Friday, July 29, 2011

Eucalyptus & Redwood, Continued


Continuing to work on my Eucalyptus & Redwood perfume today... I think there were a few points missing from my last post - one is the overall feel I want for it is very much like the America's "Horse With No Name" song (see clip below). The other is that moment in Willow Wood in Graton on a very hot day when I tried a strange herbal tea (I can't recall the name and could not find it on their menu online) they had on their menu - I cannot remember the name of the tea, but it certainly had conifer leaves in it, and for all I care it could have been redwood twigs. It tasted like steeped sage with dried twigs for starting fire... And with the temperatures being over 30c that day - it was definitely not a good choice for a tea... It only accentuated how hot and dry the day was. And it would have probably been much tastier with honey, on a rainy day or at least somewhat cooler...

In short, what I want the Eucalyptus & Redwood perfume* to smell like - I'd like to keep the entire perfume dry, woody, a little medicinal and uncompromisingly so. It will capture that overheated dryness, dustiness of trees and baked woods. I'm going to try and see what happens when I add Texas cedarwood and some Zdravetz to all the Australian notes I put together a few nights ago (Eucalyptus Dives, Buddha Wood, Australian Sandalwood and Blue Cypress).

* This is a working title only, by the way, which could very possibly remain with a working title and never be sold anywhere; for me creating perfumes is like writing a journal, and is the best way I can express myself.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Smells of Summer, or Something Like That... + GIVEAWAY

Linden & Rain by Ayala Moriel
Linden & Rain, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

It's been a lousy summer in Vancouver. There, I said it. Please don't hate me. July is almost over and we barely had a week and a half of descent weather. It's been rainy, cold, and even felt like October at times.

On the bright side, the linden blossoms are having an extra long blooming season. There are linden trees all around Vancouver, and usually they bloom in mid to late June. This year, they bloom from mid to late July, and probably will keep scenting the air well into August... Linden blossoms and rain... Mmm... And I'm now feeling inspired to work with the Linden Blossom CO2 that I got from Mandy Aftel when I visited her studio in Berkeley in late June. Wait - that was exactly a month from today!

So, no beach pictures to illustrate what should have been a cheerful "Best of Summer" type of article here on SmellyBlog. You'll just have to tough it out with this strange collage of linden blossom branch that I found on a wet newspaper stand last Saturday, as I was getting ready for my Orcas tea party. I brought the branch home to decorate the place, which turned out to be an innocent act of luring ants into my house... They simply love linden trees, and they love everything about my house. I should add "ant killer" (as well as "cacti killer") to my resume.

Even the rhubarb had a super short season (hardly even three weeks...!) so my new love of last summer is all forgotten, in hopes that it will return next year stronger and brighter, with its fabulous calone smell.

Today was the first day I actually sat in my porch and write while burning incense and drinking iced match latter that I fixed for myself instead of lunch. I've avoided my porch for months now, due to the horrific weather AND the roofers constantly scouring the area. There was one roofer peeking through my porch at one point, but I think I managed to scare him away, simply by taking him by surprise...

Thankfully, there were still lilacs (for a very short time) and the peonies this year were as pretty as ever. The roses, on the other hand, don't seem to be doing too well this year... All of these are smells that I've learned to associate with summer in Vancouver. But, alas, as previous summer's memories are replaced by a new summer, for better or for worse - here's how my summer smells like:

Basil, Nectarines & Blueberries - better together, in a green salad.

Wild Salmon, which I've finally succumbed to eating after 13 years of lack-of-sun, abundance-of-rain. I was born and raised vegetarian, but now I eat local fish. And there's nothing better than BC's salmon (the smoked one is to die for).

Pinot Noir and other strange red wines I stumble upon when in Sonoma county. Like the fish, this is new to me, because the only wine I could somewhat enjoy till recently was white.

Sweet Peas, with whom I fell in love all over again after spotting a bouquet in a little antique shop in Graton.

Sugar Peas, which when grown properly (cold, wet summers make for ideal conditions), are the perfect beach snack, all on their own. They have a fragrant crisp green yet sweet smell. Not a substitute for green string beans (a summer favourite that I terribly miss and that have been absent because of the lack of sun and heat in BC to grow them).

Watermelon with Feta Cheese - well, when the local fruit is lacking (the cherries this year - also not so great...) - then there is no choice but to get some not so local fruit, and pair it with creamy, uber-salty Macedonia feta.

Perhaps I will just have to create my own summer, in a bottle... So here's a partial list, which I admit to be extremely biased as it mostly contains perfumes that I made myself, and most of them are more on the greener side (Orcas and Smiling Country and Grin body oil is how you should expect me to smell these days). What else can you wear in a summer with constant April showers?!

The others are made by other perfumer friends/colleagues of mine. In the light of the previous article, my sentiments towards handcrafted perfumes are becoming increasingly fonder.

Fleur No. 1 by 1000Flowers - green, delicate floral that begins boldly with galbanum and surprised with pine bud and narcissus absolute. At its base are quiet musks, moss and the haunting violet of alpha ionone.
But I must confess that even more than Fleur No.1 I was touched by another creation of Jessica Buchanan, which is not officially released except for among friends who are privy to this beautiful, all-natural concoction of white flowers and resinous base. It's very cheerful and sensual - so perfect for those rare hot days we're getting this summer...

Honey Blossom by Aftelier - bright, delicate floral focused on the tea-and-honey notes of organic linden blossom CO2.

Parfum Privé by Aftelier - with precious aromatic treasures such as beach harvested ambergris, osmanthus, orange flower and ambrette. I love its muskiness and overall rich roundness.

Le Parfum de Thérèse - basil, jasmine, melon and under-ripe plum - for me there's no summer without this masterpiece by Edmond Roudnitska.

Ineke's Angel's Trumpet from her new Floral Curiosities collection for Anthropologie - if it wasn't for Ineke I would have never paid attention to this curious plant - whose flowers turn into citrus candy heaven only after dark.

Incense Lily by Sonoma Scent Studio* - I understand this perfume has been out of production for a while, but I have a feeling that it will make a come back... Someone at Estee Lauder must have spied on Laurie when they created their Azuree de Soleil, because it's a dead ringer to that. Except that it's hand made with much care and love by Laurie Erickson.

Sombre Negra by Yosh - dark, smoky vetiver at its best.

