Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Attention Eary Birds!

Sign up for Ayala Moriel's perfume courses early and save up to 65% off.
Early Bird rate good thru August 15th for both the Leathery & Tobacco Week (October 1-5, 2012), Floriental Week (May 13-17, 2013) and the correspondence course handbook. More details below:

Fall: Leather & Tobacco Week October 1-5, 2012
This week-long intensive course runs Mon-Fri from 9:00am-3:00pm, and offers theoretical and practical guidance alongside hands-on lab exercises and experiments. Friday is dedicated for feedback, summary and one-on-one sessions with Ayala for each participant. The Autumn session covers studying the raw materials, the history of the Leather and Tobacco perfume genre, as well as concepts such as perfume structure, how to blend an alcohol based perfume, how to write a formula, building leathery and tobacco accords, as well two representative formulas of each Leathery and Tobacco perfumes, both in an alcohol base.
Feature workshop: Scenting leather
The fee includes book, materials and supplies as well as tea and refreshments. Dates: October 1-5, 2012
Regular rate: $1,800
Early bird rate thru August 15th: $1,440
Registration Deadline for Fall Course: August 20th

Spring: Floriental Week May 13-17, 2013
This week-long intensive course is one of the 8-part Foundation of Natural Perfumery Course. It runs Mon-Fri from 9:30am-3:30pm, and offers theoretical and practical guidance alongside hands-on lab exercises and experiments. This course is dedicated to the Floriental (aka Floral Ambery) fragrance family, covering the raw materials the characterize this genre, learning about the structure of the Floriental fragrance family and the structure and typical raw materails and combinations that are characteristics of this family. Students will be introduced to composition concepts such as perfume structure, and equipped with basic technical skills such as how to blend an alcohol based perfume, how to write a formula, and acquire good working habits in a lab setting. In the practical workshops that take place each afternoon, students will be building accords and creating simple solid perfumes, as well as one representative perfume from the Floriental family.
Feature workshop: Solid Perfume Workshop
The fee includes book, materials and supplies.
Dates: May 13-17, 2013
Regular rate: $1,800
Early bird rate thru August 15th: $1,440
Registration deadline: March 1st, 2013

Please note: The course fees includes materials, books and equipment used during the week at the lab. Students who wish to continue their studies with the book's extensive array of hands-on and theroetical excercises, accompanied by raw materials they can purchase on their own from the recommended list of suppliers in the course handbook - and some oils and extracts are also sold here at the studio. Contact me if you need more details or have any questions at all about either of the programs!

Correspondence course handbook
Regular price - $1,000
Special price thru August 15th - $350

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San Francisco Chronicle + Best Salon Awards

The San Francisco Chronicle covers the 1st Artisan Fragrance Salon. Great pics of some of my colleagues who participated, and also - big congratulations for the winners of the Best Salon Awards!
Especially, for Cognoscenti, 40notes, Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery and Yosh for winning 1st place in most of the categories. It's great to see so much recognition for emerging brands.

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Lime vs. Linden

Lime by Ayala Moriel
Lime, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Linden is often referred to confusingly as “lime blossom” (which is its common name in Britain) It should not be confused with the citrus lime (Citrus aurantifolia), which bears the green lemon-like fruit that you might know from Mexican cuisine.

The two thing the two have in common in the confusing nomenclature; other than that - they share nothing in common, neither botanically nor olfactory wise.

Linden Blossom

Linden Blossoms (Tilia vulgaris) tree are prized for the flavour they lend to honey, and are also used as an herbal remedy when steeped in hot water to make a tisane often called “tilleul”. Linden blossom are very calming and are used in folklore and herbal medicine to treat conditions such as hysteria, anxiety, cold and fever, palpitations and migraines. Similarly, it is used in aromatherapy to treat insomnia, migraine and other stress related conditions. Also used for cramps, indigestion and liver pains.

Linden absolute is solvent extracted from the dried flowers and the "leaf" attached to it. It is thick and sticky, dark green semi-solid mass. It is hard to work with and has to be diluted in alcohol for its aroma to be fully appreciated. Linden absolute is mildly sweet and herbaceous, dry, dry grass and hay-like, and somewhat floral and honeyed, reminiscent of a sweet herbal tea.

