Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
My visit to Ancient Jerusalem on Christmas Eve was an inspiring olfactory whirlwind: thick smoke of rose incense at the Church of Holy Sepulchre filled the air with an unusual festive sweetness. In the shaded, arched under-covered narrow streets, vendors sold hot mint tea and Arab coffee and warm sahleb, sprinkled with cinnamon, coconut and crushed roasted peanuts. Under my feet, the smooth and cold cobblestones polished by millions of pilgrims over the course of well over 2,000 years and emitting a damp, dusty coolness that is unique to this particular rock. And sweet shisha smoke wanders among the narrow paths, inviting us to sit among shesh-besh (backgammon) players for a little tobacco and tea break at mid-day.
This could the beginning, or the end, of my perfume.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Monkey Monday: Guess What!
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Lighten Up! Winter 2012 Favourites
There is no better note that embodies both light and warmth than ancient frankincense. One of the first perfume materials ever used in the form of incense, frankincense is simultaneously fresh and dusky, citrusy and incensey, current yet redolent of times past.
For this winter list edition, I bring you some of my favourite scents that bring an uplifting feeling during the darkest days - one for each hour of darkness in Vancouver, where our night is 16 hours long at this time of the year. So here is something fragrant for each and every dark hour. And you might just notice that many of the items on this list are incense themed. That is because I'm on a bit of a frankincense roll, and also because I will be visiting Jerusalem on Christmas eve and I intend to savour every incense encounter I find in the ancient city while I'm there and soak up some smoky inspiration!
1. Bois d'Encens
One of the most realistic frankincense scents ever. Rather than smelling like the oil, it brings to mind the burst of citrus and dust that occurs when you place a pellet of frankincense resin on a hot charcoal, followed by an explosion of essential oils released in thick smoke. So far, the only Armani that ever spoke to me.
2. Diamond Incense Sticks
From Shoyeido's Jeweld Series, this is frankincense incense ready to be burnt in sticks, and also accented with ginger lily and hints of cinnamon.
3. Encense Blanc
Smoky yet delicate, from Rebel & Mercury. Burning wands of white sage (aka artemisia) and white florals.
With a hint of frankincense, and an ample dosage of citrus to chase away whichever quantities of winter gloom that might have built up since the fall. Etrog's lemony floral burst is balanced with the warmth of frankincense and balsam poplar buds.
5. Fête d'Hiver
Way back when in 2001, I designed this little number to celebrate precisely this time of the year. Incense laden with bitter orange, roses, tropical gardenia notes and a hint of spice (nutmeg and allspice, to be exact).
6. Fig Leaf & Sage
Shiny and new from Kiehl's, this is a very approachable yet surprisingly fascinating cross between a scented ancillary product (body spray) and perfume.Simultaneously fruity yet not exactly sweet, with herbaceous-dry sage notes and a certain tart, almost green undertones.
7. Fleur d'Oranger
Serge Lutens' interpretation of this otherwise very spring-like citrus blossom renders it a very dusky, with an air of evening extravagance.
8. Gourmet Frankincense
Soft, soothing frankincense with hints of ambrette seed's muskiness. It's not so much edible as it is addictive.
9. Incense Pure
Incense, musk and ambery labdanum with a resinous, slightly woodsy presence are the core of this balanced, well-made perfume from Sonoma Scent Studio.
Labdanum and galbanum resins are at the core of Lorenzo Villoresi's incense fest. Rather than smoldering church incense, it's more so resinous and thick, syrupy amber with hints of green sweetness.
11. Parfum Sacré
Winter classic that won't leave my boudoir anytime soon if I can help it. There is enough pepper in it to keep one awake during Midnight Mass!
12. Prada Amber Intense Pour Homme
Beautifully balances between warmth and freshness with amber and patchouli and a crisp veil of bergamot.
13. Oud Abu Dabi
Perfume oil that I found at the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem many years ago and am really enjoying this winter. It's not so much a single note oud, and more of a chypre-rose with oud, and feels more perfumey as it wears on.