What scents make your summer? Post a comment and enter to win a mini of Liz Zorn's Ankhara.
Draw will take place on Friday, August 5th.

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BlissTree Highlights Green Perfumes, Featuring Ayala Moriel Parfums

Legendary Mandy Aftel is not only talented, but also swifter than my Google news alert! I was thrilled when she told me this afternoon that we were both featured in BlissTree's article Fresh Fragrance: What You Should Know About Natural and Non-Toxic Perfume. They interviewed a chemist from a perfume lab in New York to recommend truly natural perfume lines for their article. And - they even mentioned SmellyBlog!

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The Commercial Artisan

These days I'm pondering deeply some questions that have been silently bothering me for quite some time, but finally found the courage to voice them to others but my artists and designer friends. This has to do with the position of the independent perfumer as an artist in a market that is not only competitive, but also very dismissive towards the creators of the products that it is trying to sell.

Just a few days ago I was at Shoppers Drug Mart, and saw a line of no less than 4 different "Twilight" glitter perfumes, elegantly bottled in thin plastic spray bottles (my special spray for clearning my computer screen comes in a fancier and more durable packaging) and displayed on the clearance shelf. 4 days later, before I even got a chance to find out what their price was, the entire shelf was gone (but I can assure you it was no more than $19.99, because that's what this shelf is known for).

The current economic climate (in North America, anyway) has some grave implications on artisans and artists that just a couple of years ago were beginning to get recognized, and begin to be able to support themselves through their art. And independent perfumers are no different. The recession has nurtured a culture era of cheapness that is so much worse than ever. If in similar scenarios in the past (i.e.: The Great Depression, WWII...), small luxuries were still valued and appreciated at whatever cost (lipstick, silk stalkings, cigars, perfume...), nowadays, consumers are so cheap-savvy that unless there is a groupon or some steep price reduction, they won't even consider reaching for their wallet. But boy, do they spend on all the above-mentioned cheap "thrills" - which are really not all that thrilling, if you think a little deeper at who's actually paying for these bargains. A product's true price tag does not equal the amount missing from our wallets (or that appear on our credit card statements). We borrow our little pleasures of bargain hunting either by exploiting the environment, workers in other countries, and by paying extremely low wages to local artisans, who have to cover the cost of production (materials included) out of their own pockets just so they can stay afloat.

There is very little known about perfumery, and even though hardly anything can shock me, I've been taken aback on more than one occasion, when even people who should know better (including fellow artisans that make their own stuff - perhaps from other materials, but still, they should know that there is a lot that goes into producing anything - much more than meets the layperson's eye!). People often don't realize, that each drop of essential oil is the essence of so many plants, and there was so much work involved in the process of producing it (without even beginning to talk about the perfumer's research and creative process): the plant had to be planted, attended to carefully, harvested with more care than the average produce requires, and then distilled and extracted to produce only a fraction of the plant's original weight in its fragrant essence - 400kg of roses yield only up 600gr of rose absolute, and this is not the most expensive example... Some other essences are worth more than their weight in gold!

Somehow, the beauty and the value of what perfumers do becomes under-appreciated, even inside their own industry. And although as an independent perfumer I'm at liberty to create what I want, how I want and when I want it - the kind of treatment perfumers get in the industry, such as lack of recognition for their own creations (even in the FiFi awards, from what I hear), perfumers are still to a great extent "ghosts" creating "vaporous" products that are now seen as frivolous and necessary (except for, ahum, the fact that so many products are selected by consumers entirely on the basis of their scent, but no one remembers that when they're counting their cash...).

I would like to end my rant here before it gets out of hand, with this fascinating story from a perfumer who knows far better than I about what perfumers are facing in the corporate world:

"I remember one day, after having worked a combination of honeysuckle, musks and sweet balsamic notes for a long time, a combination that I judged as beautiful, full of harmony, warmth and creativity, I was met by one of the heads of the marketing department who, after smelling my work for about one or two minutes, told me that it was “not bad,” but I was missing 0.1% of aldehyde C.12 MNA to finalize my creation. Knowing my weakness in front of him, I agreed, showing him after half an hour the “modification” that was found to be perfect. I had not placed the aldehyde as suggested. I showed him the exact same product, and it became a big hit in the market"
- Arcadi Boix Camps,
Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interview with Jessica Buchanan in The Province

There are only a handful of Canadian perfumers, and only 2 of them are form British Columbia. My sister-in-craft, independent perfumer Jessica September Buchanan shares her story of how 1000FLOWERS came to life:
"I knew it was a risk but life is short, life is really short and if you've found something you really want to do (...) why not do it?"

She risked everything she's got by selling her home in Nelson, BC to study perfumery in Grasse, France. 4 years later, her company was born with the launch of the ozonic gourmand Reglisse Noire last fall, inspired by memories of visiting her grandmother and being treated with Licorice Allsorts, and this summer she introduced Fleur No.1, a delicate green floral inspired by the spring in the mountains of interior British Columbia.

Jessica was interviewed for The Province yesterday in "Capturing the smell of success" where you can read more of her philosophy and inspiration.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Honeysuckle & Curry Leaves

San Francisco
Oh, wait! The account of my olfactory adventures in California is not quite over... Thank goodness for photographs to be my silent reminders!

Mango & Goat Cheese Salad @ Dosa
To make a long story short, if you're ever in San Francisco, do yourself a favour and have dinner at Dosa, a Southern Indian restaurant that makes heavenly food that is ever so slightly on the fusion side (for example, the mango and goat cheese salad with orchid flowers in the picture above is definitely not what you'd normally find in ethnic Indian restaurants and as far as I know not exactly part of homemade Indian cuisine either).

Curry Leaf Infused Coconut Custard Cake @ Dosa
And this dessert - a coconut custard cake, was decorated with crispy coconut cookie, and - brace yourselves - a crystallized fresh curry leaf!!!
Absolutely divine combination of flavours that not only bursts in your mouth, but also inspired the imagination.

Honeysuckle in San Francisco
And walking up one of the many hills of this up-and-down city, we spotted gigantic honeysuckle (the flowers were seriously HUGE) that smelled beautifully, not surprisingly... Afterwards all I could think of is merging coconut, honeysuckle and curry leaf in a perfume... Mmm...

