Tuesday, July 17, 2012

1st Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco

Artisan Fragrance Salon 2012

It certainly felt like making history at the 1st Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco July 8th, 2012.
The event was a breakthrough on many levels:
- 1st artisanal perfumeries show in North America
- 1st fragrance industry event on the West Coast
- 1st time independent perfumers across North America have gathered up to join forces and support each other in a formal way (there was a lot of informal stuff going on for a while, especially in the West Coast there is a strong independent, artisan spirit, and thankfully most of us see ourselves as colleagues, rather than competitors, and support each other in what is otherwise a very solitary profession).
- Last but not least: Diversity and respect. It was the most diverse, all-encompassing gathering of perfumers of very different philosophies, styles, business models, ethics, approach to raw materials, etc. You could find there artisans who still make their own tinctures the old-fashioned way, measure everything in small batches, and only sell at the own studio or website; some that have expanded to sell into many doors around the world and have grown to the point of needing to have a contract-manufacturer for their line; artisan perfumers who pick a very limited palette - i.e.: only naturals, only botanical ingredients (i.e.: no animal extracts), or even all certified organic, to those who use both natural and synthetics (coined by some as "mixed media"). And somehow, despite all our differences - we not only managed to pull together a very successful event, but also enjoyed every moment of it, each other's company, and the benefits of having a growing, strong and supportive community.

Yosh - a nose in action
Some individuals worked particularly hard at bringing our community together, and there is no doubt that Yosh took a lot on her own shoulders, in initiating the event and teaming up with TasteTV to create the first of its kind.
Thank you, Yosh!

So, I will start by telling you a bit about Yosh's perfumes and her gorgeous display - each one of the glass mini-cake-covers encapsules one of her scents - the existing line (now with world wide distribution all the way to Dubai and Japan in the far east, and leading retailers in Europe in the West), includes distinctively different perfumes that she originally handcrafted in small batches, and now have adapted to work on the large scale that she does. She still conceptualizes her perfumes, and the flacons of extrait oil are made by hand, including the all-natural Winter Rose (rose and cardamom), Trompeur (formerly know as "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things") and Kismet (which is a mysterious dark floral featuring precious boronia absolute).

There is a perfume for the main seasons or moods - Ginger Ciao (spicy oriental), Stargzer, U4EAHH!, Kismet Sombre Negra, and Omniscent - which is my newly discovered favourite (with sandalwood, aloe vera, ripe fig and tuberose). She also brought some unique scents just for the show - experimental fragrances, such as Lush - a fruity yet tart floral with accents of cilantro - yum!

Nikki & Ragna
Nikki Sherritt (Rebel & Mercury) is a talented candle maker (Gabriel's Aunt) whom I'm very thankful for helping me out with my own candles. Nikki's style in perfumry is as unique and surprising as her candles, only more sophisticated and with even more precious aromatics and twists and turns. Encens Blanc is a smouldering incense underscored with white florals and musk and with a heavenly drydown, and Bohem is an uncompromising tobacco.

Rebel & Mercury
Ragna Rostad-Ruffner is a former student, and lives in Shasta. Originally a nurse with a passion for soapmaking, Ragna launched her Divine Life perfume & body care line in 2011. The Dharma Rose Collection launched especially for the salon, and includes:
Dharma Rose Castile Soap, Botanical Mist, Eau de Cologne and Perfume Oil, and guests were also able to catch a whiff of a limited edition Incense Oud Perfume Oil.

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery
Laurie Stern, the sweet lady of Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery has a way with the bees, cats, flowers and her displays shows it all too well! Every bottle is beautifully packaged and decorated with fabric pansies, ribbons and collectible labels. Her newest creations that launched last weekend is titled "Fleur de Caramel". Yum!

You might also like to know, that Laurie is very passionate about animal rights, and does not use animal materials, or materials that were tested on animals.

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery

Artemisia Natural Perfume , whose creations I've been admiring for as long as I know Lisa Fong (we met for the first time in 2006, but were exchanging samples and emails before that). Eros is a honeyed, musky wine-like rose to die for; Ondine is a serpentine like woody mystical floral; Drifting Sparks is a study in musk; Rayon Vert is an unusual licorice-like fougere built around flouve and licorice mint; Yuzu Citrus is a beautiful, honeyed sweet yet tart citrus with greens thrown in for balance; and the list goes on...

I can't say enough good things about Persephenie, an artist of scent, beautifully textured body products, and also a jeweler and a visual artists. She brought a series of 3 limited edition, pure botanical perfumes with hand-painted labels (!) to the salon, including Snuff, a beautiful leathery-tobacco concoction, and Ocean Siren, which is more floral. I'm particularly smitten with her elegant white-on-black jars and bottles, her Rose Pakka, Linden Blossom Dry Body Oil and Bedouin perfume, which is a beautiful rose-cardamom aphrodisiac. Keep in mind though, that even her "mixed media" only contain about 1% synthetics, so they feel very real, alive and complex (Kildren is a cozy floral gourmand with ginger & amber, Datura an intoxicating white floral, and

Smell Bent
Brent from SmellBent (Los Angeles) creates whimsical fragrances that are the olfactory equivalent of pop-art. The scent that grabbed my nose the most was Mountain High from the North by Northwest collection - with fresh cannabis, balsam fir, lavender, vanilla, tonka, patchouli and sandalwood.

Debuted that very weekend, with perfumes created by Danielle Sergent. They are all very abstract and unusual, and are numbered rather than named (although, each is accompanied by a short scent-description to make it just a little less abstract). My favourite is the tobacco and tomato scent.

