Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sève Exquise

Poplar Buds, originally uploaded by Ron.McCauley.

Sève Exquise transports me to a field of green scattered with wild flowers and surrounded by blooming cottonwood trees. Sunshine warms my heart and steeps out the aromas of spring floral into the air like tea.

Opening with fresh green notes that are juicy rather than crisp. Lemon, galbanum and poplar buds unite in a honeyed accord. Liatrix (Deer’s Tongue) contributes a soft earthy sweetness of coumarin. Sappy galbanum absolute and hints of labdanum make an underlining resinous balsamic statement with hints of powdery and incense. Exquisite sap. Utter bliss.

This is hands-down the most easy-to-wear green perfume I’ve ever come across. One that only brings me happiness with no ambivalence. There is no sharpness in it whatsoever, and the sweetness in it is not forced or artificial as in most of the others I smelled. There is none of the severity or melancholy as in No. 19, nor the decadent confectionery base notes as in Ivoire, Yerbamate or Yohji. Created by French natural perfumer Victoire Gobin-Daudé. This line that is now sadly non-available.

Read other reviews:

I Smell Therefore I Am

Now Smell This

Labels: , , ,

Happy Purim!

It's a kind of magic, originally uploaded by Stavgertz.

Happy Purim to all of you celebrating this Jewish carnival holiday. Enjoy the costumes and hammantaschens, drink lots of wine and be merry!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Green Goddesses of Natural Perfume on Fashion Tribes

In an interviewed for Fashion Tribes, 8 female green perfumers were asked to define what natural, botanical and organic perfumery as well as shed light on the reasons they chose this path in perfume creation.

Fashion Tribes is also running a contest where you can win original perfumes by these 8 perfumers, including 2 miniature of Ayalitta if you tweet about @ayalamoriel: The two coolest tweets (from two different peeps) will each win 4ml Parfum Extrait minis of Ayalitta $45 value), a classic Green-Chypre in honor of our Green Goddess theme.

Click here to read the article, as well as get more information about the other twitter giveaways.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Violet Kiss

Violet Kiss, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

My first encounter with Kisu was in New York city (at Henri Bendel, I believe), and my initial impression was of it being a light, subtle woody skin scent with rosewood and musk being the most dominant notes. It also reminded me slightly of Narciso Rodriguez at the time, only much gentler and a little less synthetic. Obviously, these impressions are very vague, and taking into consideration that they are based only on scent-strip testing (lack of time and skin space in a 4 day visit to The Big Apple), they don’t add up to much.

Now that I have a full bottle at my disposal some three years later, Kisu turns out to be a little warmer and more daring than I remembered it, giving off mostly the impression of dusky woods.

Kisu opens with rosewood indeed, but there is more to it than this ethereal, linalool-laden wood. Notes of ripe berries, and an underlining woody patchouli that escapes from the depth of woods that form the base of Kisu; which makes me wonder – which was the first fruitchouli? But fear not, this isn’t one of them…

The greatest surprise, however, was the violets: there is a whole bouquet of luscious, albeit a little abstract candied violets at the heart. Along with the berries, they form a decadent bite of violet-cassis macaroons, yet without actually making one think of food. They contribute greatly to the dusky wood quality of Kisu.

A sultry undercurrent of sandalwood and saffron also peaks through to the top and heart, which reminds me of two perfumes: Agent Provocateur, by the same perfumer, and also Evening Edged in Gold (Ineke). The Agent Provocateur similarity could be explained byt the fact that both perfumes were developed by perfumer Christian Provenzano uder the artistic direction of Azzi Pickthall of CPL Aromas (which are also currently working on Basenotes’ line of fragrances).

The saffron here is far more subtle though. While sandalwood notes usually don’t work well on my skin, here they are balanced with patchouli, vetiver and musk and work beautifully, creating a clean, woody-musky skin scent that reminds me a little of the dry out of Magazine Street.

And if you are still wondering what’s the meaning of Kisu: Really it is the Japanese name for the Japanese whiting (Sillago japonica), a fish which is prepared in various ways in Japanese cuisine (grilled with salt, raw as sashimi, or prepared as tempura). But I doubt that this was the intention of the creators of the perfume when they named it.

Kisu have also become another word for “Kiss” in Japanese, which is obviously a Japonification of the English word. Other than that, kiss is chuu, kuchizuke or seppun. While the bottle and packaging, with the cherry blossom label over black lacquer-like opaque glass is obviously Japanese inspired, I find the scent to be much less so. Some have mentioned a marine or watery accord, but I fail to find it (nor the ylang ylang!). There is a certain mineral, saltiness to it that is more brine-like than marine or watery.

Yes, this is a clean and dry patchouli and musk dominated base, perhaps remotely similar to that of Pure Turquoise, but it is not in the least watery. It is more of a modern, idealistic Orientalist view of the subject and while I find it very appealing and well made over all, I don’t think it delivers anything that remotely resembles a “Japanese bath ritual” as it assumes in some of the ad copies I’ve seen around. Nevertheless, it makes for a pretty bottle (and the oriental theme continues with the Tann Rokka's second scent, Aki).

I’ve been struggling to find an image to illustrate this review: it has a texture, and while it is quite sensual, being a skin scent and all, there is something very unisex about it that defies that kind of imagery. It doesn’t remind me of nature either – it is far too polished for that. So I just ended up making an image myself, though I can't say it's the perfect portrayal of what Kisu feels like.

Top notes: Rosewood, Berries
Hear notes: Violet, Saffron, Ylang Ylang
Base notes: Cedar, Musk, Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood

Other interesting reviews of Kisu:
The Scented Salamander

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

World Tea Party

World Tea Party, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

World Tea Party tea cart greets the guests upon arrival at Centre A, with a samovar and adorned with ikebana...

Go Have Some Tea, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

On Monday afternoon, I attended an event that is part of the World Tea Party - one of the things that came to town for the Cultural Olympiad! This ongoing world-wide event is "a continually evolving fête éternelle developing through dialogue among people and cultures around the world".

The World Tea Party is series of art installation, cultural celebrations surrounding tea ceremonies and rituals from around the world, which began in 1993 as a collaboration between Daniel Dion, Bryan Mulvihill & Su Schnee. It is now gracing Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics, hosted by Centre A - the centre for Asian culture on 2 East Hasting @ Carral. Almost everyday from 2pm on, there is something to experience at Centre A, so I really recommend you check out their schedule and follow them on Twitter.

The World Tea Party, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.
Tea cups and saucers arranged in a cupboard. I'd like to think that this is what they would serve tea with on the weekend, during the Hight T on Saturday.