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In Search of a Lost Sense

In spite of having been told by doctors that she would never smell again, Birnbaum smelled rosemary just three months after the accident. "It was pungent, rich, and warm," she wrote. "Like a friend I hadn't seen in years, this scent rang simultaneously familiar and strange. It tingled with possibility."

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baked Eucalyptus & Redwoods

Eucaliptus by theoorm
Eucaliptus, a photo by theoorm on Flickr.

The scent of eucalyptus has never been that of fond memories for me, having too many colds and ear infections as a kid that my parents lovingly treated with eucalyptus steam session (yuck!). Therefore, I was never particularly interested in it from a perfumer's point of view.

However, like most things less than positive in my past lives, they tend to make full circle and come to my present from a different angle, making them smell glowingly positive or even romantic.

Driving to Santa Cruz, the dry wind in the freeway brings to my nose the smell of redwood forests baking at 90F or so, a dry woody aroma with a compelling sweetness that is oh so different from the Pacific Northwest conifers. And strolling under gigantic eucalypti on the way to Santa Cruz beach not surprisingly smells of these very same trees whose scent make me melancholy if anything at all, except for the one time when I was fortunate for a private screening of the Australian aboriginal scene from Michel Roudnistka's Un Monde en Senteurs.

They must be a different variety than what grows in Israel, as their silhouette was different, as well as their berries (which were gigantic in size - almost as large as acorns). The same aromas hit my nose driving to Sonoma coast on 4th of July, by than it being a somewhat nostalgic, fond summer memory...

On this very eve, I will unearth some eucalyptus samples I've got, because not all eucalyptus are born equal. Most smell very, very camphoreous and medicinal - blue gum (E. globulus), blue malee (E. polybractea) and even the gentler narrow leaf (E. radiata). Lemon eucalyptus smells like citrus (E. citriodora), and some smell like precious Shamanic wood (Eucalyptus dives). I'm determined to create a perfume with eucalyptus, that will not smell like an aromatherapy treatment for congestion.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Winner of Ineke's Deluxe Sample Collection Vol. 2

And... have finally picked us a winner for the San Francisco Perfumers giveaway!
Traci Paraday - you will receive Ineke's deluxe sample collection Vol. 2. Please email me with your mailing address to retrieve your prize :-)

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Geranium & Chocolate OOAK + Contest

Geranium & Chocolate  by Ayala Moriel
Geranium & Chocolate , a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Google haven't even had the chance to properly index the Geranium & Chocolate page, and this latest addition to my OOAK offerings in the new EDP format was already adopted by a lady who wanted to call this perfume her own. I'm thrilled that my OOAK perfume creations are so warmly received and enthusiastically adopted by my customers. Creating these perfumes is a lot of fun, and they are ones that turned out fun and fantastic as part of my explorations in the lab - but I can't just release any perfume that comes out of my hand as a new perfume. My perfume collection is already too large as it is!

Geranium & Chocolate came about when I stumbled upon geranium absolute for the first time. It has such a delicious, fresh yet well-rounded, deep wine-like quality. It just reminded me over all of a very fruity, sweet and refreshing sangria or warm red wine, which of course is even better paired with some chocolate... It also has some musk notes and citrus notes and is at the same time fresh-citrusy and gourmand. It will be shipped this afternoon to Virginia, where summer is in full blast and its refreshing qualities will be actually needed...

And I'm off to my next adventure in the lab, working up some new ideas, some of which will most likely turn into more OOAK offerings. I'm on a bit of a chocolate kick at the moment, and am curious to see how chocolate and ambergris will go together after using ambergris in my yummy truffles in my Orcas tea party on Sunday; and I'm also curious about incense and chocolate together - two of my daily rituals of self-spoilage that simply make me a happy woman...

Have you got a OOAK perfume that you're dreaming about? A scent combination you wish existed out there but is still only in your imagination? Post a comment and enter to win a mini bottle of Coralle. Contest will close on Friday, July 29th.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Toronto Fragrance Meetup Sunday, July 24th @ Noor Boutieu

Attention to all fragrance lovers in the Greater Toronto Area: Basenotes memeber Master-Classter is organizing the 4th fragrance meetup for the area. Here are the details:

Date: SUNDAY July 24th, 2011
Location: Noor Boutique, 176 Cumberland St (Yorkville), 416-928-0700
Nahla and Fred are the friendly owners
Time: Around 12pm/Noon to about 3:30 or so, but drop by any time. We may move around the area to some other locations at some point. Let’s see how things go and decide at the time.
To Bring: yourself & significant others / friends, any industry books or magazines, business cards, samples/decants/bottles to share/trade, etc.

More info on where you should RSVP for the event (if you're not a Basenotes member yet, it's not too late, and it's a great community to be part of, as well as a wonderful online resource of articles, fragrance database, perfume news, etc.).

P.s. If anyone is organizing something similar in Vancouver, please keep me posted so I can shamelessly publicize as well as attend it!

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Sight, Smells & Tastes from Orcas Fragrance Launch + Tea Party

ORCAS Diorama by Ayala Moriel
ORCAS Diorama, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

For those of you who missed the party, here are some sights and imaginary smells, tastes and aromas from my last tea party, where I officially launched ORCAS - the first natural oceanic fragrance for men (well, women love it too!). It was originally scheduled to take place on Father's day, but I had to postpone it due to other clashes in my schedule (not to mention the rather wild partying that was going on in downtown Vancouver during the hockey games).

It all started with zesting some key limes the night before, to make the key lime pie. Lime is a key ingredient in Orcas, so it only made sense to feature its intense flavour in the menu!

I also found linden blossom branches on Denman street the day before, so I did all the flower arrangements (a very fancy name for my very simple bouquet of linden and freesia) the day before.

Linden Blossom Bouquet by Ayala Moriel
Linden Blossom Bouquet, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Setting the mood started early in the morning, with collecting pebbles at the beach, and painting rocks with blue hearts, inspired by the beach graffiti at Sunset Beach, and setting up little dioramas like this, which was the place where I was plotting Orcas all summer long in 2009 and 2010. And than, of course, I started playing all my favourite summery 70's funk music to keep my energy up until the guests arrive, without missing a beat!

Sunset Beach Diorama by Ayala Moriel
Sunset Beach Diorama, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Wish I had more blue tea cups... But sometimes being too literal is kinda tacky anyway...