There is also a CO2 that is harder to come by, that is clear, with more intense honey notes, lighter yet sweeter, and less reminiscent of hay (in both scent and appearance).

Use in perfumery, the aroma of Linden Blossom is unusual and rarely used. It adds a honeyed, green, floral-herbaceous and slightly wine-like note and helps to balance sweet florals such as jasmine and tuberose, as well as sweeten and mellow green, citrus and herbal accords.

The principle constituent of linden blossom is farnesol. This may explain why it is not commonly used in mainstream perfumery. Farnesol is significantly cheaper as a synthetic than the linden blossom absolute (and obviously is often used to adulterate the true absolute...). Therefore, it is not surprising that linden blossom as a note is fairly rare overall. A few perfumes that incorporate linden blossom are mostly delicately green, fresh, light floral, for example: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Goddess, Fresh’s Violet Moss (1997), L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse au Papillons , Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipani Absolute (2003) and Parfums Delrae Début (2004).

Linden Blossom Soliflores are far and few, and are not nearly as popular as other soliflores:
Aftelier’s Linden Blossom (discontinued, but available through their website as special order through the Product Archives page), D’ORsay Tilleul (1995), Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom (1995) and l'Artisan Parfumeur L'Été en Douce (2005) and Annick Goutal's Eau de Ciel (1986).

Natural Perfumes Containing Linden Blossom:
JoAnne Bassett’s Le Voyage (2000), Aftelier’s Linden Blossom (see above) and FiFi finalist Honey Blossom (2010), Ayala Moriel’s Kinmokusei and now discontinued soliflore Tirzah.

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia, and on rare occasions also a type called Citrus limetta will be found - which is the finest of the all) was probably originated in the East Indian archipelago, from where it made its way to South America, and also spread to Iran, Arabia and East Africa (where it is often called "Persian Lime"). Lime is more often than never produced from the green, unripe fruit (if you are ever picking lime at the store and want sweetness - get the yellow ones!). Lime is a unique and unusual citrus notes in several respects, and is extremely versatile in its uses in the flavour and fragrance industry (both fine and functional). It is produced in two different methods - expression and steam distillation, producing two slightly different profiles:

Expressed lime oil is the preferred raw material for perfumery, since it has more complexity and also has better tenacity. Expressed lime oil is produced by either hand-pressing the peels only; or expressing the entire fruit with special machinery (the peel is very thin, and the fruit is quite uneven in size and shape) and separating the essential oil from the juice with a centrifuge. The two methods will be slightly different smelling, and the yield lower than that of distilled lime: It has has a full-bodied, green, spicy, woodsy aroma, with sweet, lactonic undertones. It is complex, featuring much less of the characteristic citrusy limonene molecule (which has a mild lemon-orange scent) than is noticeable in other citrus oils; and has woodsy-coniferous character (from both alpha and beta pinene), slightly medicinal/green aspect from 1,8-cineole (the main constituent in Eucalyptus), and other peppery-spicy molecules. Curiously, it also contains methyl anthranilate (grape-wintergreen smelling molecule that occurs in many "white florals"), as well as coumarin, which gives it a lactonic, coconutty finish that makes it so suitable for tropical beach scents. On another more technical note, the combination of methyl anthranilate and aldehyde rarely occurs naturally. It is what is called "Schiff's Base", which most perfumers try to avoid, as it creates discoloration and odour-changes down the road.

Steam distilled lime oil is produced either from the acid juice of the unripe fruit, or from the crushed peels. It is most commonly used in flavouring, and the distillation process is not only cheaper, but also preferred for this use because it takes off some of the characteristic bitterness and "dry mouthfeel" that expressed lime oil (from the peel) has. Its "sweet" character is probably due to oxygenated compounds such as citral, aliphatic aldehydes (C-8 to C-10). The freshness comes mostly from limonene.

