Thursday, September 30, 2010

Way Too Orange

orange yemenite etrog, originally uploaded by sambo in netanya.

My last mod of my Etrog perfume turned out juicy and mouthwatering delicious. That's nice and dandy. But it smells nothing like Etrog at all!
It smells way too orange.
It smells more like Japanese citron (aka yuzu) than the Jewish citron.

I've still got a long way to go with this one and as much as I love wearing this sweet citrus jus, it's not what I meant for it to be. Etrog should be far more elegant and dry and subtle.

I need to make a stronger Etrog tincture.
And I need to find myself some good quality myrtle (an essence that don't normally have at my fingertips because it's quite medicinal). I could fake it with some eucalyptus, which is very similar, to get a fast-snapshot of what I'd like for it to be. However, this perfume is all about the actual ingredients and their symbolic significance so I'm going to just wait patiently until I find it!

I'm really liking the base though, which features cypress. It's a very Mediterranean scent and I really want this perfume to feel very true to its origins and the region - yet very refined, elegant and subtle. It also has frankincense and olive resin as fixative which I feel are very appropriate for this perfume.

The route is long and winding... And I'm enjoying it. Which is more important than where I'm going and when I'm getting there.

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Épice Sauvage Featured on The Non-Blonde

"Ayala (...) is a jasmine sorceress. She takes this somewhat problematic note and brings out the best in it. Hot summer nights in a beautiful faraway land, the sensuality and the more delicate aspects of jasmine are woven together with the spices into a heady perfume that is all silk and color".

Visit The Non-Blonde to read Gaia's review of Épice Sauvage in it's entirety.

P.s. Personally, I think the sorcery belongs entirely to the jasmine flower itself! Anything this essence touches turns into magic!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Falling Leaves, Dropping Prices

Fallen Leaves, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Up to 30% off on all roll-ons (10ml, travel size in both oil and extrait), minis, bath salts and candles.
This is for a very limited time only (till September 30th at midnight), so take advantage of it while it lasts!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall Escapism: Champaca, Kyphi, Hiking and Chai

I'm burning Kyphi incense tonight, and it seems particularly befitting for the season. I've been "getting back to my roots" so to speak this week as I was teaching my intensive, week-long perfumery course focusing on the Oriental fragrance family. Kyphi is the most ancient perfume in the form of incense pellets - it combines about 16 different resins, spices and herbs, which are bound together with honey, raisins and wine. I made this incense three years ago (in September, actually...). It was burnt in ancient Egyptian temple in the evening, to "banish the worries of the day". And it does just that!

Now that my busiest season has began, I'm already finding it essential to keep my life balanced. Fall's transitions into the school year are exciting but also taxing. And with the market season beginning, I must take good care for not falling into stress-mode because this is going to last nearly 4 months and I am hardly going to have a single weekend off in the coming weeks!

I began making perfumes 9 years ago, when I was a full-time student in an intensive program, and also a very new single-mother. Stress was inevitable, and just as inevitable was me waking up at 5am every morning so that I can get a few moments to myself to burn incense and meditate. It seems like things are coming full circle now and I will be needing to go a similar route: wake up early and make sure my day does not begin with answering emails, or even making breakfast... But with thanking for and paying attention to my breathing. And what better way than burning incense to become aware of one's breath and deepen it?

Hiking or simple long walks in the neighborhood (the West End is surrounded by water in 3 directions, as well as a nearly-natural rainforest of Stanley Park). Morning visits to Coal Harbour always make my day seem promising and exciting, and the water always pops new ideas into my head! And in the evening, a long stroll along the seawall all the way to Lost Lagoon, Beaver Lake or the Rose Garden are a good finale to a day - usually with a companion that can share the beauty of the scenery and reflect on the day that just gone by.

And than, of course, there is tea to warm my hands on that early morning stroll, or lift up my spirits just before the workday is over. Chai tea is special in that it has to be actually cooked in a pot with all the spices and milk - something I hardly ever do on a week day, but reserve for weekends and guests... Or when I decide to go to the Indian restaurant to get lunch instead of cook it myself... Fortunately, there is a really good one right next door and it feels like home there (sort of, except for the giant Bollywood marathon on their big-screen TV).

Champaca Chai, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

And last but not least - here's a one-of-a-kind perfume that is especially appropriate for today: Champaca Chai. The fantasy of this perfume encompasses both the hiking, chai and smoky components that seem to save my mundane life from total disaster... It speaks to my fantasy of an outdoorsy tea ritual, preferably after a long hike on the mountains, and has a soothing milkiness to go with its rustic smoky surroundings. I also find the essence of champaca flower, with its complexity and fruitiness, to be reminiscent of Kyphi.

Top notes:
Ginger, Nutmeg, Mace, Cardamom, Fennel, Caraway

Heart notes:
Champaca, Jasmine, Coconut, Honey

Base notes:
Black Tea, Budhawood, Clove bud, Tonka bean

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Wardrobe

I woke up this morning to a rainy fall day, which is likely to be followed by weeks of typical gray gloom, forcing me and most Vancouverites to stay indoors more than we'd like to. and while I do enjoy concentrating on my work now that summer's s0-called "distractions" are gone - it can be a little unmotivating to be constantly homebound and listen to the raindrops constantly hit my skylight.

Now is when I bring out my fall wardrobe of scents - richer, warmer and more dense and sensual scents that reflect the mood of the season, and bring to mind the rich colours of the dying autumn leaves - burnt orange, russet red, mustard yellow and golden ochre.

Chypres and Orientals are the staples for the season, and it's nice to have a couple of scents that will make you feel as if you're wrapped up in cozy warm sweater. But you might want something brighter and more cheerful for daytime wear or for days when you're in the mood for something different.

The ultimate scent for fall is of course Autumn, and not just because of the name. It is a fruity chypre - mossy with hints of spice. It reminds me of plum and apple picking season, with some scents of overripe fruit that hit the ground and stayed there. So it's always very appropriate for the season.

Schizm is an unusual chypre, featuring precious white flowers (tuberose, jasmine and orange blossom) the strange, animalic note of cepes, which are porcini mushrooms and a very carnal note that begins both gamey and mushroomy and evolves into a nutty pecan note. It plays on the duality between a harsh woody dryness and animalic-sultry sweetness. A little fickle like the weather we experience in transitional season...

These suggestions are more on the dark side; but you can also brighten your autumn day with a bit of crisper green scents that have some depth, such as in Rainforest.

If you need help building your own customized fragrance wardrobe for fall, don't hesitate to email or call the studio. Wardrobe can be as small as 3 scents (in all sizes - 9ml extraits, 5ml or 10ml roll-ons) and up to 8 scents for the mini-coffret.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

First Day of Autumn

New season, new beginnings!

Today is Sukkot eve AND the first day of Autumn. It's considered a magical yet risky and dark time of transition, which caught me a little off-guard this time, as I'm immersed fully in teaching my week-long course about the Oriental Fragrance Family.

This is the season that replaces growth and abundance with diminishing light. Like a waning moon is preparing itself for a new one. It's a time of uncertainty, reflection and preparation for colder, darker days when natural resources are more sparse and rare... That's the time when one needs to stock-up on all that's needed to survive for the upcoming season, on every level - Physically, this is the harvest season, where stocking up on food, fire-logs begins; and preparing warm clothes as well as getting the shelter protected and sealed against rain, snow and cold winds. From a young age I learnt that the meaning of the holiday of Sukkot is to make us more appreciative of having a permanent home or shelter, rather than a tent of a tabernacle that is open to all winds and rainfall can penetrate it easily from above. Experiencing the first rain in Israel usually happens when we sleep in our Sukkah... It's exciting, even if very uncomfortable. And it's a relief when at the end of the week, we can go into our warm beds and enjoy a sense of security...