Action in the Kitchen, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.
The kitchen, where matcha was prepared for all the guests.

Gathering, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.
Purple tulip flower arrangement, and in the background, a small group of people were engaging in a Chines tea ceremony.

To me, this was the first Japanese tea ceremony I've ever witnessed. Upon arrival, a presentation was just wrapping up, so unfortunately I missed an educational component explaining this ancient tradition. Shortly after, members of Urasenke, in full kimono attire, served us a sweet - it was an oval dry cookie, I think it was made from rice and buckwheat flour. We were instructed to eat the cookie, and only than we were served the tea. The flavour of the tea harmonizes the sweetness of the cookie. This is completely the opposite than how I would think of doing it, I would think the cookie should be eaten after the bitter tea... You must forget everything about dipping biscotti or shortbread in your tea when you attend such a ceremony!

On a stage with tatami and the hearth in where the water was boiling, members of Urasenke Vancouver performed the tea ceremony. It was like watching a silent film of tea. I assume experiencing it rather than watching it, and knowing more about it would make for a more tranquil and meaningful experience. While the tea master and her guests were utterly quiet for the most part, the halls of Centre A were echoing with conversation which, in my opinion, took away from the experience for those observing.

Since it takes a lifetime to master Chado (the way of tea), I would not attempt to explain it here, but rather just share my observations and what meaning I found in doing so. In the Japanese tea ceremony, it seems that every otherwise mundane action takes a ritualistic role:
Pouring the water with a bamboo ladle is done slowly to wash the chawans as well as for preparing the tea; wiping off the chawan (tea bowl) and chashaku (tea scoop) is done in very precise motions with a napkin that is folded and unfolded in particular fashion numerous time in a very specific sequence, and so on. You can read more about the tools and equipment of Chado here.

The ceremony is very, very, very structured. The entrance of the tea master and each guest or participant is choreographed according to ancient etiquette. Many of the movements have a lot to do with the traditional Japanese attire: folds in the kimono and obi are used to hold many of the tools for the ceremony, including the rice paper napkins for the sweets. The shared experience seems to stem from following the steps, and passing the sweets from the tea master (or host/ess) to the guests, and from one guest to another. And the same for the tea in the chawans, which are served to each guests separately. It is passes in a certain way so that all guests take part in serving the tea to the next one on their turn.

Below are just a few pictures (many turned out blurry so it does not show the process so well, but at least gives a visual idea of what a tea ceremony is like):

Chado Ceremony, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Chado Ceremony, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Chawan with Matcha, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Ikebana & Calligraphy, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coal Harbour Morning

Morning in the harbour:
Seaplane descended,
Blue heron took notice.


Coal Harbour Odours

One of my quiet pleasures is watching the seaplanes take off and land in Coal Harbour. Be it in the early morning, or at dusk, it's always exciting to watch those little planes as they shift from one element to the other.

I don't even know what it is about it that is so magical to me, but it's something I do a lot. In fact, I like to start my day walking down (only a few blocks from my studio) to the harbour, perhaps with a cup of steaming London Fog tea, and sit still while the marina comes back to life. And I can repeat the same in the afternoon with just much excitement. Being near the water makes me feel at peace and keeps my thoughts and inspiration flowing.

And of course, I love the smell of the sea. Even near the marina, you can smell the seaweed, and watch it dance on the rocks underneath the water. But what's even more unique about this spot is the scent of jet fuel as it mingles with the ocean's. Hot meets cold, the smoky burnt fuel scent, and the cool still water and seaweed. Nature clashes with machines, and they both become harmonious, at least from an olfactory point of view.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Haiku Moments

I'm finding myself swept with an enthusiasm for something I never thought I could do: writing haiku.

Strangely enough I find it very similar to perfume: only two elements or so are highlighted, and there are no metaphors. Besides, I feel most comfortable with short art forms.

I know it does now show in how long most of my blog posts are, but I am trying to get better at pairing down my words and focus on what's absolutely essential.

Like perfume, haiku is all about distilling the essence of a moment and an emotion, and expressing it in the most immediate way, with the least number of words possible.
This is how I compose my perfumes.

Feel free to comment with your own haiku and thoughts.


Blossoms on Haro Street, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Trees heavy with blossoms
Garbage truck goes by -
Trail of petals.


Showers of Petals

Cherry Blossom Portrait, originally uploaded by annon photo.

Under your umbrella:
Showers of petals
We didn’t hold hands

(March 19th, 2008)


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Digital Flower Viewing

Ume Blossoms, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Snapshots of flowers -
Descending petal kissed
her finger pink


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Winter Olympic Scents

Before it’s completely gone, it’s time to showcase the perfumes that made winter 2010 special for me. To make this current, how about 5 perfumes for the Winter Olympics, one for each ring, or each continent if you will (the rings do symbolize the continents, though I’m not sure at all which colour corresponds to which continent).

Eau d’Hermes: It wasn’t until this year that I began wearing it in winter. While the citrus notes are refreshing, cumin and immortelle creates a warmth and sultry sensuality.

Vanillaville (Soivhole'): Quirky vanilla, that is everything but what the name implies.
It is what I was hoping that Jo Malone’s Vanille Anise would deliver, and so much more. More than anything else, it reminds me of Ardbeg Uigeadail scotch, with its salty licorice and vanilla aroma.

Oillet (Scent Systems): Carnation alone cannot describe this perfume, which is drenched in sage and resinous, earthy base. It’s full of passion and mystery, like a candle-lit bath ritual with wild herbs.

Si Lolita
- a cheerful sweet pea with sunny and peppery elemi resin. This is like bright sun on snow.

It’s difficult to pick a perfume for the colour green that is not from the “green floral” or Chypre families… Instead, how about Un Crime Exotique: a gourmand with unusual notes of mate, ginger, anise and osmanthus. It's a little like a spicy Madeleine soaked in milky osmanthus tea, if such things ever existed.

What are your top five winter perfumes so far this year?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras beads, originally uploaded by suckaface.

Happy Fat Tuesday!
I'm envious all who can celebrate anything today, particularly Mardi Gras!

It's a beautiful day today, but I'm bed-bound with a head cold/flu, and the only thing productive I can do is go through boxes of tissue... But I can always use my escapist imagination, and fathom myself out of the local carnival (aka Winter Olympics) and in New Orleans instead, enjoying the chaos and music and colors, and being able to smell things despite my cold...

