i.e.: fermentation, oxidation, roasting, etc.) and than of course the preparation for brewing a cup of tea – waiting for the water to reach the ideal temperature, steeping the tea, and finally, sipping it in perfect harmony with the leaf, oneself and the company involved.

Perfume also requires time for preparing the raw materials (growing, harvesting, and distillation or extraction) and than there maturation – the magic that happens in the beaker when all the molecules connect and mingle and marry. It takes time to make a good perfume, not to mention the planning that goes into it on behalf of the perfumer who designs it (and the same goes for the ancient wisdom that evolved into the sophisticated tea cultures we can see today).

But more than that, perfume also changes over time. From the moment it escapes the bottle and lands on one’s skin, it morphs into at least 3 different stages, most commonly known as head notes, heart notes and base notes. And the pace and exact evolution that occurs on one’s skin makes each perfume a unique, unmatched experience.

Similarly in tea, there are different stages at which the tea can be enjoyed – the dry leaf or blend, before it has been brewed; the aroma of the brewed tea as it rises with steam from the cup, than the way it tastes in one’s mouth, and finally – the aftertaste that is left behind, usually at the back of the palette or the throat. My friend and tea master Dawna Ehman pointed out to me that these stages are very similar to the top, heart and base notes in perfume.

Perfumed tea is a term known mostly to true perfume connoisseurs and it’s a very ancient term in tea culture and is the ancient art of perfuming tea with fresh living flowers or plant matter. For example: rose congou is achieved by layering rose petals among black China tea. The process is very similar to enfleurage, only it is tea leaves that soak the fragrance of the flowers, rather than animal fat. Thousands of petals of Jasmine Sambac are layered between tea leaves and are replaced by new ones until the green tea achieves its distinct aroma. And a similar process creates other more rare floral teas such as magnolia oolong or pomelo blossom green tea (the one used in Charisma).

And while perfume made its way into tea thousands of years ago, it is strange perhaps that it’s only in the past 15 years or so that the one can hear of the notion of tea within a perfume composition. Why?

We said it earlier: tea is subtle. And so is tea absolute (both green and black). It doesn’t give the hit that an essential oil of grapefruit would have, for example. It really is not that impressive raw material. My guess is that tea really needs the chemistry that water gives it to open up. And so it is not really surprising to find that tea as a note did not make it to perfumery until the early 90’s. The 90’s were marked by the craving of fresh, clean, gender-neutral scents. At the same time, as is usually the case with trends, it all starts with a fad of one innovative individual who’s either stubborn to death or very intuitive about what everyone else is secretly craving. In the world of perfume, that person happened to be Jean-Claude Ellena.

The story goes that he had the idea for a “tea” scent for a few years before it finally got accepted as a perfume by the jewelry house of Bvlgari. The inspiration was none other than Mariage Frères shop in Paris – a tea shop that even I can attest to its magic as an olfactoroy experience alone. They seem to have hundreds of different kinds of tea, and the atmosphere there is pensive as if time stops once you’re in. Monsieur Ellena did not try to capture the real-life aroma of tea, nor did he want to brew any specific type of tea. He created the abstract suggestion of un-steeped tea leaves by pairing two molecules: hedione (a component in Jasmine) and ionone (a component in Violet Leaf). And voila – he made tea. The only problem was that no one was interested in it as a commercial product, perhaps it seemed to avant-garde, or simple or strange; until the house of Bvlgari commissioned him to make a perfume to scent their shop, which became a perfume, which became very popular. And from than on, tea has become the craze of the 90’s and early millennium – as part of the trend for fresh, light, inoffensive, unisex, non-perfumey fragrances.

The copycats of Bvlgari’s Eau Parfumee au The Vert (that was the name of the perfume when it was finally released to the public, not just the Bvlgari jewelry boutique customers) are too many to count, but among the most significant and successful of them, we must mention Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea (1999, by Francis Kurdjian). Later on, other types of tea entered the perfume counters: Lapsang Suchong in Bvlgari Black and l’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two (2000, Olivia Giacobetti), the South American Mate (Villorsei’s Yerbamate, 2001), and most lately rooibos tea notes in Eau Parfumee au The Rouge for Bvlgari (and my own Immortelle l’Amour).