Most people will probably prefer the distilled lime oil over the expressed one because it smells more familiar from the flavoured lime products we are all exposed to: You will probably notice right away the similarity of the aroma of this oil to that found in many soft beverages (i.e.: cola) and lime flavoured candies or bubble gums. Steam distilled lime essential oil has the same distinctive lime fragrance as the expressed, only that it is sweeter, rounder and less green upon opening. The dryout, however, is less sweet and refined than the opening and becomes dry, woody, almost rough textured upon drydown.

You would find lime oil in many applications for household use (because of its solvent and anti-microbial properties). Most commonly - blended with pine and lemon oils and their derivatives for bathroom cleaners of the "Pine-Sol" type. And, as I mentioned earlier, it's a huge hit in soft beverages like cola (along with cassia and cloves), citrus-flavoured sodas (ginger-ale, 7-Up, etc.).

In fine fragrances, you're like to find lime in many masculine fragrances, where its woodsy personality blends so well with the typically masculine woodsy bases, as well as in fougere (it adds an extra dose of coumarin to the mix, along with tonka bean, hay or synthetic coumarin), and has interesting effects in Chypre, Coniferous and even floral compositions, where its brisk freshness serves a contrast to other more intoxicating notes.

Examples: Dior's Eau Sauvage (1966), Miller Harris' Citron Citron (2000), Ayala Moriel's ArbitRary (2001) and Lime & Cacao; Jo Malone's Blue Agava & Cacao (2006), Parfums Delrae Début (2004), Parfums de Nicolai's Eau d'Été (1997), Aftelier's Haute Claire (2011), Rochas Moustache (1949), JoAnne Bassett's Napoleon (2006), Diptyque's Oyedo (2000), and too many others to count.

Do you have any favourite lime scents? Or cocktails? We will be happy to hear about anything linden or lime related in the comment section of this post!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Monkey Monday: Curious Isolates

I'm currently reading Shelley Waddington's book "Perfuming with Natural Isolates" - which I highly recommend to anyone who's interested in broadening their knowledge of the natural raw materials and understanding the depth of their chemical makep; and for those wishing to include natural isolates for special effects in a perfume composition while keeping their commitment to using solely natural raw materials.

The world of chemistry is fascinating and vast, and it's exciting to always make new discoveries - big or small - about the characteristics of the fragrant raw materials I work with on a regular basis. Smelling the isolates on their own sheds new light on subject, and brings forth aspects that were before either vague, subtle or completely hidden from my nose. Truly incredible learning curve.

There are also some curious facts about isolates, so we'll dedicate today's Monkey Monday giveaway for you to answer correctly the following five isolate-related questions:
1) What is the name of the molecule that gives spearmint its characteristic scent?
2) What's the common isolate for these three oils: Hay Lime and Tonka Bean?
3) What isolate is used to produce the drug Ecstasy?
4) What's a characteristic molecule that's common to orange blossom, tuberose and ylang ylang?
5) What does citral smell like? And what plant(s) essential oil(s) has/have the highest citral content?

Answer as many as you can to increase your chance to win (you will be entered the number of times you answer correctly, so even if you know only one answer, you will get entered).
Among those who answer correctly, there will be a lucky draw on Friday at noon to win a 1/4oz bottle of Go Ask Alice - an all natural perfume from En Voyage Perfumes.

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Eau d'Orange Verte

white shirt and tree by JuliaGardner
white shirt and tree, a photo by JuliaGardner on Flickr.

Eau d'Orange Verte was recently re-introduced and heavily reformulated by Hermes. I was fortunate to snatch a bottle from a retailer that still had the former version, just as the new trio of Eaux de Colognes were introduced to Hermes counters world-wide.
This review is for the former version (perhaps not the original 1979 version (designed by Francoise Caron), but rather the 1997 re-orchestration (if you know who was the perfumer behind that, please comment), which still has a healthy dose of good ol' oakmoss lurking underneath, and before the inclusion of mango notes (2009's remake by Jean-Claude Elena, which is a completely different fragrance altogether).