For Mardi Gras, I decided to pick three perfumes for the three Mardi Gras colors of Purple, Green and Gold. These colours were selected in 1872 by Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff of Russia, who visited the city at the time and was the first crowned Rex of the parade. He later on also chose these colours for his family crest. No one knows for sure what the colours mean or symbolizes, but there are a few traditions going around about that. Either way, this vibrant color combination affects greatly the atmosphere of the Mardi Gras parade and give it some of its unique inimitable flavour.

For Purple, which is said to symbolize Justice, I suggest wearing a violet perfume that gives an air of royalty and extravagance. Violet Angel (or Guerlain's Insolence, I personally cannot wear that one at all...) will certainly stand out in the crowds with their violet-laced sillage!

For Green, which represents Faith, wear fresh crushed leafy green perfumes, for example Vent Vert. It will instantly bring hope for all the spring foliage to return.

And finally, for Gold, which symbolizes Power, my pick would be Lys Méditerranée. I can't explain why, but it reminds me of gold colours... Or if you want to be more literal (like I was with my previous two selections), how about Or et Noir, or Donna Karen Gold, Guess Gold or Estee Lauder's Dazzling Gold?

If you celebrated, please comment and tell us what you did today and which perfume you've worn!


Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring Blossoms

Spring, originally uploaded by Dragan*.

Spring and all its flowers
now joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for celebration, not for lying low;
You too - weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.
- Hafiz

Winter hibernation gives man and nature time to restore energies and contemplate life while seemingly listless and lifeless. Everything has a different way to cope with cold and darkness: Trees withhold their foliage until the sun provides sufficient amounts of energy; seeds and bulbs hiding from rot in the cold hard earth covered with snow and ice; animals and people laying low, keeping warm and preserving energy, or sleeping the winter off.

With the return of sun with its light and warmth, the world reaches a resolution of returning to life, with full force. And nothing expresses this drive better than the spring blossoms: set against dark barks and cold earth, barely defrosted, the abundance of delicate pink flowers of cherry, almond and plum are the boldest statement of life and optimism. They can also be seen as symbolizing enlightenment.

Spring blossoms are two months early this year, blooming as early in the winter as late December and reaching impressive peaks by early February. The trees have reached the verdict to continue on living without even taking an afternoon nap. Somehow, this seems all wrong... Denying the stillness, the darkness of winter and refusing to look into the depths of despair, this mirror of misery for the true meaning of life that can help us reach the next phase of enlightenment.

Or could it mean, that nature is telling us to stop grieving, gather our optimism and cheer up faster when things look down and gloomy? Taking that risk, sending the best of the best out to the world, risking to waste all your flowers for another possible cold draft… With the hope that these flowers will, if not bear fruit, at least put a smile on the face of one sad person.

It was just a little less than two years from when I created Hanami perfume. And it still amazes me what these few poetic words and the visions of cherry blossoms in the city bring into my life.

P.s. Yesterday I spotted a blooming rhododendron bush! These don't come out till MAY!!!

Labels: ,

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day & Lunar New Year!

Gung Hay Fat Choi!
Happy New Lunar Year!
Between the Winter Olympics and Valentine's Day, I lost track of time and that it was the first day in the Year of the Tiger!

Happy Valentine's Day, originally uploaded by KY-Photography.

Happy Valentine's Day!

And for those of us that are feeling a little lonely today with all the heart-hype going on everywhere (and are not distracted enough by the winter Olympics...), here is one of those chain email I got a couple of times, and actually moved me:

When you are feeling alone like no one cares, read this because its absolutely true: Every night, someone thinks about you before they go to sleep. At least fifteen people in this world love you. The only reason someone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you. There are at least two people in this world that would die for you. You mean the world to someone. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look. Always remember the compliments you've received. Forget the rude remarks. So if you are a loving person, send this to everyone on your list including the person who sent it to you. Thank You for being my friend, and thank you for reading the strange stuff that I post up on this blog every now and than. Even if it was just for that, I love you. Though I'm sure if I met every one of my readers in person, I would find many more reasons!

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Non-Blonde Reviews Roses et Chocolat

Gaia Fishler from The Non-Blonde reviews Roses et Chocolat parfum, and compares it to a fragrant chai pudding with chocolate and a few other fine things, describing it as having a "velvety smoothness that is sexy and tempting, like the perfect red lipstick and lacy lingerie".

Labels: , ,

Stop And Smell The Roses

Self Definition, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.


did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too
- Hafiz

The perfume of rose not only opens the heart of the person smelling it; it also opens the heart of the perfume, making it complete.

The beauty of rose unfurls its spiral-shaped blossom, unfolding each petal as it progresses. There always seems to be more depth to the perfume of rose. Which is why when we stop to smell the roses, we tend to take long, deep breaths... There always seems more to it in the next inhale, and the next one... Just a short whiff won't cut it!

It is impossible to imagine what perfumery would be like without roses. The beauty of rose essences - both the attar (rose otto) and absolutes add an irreplaceable quality to a perfume, making it round and harmonious.

Part of the appeal of roses is their complexity. Rose is one of the most complex botanical essences, of which 540 elements were identified; yet it is still inimitable by means of synthetics. But it is also rose’s complexity that makes it one of the most challenging natural raw materials to work with in perfumery.

As discussed in the previous article, the roses most used in perfumery are the Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia. Rosa damascena is mostly steam distilled to produce Rose Otto – the best of which comes from Iran (but is hardly ever imported anywhere out of the Arab world). Persian rosweater is used during the prayers in the Hadj in Mecca to cleanse the Kaaba.

Like many natural raw materials, rose essences olfactory profile varies greatly depending on their geographical. On the whole, some generic observations can be made: rose has a typical “rosy” scent, which characterizes this unique flower essence, and is mostly derived from the high percentage of citronellol and geraniol, as well as phenyl ethyl alcohol (in the absolute), which gives the fresh-petal note. In addition, there is citrusy aspect (from citral), and a slightly spicy aspect, from eugenol (which is also present in cloves and allspice, for example). It also contains many trace elements, which vary from species to species (i.e.: ionone, which is much stronger in Tea roses). On a scent strip, rose begins as a fruity, rosy, full-bodied, even wine-like or honey-like, and softens as it dries down, sometimes showing some green aspects (I suspect this is because the flowers’ sepals and base are also extracted in the solvent). It dries down into a woody and even slightly animalic note. Rose is a heart note, but very long lasting, and depending on the context of how it is blended, it may even act as a base note.

Rosas bravas de Arronches, originally uploaded by moitas61.