Socially, this is the time for families, friends, neighbors and communities to get together, support each other, celebrate and thank for the abundance we're blessed with. And also making sure everyone else who's less fortunate will still not be left behind. In the following week, every Sukkah (and in my case - my home; because I do not have a yard to build one in; and also because I'm not exactly religious - I just like to keep the connection with my ancestors and with the traditions I grew up with - even if just by blogging about them and connecting them to my perfume and artwork). So I hope my humble home will be blessed with guests this coming week and in the future as well.

Spiritually, transitions are a great challenge as they push us forward against our will and against our constant illusion that we have the option of stepping up the ladder of growth, dwelling on the past or being stuck wherever we are. We grow whether if we like it or not, and whether if we accept it or not. And growth is painful, especially because unlike the snake, we don't have the ability to get rid of the old skin completely... So when we grow, we feel the stretching of our soul and it may feel as ugly as stretch marks for a while, but not for long. We will soon feel comfortable and fresh in our new skin and ready to embark onto the next big journey!

Emotionally, this is where perfume and the senses comes into place for me, as I find great comfort and refuge in anything that is fragrant and sensual - from the colours of the changing leaves (regardless of how cliche this is!) to the textures of fall attire (wool, suede, tweed, cardigans and tights all over again) find fall scents to be particularly soothing to my soul. The scent of burning leaves, mossy undergrowth in the forest, the chill of the cooling ocean in the evening, mushrooms, the aromas of spicy pastries and chai tea, roasted vegetables, dried fruit and burning resinous incense.

This holiday I'm going back to working on my Etrog perfume and I'm very curious to see how it unfolds. It's not a particularly autumnal scent, becuase I'm planning on it to be an exotic eau de cologne type of scent; but it is very strongly connected to this season and this holiday and there is no better time to do it!

Happy Sukkot to all of you who are celebrating; and if you live in the city, drop by for some chai :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:my back yard

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Summer Scrapbook

Courtyard beauty: this is papyrus by the pond.

Summer is coming to an end in just about a day and a half... It's been a very sweet, yet short, summer. And I'm glad I was able to get some rest in preparation for the busiest season, commencing tomorrow, with my week-long intensive week about Orientals!

- This sign marks the site of daily pilgrimage: Sunset Beach...

Easter Lilies, blooming in summertime at the pond in my building's courtyard.

Summer squashes, leeks and mini artichokes at West End's Farmers' Market

Red Currants at West End Farmers' Market

Twisted carrot legs, sitting atop a carrot sandwich cookie (that's right - it's filled with cream cheese frosting!). In the background is a roobois chai tea, the perfect companion to carrot cakes OR cookies...
Angel's Trumpets: the full glory of their scent to be discovered only at dusk.

Continue reading more elaborate summer fragrances and flavours in this post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Summary of Summer: Fragrances and Flavours

Just by the building that gives all the services possible to bathers of Sunset Beach, there grows this mysterious little tree, with the most intensely smelling flowers. They look a little like jasmine, but smell like honeysuckle. Their scent intensifies around sunset and after dark, and makes saying goodbye to the beach even harder every evening!

Here here: a less brighter image of the cafe at Sunset Beach. The closest swimming beach to my house, albeit probably not the cleanest... It's never too crowded, and always very peaceful - which is what I love most about it. I was able to not only contemplate on my Orcas perfume there, but also swim alongside a seal!

Red currants in the West End Farmers' Market: these actually taste awful, if you ask me. Kinda bland and sour with an unpleasant aftertaste. No wonder why the mostly cook them into jelly! Black currants, on the other hand, have a much stronger aroma, probably less agreeable, but I love them. Go figure...

Afternoon tea @ Noriko's: these are Yuzu Imo Yokan (these are jelly-like consistency sweets to accompany tea). She served them, of course, with the most flavourful Japanese green tea - it had no additives, yet had a peach or osmanthus-like character!

Noriko also gave us these miniature sour plum & shiso rice crackers, which are absolutely adorable...

Rosemary and two types of seaweed at Sunset Beach. There is a whole bush of rosemary there, and it is going to play a big role in a perfume I'm working on called Orcas, which I've been blogging about throughout this summer...

Just a bunch of (dead) crabs...

Zucchini flowers: my first time trying them this summer. One time I stuffed them with rice and baked them in olive oil. They turned out fantastically crisp and delicious.
Other time, I stuffed them with herbie soft cheese and sauteed them in olive oil, they did not hold their shape as well as with the rice, but were just as if not more yummy, and a very nice addition to a summer salad!

Angel's Trumpet: by night time, these trumpets are like a feast for your nose. All you need to do it place it in the trumpet and inhale the candy-like, heliotropin citrus and flowery perfume of this datura type of flower.
Hard to believe it belongs to the same family as tomato, pepper and eggplant!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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Friday, September 17, 2010

New Arrival: Hematite Poison Ring

First of all, the Labradorite ring I posted yesterday was already sold!

Fortunately, I have a few more interesting rings to share with you, and I'm sure that among my collection you'll find just the right one to store your favourite scents...

Today I want to talk about this special Hematite ring. I always was fascinated by hematite - what looks like both a metal and a stone... For the first time ever, I found a poison ring with that stone, and I'm excited to share it with you!

Hematite in nature looks very much like the rock in the above image. My stepfather found something similar in the Sinai desert and I always thought it was very neat: it looked like a sculpture and no one could tell if it's a rock or metal (it kind of is both...)!

Hematite is, in fact, a mineral - an iron oxide, to be exact. It occurs in reaction to water, and therefore, when it was discovered on Mars in 2001, this was a sign that there was (and perhaps still is) water on that planet.

The name for hematite is from aima, the Greek word for blood ((αἷμα), which is because sometimes hematite is red. Red hematite is what was originally used for lipstick or rouge.

So here is the Hematite ring for you!
Hematite was very popular in Victorian era, and this ring has a bit of both the Victorian and ethnic feel to it. It is brand new, and I think (by the looks and the design, with my relatively short acquaintance with styles of poison rings in the past 3 years of collecting them), it was most likely made in Indonesia.

I am excited to fill it up with a perfume of choice for the one person who buys it (I only have one of each of these rings - each one I consider to be a lucky find!)
I recommend a perfume that feel both cool and strong, especially - Vetiver Racinettes, Palas Atena or l'Herbe Rouge.

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Sweetspost's Sweet Life Features Ayala Moriel Parfums features Ayala Moriel Parfums today, in the article "Scents and Sensibility" by May Globus.
Two comments though: I was not born in Israel, I was "only" raised there...
And CocoaNymph will be making chocolate bars for me, starting November 2010.
To the best of my knowledge, I will still be rolling my truffles by hand, even after the fruits of this collaboration becomes available to the public.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Arrival: Labradorite Poison Ring

Two new arrivals that I just posted on my website today: a Labradorite poison ring and a Hematite poison ring.

These are rare appearances in the poison ring world. I've only found one labradorite poison ring before, and this is my very first hematite ever!

I was reading about these two gemstones today - as it turns out, they are both minerals.
Materials interest me, even if they are not related to perfumery, believe it or not!