Eau d'Orange Verte was a scent I first "met" on a long haul flight to Israel via Heathrow many years ago. There were a few hours to kill, and thankfully an Hermes boutique to be my accomplice in time-murder. I rarely reach for an eau de cologne type scent, but flights are an exception: the tired recycled air full of free radicals and foreign viruses makes me want to escape to the simple, hygenic and familiar eau de cologne genre. Also, it's a very safe travel scent as it is light and can endure any anxiety or physical uneasiness that is the side effect of long trans-Atlantic journeys.

To this day, it is one of the very few scents that strongly resonates with a very relaxed, fantasy Mediterranean lifestyle of a vacation where all you need is sandals and thin white cotton clothing. Rather than a mood or a story, it simply is that: vacation in a bottle, which sums up to two colours: white and turquoise.

Eau d'Orange Verte is bitter orange at its best: brisk, juicy, effervescent and with that bitterness that is reminiscent of grapefruit zest, juice and pith (the white parts of the peel). It is slightly aromatic, but not as masculine as some eaux de colonge can often time invoke.

Bitter [sweet] by Ravi Vora
Bitter [sweet], a photo by Ravi Vora on Flickr.

This brilliant composition is charming in how it takes the freshness of bitter orange to the extreme, and makes it feel interesting and lingering, yet without the common mistake - at the expense of interest or originality. It has the initial "mouthfeel" and nasal impression of a sparkling white wine: light citrusy and fruit-ester notes, which give it a very bright, sprightly texture. The bitter orange is the main theme, but rather than the common sweet orange, bitter orange's elegant, slightly dry and rather floral complexity is what gives the scent its edge. There is a very slight touch of herbs (peppermint and tiny bit of basil, to be exact) that reinforces the aromatic, non-perfumey quality of this "eau"; and only a hint of flowers (jasmine and orange blossom), which if anything contribute to the fruity aspect (which is something that magically happen when you pair jasminey notes with herbaceous ones) and the final drydown is the beloved oakmoss (which I doubt ever made it to the new formulations of the "eaux de cologne" mini series created by Jean Claude Elena in 2009). Oakmoss accentuates the "verte" part of the perfume, as when it's in a very light concentration, it feels more green and leafy rather that musky and mossy. It's a tad masculine, but not nearly as much as others in this category - i.e.: Eau Sauvage, O de Lancome, so if you're a lady you won't need to wear any extra something to prove your gender. You can just be yourself, enjoy the scenery and relax.

Top notes: Bitter Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin, Mint

Heart notes: Jasmine, Orange Blossom

Base notes: Oakmoss, Cedar

For more information about this eau de cologne formula and packaging changes through the years, check out this discussion on Basenotes.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

California Stats + Winner Results

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

Monkey Monday results are finally out! The most favourite oils that were used in my California classes are:
Red Mandarin, Sandalwood, Sweet Orange
Least popular: Lavender Oil & Absolute, Galbanum
Most loved floral: Neroli

The winners are:
A few of you guessed sandalwood as a popular note, so I had to do a lucky draw. Bellatrix is the one who gets the first package of essential oils samples.

LL Graham - who guessed one correct "unpopular" note - Galbanum - will receive a second collection of essential oil samples.

Princess Ellie - who guessed the correct floral - Neroli - will receive a mini of Cabaret.

Happy weekend!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sweet William

Ineke's Floral Curiosities anthology of soliflores for Anthropoligie continues, and the newest flower in this poetic garden is Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus).

I had the pleasure to smell & wear Sweet William over dinner & Kir with Ineke and her husband Bill - and immediately fell for this delicate, spicy, warm yet fresh composition.

Sweet William opens with fresh balsamic peppery notes that reminded me of another favourite - Si Lolita. It is, however, more dusky and violetty than the latter. Carnation accord being the centre of attention, with complementary strokes of ionones, redolent of candied violets and accompanied by velvety cedar (a wink to Evening Edged in Gold, which also had a rich cedar, fruit and spice accord), which give it a purplish hue and a slightly serious, almost regal personality.