Bulgaria’s Valley of Roses produces the finest Rosa damascena attar and rosewataer. White rose bushes (Rosa alba) grow at the edges of these fields. After Bulgarian rose otto, the next best quality is of Anatolian rose otto (from Turkey). The Bulgarian otto tends to be more light, and to me smells more true to the fresh flower. Turkish rose otto is heavier, more full bodied and with a certain wine-like and even slightly earthy qualities. Other locals of rosa damascena of lesser qualities come from Russia, India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. The Indian roses have a peculiar off note that makes them completely different than anywhere else in the world. It’s as if they take with them some of the earthy qualities of the Indian soil. This kind of rose has, of course, its own beauty, but is less desirable for Western perfumery purposes. It lends itself beautifully to more exotic blends, with an Asian or Indian theme.

It’s important to note, that producing the steam distilled essential oil does not capture the entire scent of the rose. The important molecule phenylethyl alcohol, for example, remains in the distillate water, and is mostly responsible for the fine aroma of rosewater.

Rosa centifolia, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Rose absolute, from solvent extraction, is primarily extracted from Rosa centifolia, (Grasse in France and Morocco are the major growers), and only to a lesser extent from Damascus roses in Bulgaria and Turkey. The absolute captures a fuller spectrum of the living rose. It must be noted, that the rose absolute is so extremely concentrated, it is best to dilute it down to as low as 10% to unfold and release the aroma of fresh rose petals, and fully understand this raw material.

Similarly, too high a proportion of rose in a formula can pose challenges. It can make the perfume too dense and rich. This is particularly true for purely natural perfumes, which are always in danger of becoming cluttered or too dense. Rose is used in all fragrance categories:
In classic colognes, it is used in a very low proportion along with citrus and herbs for a refreshing and light citrus fragrance.
In Orientals, rose has a central role in harmonizing and rounding off the composition, bridging between the rich resinous base notes and the light citrus or exotic spice notes at the top. Rose will have a similar role of bridging and rounding in Chypres. In both cases, rose lends itself readily to being the star of the show, in a rose-dominated Oriental (i.e.: Parfum Sacre) or Chypre (Nuit de Noel). And of course – it is essential in floral bouquets and is the most popular soliflore of the all.

According to Shiseido’s research, fragrant roses can be classified to 6 different categories – all of which seem to be difficult to describe without reference to other roses:

Damask Classic

Combination of the “strong and sweet Rosa centifolia with the exuberant scent of Rosa gallica”

Damask Modern
Similar to the above, but with “more passionate sophisticated scent”.

Scent of Tea
As mentioned earlier, the violet and tea-like qualities of China roses added to the damask or centifolia roses, added a more delicate, graceful, and somewhat reminiscent of tea aroma to hybrid tea roses.

Damask Classic or Tea Rose with the added nuances of fruit, such as peach, apricot, apple, raspberry, etc.

Blue Scent
Charcterisics of both damask and tea roses.

Spicy Scent
Damask Classic, with accentuated cloves scent (from eugenol).

rosa_rugosa_3_coin_de_jardin, originally uploaded by JD-roud.
Similarly, just as there are many rose breeds, with various colours, shapes, sizes and odours, even rose-dominated perfumes have a lot of variety within them. Let’s explore some of the main ones:

Fresh Rose
These rose perfumes have a very light, almost realistic rosiness, and are as close as could be to the fresh living flower.
i.e.: Tea Rose, Evelyn Rose, Stella, Rosebud

Green Rose
Often a nearly Chypre type, these green florals excude the briskness of crushed leaves, grass and rose petals.
i.e.: Ivoire, Kelly Caleche, l'Ombre dans l'Eau, No. 19, Grin

Fruity Rose

Fruity, full-bodied, sometimes wine-like, and at times with added fruity notes such as peach, apricot, apple, etc.
i.e.: Grand Amour, Spring Flower

Powdery-Sweet Rose

Roses paired with violet or orris. Soft, powdery and often sweet with a somewhat old-fashioned air to them. Vanilla is also not a rare thing to find in this rosy category.
i.e.: Paris, Bvlgari, Lipstick Rose, N'Aimez Que Mois, Cabaret

Big Abstract Rose
Modern interpretations of the rose have painted it with large strokes and less components than in old fashioned rose formulas, making them less realistic, but not any less romantic, despite their boldness
i.e.: Nahema, Tresor

Animalic Rose
Rose with an intentional animalic base makes it… well, a little naughty. Civet and musk are particularly effective to that extent.
i.e.: Joy, Agent Provocateur, Megumi

Earthy Rose
When paired with earthy notes, such as patchouli, rose grows bigger and stronger; as if on a fertile soil that allows her to fully develop luscious petals. Notes such as patchouli are the most important to that effect and this genre has become quite popular now (especially with the new restrictions on oakmoss). Of particular interest is Alexander McQueen's Kingdom, in which the cumin note adds a sensual earthiness.
i.e.: Kindgom, Midnight Poison, Philtre d'Amour, Taurus

Musky Rose
Rose with a light, musky base. These can often be also quite powdery.
i.e.: Tocade,
Poussiere de Rose

Dark Rose

Often from the Chypre family, dark roses are haunting, mysterious and full of depth.
Dark rose impression is often achieved by pairing it with mosses, spices and animalic notes.
i.e.: Nuit de Noel, Black Rose, Song of Songs

Spicy Rose
Roses have always been paired with spices, both medicinally and for culinary purposes. It is not surprising, than, to find that roses go well with spice in perfumes as well. Spicy roses don’t necessarily need to smell like potpourri. Some are the most luxurious rose perfumes that I’ve ever came by.
i.e.: Parfum Sacré, Ta'if, Fête d'Hiver, Roses et Chocolat

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Mess

These gardeners are tending to some last minute preparations for the Olympics, just a couple of hours before the opening ceremonies. It made me think of my tea parties, and how sometimes just a few moments before the guests arrive, I remember I haven't put the flowers out yet. They are making sculptures of Hockey and Curling players from plants...

There is really little if any connection between this blog and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics; except that yours truly happens to live in the midst of the Olympic mess. So it's only fair that I use this space to show just a couple of Olympic symbols, and how I spent the day (no school for Tamya because of the torch relay; the bus would only pick her up from the other side of the bridge, an hour away from home) so she was doing other things instead, including holding the scorched Olympic torch.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Unfolding the Hundred Petals of Rose

English Roses, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

The nightingale, and none beside, knows the full worth of the rose for many a one reads the leaf and understands not the meaning thereof
– Hafiz

There is so much to be said about roses. And there is no better time to say it than now: winter is coming to its end, and celebrations of life and love in the form of fertility festivals and chaotic carnivals where everything is possible have now been replaced by Hallmark holidays of subdued emotions, appropriately framed with heart-shaped molds and rose-red hues. Finding ways to express emotions have never been more trying. And saying it with roses, as cliche as this may seem, might be the only way to remain genuine and leave something to the imagination.