Labradorite is Calcium sodium aluminum silicate.
This mineral is an iridescent sea-gray in colour, and can only be truly appreciated in person when particular angle of light touches it and brings it to life. Come to think of it: just like perfume comes to life on the skin. This particular labradorite cobochon is a bit larger than other that I've seen, and it's beauty is magnetic... It reminds me of swimming in the (usually sea-gray) Pacific ocean on a day when the water does not look particularly clear, and the sky is rather cloudy... In a moment of grace, the sun reappears from between the clouds, and her rays flicker on the surface of the choppy water, reflecting hints of gold, blue and sea-green. And to make things even better, I decided to take the liberty and fill this ring with l'Écume des Jours crème parfum, which has seaweed and a breath of waterflowers floating above the coastline.

More on Hematite tomorrow!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Small Wonders at Dream

Good things come in small packages... And although my perfumes have always been presented in rather compact packaging and bottles due to the preciousness of the raw materials used, one can always go even smaller!
Today I brought in my minuscule sample vials for sale at Dream and Little Dream, so that those who can't quite make up their mind if to pick up a sultry Film Noir, cheerful Tamya or just the random citrus splash of ArbitRary could take a small step towards making this world a better smelling place...

You can now purchase sample packages of the Dream Sampler Set, containing all 6 scents sold at Dream and Little Dream: Bon Zai, Ayalittam Tamya, ArbitRary, Film Noir and White Potion.

And to make matters even better - how about the Dream Coffret of 8 minis: all 6 Dream scents (Bon Zai, Ayalittam Tamya, ArbitRary, Film Noir and White Potion) plus special guests for the season: Bois d'Hiver and Fête d'Hiver!

And for those of you who have decided what they want, and purchase a full-sized bottle (i.e.: roll-on or miniature) at Dream - you will receive a sample of your choice from these 6 dreamy scents.*

Dream Apparel in Gastown
311 Cordova Street West (between Homer & Cambie)
Vancouver, BC V6B 1E5
(604) 683-7326

Little Dream Apparel Articles for People on Granville Island, in the Netloft building
130-1666 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2
(604) 683-6930

* This offer is valid only until Monday, September 20th, or while quantities last.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Citron

Etrog, originally uploaded by BecomingJewish.Org.

After a year of break from my Etrog project, I'm getting back to designing this perfume. It is probably going to be more of a cologne than a perfume though... And here lays the challenges - technical as well as creative:
1) Etrog (or citron - aka Citrus medica) essential oil is nowhere to be found to the best of my knowledge
2) Etrog fruit is just as rare. The Jews seem to be the only ones trading in it in North America, and the fruit starts at $40 each (you usually need to buy this with the whole set of "Arba'at ha Minim" - the 4 species of Sukkot.
3) Because of this rarity, it is neither easy to make tincture of the fruit, nor is it easy to remember how the scent smells like and stay true to the inspiration!
4) Last but not least - what I'm trying to create is more of an Eau de Cologne scent rather than a full blown perfume. This is the only way I have a chance of letting this delicate note truly shine, rather than being a mere top note!

I'm back to the lab and the drawing board this morning with my Etrog perfume. My 1st two mods of last year utilized a Yemenite Etrog tincture my mother made for me from organically grown fruit from the village. That year I also created my own Etrog tincture from the over-priced fruit here, possible only thanks to the courtesy of Rabbi Binyomin Bitton of Chabad Downtown, who donated to this project the 3 etrogim that he and his sons used throughout the holiday, and that received all the thorough blessings possible. I added to that my own personal etrog (less blessed, admittedly). And I tinctured this with my 1st year's students last fall, after Sukkot was over.

I created 2 mods last year, and kept them relatively simple. I used the abovementioned etrog tincture from the village, pomello tincture from an unusually fragrant and unwaxed pomelo that I completely luckily stumbled upon one day in a Chinese grocery store... A little bit of Japanese mint and rosemary verbenone, Japanese citron (yuzu), and a few fixatives: just benzoin in one, and benzoin and hinoki in the other.

I was much less than impressed with either of these, but had to let my frustration rest for a while before getting back to it. This morning seemed to be a good time to continue... Even though I feel I will need to double the concentration of the etrog tincture with more etrogim from this Sukkot in order to get the right result!

Etrog has a very fine aroma, not so much like citrus - more so like flowers and pineapple. It's hard to capture that, but funnily enough, my pomelo tincture seems more true to it than the actual etrog tincture... It has to have a fine balance between sweetness and dryness. It's a very, very elegant note and not at all like any other citrus (except for pomelo, perhaps).

So this morning, I've blended the same tinctures and yuzu, but also added some blood orange, green lemon and organic lemon, and the same herbs as before. I also fleshed this out with some florals - neroli and orange blossom absolute, petitgrain bigarade and lemon petitgrain. I fixed this with benzoin, frankincense, cypress, ambergris and olive resin tincture. I'm still feeling like a lot is missing and I'm quite sure I know what I want to add: green myrtle oil (which I thought I had but I don't!) and also citron petiitgrain, which I'm out of as well and love (it's a very rare oil to find, but not as rare as citron fruit peel, which I've never came across, ever!). And as I said, a stronger citron tincture, by adding more peels to last year's tincture. This is going to be at least a 3 years project, which can be on one hand really intimidating, but on the other hand - I think this is the beauty of the art of perfume: timing is everything, and the perfume has to ripen not only in the vat, but also in the perfumer's soul.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Olfactory Brief vs. Marketing Brief

There's a huge different between the two... Unfortunately, the latter has far greater influence on today's perfume industry.

Olfactory brief actually refers to the true olfactory vision. It's similar to giving a filmmaker a story, and asking him to make a film based on that. There are many steps involved in the process, and the result will be a very personal interpretation of the perfume, that reflect the story but also the filmmaker's style, vision and aesthetics (just as an example: compare the Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to the original film from 1971). Same story, but completely different experience, mood, visuals, etc. Likewise, if the same olfactory brief (for example: a perfume inspired by the moonlight) will be given to two different perfumers - the result will be significantly different. One perfumer may choose to create a very bright, white floral perfume, associating the moon with night blooming flowers such as jasmine, tuberose, etc. While the other perfumer may associate the moon with darker lore and myths related to werewolves and such, and create something that smells entirely different (I can't even decide yet what that would be!). An olfactory or creative brief can be very minimal (as the one I presented earlier - the moonlight is a very broad brief) or very elaborate and specific (i.e.: glittering light of a full moon falling on the silvery dry summer grass blowing in the wind of the savannah; or: shadowing clouds pass over the full moon as the lonely wolves are howling from the top of the cliff over the dark thick forest).

Marketing briefs, however, relate primarily to how the perfume is going to be presented to the public in order to sell it to a target audience. The marketing brief addresses rather dry topics such as the target audience (age group, buying power, gender, ethnicity, country or region, etc.), and also less dry but nevertheless very practical points such as packaging size, shape and colour, bottle design, and which face of a certain influential celebrity or a model will be endorsing the perfume and convincing as many crowds as possible to buy it.

While the marketing brief is important to an extent (if any company or independent perfumer wants to survive this competitive environment and continue to produce perfumes, they must have something that brings in enough cash to create anything at all - artsy or not). The reason why the life is being sucked out of the art of perfumery, and so many perfumes smell the same, is because they start from marketing briefs, and not from creative or olfactory briefs. And most marketing briefs look like either one of the following:
"X perfume will accommodate as many section of the population as possible"
"Y perfume will appeal to the teens and tweens with nothing better to do with their lives but to smell like a fruit punch with some amber and flowers thrown in to create the illusion of sophistication and luxce"
"Z perfume is sexy, but fresh; unobtrusive, but easily noticeable; modern and not too flowery, trendy and fun, and will be sold for only $32.99 at your local drugstore so that every other guy and his niece will be able to afford it for themselves or as a gift".