I had very little help this tea party, so very little time to take pictures of the guests (not to mention of myself...). You'll just have to believe me that I was there, and that I had a presentation that told the tales of Orcas perfume, as well as explain the difference between a natural oceanic fragrance vs. the synthetic ones (in the likes of Dune, Cool Water and l'Eau d'Issey). The guests were unfortunate enough to smell calone molecules diluted to 1% and 10% (and also look at the pure crystals without snorting them). And they were privee to the process of how I picked essences for Orcas, demonstrated with some 20 or so natural essences, including ambergris, seaweed, cedarmoss, boronia, cassie, violet leaf and angelica. Being exposed to the raw aromatics and walk through the process of fragrance creation is not something that is often made available to consumers, and my guests are always very curious about it, and appreciate the educational as well as sensory aspect of the experience. This is something I only do at my private studio events, where all the materials are within hand reach and the setting is intimate and allows for questions, answers and first hand experience of the raw materials without outside distractions (well, except for the truffles, that is!).

ORCAS Tea Party Guests by Ayala Moriel
ORCAS Tea Party Guests, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

And now - you are probably curious to see what the menu looked like after all - so feast your eyes, and please do come by again to my next party, which will in November 2011 to launch a new tea AND perfume for the winter holidays. Mark this date in your calendars: Sunday, 20.11.2011.

Serving watermelon with feta cheese is popular in the Balkan countries, and happily adopted in the Mediterranean countries. Nice contrast between sweet and salty, not to mention the difference in textures... These were little appies served to hold the guests over until all the sandwiches and treats were freshly made, garnished & decorated and set on the 5 tiered tea tray!

Another good appie/palate cleanser is the raw rhubarb (marinated with rosemary, Hendricks gin and chestnut honey) that I served in little China spoons.

Raw Rhubarb Salad by Ayala Moriel
Raw Rhubarb Salad, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Raw Rhubarb Salad by Ayala Moriel
Raw Rhubarb Salad, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

ORCAS Tea Sandwiches by Ayala Moriel
ORCAS Tea Sandwiches, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Smoked Salmon + Capers open tea sandwiches, made with the BEST - wild smoked BC Sockeye salmon, on rosemary & lavender wholewheat bread by purebread.

In the background, on the tea tray, are Yuzu + Kabu tea sandwiches (kabu is a Japanese turnip with a very fine, sweet taste and tender, crisp texture; yuzu is a Japanese citron, and I used koshu condiment, which is a little spicy, mixed together with butter, to feature the flavour in an interesting way).

No tea party is complete without scones, clotted cream and preserves. Since the rest of the menu was so fragrant, I kept the scones simple yet fancy (sweet cream scones from The Empress Hotel's tea room recipe), served with tart raspberry-rhubarb preserves to balance out their sweetness.

Key Lime Pie by Ayala Moriel
Key Lime Pie, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

My first time making a key lime pie - and I'm pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make, and cut. I decorated them with a dollop of whipped cream, and a little slice of candied angelica stalks that Rachel Sawatzky of CocoaNymph has graciously made for me, from stalks that were harvested by Stacelynn Caughlan. Both angelica and lime are in Orcas, so it was very neat to be able to have that not-commonly-found confection as part of the menu!

Nothing at all like the ones made by Proust's grandmother, these have the added oomph of fresh rosemary leaves that I picked at Sunset Beach, and a touch of honey. And yes, they do taste good the next day as well, when dunked into tea...

Orcas Truffles by Ayala Moriel
Orcas Truffles, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

These are no extraordinary truffles... I was most excited about creating these truffles, this one time only, for my Orcas perfume launch. I've scented them with nothing less than my precious ambergris tincture that was aged for 6 years now. The result was what can be described as "chocolate on steroids" - the ambergris is not so much a taste on its own, as much as it just tremendously enhances the flavour and aroma of the chocolate, which was already pretty amazing to begin with (the same 64% chocoa that CocoaNymph uses to concoct her much-coveted SeaNymph bars). And the ambergris also enhances the chocolate's aphrodisiac properties...!

And last but not least - you're probably curious to hear who won the lucky draw -

Winning ticket! by Ayala Moriel
Winning ticket!, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Orcas Diorama by Ayala Moriel
Orcas Diorama, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

And last but not least - here's an interesting clip I found when searching online for other chocolate & ambergris combinations:

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Synthetic Molecules

Synthetic Molecules by Ayala Moriel
Synthetic Molecules, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

My olfactory adventures did not, by any means, end when leaving San Francisco. On July 2nd, my friend D and I drove to Santa Cruz, and we were hoping to stop at The Perfumer's Apprentice to explore some synthetic molecules and say hello to Linda, who for one holiday season a few years ago carried my Palas Atena and Fête d'Hiver perfumes.

While en route, we discovered that the shop in Santa Cruz has shut down, and the premises moved to Felton, which was just on our way there anyway. We rang Linda up and were glad to get a hold of her just as we arrived at Felton!

The Perfumer's Apprentice is now mostly operated as an online shop; but it is open by appointment-only for private perfume-making parties at Linda's garden, which is shaded by ancient oak trees and inhabited by friendly honeybees. We were lucky enough to be received for such a spontaneous, short-notice visit, and be allowed into The Perfumer's Apprentice's warehouse, which housed hundreds of bottles, vials and jars containing both natural extracts and synthetic molecules, as well as flavouring agents and fragrance oils.

I have to admit that being exposed to so many aromatics all at once, even in the well-ventilated space where they are stores, was nothing short than nose-boggling overwhelmence. Often when I'm asked why I decided to be a natural perfumer, I say that it's for complete selfish reasons - I prefer to be surrounded by the mellow, well-rounded naturals than the often harsh, extremely potent and articulate synthetic molecules.

With that being said, even a spoiled nose such as mine has to train itself to embrace the foul as well as the fragrant. And I've set myself a goal this year to study as many as possible of the natural constituents that make up the beautiful, rich and complex essential oils and absolutes I work with every day. Again, for completely selfish reasons - I feel it's important to educate my nose, and be knowledgeable and open minded about synthetics, even if I choose not to work with them or include them in my perfumes.

While some of the constituents are readily available as isolates, others are not so easy to find. So I'm now in the process of collecting small samples of natural constituents (i.e.: naturally occuring aromachemicals in their purest form - i.e.: not within a complex essential oil "compound") so that I can educate my nose and deepen my understanding of the essences I know so intimately from my 10 years of working with them.