Tomorrow: natural raw materials with tea or tea-like notes.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Tea Party

Moroccan petitfours of dried fruit, marzipan and halva - scented with floral water of course!

Here are some photos from the Summer Afternoon Tea Party yesterday at my studio.
Of course the whole purpose is to make you come to the next one, which I'm hoping to host in mid-July (exact date will be announced soon).

You've already read about the menu - now you can see the treats (my apologies for the poor quality of photos - I was trying to sneak in a camera-click between getting the door and the guest consuming this display):

You can't see it, but this is a 5-tier tea tray, the top two tiers covered in chocolate truffles, the rest with petitfours and pastries.

The teas served were many (I made no less than 8 pots of tea!) - my entire current tea collection of Charisma, Immortelle l'Amour and Roses et Chocolat. After the event there is not much tea left (the guests wiped me nearly clean of my Charisma tea - only one tin left) and just a handful of Roses et Chocolat and Immortelle l'Amour!

I also served Moroccan mint tea, both hot and chilled. It's especially good for dipping those fennel biscuits (see below).

View from the top:
Top tier: Blood truffles (dark chocolate, Turkish rose, saffron and chili) and Rose de Mai truffles (white chocolate with rose de mai, magnolia, bergamote & strawberry extract)

Second tier: Guilt truffles (orange blossom and wild orange) and Charisma truffles (white chocolate with matcha tea powder, sambac jasmine, spearmint and citrus)

Third tier: Dried apricots stuffed with neroli-water flavoured marzipan, dried figs stuffed with kewda water flavoured marzipan; and some more Charisma truffles.

Fourth tier: Crystallized rose wafers, Pistachio-Lime buttons, Apple cupcakes, Almond cupcakes

Fifth tier (nearly hidden): Moroccan Fennel biscuits, and my personal favourite - Basboosa made with Goat's milk yoghurt.

Some guests mingling to create an awesome tea party...

The guests received tea candle and samples before they left and also there was a draw for one person to go on a little olfactory journey with me and participate in the creation of their very own custom scent!
There was also a presentation about tea and perfumes - more about that in the next post...!

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Afternoon Tea Party & Private Sale


Join us for an afternoon tea and a presentation about tea notes in perfumery and a private shopping event.

On the Menu:
5-tiered tray of fragrant sweet and savoury refreshments will be served along with Ayala Moriel’s exceptional perfumed teas created for us especially by Inner Alchemy Tea Co. to match selected scents from Ayala Moriel ready-to-wear perfume collection.

Tier 1:
Wild Hyssop mini pita bread
Cumin & Hummus Tea-Rolls Wasabi-Cucumber Tea Sandwiches Tomato-Basil Tea Sandwiches Minted Radishes Tea Sandwiches

Tier 2:

Sweet scones with rose petal jam & devonshire cream
Savoury cumin scones


Tier 3:

Middle Eastern semolina pastries with almonds and honey syrup

Brownies
Cupcakes


Tier 4:

Crystallized rose icebox cookies

Fennel biscuits

Aniseed biscotti

Halva cookies

Pistachio-Lime Buttons


Tier 5:
Hand-rolled Flower-Scented Chocolate Truffles
Assortment of Moroccan dried-fruit and orange flower water petitefours


There will be door prizes and a lucky draw for all guests to win a gift certificate for creating your very own signature perfume (value of $550) and other exciting surprises and gifts with purchase.

At 2pm, Ayala will give a presentation about the role of tea in perfumery, accompanied by a fragrance sampling of tea-scented perfumes (including some of Ayala’s own creations).

When:
Sunday, June 14th, 12:00-4:00pm
Ayala will speak at 2pm

Where:
Ayala Moriel Parfums Studio
#314-1230 Haro Street (corner with Bute)
Buzzer #295
Vancouver, BC

RSVP now (778) 863-0806

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Persephenie



Persephenie Body Care Line & Botanical Conceptual Art Perfumes will launch at Blunda tomorrow as part 3 of the gallery's series of Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibition.