Rose is a perennial flowering shrub from the Rosacea family. The leaves are serrated and most of the rose bushes have thorns on their branches. There are over 100 species of rose. With the exception of some Southeast Asian rose species, roses are deciduous, and lose their leaves in the winter. The fruit of the roses is a berry called rosehip. Roses with many closed petals may not produce fruit at all, as the insects cannot access the pollen. Roses vary in sizes of the plant as well as the flower. There are some climbing varieties, some plain bushes. Rosehips are especially rich in vitamin c (especially those from the dog rose – Rosa canina – native to Lebanon and Israel; and Rosa rugosa, aka Japanese rose).

Cultivars, Hybrids etc.
Cultivated roses are hybrids of various types have more petals (which are, in fact, mutated stamen). The most important modern roses are the hybrid tea roses, which come hybrid of the above species with China roses. The China roses (Rosa chinensis) were less hardy, but produced successive blooms from summer through fall; and also contributed to the shape of modern roses (including the classic “bouquet” roses that we see at the florists); as well as more colour possibilities in hues of coral, orange and yellow.

20th century rose breeders focused so much on the size and colour of the roses, that most of the newer breeds of roses are not nearly as fragrant as the antique garden roses. And roses that are found at the florists usually have no scent at all.

Origins & History

Tidal Rose, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Most rose species are native to Asia, with only a few native to Europe, America and Northwest Africa. The following species are the ones used mostly in Western perfumery:

Rosa centifolia, originating in Persia, where it is called “Gul”. From there it spread to India (its Hindi name is Gulab-ka-phool); Rosa damascena, originally from Damascus (Syria);
Rosa gallica, the French or the apothecary rose, native to central and southern Europe; Rosa alba – a hardier type, white in colour.

Rosa chinensis mutabilis, originally uploaded by Luigi FDV.

China rose (Rosa chinensis) from the mutabilis variety is most important in breeding the Hybrid Tea roses of both old garden roses and modern ones. They are called that way because they change colours throughout their bloom: vermillion orange buds open to coppery pink flower and later on a deep crimson.

The biochemical makeup of the Western roses is quite different than that of the China roses (Rosa chinensis), as is their colour. Western roses are white, red or pink; while the China roses are yellow or orange. The biochemical implications, simply put, are that Western roses are dominated by geraniol, citronellol and damascones; while the China roses posses various carotenoid biochemicals, such as beta ionone. The result is an aroma that is quite different – sweeter, fruitier and reminiscent of violets and tea.

and Nomenclature
The name for rose comes from the Latin “Rosa” (red), which originates in the Greek “rhodion” and ancient Farsi “wurdi” (flower). The name “rose” also means pink or red in a number of Romance languages, as well as in Greek and in Polish.

According to Greek mythology, rose origins were in the body of a young nymph found by Flora. Venus (Aphrodite) has transformed it into the rose plant, which was than blessed by Apolo’s sunrays, given a sweet nectar by Bacchus (the wine god) and with fruit by Pomona, and blessed with the most beautiful flowers by Flora and the Celestials (Poucher’s Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps, Vol. 2, 1959, p. 205). Rose was originally white, but after the thorns have wounded Aphrodite’s feet, her blood has turned roses red.

War of the Roses
The War of the Roses is a chapter in English history (around the time between 1455-1485), where civil wars between two dynasties (Lancaster and York) competing for the throne, and their supporters took place. Each of the dynasties had a rose symbol -
Red Lancashire rose/ Red Rose of Lancaster
and the White Rose of York. When the Tudors took the throne, the War of the Roses ended, and a new symbol was created, called the Tudor Rose, combining the red and the white, to symbolize union between the two.

Some say there is a reference to that in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, where the cards are painting the white rosebush red, although this is a very shallow interpretation of Lewis Carrol's work.

Religious and Spiritual Rose Symbolism
In the state of union the single beings of other world are one,
All the petals of the rose are together one.

- Muhammad Iqbal

The beauty of rose and her perfume and the complexity of her petals made it a subject of symbolism since ancient times. The only other flower that is known for having an equal breadth and depth of spiritual symbolism is the lotus flower.

Wild roses, like most of the Rosales order (which also includes cherry and almond) have 5 petals, symbolic of the pentagram, or mankind (the 5-pointed star is attributed to the head and the 4 limbs). Symbols of 5-petaled rose are recurring in European art and symbolism (i.e.: the Rosicrucian order’s symbol), who only later on in history were exposed to the cultivated, multi-petal rose. And nowadays, rose is the national flower of many countries, not to mention political parties. White rose was the symbol of a peace movement in Germany during World War II.

The multi-petals of cultivated roses grow give the flower the quality of mystery: it hides the stamens and holds its secrets… These petals also grow clockwise, in a spiral movement. This shape alludes to growth, expansion and is a metaphor to the universe. Spiral movement is eternal to both direction – the microcosm and the macrocosm.

Rose was sacred to the Egyptian goddess Isis.

In Hinduism, rose is considered Lord Krishna’s favourite. Hindus wash their alters with rosewater. According to the chakra system, the heart chakra is green, but when we are in love it turns to a rose colour. Likewise, rose flower grows out of a green thorny plant and represents the most elated state of the species (according to Ivan M. Granger).

In Judaism, rose was mentioned in the Song of Solomon as a thing of beauty found amongst the thorns, and is one of the seven perfumes mentioned in the book. It’s important to note, that there is also a fair amount of confusion between the names “shoshana” (the name for lily in modern days), or “vered” (the modern Hebrew word for rose).

In Kabala, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are said to form The mystical rose of creation, with the three mother letters forming a triangle in the middle (relating to the three elements – fire, water and air), surrounded by the 7 double letters which are symbolic of the 7 ancient planets, and finally by the 12 single letters, corresponding to the 12 Zodiac signs and the 12 tribes of Israel.

The beauty of rose in Ancient Greece and Rome were attributed to the goddess of love, Venus or Aphrodite. Wild rose was placed on the door of rooms where secret meetings were held. Alchemists considered rose to be associated with the element of earth, with the solar plexus or the heart, and with either the Sun or the planet of Venus.

In Christianity, red roses symbolize the blood of Christ, sacrifice and are associated with the heart. The colour of roses and their sweet, fruity, wine-like scent made them connected to wine, the refined symbol of Christ’s blood.
White roses symbolize the purity and virtue of the Virgin Mary.
Prayer necklaces called Rosaries were made from fragrant rose beads (see recipe here).