The base notes are those of rich woodsy patchouli and powdery musk, which dries down to a clean, dry patchouli and white musk notes. It is not in the least overpowering, but has an incredible staying power and stays on even after a swim and a shower, with slightly berry like musky notes.

Ineke's soliflore treatment is modern, abstract and rather than just dissecting and replicating Sweet William, she's created a stylized impression of this carnation's particularly sweet-spicy-velvety personality (other carnations have a slightly rosy-green aspect that you won't find in here), and create a memorable scent from an otherwise low-key, modest flower.

The notes, according to Ineke's press release, are peach, cloves, cinnamon, cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli and bourbon vanilla.

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Midnight Violet Cocktail

Midnight Violet Cocktail

At long last, my search for available violet liquor in Vancouver have found their victim: Legacy Liquor Store had the last bottle on their shelf of Giffard Violette. Considering that most of this company's products are flavoured syrups for cocktails, it not only not blow my socks off when I tasted a bit on its own. It actually reminded me of a vitamin syrup I had to take when I was little (I think it was vitamin D, but it could have been something else). Not awful tasting, but definitely not what I'd expected a violet liquor to be like. To be perfectly honest, I think I would have been far better off insfusing vodka with my own concoction of violet-like herbs and essential oils. But I had to feed my curiosity and know what the "real thing" is supposed to be like.

So, with much hesitance, I tried my concocting my first cocktail with it last night with my friend Miriam. We looked up some recipes online, and each looked less promising than the next (i.e.: third of each violet liquor, Marachino liquor and heavy cream - no thanks...). We settled on what seemed the most sensible of all, and the least cloying. And voila - a cocktail of our own was born, which was quite enjoyable and with a beautiful blue hue to boot!

1/2 oz homemade elderflower cordial
1/2 oz violet liquor

1 oz gin (we used Hendricks, which has lovely floral backnotes of rose)
Shake with ice and top with San Pellegrino or another unsweetened carbonated water. Garnish with 3 crystallized violet petals for an extra touch of retro feel, and more of that purplish-blue colour.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Santal de Mysore

the fish curry spices by bognarreni
the fish curry spices, a photo by bognarreni on Flickr.

As I was riding the train through Central Valley (California) back in June, all kinds of things were happening -
A girl of 10 or so was going for their first train ride ever; people were getting on and off, and Santal de Mysore was slowly unfolding on my wrists (mostly just dissipating), with no sandalwood in sight. I had some dabbed on my scarf as well, and it was lingering on it nicely. I've put it on early in my trip, as soon as I felt awake enough to surround myself with rich spices that won't disappoint a visit to the nearby Indian restaurant (which I doubt there is any in Central Valley, but a person can dream!).

It's exactly those spices which grabbed me at first and nearly convinced me to buy a bottle right there and than at Scent Bar. Even at the heat and humidity of LA it has its charm and it was all over me on the evening when I tried it first. And with a name so appealing, suggesting an extinct tree whose scent only haunts my dreams, it was very easy to go the impulse way.

True Mysore sandalwood is a thing of the past; over-harvesting, and practices that don't really change reduce Indian sandalwood oil to a ghastly mirror of what it once used to be: to achieve the creamy, milky, slightly floral and sweetly musky aroma of sandalwood, one must wait, patiently, for 50 years before uprooting the tree and distilling its entire heartwood, including that which comes from the roots. Nowadays, the only "ethical" sandalwood oils that comes from India are from plantations that are supposedly replenished, yet from much younger trees (20-30 years old), before they obtained their aged character. Rather, you get rancid, sour wood. Which on my skin, personally, only gets sourer as it unfolds.

But I digress from the main theme of this post, which is how does this perfume smell? It just so happens to have Mysore sandalwood in the name (and the premise, or promise, or price point). In reality, Santal de Mysore is a savoury perfume interpretation of garam masala, and with a French take. And by that I mean - it has cumin in it. When I was in an Indian restaurant in Grasse (Sothern France), the food was completely free of spices, except it had tomato sauce and cumin, which was supposed to be the adventurous, exotic part of the dish. It stays rather linear - with the spices and woodsy, resinous notes of immortelle, turmeric and cumin slowly fading away, with the only spice missing being shallots and perhaps some asafoetaida. There are only hints and suggestions of other ambery and woodsy components such as vanilla-like benzoin, dry wood and cistus. And all along, alpha ionone is casting its dark, shadowy candied woodchips and crystallized violet notes, which became the trademark of the Serge Lutens brand ever since Feminite du Bois.