You are invited to celebrate the launch of the Persephenie Body Care line and
botanical perfume conceptual art project Saturday June 13th, from 7 -10PM.
Persephenie will be serving herbal infused cordials and handmade chocolate truffles that are going to be delicious (I taught her how to make them when I was there in April for my Hanami exhibition), and Naja from Naja Tea will be serving her incredibly
delicious handmade artisanal teas.


Come sniff, nosh, and take home a surprise sample from the Persephenie Body Care line.
RSVP by phone (323) 658-7507 or email: rsvp@blundaaromatics.com

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Package From India



Surprise in the mail: a package from India. And the contents were definitely not what I expected.
My brother spent 6 months in the Chabad house in Rishikesh trapping Israeli backpackers into the bosom of Judaism. So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found inside, instead of Hassidic propaganda, the sweetest letter (in English so Tamya can understand!) AND the most thoughtful and sweet little gifts for Tamya and I: spices (one of which really hard to find and I only than recalled that I did ask him to see if he can find it in India), Assam tea in a silk bag, turquoise beaded necklace, handmade paper notebooks wrapped in silk paper and some medicinally fragrant creams, ointments including Neem & Turmeric soap.

And now a little guessing game for you: guess what the spices are (there are only 2 of them and both are shown in the picture!) and you will receive a roll-on perfume of your choice that includes either of those notes from my collection - which is why I can't reveal the prize just as yet...!
Winner will be announced Friday June 19th.

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Week of Teaching

Antique perfumer's organ at the Musée International de la Parfumerie

Perfumery students evaluating the scent of roses in Stanley Park, Vancouver

It's been a week of teaching at my studio has come to an end, which explains why I was unable to blog recently. And now that it's over I can share a few moments captured with my little digital iBall.

This week focused on technique and olfactory memory: sharpening the students' skills of remembering, recognizing, categorizing and identifying notes in different contexts. Understanding the different relationships between notes and which molecules they have in common helps greatly in achieving balance in perfume compositions and preventing clutter (the slippery-slope of natural perfumery since the materials are so complex on their own).

Simplicity was an important theme this week as well, learning restraint and sticking to the basics to achieve clear, concise olfactory statements. The fragrance families of citrus and Eau de Cologne for newer students and the intense challenge of creating all-natural soliflores pose a challenge of creating something that is focused on a simple theme yet not boring and also has enough sillage and longevity.

Perfumery student evaluating the fragrance of the living flower of white magnolia at the Rhododendron Garden in Vancouver

Nature is not only a source of materials, but also a source of inspiration. So I always make a point of taking my students outdoors as much as possible and study fresh living plants and notice the aroma in the air. When near water, or in the forest, or near the ocean or on the mountains - the surrounding plants, earth and air changes and so does the scent. This week we went to Ted and Mary Greig's Rhododendron Garden, to view the last blooming azaleas and find other fragrant surprises - which happen to include one rose that smelled intensely of musk and aldehydes (I found it extremely disturbing actually! It smelled like a perfume, not like a rose at all...), a dark red rhododendron redolent of spicy ylang ylang, and a white magnolia that smelled like fresh peeled tangerines and carob blossoms. We also found a white blooming tree that smelled precisely like styrax (Liquidambar orientalis).

In September, a new group of students is being accepted into this 2-year perfumery program. There are still 2 spots available. For information, inquire here.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Boronia


Boronia, originally uploaded by Helen Boronia McHugh.

Boronia, originally uploaded by Helen Boronia McHugh.

Boronia is one of the rarest and most magical natural raw materials. It grows on the shores of Tasmania, in western Australia, and has a scent that is unusually complex and alluring: it is floral, sweet and peppery, reminiscent of yellow freesias; green and suave like violets (due to the high precentage of beta ionones, some alpha ionones and other carotenoids - which is not surprising given its orange-brown colour); and also reminiscent of raspberry, green tea and the sea shore and has a hint of hay and wood at the dryout phase.