The Muslims loved rose above all other flowers. Mohammed’s sweat said to have the scent of attar of rose, and he is known for his love for women, children and perfumes above all things on this earth.

The Sufis practiced meditation in rose gardens, which are the most important theme in Persian art – Persian miniatures as well as carpet designs depict such rose gardens. A recurring theme in Sufi poetry is that of the rose and the nightingale. The nightingale is the lover, longing for the love of the rose, which he expresses in sad love songs through the night. These are of course metaphors to the Sufi in search for closeness to God.

Different Colours, Different Meanings
In the Victorian Language of Flowers, roses of different colours signify different emotions, meanings and messages for their recipient. Some of these meanings remain valid till modern day.

White roses: Purity, innocence, eternal Love, silence, wistfulness, virtue, purity, secrecy, reverence and humility. The white rose in the hand of The Fool tarot card signify that pure innocence and a "tabula rasa" awaiting learning. White roses are often used in bridal bouquets.

Pink roses: New love, happiness, romance, admiration, sweetness. Dark pink roses express gratitude; while pale pink mean joy of life, youth, energy and passion. Light pink roses are of the most popular after red ones.

Red roses: True love, passion, desire. These roses are most used among lovers.
Red roses also appear in The Empress card in the tarot's major arcana.

Yellow roses: Friendship, platonic love, jealousy, infidelity, dying love.

Orange roses were introduced to Europe only later on, and signify a combination of the emotions that both red and yellow coloured roses represent.
Coral hued roses were especially rare, and meant desire, passion and enthusiasm.
Orange roses also mean desire and enthusiasm, but also could mean pride.

Lavender roses: Love at first sight.

Blue roses:
Mystery, attaining the impossible

Black roses (which are really just a very dark red): death, farewell, separation, hatred - or rebirth and rejuvenation (which are really the other side of the coin of endings and death).

Medicinal and Therapeutic Applications

The most therapeutic type of rose is the Rosa centifolia (rose of hundred petals). Interestingly, it’s Sanskrit name, shatapattri, has the same meaning. Rose is used in aromatherapy for its soothing properties. It is a heart tonic and also helps to ease women in labour and helps to balance the hormones.

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) employed attar of rose and rosewater for treating ailments of the digestive tract.

The scent of rose gives one a sense of well being. It is an oil that has the greatest effect on the emotions, helping to cope with loss, grief and promote self-esteem and confidence (especially in women). The latter quality makes it act as an aphrodisiac: when a woman feels confident in her sexuality, she feels more at ease to seduce and engage in romantic relationships.
Gulab Lassi is an Ayurvedic rose aphrodisiac.

In Ayurveda, rose is used to balance the heart. It “balances Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that governs the emotions and their effect on the heart” (reference here). Rose soothes the heart and the emotions. It also balances the mind, connecting the Sadhaka Pitta to the Prana Vata (the subdosha of Vata dosha that governs the brain, head, chest, respiration, sensory perception, and the mind). Rose is unique in that it balances all three doshas.

Ayurvedic doctors use rose to treat hormonal imbalances that result in amenorrhea; as well as treat migraines and headaches, loss of vision, sore throat, inflamed tonsils; and emotionally – to cope with nervousness, grief. Rosewater can be sprayed onto eyes suffering from inflammation or infection.
Gulkand (a rose petal jam) or Gulkand sharbat (rose syrup) can be eaten on its own, or added to milk or yoghurt, to achieve a cooling effect on the body.
(sources: Kamlesh Ayurvedea, and Medicinal Use of Flowers at Home).

Rosehips are used to treat colds and influenza (because of their high vitamin C content). Rosehips have anti-inflammatory properties, and were used to treats osteoarthritis. They also aid in treating urinary tract problems, and assist in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disorders, because of their high level of phytochemicals such as carotenoid pigments, plant sterols, tocotrienols... (source).

Flavour & Culinary Uses
Roses as a flavour are especially popular in India and the Middle East as an addition to desserts and beverages; and to a lesser extent in Europe, particularly France.

In the Middle East, Persia and India - rosewater is added to sherbets, ice creams and pastries (i.e.: harissa, basboosa, baklawa and rasgulla) as well as to flavour fruit salads. Rosewater confections are also popular in Turkey, Greece and the Balkan (Turkish Delight, for example). In the Ukraine, rose petal jam is paired with vanilla ice cream. Rose petal jam was adopted as an aromatic additive to pastries, pancakes and waffles and pastries such as scones or croissants, and fresh rose petals can be added to crepes.

Rose petals are also used to flavour tea: Chinese Rose Congou tea is made by perfuming black China tea with layers of fresh rose petals. Some of the petals remain in the tea. Royal tea is an Assam black tea blend with dried rose petals and vanilla, often served with milk. I particularly enjoy adding rose petal to a milky Earl Gray tea with vanilla. It turns it into a heavenly affair, a soothing and luxurious elixir.

The rosehips are made into a jam or jelly, as they are rich a relatively high in pectin. They are also very popular as a tisane, on their own or as a base for fruit-flavoured tisanes, particularly berry-flavours, because of their sour flavour.

Rose otto and rosewater have rejuvenating, moisturizing and anti-aging properties and is an excellent additive to skin-care products and skin-care regime for dry or mature skin. Rosewater tones the skin and gives it a healthy glow, and also is used for cooling the skin in Ayurvedic cosmetics – on the principle that it helps to balance the Bhrajaka Pitta (the subdosha of Pitta that governs the biochemical aspects of the skin).

In Ancient Greece, dried rose petals were ground into a powder and applied to the skin as deodorant (Poucher’s “Perfumes, Cosmetics and Soaps, 1959, vol. 2, p. 206).

Rosewater blended with glycerin is an easy, simple and pure homemade lotion, and can be prepared at home (which will result in a purer product - without the red colouring and any other possible additives or artificial scents used in rosewater & glycerin that is bough off the pharmacy shelves).

Rosehip seed oil is also a wonderful oil to be used in skin care, massage oil and cosmetics. Its high content of oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids, carotenoids and beta-carotene, it has antioxidant and healing properties to the skin, making valuable for cosmetics to prevent dryness and aging, age-spots, wrinkles, as well as for use for various skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and more (reference).

Rose oil added to facial elixirs will leave your complexion with a youthful glow.