14. Poivre Samarcand
Pepper madness is one of the ways I can describe this scent. And I'm talking black pepper, of course (I felt that the green bell pepper notes in Paprika Brazil were befittin the role of a nightmarish smell track for the film Brazil). But I digress: Poivre Samarcand is arguably one of the best Hermessences, and is particularly appealing thanks to the dry mossy base notes and bold, hot nature.
15. Rose Chai
Tea bags by Wisotzky that smell and taste like perfume, and I say this fondly. Assam tea scented with roses, almonds and chai spices. You should also check out this Rose Chai Malabi recipe.
16. Rosewater & Vanilla
Jo Malone dives into a Middle Eastern dessert full of rosewater, orange flower water, vanilla and powdery musk. A little over the top but sometimes that's precisely what you want.
What are your favourite scents, teas, incense and spices this winter? Post a comment and enter to win a care package with some of the perfumes, incense and teas mentioned in above!
Friday, December 21, 2012
Happy Winter Solstice!
Just a couple of weeks ago, a young man from the Yukon who works for one of the world's leading gelaterias, shared with me the experience of life in the grace of nature's forces, when there are only 4 hours of daylight. And this past week I went back to my home village and lived off-the grid for a while, including an incidental day long water outage due to some maintenance in the water reservoir (accompanied by a very poorly managed notice as to when the outage will commence, so we didn't really have enough time to stock up or prepare mentally for the occasion). It wasn't in the least convenient but it reminded us all how important water is and how much of our modern human dignity depends on it being so readily available.
We might be fortunate to have all the conveniences of running water, light and heat whenever we feel like it. But we don't have the immense satisfaction at the end of the day - knowing that we worked honestly for every bit of these comforts. There are so many things that have been compromised on the way simply because we have lost our trust in nature to provide us with what we need, when we need it. The caribou herds live off lichen they dig off under the snow and wander south, and the salmon jump up the waterfalls and swim against the streams to feed us. Yet this is not enough and in our greed and hunger for power we are rapidly killing our very own sources of food, and poisoning our water wells.
What if the sun won't come back tomorrow? Some think it won't, and tonight is the end of the world. I heard that many times and I am still here, as you are, my dear readers. I believe the end of the world won't arrive suddenly in one day of crumbling skies or monsters who'll consume our only real light source; rather, it will gradually arrive by the destruction that our very hands bring to our own species and whomever happens upon our path.
But, if we managed to destroy so much - we surely should be able to heal and repair what damage we have caused. And rather than worry, weep and mourn what's gone or broken - let's do whatever little things we can to turn the wheel on its back and change things around. Acts of kindness to the earth which we inhabit, our neighbouring plants, species and fellow humanoids.
I'm now in the big, modern city, the stagnant, rotting monster that we call civilization and think is better than being wild and free and transient like the nomads. But I'm with the sweet and comforting company of my closest family - 4 generations of powerful women who can survive anything and everything. And we have everything we need - heat, water, light, food and each other's company. We even got the luxury of tea and television, incense and perfume. Add a little peace on earth and we might just reach perfection.
Tonight I'm celebrating the shrinking of the day and the ruling of the night. But even in a dark room, one candle is enough to light the space; so even in the darkest day of the year, there still is some light. And that's what counts.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Faces & Fragrances
One of the things I love the most about my job is getting to know the people who wear my perfumes and seeing how their personality (or hidden parts of it) is so beautifully reflecting the olfactory stories I create...
Perhaps the most surprising moment of the season if not the entire year was when a 5 year old came by with her family as part of her birthday celebrations to the Object + Handmade show. I don't even have the words to describe how amused and touched I was to watch her selection process (accompanied by her 7 year old sister) which mostly comprised of 2 sniffs followed by "no". Despite the fact that the two girls are accustomed to Hello Kitty perfume types (read: artificial fruity floral), the young discerning customer have fallen for Bon Zai!