Boronia notes are rarely found in mass-market perfumes because of its prohibitive cost; but also because it is susceptive to much adulteration, and the world production is extremely limited (Arctander mentiones under 1 metric tone per year but that was quite some time ago - I don't know if the production has gone up or down since than).

The only one perfume I could actually detect the boronia in is Diorissimo in parfum extrait (I bought a flacon some 8 years ago and it's pure heaven). Although Folavril lists it (along with mango) I can't say I've noticed it there.

Boronia serves an important role in the flavour industry more than in the fragrance, especially in berry flavours such as raspberry and strawberry and even peach - but most importantly cassis (black current). A little Boronia absolute goes a very long way in creating berry and fruit flavours, so it may be more popular in flavouring than in formulas for fine fragrance.

In my line I've used it in three perfumes - all very unusual as a result of the unique presence of this precious raw material:
Indigo, where it contributes to the mystique of cool vs. warm: violet, anise and orris against the warmth of amber, incense and spice.
l'Ecume des Jours, where it serves as the last catalyst to create a waterlily accord - the one that grew in Chloe's lungs and brought the doom on the entire cast of this surreal tale.
And Grin, where Boronia's eternal sunshine brings a stream of light into a forest clearing blooming with wild roses and smiling jasmines. I have to admit this one was largely inspired by Diorissiomo in the extrait.

Boronia is extremely rare and in fact the world supplies have reached bottom low this year already. So much so, that a supplier won't sell you more than 50gr until 2010, when the new harvest will be processed. The current price is $8,600 per kilo, the highest amount for any raw material I'm aware of other than agarwood essential oil. As a result, I had to increase the price of all of my perfumes containing Boronia - l'Ecume des Jours, Grin and Indigo.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Eau d'Hermes


Eau d'Hermes, originally uploaded by strange_sickness.

Eau d'Hermes, originally uploaded by strange_sickness.

This afternoon is my first time wearing Eau d’Hermes. I stepped into the boutique on Burrard and Alberni after running some errands in the area (spontaneous trips to upscale boutiques takes off the edge of how stuffy the experience could be – especially since I’m always there just for their cheap perfumes and not the Kelly bag). My initial intention was to finally try Pampelune Rose (samples run out at Holt Renfrew and this was the first time in a few days that I wasn’t covered in Femme EDT when I left the house). Surprisingly, the 3 new Eaux didn’t even arrive at the Hermes boutique. So instead I decided to try Eau d’Hermes. I liked it right away sniffed out of the bottle, so I didn’t even bother spraying it on a paper beforehand. I’ve already heard about the cumin note so unfortunately this was not a surprise for me. But since I was a cumin kick anyway, it only made sense that I wear some on.

Eau d’Hermes didn’t quite smell like an eau at all. Instead, it was simultaneously fresh and warm. The cumin note, which must have been ahead of its time probably was what gave Olivier Cresp the idea for the Femme reformulation. But here it smells surprisingly clean and woody, not at all the carnal sweaty steam one gets from Femme. It is decidedly rather masculine and dry and the sensuality underneath reminds me more of oriental leathery compositions for men rather than the sanitary character of a short-lived “eau”. And despite the cumin, it did not smell like curry (or maybe, a French curry… I had Indian food in France and the only spice I tasted in there was cumin!), but rather woody and almost like caraway in that sense. And also a warm woody spice like cinnamon bark. There is a hint of masculinity at the top which proboably comes from lavender, and also an underlying leathery and tonka and perhaps patchouli notes. But what I particularly liked is how the jasmine shines through at the heart, along a rosy note. It's a very spacious floral accord (probably because of hedione, which has become somewhat of a signature of its creator, Edmond Roudnitska) and an unmistakable animalic sensuality of these florals while dariating a very well-behaved, lightweight presence overall.

I stepped out of Hermes feeling very content with my choice, and enjoying every moment of it and how it interacted with the environment. It’s rare to find a scent that does that so seamlessly – being present but mingle with your surroundings. I passed the hot dog stand and the cumin went well with the sautéed onions. Walking by hot pavements and sun-warmed asphalt it became part of that too, and my last stop before heading back home and writing this, I had some peculiar scoops of Marron Glace and Lemon Cream at the air conditioned Mondo Gelatto and it went well (both flavoured were contaminated with something else – the lemon cream had some kind of a chocolate and cloves rice crisps on top for no apparent reason; and the candied chestnut scoop seemed to have some brandied cherries thrown into the mix). But it all went well together – some peculiar warm-spicy and chilly-clean experience.