Stop to Smell the Roses - Rose in Perfumery

Labels: , , , ,

Winner Announcement for Aphrodisiac Contest

We have a winner for the aphrodisiac naming contest!
HJ is the winner of Roses et Chocolat parfum mini.
Congratulations, Holly!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

White Potion Reviewed on Scent Hive

Trish of Scent Hive reviews White Potion perfume.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Draw Tomorrow

24 more hours to enter your answers to the aphrodisiac contest:
Name at least 5 aphrodisiacs (actual ingredients, not menu items!!!) that we ate at the tea party and enter to win a mini of Roses et Chocolat parfum!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Structure and Philosophy

reflection symmetry, originally uploaded by Ray Wise.

Fragrance is a fleeting thing.
Fleeting, moving, ever-changing and not quite tangible – this art form demonstrates the passage of time in the most profound way and forces us to “live in the moment” so to speak. Even music, which acts in a similar way, can be re-created and re-lived by most people, simply by humming the tune.

The notion of something so fleeting having a “structure” always struck me as odd. I’m puzzled by it even more than how it is used in reference to music. I still remember that one piano lesson to which my stepfather unusually accompanied me. I was studying a sonatina by Mozart. My teacher and him were keenly trying to explain to me the concept of “symmetry” in classical music and how it is parallel to symmetric visual art. I was trying hard to grasp it, until I gave in and just pretended that I got it (incidentally, my stepfather, a painter, was obsessed with symmetry art all his life; which is perhaps why he always thought that if something goes wrong in his life, it should also go badly for everyone else – just for the sake of making things nice and even).

Things that pass through time work differently than still images or sculptures. The only way symmetry can be created is by perceiving the present and the future as relating to the past; being able to recreate the past while experiencing the present, and having some kind of anticipation of the future, based on a gestalt that was molded in the brain (although could be proven completely wrong).

Western perfumery is a relatively new invention; and like many things that travel from the East to the West (perfumery was developed in the Middle East and in Asia before anywhere else in the world) – it has taken a path of its own, making some things far more advanced (technology-wise), yet remaining rigid in many other ways. The “pyramid” structure that is so popularly used to explain and describe the evolution and so-called “structure” of perfume, although shaped like a pyramid, has nothing to do with Egypt (the culture that developed the first most complex perfume in the form of Kyphi incense); and says very little about a perfume’s behaviour and characteristics. The breakdown of notes into three stages is rather random, too. Even perfumes that have been designed to fit this paradigm, there are many more stages than that.

Ancient perfumery did not have “structure” in the sense that Western perfumery perceives its art form now. Egyptian perfumes, Asian perfumes, Arabian perfumes and Indian perfumes are created with completely different principles in mind. I am still trying to figure out what that might be, as literature in English barely exists on the subject; and I doubt if there is any official literature either. In India, perfumery is a family secret that is passed from father to son, and outsiders are rarely privy to this knowledge. What we do know is, that traditional Indian perfumes, which are called “attars” are created in a completely different technique and approach than Western perfumery. Attar is an Arabic word, which refers to the spirit or “ether” of the plants, i.e. the essential oil. The word “attar” or its permutation “otto” is often used to describe rose essential oil (in perfumery literature, it is referred to as “rose otto” or “attar of rose”).
Indian attars differ from modern perfumery on several levels. The most obvious are the technical ones:

1) The formulation process takes place with the raw materials prior to distillation. The spices, woods, resins, herbs, flowers and so on are measured and blended together in their raw state and only than placed in the still. I can only guess that the principles of blending these perfumes may be in tune with Ayurveda or spiritual and religious principles such as the chakra systems.
2) Sandalwood oil forms the base or “carrier” for Indian attars (much in the same vein that rather that alcohol or a fixed oil are used in modern perfumery). Thus, even the simplest attar will contain at least two botanicals. For example: Attar Motia is made from jasmine sambac (Jasminum sambac) which is distilled into the sandalwood (Santalum album) essential oil. Sandalwood oil is one of the few oils that can be worn neat on the skin, it has a rich, viscous and sensual teqture, and a very subtle aroma that deepens the perfume of single flowers and adds fixative qualities to the attar.
3) Last but not least, unlike modern Western perfumers, the Indian perfumers actually distill their own essence. They are in touch with the plants in their original raw state, and at times even pick them from the wild. Using a light, portable copper still, the perfumer can carry it on his back while entering the wilderness to collect flowers in their blooming season, be it from the coast, the jungle or the pond (for example: lotus and water lily have to be harvested while the perfumer goes .

The roots of modern Western perfumery are in alchemy – an art and a science that has began as early as ancient Egypt and later on re-discovered by the Muslims in the Middle Ages. The Arabic and Muslim alchemists further developed this esoteric mysticism into the scientific realms of chemistry and medicine as known today. The three principles of the Western “pyramid structure” actually correspond to the three alchemical principals – the “Tria Prima” which make up all matter: sulfur, mercury and salt.

Mercury is a passive principle, yet it is also very dynamic, which makes it a little more confusing to grasp, just as it is difficult to catch quicksilver, being both a metal and a liquid. It is associated with Luna, the feminine archetype; as well as the element of air or with water, cold and moisture. It is the most volatile. It also represents the human soul. The alchemical symbol is identical to that for the planet mercury: a circle with a crescent atop it, which does not represent the moon, but the winged messenger (the Greek god Hermes, aka as Mercury to the Romans). I find this interesting: being so volatile makes it transcend above matter and connect to the spiritual world. The top notes in a perfume have very much the role of “Mercury”: they are the most volatile, fleeting and difficult to grasp. Yet they are what gives the perfume vibrancy and are the first contact we have with the perfume. In a way, they are the “messenger”, the medium rather than the message... They invite us in to further explore what the perfume has to say.

Sulphur (the original spelling for “sulfur”) is the active principle, “The Red King”, Sol (the sun), associated with the element of fire – heat and dryness. The symbol for sulphur is a fire triangle mounted on the earth cross. It has a masculine and expansive force, and creates evaporation and dissolution. Within the aesthetics of Western perfumery – the heart notes are what make perfume a true perfume.

Salt is the stable, solid foundation. It is analogous to the physical body and to the earth. The alchemical symbol is of a circle with a horizontal line dividing between above and below; very similar to the symbol of the planet earth (a circle with a complete cross in the middle). It only is missing a divine force from above (a vertical line) to make it complete and complex with potential for life, like the earth. The base notes in the perfume are like salt: they provide the stability and the foundation for the perfume. They are what gives it a form. Being so less volatile makes the reliable and solid like salt. And with the added elements of the top notes and the heart notes, a dynamic entity is created, with vitality and movement. And of course the final and most important element which makes perfume complete and alive is the person wearing it.