And than we're surprised that most of new perfumes are packed with fake fruit notes & vague florals, underlined with imitation amber, synthetic musk and pretend-woods?!
(Oops, I think I just came up with another marketing brief...!).
I think you get my point...

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Milk & Honey

what is kheer, you ask?, originally uploaded by jamiers!.

Another special treats for Rosh HaShanah (and year around) is my newly found body lotion love: Juliet's Room Milk & Honey series of hand & body lotions. They come in various scents, but I fell instantly in love with the Vanilla Cardamom...

Besides the light texture, the scent is so yummy you feel like you are smearing yourself with a cardamom-scented milk custard, or even better - sipping a steamed milk chai with vanilla and cardamom... It's sooo delicious!

Other "flavours" include Vanilla-Lavender, Vanilla-Caramel, and my daughter's obvious favourite: Coconut-Pineapple!

And if the scent alone was not enough to entice you, you can rest assured that the ingredients are the best as well, and they are listed fully on the website for every single product. They use no synthetic fragrance and no parabens, and apart from the emulsifying wax (which I believe is synthetic) the ingredients are all natural, and 88% of the product is actually organic. For this particular treat, they are:
Organic Aloe Juice, Milk, Rose Distillate, Organic Coconut Oil, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Emulsifying Wax NF, Palm Stearic Acid, Witch Hazel, Vitamin E, Grapeseed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Organic Honey, Pure Essential Oils, Xanthan Gum, Mannan, Organic Black Willowbark Extract, Neem Oil, Rosemary Oleoresin, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid

I love so many of the products I tried from this newly found local skin care line, and I will be posting more reviews of the other products here soon.

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Miel de Bois

Taste of honey, originally uploaded by Rebeca Mello.

To greet the Jewish New Year, I've worn some honeyed perfumes these past couple of days, including the most dreaded, controversial Miel de Bois from the dense atelier of Monsieurs Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake.

Miel de Bois gets more often negative attention than positive, so I've decided to finally give this jus a try on New Year's Eve, following the tradition of dipping the first days of the year in honey...

The carded sample says:


Honey becomes the trickling sap of dreams, graecfeully melding with a very dry, woody accord. Delicate, subtle and true."

What I got from it was an over-intensified honey candy fragrance, the kind you can also experience with honey-scented soap.

It is not so much honey as it is the cliche of honey. A scent I actually like a lot: it reminds me of rather early childhood memories, when I was about four. My family just moved to the village and there was no kindergarten. Our parents got a relief from caring for their preschoolers and build their houses in time for the fall, in the form of a soldier-teacher: an 18 or 19 year old girl whose name was Gilda, and who in order to appease us and prevent us from getting lost in the bush she gave us honey candies (there was no actual building for this "preschool" she had to run - maybe just a tent but I can't even remember that).
So this perfume does not really raise any profound memories otherwise, except that it reminds me of all honey candies and honey soap bars I encountered thereoff - which will forever remind me of Gilda (whom I don't even remember really without the honey candies attached to her image).

And in attempt to be a little more descriptive rather than reminisce about roaming in the thorny bushes of our village with a soldier-teacher bribing us with candy --
I would say Miel de Bois smells like an artificial honey fragrance. Wherever this "dry wood" is, I can't find it. If anything, it reminds me of a very concentrated artificial honey fragrance oil I got at a Bella Pella - an underground soapmaking shop in Mont Royal (Montreal) many years ago when I began my fragrance craze and was purchasing anything that smelled like something... Their scents are very fun when diluted in a soap base (they had an amazing Gianduja soap that made you just want to eat yourself in the bathtub) but way too strong on their own.
Unfortunately, Miel de Bois smells like it was never diluted in anything. So I am beginning to understand the controversy. It doesn't even have the depth and the density that other Serge Lutens perfumes have - that sweetness that sucks you in and makes you addicted whether if you like the scent or not. Instead, it is sharp, persistent and very artificial smelling. The sharpness is a little floral, but not any particular flower. It has more depth on a scent strip than on the skin, which is peculiar. But it certainly improves with time when worn on the skin - if you can get distracted beyond the "honey candy!" effect, which is ever so potent. I can smell some real honey absolute if I put my mind to it - which is a little more waxy than the fake honey smell. And than there is some baby-powder scent, which is hardly an improvement. And if you pay even more attention you may notice something that resembles wood - Atlas cedarwood, to be more exact, as in Feminite de Bois, which is the only point when one could consider this "smooth". But the fact that it is so difficult to make out anything else but honey is the problem with this perfume and what stands in the way of turning the amusement into real enjoyment.

Tomorrow I'm hoping to find some kind of an apple perfume to balance this review. Hopefully something that is as tart as a Granny Smith!

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Shana Tova U Metukah!

Red Delicious Apples, originally uploaded by Ronaldo F Cabuhat.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!
It is Jewish New Year's Eve tonight and we all wish each other a good and sweet year (in Hebrew, of course) as we dip slices of apples into honey.

Apple symbolizes wholeness, and by eating it we bless out year to be a full and complete one. Dipping it in honey to make it a sweet year, rather than a year of sorrow.

I found this picture while looking through Flickr for inspirational imagery of Autumn to make me excited about the upcoming season. Summer is dying away, and it was too short, unfortunately. If you are fed up with me talking about it, I will tell you this much: I'm not usually a summer person, usually preferring cooler and milder weather AND I always greet the new season with much enthusiasm.

This feeling of not being ready for the season (mentally, that is) is very strange to me. I'm looking for things to be excited about and all I can think is the opposite - no more swimming in the ocean and picnics at the beach for dinner; goodbye to my favourite sun dresses, bikinis and shorts (well, not without tights for the latter, that is!); no more blogging on the balcony with the incense burning every morning and no more sitting there with friends till the wee hours of the night chatting and sipping tea with more incense wafting around the star jasmine flowers... And did I mention the beach yet?! This is a really sore point for me, who finally got brave enough to swim in the Pacific Ocean on a regular basis only last year.

I'm going to miss those things a lot. And unless I get myself excited soon about all things Autumnal I will be miserable. So how about a list of favourite fall things to make me excited about it, rather than threatened?

I sure am going to enjoy baking more - warm spicy apple cakes, pumpkin pies... Tomorrow I will be baking honey cakes for Rosh HaShanah with my grandmother's tried-and-true recipe. I'm probably going to bake it in muffin tins to form many little cupcakes to give to neighbours and friends, and make my holiday here feel less lonely (most of my family is still in Israel...).

I'm excited (and a little bit dreading) how full of events and markets this pre-holiday season is going to be. I'm really thrilled about getting back to my usual work schedule, but I also know that if I don't plan everything carefully, I'll be run down by mid-November... So I gotta make sure I have lots of help this season, and this means someone to entertain my daughter when my schedule becomes too hectic, and also I really do need to get someone to help me maintain this place. I find that I spend about 30% of my week just cleaning and organizing, and frankly, as therapeutic as it may be to do the dishes, fold the laundry, etc. I really need professional help (aka housekeeper) here to keep the place spotless with all the guests and events and parties I'm hosting here; and to keep it peaceful and organized so I can seek refuge here when I'm back from a long weekend at the holiday markets. So I'm finally learning my lesson of delegating, I guess...