And what better place than The Perfumer's Apprentice? It is a heaven for any perfume afficinado that wants to meddle in the art of perfumery, or simply satisfy their curiosity regarding the raw materials widely used in modern perfumery and find out how Iso E Super (overdosed in the popular Eccentric Molecule), Ethyl Maltol (the main molecule in Angel) or Galaxolide (that evil polycyclic musk that pervades all laundry detergents and dryer sheets and pollutes our water supplies as it never breaks down), or are curious to find out what indole (the main constituent in civet, and what gives jasmine it's extra animalic/fecal oomph) smells like - to name but a few examples.

Unfortunately, I left my shopping list on my laptop back in Sonoma county, so my choices were all based on my memory and a few labels that I caught glimpses of while browsing the overwhelmingly fragrant shelves. I picked up a few natural constituents (lab-made synthetics that are naturally occurring), and a few man-made molecules (i.e.: not naturally occurring - aromatics that were entirely made up by creative and/or lucky chemists in the lab). One of the latter ones is Calone, which was accidentally discovered by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer in 1951, only to find its (popular) use in perfumery some 40 years later in the late 80's and early 90's, with the aquatic genre of Cool Water, l'Eau d'Issey, Dune, Escape and the like.

And, of course, I HAD to get some Hedione - the beautiful, synthetic molecule that closely resembles an element in jasmine (that gives it its dewy, green, fresh and expansive quality). It is so mellow comparing to all the other potently vile aldehydes, calone etc. that I will have to dedicate a post for it at a later time to give it the attention it deserves (it's this synthetic raw material that makes favourites such as Le Parfum de Therese and Eau Sauvage so beautiful).

I also got Spirogalbanone, an intensely green synthetic lactone, that I wish I had quarantined right away (should have done the same with the aldehydes - they are terribly potent when not individually ziploced and separated from the rest of the crowd...! It smells very much like the sharp, disturbing green opening of galbanum, amplified by 1,000. Not for the faint of heart!

Other than these, most of the materials I've picked were naturally-occuring molecules, but syntheticlaly made - for example: I got a few aldhydes, including C-14 (peach), and C-11 which accounts for the scalp-like, oily-fatty accents in No. 5 that made it so special at the time and smell like a woman, not like a flower... The aldehydes must be diluted down to be of any use. They are traditionally diluted down to as low as 1% (where most materials are diluted down to 10% to study their characteristics). Try to experience them at full strength and prepare to gag.

Among the beauties were Ambroxan (naturally occurring in ambergris, and has excellent stable and fixative qualities and sort of a warm, musky scent), Ambrettolide, which naturally occurs in ambrette seed, and has a clean, what we learn to call "white musk". Also have some raspberry ketone, vanillin, heliotropin, all in crystals so will have to dilute in alcohol to really be able to smell (rather than snort!) them.

And last but not least - Vetiverol - vetiver alcohol - which is what gives vetiver its clean, precious-wood, slightly wet yet sweet aroma. I have a suspicion there is more of it in Haitian vetiver than other varieties. It also has a brown clear colour, which makes it look like vetiver oil, where as most of the synthetics are either transparent and clear or white crystals. Vetiverol is so rich and complex it's surprising that it's "only" one molecule.

I'm looking forward to discovering these building blocks (especially the naturally-occurring ones) as well as the isolates I've gotten from Aftelier. It will be interesting to work with natural isolates in perfumes, but I strongly feel like I found my voice in natural perfumery sans the pure isolates. Nevertheless, I'm curious to study them, and am fascinated by the chemistry of the oils I work with. Exploring organic chemistry is like learning a new language, which I find exciting and frighteningly intimidating, simultaneously.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

What Would A Tiger Wear For A Night Out?

New York Times's Skin Deep talks about pheromones in perfume and fragrance as a romantic attractant.
Apparently, humans are not the only creatures who like other animal's scents: the tigers and lions in Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx Zoo like the scent of musk, and douse themselves with Obsession for Men before they hit the Bronx cat-clubs.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Growth

So much for the candles!! by she who is
So much for the candles!!, a photo by she who is on Flickr.

There’s no mistaking the influence of No. 19 upon opening the cute little 15ml splash bottle of my friend and colleague, fellow Canadian (now turned Grassoise) perfumer Jessica Buchannan’s newest creation, Fleur No. 1 galbanum and iris make a happy dance that echoes the distinct accord that is so characteristic of Chanel’s iconic scent, yet with far less melancholy, and with underlining softness of musk. After a few minutes, Fleur No. 1 quiets into a mellow sweet violet of alpha ionone, that quietly hums for a prolonged period of time. Once you’ve made the leap beyond the violet drone, you will find a meadow with delicate green floral narcissus and hyacinth notes, warm woods and a hint of oakmoss, and if you listen carefully – a subtle coniferous note that is softly green, like the new growth tassel of spruce in springtime.

1000Flowers Fleur No. 1 by Ayala Moriel
1000Flowers Fleur No. 1, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

I joined the celebration of launching Jessica’s line at Lark boutique on Main St. tonight (July 14th), where she recounted her inspiration for the scent – spending last spring in Nelson, BC, she had to stray away from her originally planned first floral (a sunny, Mediterranean perfume that echoes the landscape of her new home in Grasse), and instead found inspiration in the moment – the melting snow, new buds and leaves and wild violets growing on the mountains of interior British Columbia, where she grew up. There is something to be said about embracing the moment.

photo by Ayala Moriel
photo, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Canadian Perfumers by Ayala Moriel
Canadian Perfumers, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

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Orcas Perfume Launch + Tea Party Sunday July 17th 1-5pm

Mossy Tea Cup by Ayala Moriel
Mossy Tea Cup, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
I'm super excited for the launch party of ORCAS - the first all-natural oceanic fragrance!
The menu for this party is very special, as it's inspired by the notes of the perfume, including key-lime pie, hand-candied angelica by CocoaNymph and another thing which I'm sure you've never tasted in your life (and not likely to ever taste again...):
ORCAS chocolate truffles, scented with pure beach harvested ambergris, which is nearly as precious as gold but smells so much better! It really is fit for royals... But I'm making it especially for you, my guests, because I think you deserve it!