Western perfumes were created with that philosophy, aesthetic values and “structure” in mind for hundreds of years, until commercialism got in the way, so to speak. In the early 1990’s, perfumes began to create linear perfumes. Sophia Grojsman’s Trésor (1990) was especially groundbreaking because it used very few ingredients to bring forth an abstract rose, instead of using many complex bases with hundreds of ingredients. “It is like drawing a flower—at first, you draw a heart and then you start by painting petals” – described Grojsman her process in an 2006 interview to Bois de Jasmine. Her approach was revolutionary at the time, and her perfumes have an unmistakable style – bold yet tender, focused (usually around rose) yet dynamic.

Trésor was just one of the first perfumes signaling the beginning of a trend of linear perfumes – it was not only simple (rose, vanilla and peach seem to be the main three notes), but also had very little in the way of evolution. But the first linear perfume per-se, created solely with that intention is Toacde (Maurice Roucel, 1994, for Rochas), where rose, magnolia, vanilla and a flat freshness of bergamot persists through the entire composition. Poême 1995 Jacques Cavallier was also an epitome of linear thinking.

Linear perfumes change very little if at all from start to finish, disregarding the element of time and replacing it with a static sculpture of molecules hanging in mid-air, and avoiding any relationship with the wearer’s skin.

It’s interesting that the first linear scents were so rosy… But the first ones were at least interesting. They were soon replaced by a humdrum of gourmands (a-la Angel, which also does not change much with its patchouli and caramel persistence) and clean, paired-down musk accords which are at times nothing but an insult to the consumer’s olfactory intelligence. While the first compositions seemed to have poise and elegance and purpose or thought behind them, the current state of affairs is that linear scents were adopted by the mainstream perfume industry as means to make more sales: what’s the point of having top notes if they disappear after half and hour or less? What’s the point of having any evolution at all, if the customer needs to spend days in sampling, experiencing the scent and making up their minds? It’s easiest to create something 100% homogenous, that will not be affected by factors as skin chemistry and just remain as the “trailer” (i.e.: the scent strip or fabric ribbon) promised.

Another confusing structural approach was presented in Allure (Chanel’s house perfumery, Jacques Polge). When it was launched in 1996, it promised a revolutionary structure where “facets” rather than an evolution from top to heart to base:
“No more top, middle and base notes. ALLURE dispenses with these traditional notions to embrace a multi-faceted approach. There are six of these facets to be exact, which overlap and harmonise with each other, no single facet becoming dominant over the others…”
(from Chanel's website).

The six facets were illustrated by a hexagon, divided into 6 triangles:
1) Fresh : Citron note.
2) Fruity : Sicilian Mandarin.
3) Timeless Floral : May Rose, Oriental Jasmine.
4) Imaginary Floral : Magnolia accord, Honeysuckle accord, Water lily accord.
5) Woody : Haitian Vetiver.
6) Oriental : Vanilla from Réunion.

A quick glance at this makes one wonder. After all: citron and mandarin (Sicilian or otherwise) are both top notes. The florals in facets 3 and 4 are all heart notes; and lastly, vetiver and vanilla (facets 5 and 6) are both base notes. What are they trying to say? That the perfume progresses gradually through its various notes (which is true to some extent)? That it revolves like a circle between those various facets? There is only one way to tell, which is to wear it and try it for yourself. I experience it mostly as a linear scent. There is none of the complex evolution that can be found in other Chanel perfumes (say, Bois des Îles).

Recently, I stumbled upon CrazyLibellule and the Poppies website, where the “Etoile Olfactive” (olfactory star) is used to illustrate the different notes. Which kind of olfactory evolution would this be? An explosion, perhaps?

The more I think about it, the more confused I become. And than I get back to my original view and perception of perfume: an art form that takes place in time, rather than space. If it has any structure it would be similar to that in a music, film or storytelling. And the perfumes that I want to create, wear, smell and experience are those that tell a story. And stories have a beginning, middle and an end.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 01, 2010

Aphrodisiac Tea Party + Contest and Giveaway

Here are some pics from the Aphrodisiac Tea Party yesterday, as promised. It was the most attended tea party in my history of tea party hosting; yet thankfully there was enough tea (and cups!) for everyone. Food seems to always be over abundant, but this time nothing was gone to waste...

The photo above is of aphrodisiacs stored in a Valentine cookie box, and these are the dry raw aromatics - ambrette seed, rose petals, tonka bean, costu root, ambergris, pink peppercorns and a nutmeg; we smelled the essential oils and absolutes as well; and we also smelled essences such as myrrh, jasmine, tuberose, East Indian sandalwood and labdanum.

Some interesting stats: we had a total of just over 30 guests; we brewed about 15 liters of tea, eaten 5 loaves of bread (made into delicious tea sandwiches), 19 cupcakes, 12 mini cheesecakes, 80 truffles or so, and an unknown number of cookies (still tons left, for the lucky studio guests in the next couple of weeks, and for myself!).

1st Tier:
Tomato-Basil open sandwiches (these were heart shaped!)
Wasabi-Cucumber tea sandwiches
Minted Radishes tea sandwiches
Egg sandwiches

2nd Tier: Scones, Cream & Jam
Heart-shaped whole wheat and rose bud scones
Concord grapes and blue cheese scones
Served with Devonshire cream and wild Rose-Petal jelly (Wild Westcoast Rainforest Products) and Lavender jelly (Preserved BC Sunshine)

3rd Tier: Small cakes and Petit-Fours
Blood-Orange Mini Cheescakes
Banana & nutmeg cupcakes with peanut butter icing or caramel sauce
Raspberry Brownies (recipe by Wendy Boys from Cocolico)

4th Tier: Cookies
Korova cookies
Ginger Ice-box Cookies
Lavender Shortbread

5th Tier: Truffles
Blood Truffles (70% dark chocolate with roses, chili and saffron)
White Potion Truffles (white chocolate with tuberose, almond and coconut)

Tea Selection:
Black Tea:
Roses et Chocolat (Ayala Moriel)
Earl Gray Cream (Herbal Republic)

Green Tea:
Charisma (Ayala Moriel)
Jasmine & Rose house blend

Caffeine-Free Brew:
Immortelle l’Amour (Ayala Moriel) – rooibos based
Aztec-inspired Spiced Hot Chocolate (Cocoa) - we actually never made this... There was not enough time to steam the milk!

Photo was taken by Laura Zerebeski's iPhone

And now to the contest: name at least 5 aphrodisiacs (actual ingredients, not menu items!!!) that we ate at the tea party and enter to win a mini of Roses et Chocolat parfum!
(draw on February 10th).

Labels: , , , ,