And speaking of events: I will be hosting 3 tea parties in October alone (two of them are private parties - a birthday and baby showers). Probably another one in November, and maybe even another one in December. And that's on top of all of the plenty of fall holidays - Rosh HaShanah, Sukkot, Thanksgiving, Halloween, leading up to the winter festivities... Gotta play it right to be able to enjoy it a little too...

I'm also looking forward to my friend Jolanta's burnt-orange leather bag which is the colour I've been dreaming about ever since I've seen one in Paris and my bf at the time talked me out of buying (I had to make do with some nondescript neutral colour). Hey, it will even go well with my summer necklace that my friend Noriko made for me!

I'm looking forward to going to Southlands and ride horses with my daughter. The smell of cedar chips, horse manure, leather tacks and burnt horse hooves is something I have come to associate with fall...

And I love fall perfumes - that's the time of the year I bring out the Chypres and leathery scents and enjoy that cozy and fuzzy feeling inside you get when you get a whiff of a fireplace or a bonfire at Autumn... Will I find a new scent to fall in love with this fall? I wonder...

And friend will still come over for tea - only that we will sit by the fireplace in the living room, sometimes stretching on the rug in between sips and spilling out our secrets. And swimming in the icy ocean will be replaced by jogging on the sand along the waterline or on the seawall in Coal Harbour, noting the aquaplanes taking off. And slack-off beach-side Pilates will be replaced with very disciplined sessions at the Noam's studio.

So you see, I am trying to get excited about it, thanks to fashion and perfume and my awesome and creative friends who will motivate me to always have homemade shortbread on hands. Maybe a few more icy dips in the ocean will convince me after all that wearing tights and cardigans is fun, and that less is more when it comes to sunshine (i.e.: more work done?). Maybe...

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Farewell to Summer Newsletter + Oppose SCA Call for Action

For those of you not on my mailing list, you can read my newsletter that was sent out today here, or just scroll below for the SmellyBlog edition...

News from the Nose

Farewell to Summer...

Dear Fragrant Friends,

Blessings for the upcoming Jewish New Year! May the coming year be a good year of health, love and peace and may it be filled with sweet scents :-)

Hope you all had a wonderful summer! Here at the studio things have been in high gear for the entire summer (except for my daily evening swim in the Pacific ocean) – which is why I haven’t sent any newsletters in a while… There are lots of things I want to tell you about that kept me so busy the past 3 months!

But there is one most pressing matter, which I urge you to pay attention to the most in this newsletter. If you have only time to read one item, please make sure it’s the 1st one on the list: The threat that the SCA (Safe Cosmetics Act) will pass in the USA. This will mean the end of everything for my suppliers (which are mostly in the USA), and as a result the end of my business and many similar small-businesses, not to mention all the growers and distillers that produce the wonderul natural raw materials we love so much!!!

So, if you live in the USA or are a USA citizen, please do all that is in your power to stop this bill from passing. Read on for suggestions about how you can change the future and ensure that we can all continue enjoying natural cosmetics, body products and perfume.

In this newsletter:

  1. Oppose SCA!

  2. What I Did This Summer

  3. New: Sugar Scrubs

  4. New: Anointing Body Oils

  5. Dream Apparel - New Retail Locations in Gastown & Granville Island

  6. The Velvet Room Boutique in Kerrisdale

  7. Gentille Alouette: New Boutique & Private Label Perfume

  8. Upcoming Markets & Trade Shows

  9. Harvest Festival Tea Party October 17th

  10. Study Perfumery: Intensive Week September 20-24

1. Oppose SCA!

The chances that you in the USA and as a result in all North America will be able to use any natural products, essential oils and natural perfumes included, is in danger. Not to mention the livelihood of many small businesses, due to the "Campaign for Safe Cosmetics" for passing the "Safe Cosmetics Act" (SCA for short).The main problem with this act is that it proposes that all compoments of all ingnredients in cosmetic products will be listed on the label. Considering that most natural products are very complex and contain many, many molecules (for example: rose essential oil contains over 200 identified molecules and still has many trace elements that are yet to be discovered), this will make labeling of natural cosmetics (perfume included) non-realistic. There will simply be no room to put all the ingredients on the label... So what this law will really do is ensure that mostly if not only synthetic mateirals (which are "purely" just one or two molecules) will be used in your skin care and body products!

This will make it very difficult for the growers and distillers of natural raw materials for perfumes and cosmetics to survive, not to mention eliminate the small businesses who will not be able to catch up with such regulations, labeling wise and sourcsing wise. This is similar (but even worse!!!) than the nightmare that has been going on in Europe for the past decade with IFRA regulations and RIFM (the EU regulatory body). It is not too late to stop this from happening! And if we don't, than the entire world will be smelling like calone and artifical fruits, and all we could wear on our skin will be silicone...

Renown aromatherapist Robert Tisserand, who is an expert on the issue of safety of essential oils and understand the threat of this act better than I do, wrote an excellent article which will shed more light on the matter. Here's an exerpt:

"The thinking behind the wording of SCA 2010 is naive because there is an
assumption that substances are either “safe” or “toxic”, and that if we
simply eliminate the toxic ones from personal care products, the world
will be a better place. It may seem like an excellent idea, but once
you start talking about parts per million or lower, it is unnecessary
and unrealistic. Not even foods are regulated to that degree, and our
exposure to foods is far greater than our exposure to cosmetics".

Read the rest of Robert Tisserand's article, and if you live in the USA, please please please act on it and Sign the Oppose SCA Petition, write Congress, write Your Senator, vote "Oppose" on Open Congress, and see your representatives & senators in person during Summer Recess August 9 - September 12. If you are on Twitter, please follow the #OpposeSCA hashtag.
to oppose this bill, which is draconian and ridiculous and will only
ensure that we will all be only using synthetics that are manufactured
by large corporations and are supposedly safe, rather than plants and
oils that were used for thousands of years. It will do nothing for
improving safety in cosmetics.

Other relevant links:

Oppose SCA

Indie Business Blog

Essential U

Personal Care Truth

2.What I Did This Summer

We’ve been blessed with a nice sunny weather (most of the time), and although I did not go away on any special holidays, and worked really hard all day – I made sure I go to the beach every evening for a nice swim. There were lots of adventures awaiting me in the water of English Bay and Sunset Beach – the highlights of which were an encounters with seals (at one time I was swimming right next to one!) and getting giant scratches from an underwater rock when trying to swim from Sunset Beach to English Bay.

Aside from that, the summer went by uneventful and I was mostly buried in my den, with the skylight closed to protect my precious oils from the British Columbian Sun, and was concocting my new line of body products (which I will tell you about shortly). I also hosted a Midsummer Tea Party on August 8th, in which I revealed my body product line for the first time.

Also, thanks to the untiring work of my cheerful publicist I’ve been getting a lot of press, including a wonderful interview for the Georgia Straight, which got me exactly the local exposure that I needed, and resulted in a studio full of guests and more journalists the entire summer – all keen to try my perfumes and tell their friends about what I do. And as if this wasn’t wonderful already – I also got invited to sell my perfumes in 4 beautiful boutiques in Vancouver! I’m so thrilled to get all this love back after 12 years of living here and over 9 years of running my little perfumery. The hard work pays off!

3. New: Sugar Scrubs!

When my studio was not full of guests, I was able to finally spend some time concocting my dream body products: simple, purely natural, nourishing, and of course – scented with inspiring perfumes from my line.