Also, I'm excited to share with you the elaborate creative process that lead to this perfume, and let you experience the unusual raw materials that make it so unique. You will also learn about the difference between a natural oceanic fragrance and a synthetic one, which is usually based on a particular molecule (you'll get to smell that too, if you dare!).

Last headcount is today, so get your ticket now to make sure that there are enough truffles for you!
Besides, there are super-fantastic door prizes for the first 10 guests to purchase their tickets in advance. Hurry - there are only a couple of those left!!!

And either way - get your ticket today for a chance to win an Orcas perfume bottle!!!

Sunday, July 17th, 1-6pm

#314-1230 Haro Street, Buzz #295
ORCAS launch & demo at 3pm

Revealing Orcas - the new fragrance by Ayala Moriel Parfums
at 3pm there will be a demonstration by the perfumer showcasing the different notes that make up Orcas, and discover how they were orchestrated to smell like the beaches in Tofino!
You will get to smell unusual raw materials from around the world and learn how this natural oceanic fragrance is different from the mainstream "marine-ozone" fragrances.

There also will be super special door prizes for the first 10 people to RSVP :-)

Menu: The menu has the traditional afternoon tea structure, with top quality loose leaf teas, innovative fragrant savouries and pastries that echo the notes of the new Orcas fragrance, including:

1st Tier: Sandwiches & Savouries
Cucumber + Mint Tea Sandwiches
Smoked Salmon + Capers Tea Sandwiches

Yuzu + Kabu Tea Sandwiches

Watermelon + Macedonian Feta appies

2nd Tier: Sweet Scones

served with Devonshire Cream + Local Wild Berry Jelly

Fresh Rhubarb Salad

3rd Tier: Desserts

Ambergris Truffles, hand-rolled and scented by Ayala

Key Lime Pie, topped with
Candied Angelica (candy courtesy of CocoNymph)
Rosemary-Vanilla Madelienes

Teas & Beverages:

Geranium-Lychee Iced Tea

King Jade (Floral High-Mountain Oolong) Tea

Orcas Cocktails (Carmelite Water & Cointreau served with Key Lime, Rosemary & Mint)

RSVP by phone (778) 863-0806 or email

Tickets are $12 online to guarantee your spot (we only have room for 30 guests) - or $20 at the door (the $8 that the website automatically charges for shipping in checkout will be immediately refunded after you got your tickets online).

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer School: Perfumery Lab 101 August 8-10

Perfume Lab Session by Ayala Moriel
Perfume Lab Session, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Dates: August 8-10 (Monday through Wednesday)
This 3-day lab workshop focuses on giving students all the basic tools, skills and techniques for working in the lab.
This course is a prerequisite for all new students that are planning to study with me. It is also highly recommended for my existing students as well.

The skills and theory you will acquire in this week long course will enable you to work with ease and confidence in a lab/studio setting.

Topics covered:
- Physical and chemical characteristics of raw aromatics, and its implication on the perfumer's day-to-day work
- Recording skills and best practices when developing formulae
- Work ethics and best practices in a lab setting
- Using scale for measuring, tincturing and formula development
- How to follow a formula accurately and consistently
- How to write industry-standard formulae

Cost of course: introductory price of $600 (regular price will be $800), including materials.
New students who pass this week will be admitted into the Chypre fall course (September 19th-23rd, 2011).
Existing students will benefit greatly from this summer course, as all future classes will be taught using scale and this is a new technique for you.
Registration deadline for summer course: July 15th

Contact me for more details, or sign up online.

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Winner of Aftelier Minis Giveaway

Congratulations to Lavanya, the winner of our Aftlier mini giveaway.
I should have checked my stash prior to announcing it, I must have given to someone - but you get 2 minis instead, in an Aftelier silk pouch: Fig and also the retired Absinth.
Please email me with your mailing address. Hope you enjoy them very much!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blind Tests at Barneys

Since I haven't had enough time the day before to smell much at Barneys by Union Square, I had to pay them a second visit before heading to wine country (poor me...). I took the bus down Geary street, which was an interesting people watching experience on its own right, and slowly but surely made my way to the corner of O'Farrel & Stockton. The cosmetics/fragrance department is downstairs, and some of the sales reps already recognized me from yesterday, so I couldn't go incognito, which is my favourite way of perfume shopping.

I wanted to take another look at Yosh's lovely display (which I'm showing you again here) and also explore a few lines that I wasn't familiar with, including the only organic line that seemed to have survived there - Horst Rechelbacher's new company of organic lifestyle brand Intelligent Nutrients, which is basically an organic version of Aveda (even seems to use the same font), released once his non-compete agreement with Estee Lauder expired. Nothing about it is significantly different - similar packaging, similar scents - line certfied organic multi-functional aromas of more complex, aromatherpeutic-smelling perfumes in the likes of the former Aveda Chakra scents (there are also 7 of them...), with names such as Awaken, Attune, Nurture, Restore, Focus... And the other perfumes are very simple single notes - Jasmine or Mint.

The other line I explored was Le Labo, for the first time really, as I've never been any near their retail store since my visit to Blunda in West Hollywood, and at that time I was too busy with the Hanami perfume exhibition to make it down there. I liked what they did with some of the scents Iris 39, Pathcouli 24, Oud 27, Labdanum 18 were the easily most memorable, which shouldn't be a surprise as I love these notes; and believe it or not - their Calone room spray also left a positive impression on me, though I doubt I'll ever buy or use it - it was certainly intriguing. But the highlight of the counter for me was the opportunity to blind test myself with some 45 or so raw aromatics (most of them natural). The bottles are lined up in a little silver case, and only numbered, not labeled. Thanks to Jonatha, the helpful rep at the Le Labo counter, he told me if I was right or wrong.

I get very little chance to test my nose like I do to my students (the only times when I truly was able to get "blind tested" was when I went to a week long course in Grasse, France), so it was a fun and internesting experiment (and also quite a relief that I got most of them right). The ones I didn't guess right among the naturals I'm familiar were a little "off" from sitting in the alcoholic solution in a bottle for too long, or were just such different specimens from what I work with that I had no clue. Even after getting the right answer they still didn't smell like I know them... the three I didn't guess right were their frankincense, which smelled very much like oregano (!) in the top; the oakmoss, which was nothing like the green oakmoss - or even the brown oakmoss I work with (it was kind of inky, vaguly animalic and woody, but without any of the distinct characteristis, which is why it smelled very "off" to me), and it only revealed its mossiness after sitting on a scent strip for a good 10 mintues or so, and the cedarwood smelled neither like Virginian nor Atlas or Himalayan cedar - but like guiacwood... In either case, it was a good lesson in using scent strips when blind testing, because even if you are smelling different specimens than what you're used to, some of the characteristics that are familir and universal to the particular raw material should reveal themselves at some point in the dryout phases.