Send me a pic of yourself with your favourite Ayala Moriel perfume and we'll be happy to post about it on our fanpage and on SmellyBlog in our upcoming series of the Faces of Fragrance series! As in the above photo of Catherine with her new perfume, InCarnation. It was so wonderful to meet her and see her swoon over an InCarnation solid perfume. The next day at the show I brought her the first bottle of InCarnation roll-on in the new packaging. It has an art-nuveau inspired illustration of carnation flowers by Terry Sunderland.
Object + Handmade Show
Wondering what I've been up to? I've been so up to my neck doing 4 events and shows 3 weekends in a row that I haven't even had much time to blog about it! Not to mention, it's already the 6th night of the holiday, and it's only now that I'm wishing you all a Happy Chanukah! May the remaining 3 nights be filled with light and joy, warmth and happiness.
The last of them all winter holiday shows was Object + Handmade, a show of artisans celebrating distinct handmade craft and design @ maai living 157 west hastings, vancouver bc Dec 7 - 9 2012.
Organized and run by designers and artists Grace Lee and Johanna Brierly, this relaxed and intimate show featured about 20 top-notch designers from across Canada (some of them came from as far away as Ontario!), from all disciplines - textile arts, glass, ceramics, perfume, confections, jewelry and leather work:
Ayala Moriel Parfums
David Rice Jewelry + Objects
Identity Tess + Home
Jacqueline Robins Ceramics
Jessie Turner Jewellery
Johanna Brierly Jewellery
Jola V. Designs
Kosoy + Bouchard
The Gluten Free Epicurean
Seriously, I can't think of a better place to shop for myself and for gifts; not to mention in a very relaxed intimate environment with no rush and no big crowds. It works positively both ways: the customers get the designer's full attention; and we get know you better and maybe even have enough time to do our own holiday shopping among ourselves - double the fun! There was a real sense of community and non of the stress of the big shows - yet with artists from all over Canada getting together and celebrating a year of creativity and achievements.
Below are some pics from the show - more of which you can find in my Flickr album. Hopefully, if you haven't made it this year, you will join us for our next show.
Freda Kahlo pendant by Visamexicana
Martin of Cocolico camouflaging behind caramels (try not to eat him...)
Jacqueline Robins Cermacis (sporting Film Noir, in case you haven't noticed...)
Snow owls and gold glaze by eikcam
two crafty show girls, who spent the afternoon doing their own art work behind the scenes.
Beautiful Hitoko and her textile art. She's mind blowingly talented and you must see her pieces in person to appreciate the details and artistry!
Yours truly taking advantage of the festivities to wrap myself in vintage Canadian beaver fur...
Leather and vintage fur artwork by Jola V. Designs.
Jolanta and her leather bags & accessories.
2nd Annual Driedel Draws - spin the dreidel to win a perfume gift from my treasure box!
My collaboration with eikcam - 2 scented candles: Orcas and Bon Zai. Very limited edition - and only 3 candles left of it!
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Treazon's Day Has Arrived!
Today is the auspicious date selected to officially debut Treazon - my killer tuberose perfume that's been in the making since October 2005. Although it was finalized as a complete formula last summer, I had to wait till now for just the right date to reveal it to you in all its salicylic glory!
Pure tuberose absolute notes unfold with the support of orange blossom and salicylic notes from wintergreen and sweet birch. It all lays on a foundation of sweet yet woodsy, liquor-like vanilla absolute and black coconut note from massoia bark, as well as animalic African stone absolute. There is also a hint of anise and cinnamon to bring a mystery and warmth and a realism for a cut tuberose flower as it releases its scent into the dark room that's been lit by suffocated candles.
In the pre-launched 12 bottles were already sold, and it's really encouraging to see it being received so warmly. For those of you who are wondering - it is also now available in the travel roll-on parfum oil as well as mini which make a perfect winter holiday gift.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
It truly makes my Chanukah so much more special.
To welcome Treazon into the Ayala Moriel family - and more importantly: into your perfume wardrobe - those of you who will order it today (December 12) will receive a free White Potion chocolate bar, which is also infused with tuberose!