I was also very fortunate to get some help and feedback with the development of the line from my intern from Switzerland: Olivier Biedermann is a cosmetic chemist who now studies for his masters at ISIPCA in Versailles and has a wealth of experience with working with natural raw materials for cosmetics.

You are all familiar with the bath salts. They now also will be available in larger sizes. The new batches will also be improved in a few other ways – by using special salts, including an ancient Canadian sea salt – these are natural sea minerals mined from 3000 feet beneath the great plains in Saskatchewan and will be used in the Spruce bath salts, and also the new Vetiver bath salts, which I have finally blended yesterday and will be soaking in my tub this evening for a relaxing bath…

But the real news belongs to two new types of products that I’m particularly proud of:
Sugar Scrubs and Anointing Body Oils.

Sugar Scrubs are a simple, effective and all natural way to improve the health and the appearance of your skin: the sugar granules scrub away dead skin cells, leaving the skin naturally glowing and the living cells happier because they can breathe better. I created two formulas, in two different fragrances. Both also have the benefits of moisturizing and nourishing the skin because the sugar is carried in a base of vegetable glycerin and very nourishing natural oils such as shea and virgin coconut oil.

Guilt Sugar Scrubs have ground cacao beans for more exfoliation, and more importantly – their delicious scent! And than there is orange blossom, sweet orange peel and juice essences to make it even more addictive.

Finjan Sugar Scrubs have ground espresso beans and cardamom pods, and also have floral notes from rose geranium and jasmine, and a sparkling citrus burst of grapefruit. The grapefruit as well as the caffeine help to smooth and even out cellulite, so there is that extra bonus to using this scrub, besides making your whole bathing experience smell delicious!

4.New:Anointing Body Oils

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

The anointing body oils were inspired by the ancient customs in the Middle East of anointing the body with fragrant oils for both religious rituals and for seduction. These original, hand-blended formulas will leave your skin smoothly nourished and adorned with a beautiful perfume. Apply as a moisturizer after bathing to clean and damp skin, or use as a massage oil. A few drops can also be added to a bath for scent and to nourish the skin.

The base oil for these anointing oils is slightly different from scent to scent, but they all contain Fractionated Coconut Oil for a non-greasy fast absorbing application. They also have nourishing Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil or Shea Oil, anti-oxidant Tea Seed Oil, and skin-cell-regenerating Squalane Oil (olive derived) and Vitamin E. The scents for the formulae were chosen for the skin-benefits that some of the essential oils in the original perfume contains.

I’ve created 4 scents and formulations:

Song of Songs Anointing Body Oils with Saffron & Rose, which contains avocado, tea seed and squalane oils.

Megumi Anointing Body Oil with Vetiver & Jasmine, which contains Rice Bran Oil

White Potion Sensual Body Oil with Tuberose, Coconut & Sandalwood, which contains coconut oil and emollient & viscose shea oil.

Tamya Tropical Body Oil with Ylang Ylang & Yuzu, which contains coconut oil and shea oil, and is the lightest – in fact I like spraying it on like a dry oil!

5. Dream Apparel - New Retail Locations in Gastown & Granville Island

Ayala Moriel Parfums are now in two new retail locations at Dream in Vancouver.

Dream Apparel in Gastown
311 Cordova Street West (between Homer & Cambie)
Vancouver, BC V6B 1E5
(604) 683-7326

This location carries Bon Zai, Ayalitta and Tamya.

Little Dream Apparel Articles for People on Granville Island, in the Netloft building
130-1666 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC V6H 3S2
(604) 683-6930

This location carries ArbitRary, Film Noir and White Potion.

Dream showcases local designers of fashion, accessories and jewelry (by the way - the lovely white leather bag in the window is made by my dear and talented friend JolaV). I'm really excited about this new collaboration and having my fragrances in the same space as so many favourite designers whose lovely wares accompanies me on a daily basis. Thank you, Dream, for the first to be realizing my retail dreams in Vancouver, at last!!!

6. The Velvet Room: Boutique in Kerrisdale

I'm excited and proud to announce that Ayala Moriel Parfums are now sold at The Velvet Room.

2248 West 41st Ave Vancouver (Kerrisdale) 604-264-8664
Mon-Sat 10:30 am-5:30 pm and Sunday 12-4pm

The boutique carries Bon Zai, Roses et Chocolat and Tamya.

The Velvet Room exclusively showcases Canadian designers. All products are designed AND manufactured in Canada!

I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am to have my perfumes displayed at the same location as some of my local fashion herose whose designs I adore and wear all the time.

7.Gentille Alouette: Boutique + Private Label Perfume

Get a whiff of Ayala Moriel Parfums at the adorable Gentille Alouette

boutique (227 Carrall street @ Cordova in Gastown, Vancouver). The
perfumes offered at Gentille Alouette are Rainforest, Song of Songs and Zohar.

The boutique, with an intimate setting reminiscent of your grandmother's
closet, carries indie designers, wearable art and unique jewelry pieces,
and is owned and operated by fashion designer and die-hard perfumista
Eliza Lau.

Eliza's life-long dream has been to create her own
custom scent, and she has picked me of all perfumers to help her realize
this fantasy. Every Thursday I will be at her shop until we complete the process
of hand-picking the most gorgeous essences to scent the feather of this
gentle sparrow...

8. Upcoming Markets & Trade Shows

My summer hiatus from markets and shows has come to an end, and I’m excited to come back to my first Portobello West Art +

Fashion Market this season on Sunday, September 26th, 12-6pm at the Rocky Mountaineer Station as usual!

For those of you who missed my Midsummer Tea Party, this will be your first opportunity to try my new body products I mentioned before. And of course, I will be also rolling some special truffles after a long break from these addictive melt-in-your-mouth treats…

Portobello West Art + Fashion Market happens once a month year-around. The market is open 12-6pm on the last Sunday of every month, at the Rocky Mountaineer Station (1755 Cottrell Street @ Terminal Avenue), Vancouver, BC. Mark your calendar for the following

I am also very proud to announce our participation in the One Of A Kind Show and Sale
at the new convention centre, December 9-12, 2010.

Additional markets, private shopping events and tea parties/soirees throughout Fall/Winter 2010 TBA.

9. Harvest Festival Tea Party October 17th

Mark your calendars: October 17th is my next tea party, and the theme this time is celebrating the harvest season with the abundance of locally grown fresh and fragrant food!

This time, I will be hosting Pedro Villalon of Dao Tea, and together we will be doing a presentation about how scents and aromas in tea and perfume evoke memories and emotions.

Complete menu and program for the afternoon will be emailed in my next newsletter, as well as on my event page on Facebook, but for now you can drool over the Midsummer Tea Party menu I hosted August 8th to get an idea of what the raves are all about...

Spaces are limited to 25 people only for this event, and RSVP's are on a first-come first-serve basis.


Tea Tasting with Dao Tea’s Freshly Harvested Teas

Immortelle l’Amour

Homemade Chai

Earl Gray Cream

Cranberry & Hibiscus Iced Tisane

Tier 1: Savoury Appetizers & Canapés

Roasted Beets ****

Mushroom Mini Quiches

Tortilla Cones w/ Guacamole & Black Beans ****

Tier 2: Tea Sandwiches:

Brie & Pear Tea Sandwiches

Carrot & Ginger Tea Sandwiches

Fennel & Tarragon Tea Sandwiches

Tier 3: Scones

Concord Grape + Blue Cheese Scones, served w/ Devonshire Cream & Chardonnay Wine Jelly

Cornbread, served w/ Whipped Butter & honey

Tier 4: Desserts

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Hazelnut Brownies **

Seed Cake Madeleines

Torta di Mele Ampezzana (Apple Cake from Cortina d’Ampezzo)

Tier 5: Truffles & Petitfours

Chai Truffles**

Earl Gray Truffles**

Marzipan & Apricot Pettitfours ****

* Dairy Free (contains eggs)

** Gluten Free

*** Dairy & Gluten Free

**** Vegan & Gluten Free

IMPORTANT: To complete and confirm your RSVP you must buy your tea party tickets ($10 each) on this page.