I also re-smelled a few of The Different Company's scents, and a few of their new ones, got a sample of A Portrait of a Lady from Editions de Parfums which I'm looking forward to trying on my skin (smells very much like a big "saffron and rose" perfume), and left with one wrist adorned with Yosh's Ginger Ciao (which I remembered spicier and less floral that it is now); and the other with Kismet (quite narcissus-smelling on me, dark an exotic), and that's how I smelled for the remainder of the day in San Francisco!

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Feng Shui for the Soul - Visiting Yosh + GIVEAWAY

There is a strange thing in the perfumers’ world: we don’t need any ice breakers. For those of us already familiar with each other’s work, it’s not uncommon for our first meeting to feel like reuniting with a long lost friend. Independent perfumers work in such isolated environment, that we seek each other’s companionship virtually and it is more often than never that before meeting one another, we have corresponded via email and exchanged samples of our work or raw materials in the mail.

Yosh's path and mine crossed when we discovered our mutual interest in spies. We both have perfumes that are inspired by this mysterious world – Yosh with her Ginger Ciao perfume (and fictional character…), and me with Espionage, both of which just so happen to be our best-sellers too! This was a few years ago, and I was thrilled when the opportunity finally struck to visit in San Francisco and that Yosh was not only available to meet me, but also graciously invited me to stay at her home AND throw a perfumers’ party especially for my spontaneous visit!

As soon as I arrived in San Francisco, I headed to Barneys to meet up with Yosh. I had very little time to spend with her, unfortunately, as the trip from SFO to downtown took longer than we anticipated, and also, I had a previous engagement with Mandy Aftel, of which I have just finished blogging about moments ago, so I was in a bit of a rush... We got briefly acquainted, and I got to see her lovely display at Barneys and meet the sweet people who work at the cosmetic and fragrance department there, not to return there until the next day to thoroughly explore what they have to offer in the word of scent.

I didn’t get to see Yosh again till a few hours later, at her home in a beautiful, old San Francisco building. Yosh must be a gifted feng-shui master (knowingly or not – I haven’t asked her), because the moment you enter her home, you feel welcome and comfortable. Just like the lady who inhabits it, it’s bubbling with life and so hospitable and at the same time very peaceful and serene.

When I arrived with Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweetpea Purrfumery (who picked me up from Berkeley), Yosh’s home was full of perfumers and scent artists, gathered in her studio space around a table with many delicious treats that everybody brought and made, including beautiful salads that Yosh made, pretty red Velvet cupcakes, wine cheese, and Laurie brought an incredibly delicious plum & almond tart, and also gave me this beautiful honey she harvested from her own bees – I swear to you, it tastes a little rosy, they probably feed off geranium flowers!

Oh, and I almost forgot about the amazing homemade limoncello that Laurie brought - she made it from those HUGE variety of lemons that have very little pulp and very fragrant peel, and it tasted as if there was vanilla in it (but there was none - just lemon zest). Needless to say, it was the best limoncello I've ever had.

Among the guests were no other than Jeanne Rose - seasoned aromatherapist and herbalist, pioneer natural perfumer and world renown educator, and fellow Canadian independent perfumer Ineke Rühland and there was also a teacher from San Francisco . It was a fun surprise to meet in person Yuko Fukami from Parfum Phyto, who is who participated with me in the Midsummer’s Night Dream Scent Event, and I got to smell her creation Dreams – a delicate perfume with sweet osmanthus and an overall subtle powdery fruitiness. She also makes Neriko (Japanese kneaded incense, which is similar to kyphi), so our interests are not limited to perfume alone and I’m hoping to see her this week when she’s visiting in Vancouver! Another surprise was meeting artist Bruno Fazzolari
and finding out that he teaches a full term perfume course at the California College of Art.

Ineke brought out no less than four (!) new perfumes that she's working on to show us, and we all marveled at the beautiful packaging design and tried them on. They were all floral and pretty and inspired greatly by her beautiful garden, and quite different in concept than her abecedary collection. And I shared my last few scented chocolate bars and showed my little traveling perfume wardrobe of recent and upcoming creations such as Smiling Country, New Orleans and Oras, and a couple of other scents that won’t be released till 2012. It was a true perfume party, and there were even more perfumers in the room than there were in the party I was at in Grasse in 2009. San Francisco seems to be buzzing with creative independent perfumers that collect scents like bees do with pollen…

And despite the fact that we are all technically speaking “competitors” there was no sense of that word in the air, but the opposite – a sense of community, and one that is very supportive, inspiring and encouraging. We ran ideas about anything to do with raw materials, packaging, marketing and creative process and enjoyed every moment of it. The last of us partied till the wee hours of the night, which seemed almost effortless, despite the fact that I woke up before 3am that day to catch my early morning flight…

The next morning we woke up early enough to get some things done, but late enough to not feel exhausted; Yosh fixed up the most delicious breakfast of granola, yogurt and fresh ripe peach; and than showed me some of her perfumes.

I was instantly smitten with Yosh’s newest perfume (launched at the end of 2010), Sombre Negra – a dark, woody and spicy-warm dusky vetiver, accented with patchouli, tobacco, choya loban opoponax oakmoss, davana, pink pepper and mushroom. Experiencing this very “serious” perfume was of course contrasted with Yosh’s sense of humour as she sprayed it on a “moustache” – her funny invention of scent “strip” that makes you look as if you’ve just grown a Groucho Marx moustache every time you smell something…

Than I set off to Barneys by Union Square (the photograph you see is of her beautiful display there, of both her parfum oils in the flacons, and the new EDP spray bottles, which have invisible spray tubes – ever so elegant!), before I headed to my ultimate destination – Sonoma County.

Last but not least - what is your favourite Yosh perfume, or any perfume from the San Francisco perfumers mentioned in this article, and enter to win Ineke's Vol. 2 deluxe sample collection (of her first 5 perfumes).