Simultaneously fresh and warm, Eau d’Hermes is not exactly an “eau” in the usual sense of a light, short living olfactory experience. In any case, expect something more along the lines of Habit Rouge or Le 3me Homme rather than Eau de Coq or Eau d’Orange Vert.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Femme is Two Women (at the least)


IMG_2416, originally uploaded by Michael Clements.

IMG_2416, originally uploaded by Michael Clements.

I first encountered Femme in the fall of 2002. I fell in love immediately and since there was no parfum extrait available (back than I insisted on purchasing fragrances only in parfum extrait), I settled on the Eau de Parfum. What a mistake! The EDP was overbearing with sillage and had a very plasticky ambery base that was a little too sweet and overpowering. I returned it to the store after a few applications, never thinking that I should have just asked for the EDT (which is what I was trying in the store to begin with) - but still that scent always reminds me of that time of my life, when I was very excited about the classic perfumes from the early to mid 20th century and was really drawn to those dark, complex masterpieces.

At the time, I was still innocent than in the sense that I wasn’t aware of reformulations. So unfortunately, the scent I first associated with the name “Femme” wasn’t the original creation of Edmond Roudnitska, but rather - the re-orchestrated version of 1989 (Olivier Cresp). It was not until much later that, thanks to the kindness of a perfume friend, obtained a ½ bottle of none other than vintage Femme in the Parfum Extrait. It comes in a tiny bottle with a screw cap (quite unusual for an extrait, a little red tie of a ribbon with a medal in the middle, and I reserve it for very special occasions only.

What comes out of these two bottles are two completely different Femmes; two different women, with the same dress and the same name. But I wanted you to still read about my first experience with the second woman, just as it was, without this knowledge. And regardless of the fact that it is something else, I think it stands as a unique perfume and I’d rather take the re-orchestrated Femme any day over at least 1000 other perfumes I can think of that were launched in the last 7 years. At least it has personality, and you can pick it out of a crowd. Aside from the reformulation fiasco, I don’t think there are many imitators for Femme.

Femme was for me the embodiment of a Femme Fatale spirit. It made me feel like a powerful, seductive woman and wearing it I knew I would always get my way wherever I go. Redolent of overripe fruit and sun warmed skin, Femme always reminds me of the days in the fall when the sun is still shining but you can wear all black without overheating. Which is exactly what I was doing at a time (I was taking the black a little too seriously and even worn a silvery black lipstick back than…). When in Grasse for my perfumery training, I fell in love with it again when the teacher handed us a scent strip with the (reformulated) version. It did that thing again – take me back in time. And I knew I had to bring it back to my collection, because it is so different from the original parfum and because it is still a beauty.

The fruity top notes are mainly suggestive of dried peaches (aldehyde C-14) and prunes. These are warmed by the somewhat controversy note of cumin (or perhaps it is cuminaldehyde?), which was definitely not present in the original and pumps a raw, sexual energy to the composition. The cumin is nice and subtle when you apply with a light hand; but if you don’t (and especially with the EDP) a woman might get a similar feeling to that which occurs when wearing her dirty lacy panties inside out on top of her clothes (not that I ever done that, but I can imagine how embarrassing that would be). In the EDT it’s a little more subtle, and reminds me the cumin-scented version of Mitsouko EDP (it’s been a while since I found a bottle with that formulation but I did love it!).

The heart notes are a lovely bouquet that is beautifully balanced without really making the perfume smell floral at all – jasmine, rose and ylang ylang softened by powdery and clean orris root notes, and sandalwood notes that are traced down to the base of Femme.