It will charge you $2 online plus $8 at the checkout for "shipping". You will be reimbursed for the $10 if you

make a purchase at the studio for $10 or more.

10. Study Perfumery: Intensive Week September 20-24

There is still one space left in our intensive week of perfumer studying, September 20-25th. This weeklong course is open to all levels, and will cover the topic of the Oriental fragrance family. More details about the course can be found online.

11. Don't Forget to Oppose SCA!

If you have read so far, you may have forgotten all the important talk at the beginning about opposing the SCA (Safe Cosmetics Act) in the USA, which will pretty much guarnatee I won't be making any perfumes for you ever again. If you want to be able to choose which cosmetics you can use, and have access to natural botanical ingreidents such as essential oils and pure nourishing plant-based oils and extracts, please do at least one of the following 7 simple actions:

1) Educate yourself - Read the rest of 2) If you live in the USA, please please please act on it and

2) Sign the Oppose SCA Petition

3) write Congress

4) write Your Senator

5) vote "Oppose" on Open Congress

6) See your representatives & senators in person during Summer Recess August 9 - September 12.

7) If you are on Twitter, please follow the #OpposeSCA hashtag

to oppose this bill

9) Educate yourself, by reading the following relevant links:

Oppose SCA

Indie Business Blog

Essential U

Personal Care Truth

Robert Tisserand's article

Thank you so much for your support!

Warm regards,


Monday, September 06, 2010

Sun, where art thou?

Building has sundeck., originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

This signage looks just as ridiculous now as it has in early July, when it was still cloudy and rainy in Vancouver...
August was barely over, and it already started raining again. My beach days are far and few in between cold wet days, and today was the last day of work for Vancouver's lifeguards... I'm going to miss them almost as much as I will miss the swimming itself - because we both share this strange passion for the beach and the ocean.

Saturday was my last day of swimming, and I was clever enough to bring them all samples of some manly scents to sniff, and most importantly - my 5th mod of Orcas. I'm not the kind of gal that pushes her business everywhere she goes. But when it comes up, it does. We were started to bid our farewells on Friday, and strangely, the question of what I do when I don't swim laps between the shore and the red floaty markers only came up when summer was just about to be gone... The lifeguards seemed to be quite fascinated by my strange profession, and one of them seemed to be unusually interested in fragrance actually. He was even telling me how much he likes the scent of rosemary, and pulled a few needles off the bush behind him, telling me he even likes to make tea out of it.

So it was inevitable that I would tell him about Orcas - a seaweed and rosemary scent that was greatly inspired by my immersion in the Pacific Ocean at Sunset Beach. And I just had to bring my vat of the Orcas test batch the next day. I wasn't planning on giving them samples to take home because I don't usually do that with test batches unless the mod is for sure complete and I have no intentions of adding anything else... The rosemary-loving lifeguards was so smitten with it, he liked it even more than ArbitRary and l'Herbe Rouge (the samples I brought them to take home to impress their wives...). He also noticed that it has a way of intensifying with time - it's as if the scent grows on the skin! This is, I believe, due to the presence of ambergris, which creates that kind of alchemy with the way the notes are playing - first bursting in freshness, than pretending to disappear, only to emerge with a big blow like the whale!

I felt compelled to bring them samples the following day, but it was windy yesterday and not that this would stop me from swimming - but I had to go to the Night Market (it's a summer must and I haven't been there yet this year!) with my friends that evening, and the day just slipped away without me ever making it to Sunset Beach.

And than came today: the lifeguards last day. And I didn't make it there. I admire the Triathletes that swam 5 kilometers in the rainy ocean today. I guess it is just not meant to be... So I'm saving all the Orcas V jus for myself and I will see them next summer!

I still believe I have work to do with this Orcas cologne. It won't be until I actually get a hold of some fair amount of seaweed absolute that I can continue my work. And I'm still waiting to hear back from the suppliers, who's definitely taking their time...!

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Winners Announcement of 2 Contests!

Hermes Scent Guessing Contest:
The scent my brother picked was Vetiver Tonka!
Although no one guessed the scent correctly, Isa is the winner of the Jo Malone Grapferuit Cologne mini on this contest. Please contact me with your mailing addy for details. You will also get a bonus prize of 2 Hermessence samples :-)

Hybrid Mom Contest:
The winner of the Hybrid Mom contest is Margihealing.
Congratulations! You get to pick which scent from my collection you'd like for your mini-bottle prize.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Fashion, Clutter, Trends, Seasonality...

If you're puzzled by the title of this post, I'm not surprised. There seems to be little connection between these three words. How this came up in my mind is by observing how other designer friends of mine work and how easily they can move from one collection to the next as the seasons change. They can abandon completely a certain style (or a whole bunch of styles) from last year or even last season, and just move on... Snap!
Like that.

Of course, you can see some connection between styles, or gradual development of a certain pattern from season to season. But with all due respect, these folks (i.e.: fashion designers of all sorts - clothing, bags, accessories, bikinis, jewelry...) can just do something else every season and get away with that.

And I envy them for that!
Yes, I do.
Because perfume used to be the one thing that people don't change with fashion. It used to be the person's "second skin" which they identify with, and maintain regardless if their outfit is gray, blue or green; or if they're wearing a flapper dress or a jumpsuit. It used to be unrelated to fashion altogether until Coco Chanel introduced her No. 5 parfum. And even than, perfume was complementary to the fashion, rather than part of fashion trends.

Nowadays, however, there are "trends" in fragrance that change every 1-3 years or so. Some three years ago or so orris was all the rage, and orris butter disappeared from the market faster than you could utter its name. Than it was agarwood, which became a staple for any self-respected niche house. And now it may be tuberose or lily - at this point I just don't even care!

The longer I am in this business of making scents, the less sense it makes to me and the more inclined I am to just do my own thing and disregard what's going on out there. At this point I just find it overwhelming and a little discouraging that there are indeed trends. I know this is just a mood of mine and that too shall pass. However, right now, I feel no inclination to follow a trend or even launch any new perfume this year. Next year, maybe. If the timing seems right. I have about 5 perfumes that are pretty much ready to go as far as formulation, name, concept... I just don't want to launch them right now in this atmosphere where you must have at least one new perfume every season if you want the media - magazines and blogs mostly - to pay attention to you.

My publicist sent out press releases introducing my brand (which was pretty much undercover for its first 5 years of existence, and had nearly purely online publicity for the past 4 years, lead 100% by yours truly, who was doing all the footwork of being involved in perfume communities and offering my expertise and engaging in passionate discussions about anything perfume related - from raw materials to vintage perfumes, to taking photographs of my own bottles to contribute to community forums). Yet, now that finally hardcopy magazines are getting to known about my brand, it's not enough for them that what I do is unique and unusual and that they've never heard about me or smelled my fragrances before - all they want to know is what new perfumes I'm going to launch.