* Photos courtesy and copyright of Yosh Han, unless stated otherwise.

P.s. All these events took place June 29-30, and recounted after I got safely back to my home in Vancouver :-)

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Jasmine in Berkeley - Visiting Mandy Aftel + GIVEAWAY

Just a couple of hours after landing in SFO, I headed to Berkeley, for my long-awaited visit with world renown natural perfumer and writer Mandy Aftel. Peaking through the thoroughly-shingled house, a window offers a glimpse into the world that awaits within: several rows of antique and vintage perfume bottles, beakers and flasks. I knocked with a copper door-knocker shaped like knocking wrist, and Foster, Mandy’s husband, greeted me with a smile. Moments later, Mandy joined him welcoming me with a big warm hug.

Mandy gave me the tour of her lovely home studio, which upon entry had a distinct smell of raw natural aromatics, although not in the least overpowering and my nose got used to it very quickly. I browsed through her beautiful flacons to smell her newest creations – Honey Blossom, which was nominated for FiFi, and smells primarily of linden blossom CO2; and Candide, which is a voluptuous jasmine possessing both depth and light, partly I think because of the beautiful frankincense and the highlights of the natural isolate benzyl acetate (which is a very sheer, bright ester that is present in most white florals – i.e.: gardenia, jasmine, ylang ylang, narcissus, hyacinth, etc.), and even got a whiff of Haute Claire - the new perfume she created during her correspondence with perfumer Liz Zorn on Nathan Branch's blog, based on a contrasting accord of galbanum and ylang ylang.

Mandy has generously let me feast my olfactory bulb on her fascinating perfumer’s organ, featuring not only unusual and at times quirky aromatics (sarsaparilla absolute, for instance) and isolates; but also most rare, vintage oils of years past – patchouli, and twin glass bottles of vintage ambergris tincture and ambreine (an isolate) that came encased in an antique leather box.

I also smelled other rare treasures, such as her tiare absolute, blue lotus absolute (the prettiest I’ve ever smelled!) and the foody sarsaparilla (yum!), and even a rare tincture of musk deer’s pods (without the grains inside, which were scraped away before the pod found its way to Mandy’s studio). The musk tincture did not smell remotely as I imagined it would be – it was more green than animalic to my nose, almost like angelica. I personally prefer ambrette seed so much better, but than I have never blended with musk and it is likely to have an unusual effect beyond how it smells on its own, similarly to how ambergris behaves, which is why animal essences have been in such demand for centuries, and why there is still so much controversy around them. Thankfully, there are alternatives available to today’s perfumers that are sustainable as well as cruelty free and reach similar effects. Perfumers today are using African stone tincture instead of civet and castoreum; ambrette seed instead of musk; and beach harvested ambergris, which does not harm any whales in the process – and of course, mass scale perfumery would use the synthetic alternatives.

We both share a passion for tea, so I was very excited when Mandy brewed a pot of her Frankincense GABA oolong tea. Mandy’s technique of scenting her teas is very different than mine – technically they are “aromatized” with the essences she chooses and blends carefully (where as mine are blends of teas that were often perfumed with flowers, in conjunction with freshly dried herbs, spices, fruit, etc.). I was pleasantly surprised at the delicate, subtle complexity of these scented teas. They were so beautiful and balanced. I smelled all four from their tins (linden blossom, and the jasmine & mint were both beautiful but there was only time for so many teas in one afternoon!). We started with the Frankincense GABA tea – an oolong rich with antioxidants and scented with a tincture Mandy prepared herself of an unusual specimen of frankincense that has a very smooth note. It opened feeling quite citrusy, like a light Earl Gray or Orange Pekoe tea, and the woody notes only peaked out later on as she kept re-steeping the tea. To my delight, when we were done sipping this delicate brew, she prepared her beautiful Ginger & Turkish Rose Tea (also oolong tea), a combination that sounded strange to me when I first saw it, but smelled so delicate in the dry leaf, and just sublime when steeped. Mandy certainly has a knack for surprising scent combinations, and being able to reach a stunning balance with notes that wouldn’t normally pair too easily together.

Isolates seem to be a newly found obsession among natural perfumers, as they open many possibilities with their single-molecule purity – a quality that is so different from the complex essences we work with, often containing dozens if not hundreds of different molecules. It was not difficult to fall in love with some of the isolates Mandy picked for he palate – Benzyl acetate (jasminey), Octanol-3 (rubbery and a little like black truffle), Alpha Ionone (woody sweet candied violets), Methyl Methyl Anthranilate (grapey wintergreen), and anisaldehyde (like heliotropin with hints of licorice and green notes). I bought a few interesting isolates and oils at the end of the visit, and also Mandy generously gifted me with the very last bottle of her Petitgrain Citron, which she describes as possessing the scent of Meyer lemon blossoms!

Time flies when having fun, and sooner than I hoped the visit had to come to an end – after all, I couldn’t be late for the party Yosh Han organized for me… About which I will tell you in the next post, tomorrow!

Leave a comment with your favourite Aftelier perfume or product, and enter to win a miniature of Aftelier's Cassis parfum.
UPDATE: The winner of our giveaway is Lavanya. Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the Cassis :-)

Note: All the photos are courtesy of Mandy Aftel and copyrighted to Aftelier.

P.s. The visit was on June 29th.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Smiling Country Notes

Smiling Country by Ayala Moriel
Smiling Country, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Can there be a better timing to reveal my Smiling Country perfume notes than when I'm actually in Sonoma County, which inspired the perfume?

The hills are covered with yellow dry grass and only the trees are green. The smell in the air is of dry grass with subtle underlining cow manure odour. Smiling Country perfume is not far from this, but more on the greener side. I wanted it to be green, crisp, earthy with hints of wine notes and a dash of mimosa (which were in bloom when I first visited her in February)... It may smell like there are notes in it that are not there (patchouli, labdanum and oakmoss were the most repeated guesses). I intentionally did not want to have any of these in there though as they are so easily overused... Instead, what I used to create Smiling Country were:

Top notes: Mimosa absolute, bergamot, frangipani absolute, hemp

Heart notes: Jasmine, tomato leaf absolute, white water lily attar, rhododendron, boronia absolute

Base notes: Spikenard, galbanum absolute, cognac absolute, vegetal musk accord

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