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Make Perfume, Not War
Instead of launching a rocket - North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un surprised the world, and launches fragrance "Number Un". According to New York Times - “Number Un deliriously combines the sweet smells of North Korea’s native unicorns with the irresistible aroma of our Dear Leader himself. This holiday season, every kiss begins with Kim Jong-un.”
The Japanese, however, are not impressed: “I think Kim Jong-un most likely said to himself, ‘Given how badly my last rocket did, maybe I’ll just launch a fragrance,’ ”said Dr. Hiroshi Kyosuke, a North Korea expert at the University of Tokyo.
Monday, December 03, 2012
Butter & Honey
This weekend we stayed at friends' dairy farm in Langley. It simply made sense rather than commuting two extra hours to and from Vancouver for the double day Bloom Market in Fort Langley.
My friend Miriam (whom some of you met at my studio on various occasions - she co-hosted the holiday soiree this year with me and Jolanta) grew up there, and it was wonderful to get a glimpse into the life of a dairy family farm. It involves a lot of milking and very little sleeping. Just so that we can have milk and cheese and dairy. Wow.
It was also encouraging to see that the cows are treated so much better than anything I've ever seen elsewhere. And there are a lot of sustainable practices all around: the water used is from the family's own well; they grow most of the food for the cows; and they also fertilize the fields with the cow's manure (which is collected and processed as to not contaminate the underground water reservoirs).
I have an interesting book called "The Farmer's Wife" - it's a compilation of recipes from magazine of that name, mostly sent from farmer's wives across America, with their tips on how to feed a crowd of working hands on a farm. Anyone who thinks that being "just" a housewife is obviously out of their mind. It's basically like running a catering company, all day long, preparing 3 meals a day (at least) and very likely with no days "off" (not to mention that modern farmer wives also partake in the farm work, not just the kitchen and household). Somehow they just do it, and remain graceful and beautiful while they're at it.
An extra surprise were the 2 index cards I found in my jacket pockets with recipes for some of the treats my daughter got to bake with Miriam and her mom that weekend: Dutch Botterkoek (butter cake) and honey loaf. Surprisingly, the honey loaf contains absolutely no oil whatsoever. Also, a nice surprise (as Miriam almost frightened me with her description of Dutch cooking, as if they use no spices at all) - it is very fragrant, with the natural honey undertones, accented with anise. Simply divine. We also tasted raw milk for the first time - what an amazing experience! It's amazing how full of flavour and sweetness milk is. Next time I'm bringing chocolate chip cookies.
The botterkoek is something I will need to wrap my head around as it's quite different - it's surprisingly similar to Middle Eastern semolina cakes, as it is flavoured with almond extract which really complements the butter. It is also quite dense and has a thin "skin" of the cream glaze that is brushed on it before baking. But first of all I'm going to try the bran muffins recipe - they were extremely moist and fat free, relying entirely on homemade applesauce. It's amazing how much you can do with such simple ingredients.
But touching stories such as this are more of a rarity. More often than never, market-goers simply glance at my booth in polite amusement, and the moment they are offered to come closer to experience the scents, they would mostly decline. "I can't wear scent to work" is one of the most common reactions (then wear it when you don't work! I feel the urge to reply, but don't...); or "I'm allergic to perfume" is the more common reply. How do these allergies manifest is a totally different question, and more often than never you discover that they are allergic to food, not perfume. But the excuse is convenient. Other times, market-goers are more honest: "I'm not interested in scent whatsoever" is a reaction I heard last week at Porotbello West. Whoa! You are simply going to wipe out an entire sense? Seriously?!
That's what I would call "Selective Anosmia". You're choosing to be blind. Or deaf, for that matter. You're blocking out an entire aspect of your life simply because...? Well, in that case, please don't ruin it to the rest of us mortals who like to stop and smell the roses, and enjoy a dab of perfume from time to time. Please don't ruin my world just because you don't care about it. Let's just go our separate ways, and I will wear my perfumes, and you will just choose not to smell them. Then we can all live happily ever after and I might even be able to make a living out of what I love, because "selective anosmiacs" like you won't be aggressively advocating for scent-free world and forcing everyone else to go by their scentless rules. Amen.