I apologize in advance for ranting and venting - but I'm getting a little fed up... My profession walks a very fine line between the sacred and the profane (perfume has spiritual and religious significance to most people; yet the first topic of conversation with a layperson about perfume will ultimately lead to pheromones within the first 20 seconds of conversation); expertise and quackery (no one REALLY can predict how any combination of notes would smell like together, not to mention on any particular skin!); and the thing that I'm most concerned with no: the fine line between it being a commodity, a fashion accessory or an art form.

Are my perfumes verses of poetry that are only uttered once they touch the skin? Or are they an adorement for the body, just like makeup or jewelry? Or, perhaps, they are nothing but a fashion accessory to make a statement about one's style and social status, selected carefully yet randomly to match your outfit, leather bag and a pair of stilettos?

So what is it really? Do I need to roll in a new perfume every season, like a fashion house, and dispose of all the oldies - in order to be noticed and survive in this competitive market? Or do I just go about my business in whatever pace I feel like for introducing my new creations? The latter seems like the way to go - following my own heart and my path. Having the freedom to choose when and where is the right timing for something to come out...

Yes, it would have been nice to launch a new fragrance this winter; and I had one planned out but an element is missing there that is out of my control so that means that the timing is not right (it was going to be launched along with a complementary tea, but that tea is not nearly ready!). My focus this year was going to be on the complementary products, such as the body products, and also the new chocolate bars - as a way to expand the experience in which fragrance can be enjoyed and incorporated into modern lifestyles to enhance, enrich and bring moments of sensual pleasure that descend above mere hygene or skin care. To me, having those little rituals on a daily basis is part of the "art of living". It is part of how I feel I can make a difference and make the world just a little better for my friends, family and clients.

My philosophy in my own personal as well as business life is that of maintaining a balance. A day is not complete if I don't include certain elements that I made a priority in my life. If every day could be my last day on earth, than I'd rather spend it doing what I love and what I care about the most: spending time with my loved ones (family and friends), being creative and productive doing my art and work, taking care of my physical body so it's well nourished and active and feels part of this beautiful world, and also spend some time for reflection, relaxation and quite.

The latter seems to be the area most people around me find most challenging to pay attention to - and the experience I'm trying to create at my studio for my guests, as well as the actual products I develop - are designed to fill that gap. Come to my studio, and you will have to slow down your pace a bit because the colours here are both crisp and serene. Because when you come in you will step out of your shoes (both literally and metaphorically) and make some time to sip tea, savour truffles, and explore the different perfumes I created, or the natural raw materials, which are like keys to long forgotten chapters of our own history, and to unexplored realms of the depths of our souls.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Gentille Alouette in the Lab

I love my job!, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.
It’s been 2 weeks since I last told you anything about the development of the Gentille Alouette perfume. And this quote is pushing ahead of a the game a bit.. But this is the reaction I was hoping for when I was labouring at my lab and trying to bottle Eliza’s vision for what she would smell like.

By now you are all probably dying to read what essences did we actually pick together?
Well, I can’t tell you everything, can I?

What I will tell you is that this Gentille Alouette perfume was going to be a violet and orange blossom scent with a big retro wink and one foot set in the forests of the Sunshine Coast, where Eliza prefers to spend her free time. It had to be very girly and at the same time have enough adventurous outroodsiness to it to save it from going totally frou-frou. This is just not who Eliza is, and it’s not what Gentille Alouette’s frequent guests are either. These are girls who like to play dress up but also like to use their bicycles rather than get driven by a cab so they can show off their stilettos… The shop is like a little hidden closet you find all of a sudden, full of fashion finds of all sorts: vintage jewels and beaded clutches, hand-crafted gowns and accessories, recycled and reclaimed one-off pieces, and wardrobe staples from small brands that keep rotating – you’ll find something new to discover at the shop every week and unless we meet at my studio, I always end up playing dress-up by the end of every meeting with Eliza. The women who shop there are individualistic, kind spirited and seem to care about the environment as much as they care about their appearance.

But I digress… This post was not going to be about marketing schemes and dissecting the target market of my client and her future perfume. It’s going to be about the creative process that leads to a perfume. Perfume walks the tightrope between art, luxury, fashion and a commodity, so all those factor re just as valid: price range, target market and profitability (or at least breaking even…) are just as important factors as is the originality of the scent, the mood it will evoke once worn, the story behind each raw material, and the artistry that goes into blending all these elements together: perfume, personality, wearability.

I left Eliza’s shop some 2 weeks ago with no less than 20 essences that she loved, and that seem to work together beautifully. Nearly all of them are utterly precious: violet leaf, orange blossom, rose, boronia, tuberose… Each can be the centerpiece of a perfume and take the show. Yet I had to make them all shine together, rather than individually. Which was not easy. To top it off, Eliza also wanted fir absolute AND hinoki in this perfume. I decided to leave the hinoki to later, if necessary, and for now work with the fir only and create two version – one with, and one without.

Perfumer's Notebook, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

To help me not loose focus, I drew a little diagram that shows the dynamics between the different notes: how they relate to one another and how they play different roles in different accords. Eliza loves tea, and she picked some tea like notes: bergamot, which reminds her of Earl Gray tea. Lavender, which is calming and relaxing (she also saws those little tiny lavender cat brooches with buttoned eyes – they’re adorable and give whiffs of lavender whenever you squish them a bit, to give you a fix of relaxation when you’re out and about…).

Citrus notes blood orange and grapefruit will perform the role of bursting open the experience alluring you in from the get go.
And the flowers, of course, are the starts of the show, but they divide into two – the orange blossom accord and the violet accord (so you see, the rose is here only in a supporting role to the timid violet).
Surprising gourmand notes are what will give the perfume a quirky touch, a surprise: star anise and tarragon absolute, along with fresh ginger.
And than there is fir absolute – which is also a woodsy note, but very, very sweet and almost like a jam made of the entire forest and delivered to your door on Christmas Day… So it joins together the gourmand and the woods – the more meditative notes of sandalwood, frankincense and maybe, but only maybe, hinoki…

I spent 2 main sessions with Gentille Alouette in the lab. My first try (August 20th) was based strictly and almost analytically on the sessions we had with Eliza. I thought it to be a little timid, and I was very careful with the concentration – making it rather light. I used only very light hand with the boronia (pre-diluted at 30%) and violet (pre-diluted at 10%). And I made two versions that day: one with a tiny bit of fir, and one without.

I let it sit for a while, and than I thought – why not just get my imagination go wild a bit and compose Gentille Alouette perfume as I envisioned it when I first met Eliza at the studio, and she told me that her favourite scents are violet and orange blossom… She liked White Potion, Zohar and Violat and my little olfactory bulb was sending me signals of what these three, plus a hint of boronia, will smell like… I set off again, 5 days later, (August 24th) and blended that: a rich, dense version with higher concentrations of boronia absolute and violet leaf absolute, both at full strength. I added no fir whatsoever and stayed true to my vision.

I tweaked it just a bit this morning, before I met Eliza: I added another drop of Boronia absolute. I divided the batch into two, and added one drop of fir absolute to one bottle, which would make it the 4th mod of the Gentille Alouette scent. I think the fir was the element that was missing from giving it just that little extra smooth roundedness yet without using vanilla (Eliza clearly does not like this note an I was not going to convince her otherwise! There are enough vanilla-laden florals out there, and her perfume does not need it). I’m loving this perfume and I think I’ve nailed it on the head, but it’s going to be up to Eliza to decide what’s best for her. And also if we’re going to do a parfum extrait or an Eau de Parfum…

Stay tuned to hear about the following: what mod Eliza picked, and how we are going to tackle the next biggest problem: packaging.

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