All in all, I found the EDT subtle and a little more woody. More woody and less ambery and sweet than I remembered it. Here is what I wrote about Femme’s dry down in 2002:
“The animalic chypre accord at the base is warm, ambery, musky and extremely seductive. The oakmoss plays only a background role, where as the labdanum (an ambery, earthy and somewhat leather-like resinoid derived from the Mediterranean Rockrose bushes, which is an important component in most chypre perufmes) is the key to the warmth that Femme radiates throughout its beautiful and long skin-life (Femme lasts for over 12 hours on my skin – and this the Eau de Parfum concentration). It is completed with some additional amber notes, a vanilla-patchouli accord and a touch of civet”.
Today I’m smelling vetiver, sandalwood and amber. And reading that there is no oakmoss listed in the allergens ingredient list on the box makes me wonder: was it reformulated again?

What I’m going to say now may not come as a surprise, but it could still be shocking to some of my readers. And I’m pretty sure it’s not going to make many big companies happy either. One of the things I learned in my trip to France was that reformulation has is and has been some kind of a routine among most of the large fragrance houses for quite some time. Every 5 years or so, fragrances are being reformulated. This is done without informing the unsuspecting consumers. More often than never, the packaging and the name of the perfume remain the same. This was done even before the regulations from IFRA got tighter. The motivation behind this is simple: cost reduction and increase of profit margins. People are perhaps “blind” to the changes because the leave no visual traces (except for some cases of re-packaging or big re-introduction of scents after they’ve been pulled off the shelves for some time). But the nose knows. And the layperson’s nose is more sensitive than you might expect. Perfume wearers do notice the change in the jus but since nothing in the packaging or the name has changed, especially after knowing a perfume intimately for years. But since there is no visual evidence that anything has changed, they would blame it on their “body chemistry”. The fragrance industry should be paying dividends to the feminine hormonal cycle that enables women to believe anything if it’s explained by them having a baby or entering menopause.


Nevertheless, and regardless of reformulation and disrespect to a master perfumer’s art and intention, Femme still truly deserves its name as a tribute to femininity.
It is a classic, shamelessly feminine, and beautifully seductive perfume in a mature and natural manner.

The fruity top notes are mainly suggestive of dried peaches and prunes. These are warmed by the somewhat controversy note of cumin seed which pumps some raw, suggestively sexual energy to the composition, and beautifully bridges between the fruity top and the musky, animal-like base notes.

The heart notes are a lovely bouquet that is beautifully balanced without really making the perfume smell floral at all – jasmine, rose and ylang ylang softened by powdery and clean orris root notes, and sandalwood notes that are traced down to the base of Femme.

The animalic chypre accord at the base is warm, ambery, musky and extremely seductive. The oakmoss plays only a background role, where as the labdanum (an ambery, earthy and somewhat leather-like resinoid derived from the Mediterranean Rockrose bushes, which is an important component in most chypre perufmes) is the key to the warmth that Femme radiates throughout its beautiful and long skin-life (Femme lasts for over 12 hours on my skin – and this the Eau de Parfum concentration). It is completed with some additional amber notes, a vanilla-patchouli accord and a touch of civet.

The dry down stage is a soft, ambery-musky chypre-animal accord, and has some soapy-clean sandalwood notes.

In my mind, Femme is a warm, comfortably seductive, sun-warmed perfume that I can wear anywhere anytime. It reminds me of warm summer days. I love wearing it with black on sunny days, or when I want to feel this kind of warmth inside me.

Top: Peach, Plum, Cumin, Lemon, Rosewood
Heat: Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Orris
Base: Vetiver, Amber, Vanilla, Sandalwood, Labdanum, Patchouli



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Monday, June 01, 2009

Dolce Domum

"(...)when suddenly the summons reached him, and took him like an electric shock.

We others, who have long lost the more subtle of the physical senses, have not even proper terms to express an animal's inter- communications with his surroundings, living or otherwise, and have only the word `smell,' for instance, to include the whole range of delicate thrills which murmur in the nose of the animal night and day, summoning, warning? inciting, repelling. It was one of these mysterious fairy calls from out the void that suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal, even while yet he could not clearly remember what it was. He stopped dead in his tracks, his nose searching hither and thither in its efforts to recapture the fine filament, the telegraphic current, that had so strongly moved him. A moment, and he had caught it again; and with it this time came recollection in fullest flood.

Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way! Why, it must be quite close by him at that moment, his old home that he had hurriedly forsaken and never sought again, that day when he first found the river! And now it was sending out its scouts and its messengers to capture him and bring him in. Since his escape on that bright morning he had hardly given it a thought, so absorbed had he been in his new life, in all its pleasures, its surprises, its fresh and captivating experiences. Now, with a rush of old memories, how clearly it stood up before him, in the darkness! Shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day's work. And the home had been happy with him, too, evidently, and was missing him, and wanted him back, and was telling him so, through his nose, sorrowfully, reproachfully, but with no bitterness or anger; only with plaintive reminder that it was there, and wanted him.

The call was clear, the summons was plain. He must obey it instantly, and go. `Ratty!' he called, full of joyful excitement, `hold on! Come back! I want you, quick!'

`Oh, COME along, Mole, do!' replied the Rat cheerfully, still plodding along.

`PLEASE stop, Ratty!' pleaded the poor Mole, in anguish of heart. `You don't understand! It's my home, my old home! I've just come across the smell of it, and it's close by here, really quite close. And I MUST go to it, I must, I must! Oh, come back, Ratty! Please, please come back!'

The Rat was by this time very far ahead, too far to hear clearly what the Mole was calling, too far to catch the sharp note of painful appeal in his voice. And he was much taken up with the weather, for he too could smell something--something suspiciously like approaching snow.

`Mole, we mustn't stop now, really!' he called back. `We'll come for it to-morrow, whatever it is you've found. But I daren't stop now--it's late, and the snow's coming on again, and I'm not sure of the way! And I want your nose, Mole, so come on quick, there's a good fellow!' And the Rat pressed forward on his way without waiting for an answer.

Poor Mole stood alone in the road, his heart torn asunder, and a big sob gathering, gathering, somewhere low down inside him, to leap up to the surface presently, he knew, in passionate escape. But even under such a test as this his loyalty to his friend stood firm. Never for a moment did he dream of abandoning him. Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously. He dared not tarry longer within their magic circle. With a wrench that tore his very heartstrings he set his face down the road and followed submissively in the track of the Rat, while faint, thin little smells, still dogging his retreating nose, reproached him for his new friendship and his callous forgetfulness".

From Kenneth Graham's "The Wind in the Willows" - Chapter 5 (Dolce Dumum) - part of Tamya's bedtime story tonight... I'm summoned home now, but I can't find it anymore. Where I can sense my familiar scent, that's where I call home. That's all I know.

Eau de Gentiane Blanche


gentiana pneumonanthe, originally uploaded by Michiel Thomas.

gentiana pneumonanthe, originally uploaded by Michiel Thomas.

Too warm for a flurry, but too white to be a blue flower – Eau de Gentiane Blanche is redolent of pepper and paper, white tea and white musk with iris as the centre piece. I don’t perceive it as being overly clean nor musky. It’s very much an iris and pepper scent, with accents of freshly sliced pepper and dusty floral notes (Grasse being the closest I’ve ever been to the Alps - I’ve never smelled Gentiane before so I’m at loss comparing to the real flower).


It feels like a conference call between Paprika Brasil and Osmanthe Yunnan, Olivia Giacobettis Hiris and Jacques Cavallier’s Eau Parfumée au Thé Blanc (I believe it was co-created with Jean-Claude Elena?).

Of all the three new eaux from Hermes, this one intrigued me the most initially, which is why I’ve worn it a few days. But I don’t find it as disturbingly solanic as the green bell pepper of Paprika Brasil, nor as fleeting as Osmanthe Yunnan. Despite its relative simplicity, it seems like 5 perfumes in one, and while a few were on my maybe-list for a while (Hiris, Osmanthe Yunnan and Eau The Blanc) – Eau de Gentiane Blanche might just be the one. I’m yet to try the other two (Eau d’Orange Vert being a re-release of the classic one from way back – and I hope it wasn’t reformulated but I doubt that’s the case).

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