Ineke & Bill
Ineke Ruhland & Bill O'Such at Ineke's display at the artisan fragrance salon. Ineke has lots of good news to share this year - and visitors to the salon were the first ones to smell Hothouse Flower (to be released in the fall) and Sweet William and the new travel-size spray bottles in collectible book-shaped boxes (for Anthropologie - to be released around the holidays).

Roxana Illuminated Perfume
is an artist, alchemist and a beekeeper. Her perfume "Q" was part of her activism to preserve Californian wilderness. Chaparral is my favourite of her earlier creations (redolent of Californian sage and a very peppery, dry and desert-like). Unfortunatley, I was unable to smell any of her new perfumes, GreenWitch being one of her most popular and with great acclaim in perfume blogs since it was released (I'm a huge lover of the ocean, and this promises to be just my cup of "tea").

EnVoyage Perfumes
Shelley Waddington's Carmel-based perfumery is a known name in the indie perfumer world, not only for her creations, but also her recent book on natural isolates. To the salon, Shelley brought a few new perfumes, New debuts were A Study in Water (which I was able to get a whiff of during the SF Sniff - it's a ethereal aquatic-floral with notes of green apple and neroli), Chang Chang, Durango, Lorelei and L'Ombre, which were enthusiastically received. Her biggest show hits were Havane pour Homme and the award-winning Vents Ardents.

Sonoma Scent Studio
Sonoma Scent Studio's new perfume: Forest Walk, on which I will touch on my next post, as I was fortunate to visit Laurie in her own studio in Healdsburg the following day (July 9th). More in our next post, which will cover my little road trip to Sonoma with Lisa Fong.

The other artisan perfumers who participated, and whom I wasn't able to take a photo of or smell their creations (yet) are:

Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes
Ellen Covey is an orchid grower, and lives just south of me in Seattle.

40notes Perfume
Miriam Varledzis was involved in the corporate fragrance world before she opened her very own indie perfumery in Portland, Oregon. She kindly helped to organize the perfumers' breakfast, and ended up the one presenting us, together with Yosh (the original presenter had to cancel because of sudden death in her family). Miriam is professional, passionate and eager to help other businesses in advice and consulting about growing their fragrance brand. Unfortunatley, I was not able to smell any of her perfumes (yet!), but her booth and packaging looked lovely!

Sarah Horowitz Parfums
Probably needs no introduction, and her Perfect Veil perfume has cult following. It was wonderful that Sarah was able to come up all the way from Los Angeles and take part in this historic event!

Leila Castle Botanical Fragrance
Also known as the "Green Witch from Marin" - Leila creates natural perfumes as well as body products, greatly inspired by where she lives.

Smells & Bells Organics
Based in San Francisco, and handcrafts their own soap as well.

Parfums DelRae
DelRae Roth commissioned some of the world's best indie noses to design their perfumes; Michel Roudnitska and Yann Vasnier. I love their Eau Emotionelle. The perfumes all have a sophisticated, European air paired with American boldness.

L'Aromatica Perfume
Loreto Remsing is also based in San Francisco, and is a graphic designer - which comes very handy as you can see from her beautiful label designs: minimalist, hand-drawn patterns that are simple yet evocative. Some of her perfumes are 100% naturals, including her newest ones that she brought to the salon: Madrone (inspired by Indian Summer in Northern Carolina) and Bourbon (Inspired by rich oak-aged whiskey).

Some of the perfumers had presentations, and also Alyssa Harad was also there, with her new book "Coming To My Senses", and Felicia Hazzard (Fragrance Belles Lettres blog) - both did presentations as well. Raphaella Barkley from the Perfume Magazine was present the evening before at the perfumers' soiree. It was really a great experience seeing everyone come together like this!

1st Artisan Fragrance Salon
And this is the booth of Ayala Moriel Parfums - I was very lucky to have the artwork match my colour scheme! And was very close to the door with a large sitting area so my guests could relax for a bit after doing their rounds in the entire gallery. It was such a wonderful experience to meet so many familiar people in person after years of email correspondence, blog comments, online orders and mutual Facebook liking.

A nice surprise was to meet Renee Ghert-Zand in person (she wrote the lovely article and interviews about my newest release, Etrog) for the Times of Israel. And Amanda Walker, who came all the way from New York.

I really could have not hoped for a better weekend - the audience was passionate, educated and adorable perfume-nerds, and received everything I brought - including some quirky perfumes such as New Orleans, Espionage, Razala and Treazon - with so much enthusiasm and support. People came after doing their research, and wanted to smell specific things (some of which did not make it into the suitcase - but they will receive samples in the mail). And some were also interested in more perfumery training (thank goodness I had my book for them to browse!). It was so refreshing and wonderful to speak to such intelligent and interesting customers.

Etrog all but sold out at the show, and people had wonderful responses to the new upcoming release - Treazon (aka my killer tuberose, launching 12.12.12). Samples will become available on the website at the end of the summer.
Amanda Walker & Ayala
And last but not least, my very personal thanks to:
Alex Sandor for hosting yet another amazing workshop at his space
Christi Meshell (House of Matriarch) for tending to my booth while I was doing my presentation about "Scent, Seduction & Storytelling".
Ross Urrere (Olfactory Rescue Services) for helping me set up, hand out fragrant articles & scent strips during my presentation, and continuing to man my booth and assist me way beyond the call of duty (not to mention coming bearing gifts of incense!). Ross is a fascinating incense and Koh-Doh enthusiast and I've learned so much from our correspondence in the past and am looking forward to meeting him again in other fragrant occasions.
Yosh, for being such a positive force in connecting us all and bringing the best of us, and for connecting me to the right people at the right time.
And last but not least - Lisa Fong (Artemisia) for hosting me (and putting up with me and my oversized luggage...) for a week!

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