Santal de Mysore has more to it than just cumin, thankfully; but cumin and immortelle are certainly more dominant than sandalwood - that is for certain. Its charm lies in creating an "Arabie Lite" (and if you've read this blog from its very beginning, you'll know that I love Arabie) - not nearly as dense and dark as Arabie, as if the spices have left the mysterious souk and are already laid out on a plate with a steaming bowl of rice and naan on the side.

This is a classic example of "get a sample first". Because of the train ride association, and because it is an exotic yet soothing, warm scent - I enjoy wearing it very much. But for a far more intriguing spice mix, reminiscent of cold tamarind and dusty cobble stone streets, I will reach for Arabie; and for my sandalwood fix, I will have to look elsewhere. Perhaps in Vanuatu.

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Attention Early Birds: Leather & Tobacco Week

For those among you interested in getting deeper into the world of perfumery and study how to create your own in much detail - Ayala Moriel's professional natural perfumery training course is a must!
Creative, fun yet structured and nurturing learning environment where you will meet other students and professionals, and learn the basic as well as advanced concept of constructing your own natural perfumes. We cover all areas of perfumery studies: olfaction (aka study of each raw material), how to sniff, perfume history, technical and lab skills, and - most importantly: composition.
The program is flexible and spans over the course of 4 years, in which you will attend bi-annual week long sessions at Ayala Moriel Parfums studio in Vancouver, every fall and spring (usually the 3rd week of September/ 1st week of October; and the 2nd week of May. Additional dates other locations where she takes her "traveling perfume school". Each week is dedicated to one of the main fragrance families: Chypre, Oriental, Fougere, Citrus & Colognes, Florientals, Leather & Tobacco, Floral Bouquets & Soliflores, Aquatic/Marine/Oceanic.

The next sessions are in the following dates, and are offered at Early Bird Rate of 20% off, thru July 30th:

Leather & Tobacco (October 1st - 5th, 2012)

Florientals (May 13th - 17th, 2013)

Course fees include tuition, course handbook with wealth of information, guiding exercises and resources, and of course - all the equipment, tools and natural raw materials used during the week long course at the studio.

Also only thru July 30th: Ayala's Foundation of Natural Perfumery Book (and correspondence course, which entitles you to 5 x 1hr sessions over phone/skype to address any specific questions and challenges you come across in your study) over the course of 1 year. This is a great way to start your studies for those of you who can't yet attend in person. It is full of hands-on exercises and theoretical assignments that will enable you to study natural perfumery thoroughly and understand the classic structure and principles of European natural perfumery. This correspondence course is usually $1,000, but until July 30th you can have access to this knowledge and training for only $350!

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Must Read: Interview with Alyssa Harad

Visit Now Smell This to read an interview with Alyssa Harad about her new book, Coming To My Senses (which is a must read too!).

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Linden and Linen

Laundry on the line by MarleneFord
Laundry on the line, a photo by MarleneFord on Flickr.

L'Été en Douce (meaning Soft Summer, formerly known as Extrait de Songes - or the Essence of Dreams) is as light as a cloud and as fleeting as the aroma of linden blossoms which wafts through the streets in midsummer.

Reminiscent of fragrant twigs and freshly soaped skin, l'Été en Douce is light and ethereal and I find it wears better on fabric than on my skin. On fabric it unfolds with the subtle honey nuances of linden and orange blossom with hints of petitgrain; where as on skin, the clean "white musks" and synthetic "white woods" notes are taking over. And there is also an underlining bitterness, reminiscent of almonds but not quite - the mark of coumarin (hay is listed among the notes, but there is non of its delicious sweetness, so I think it's just coumarin - adorable all the same, but just a little flatter).

I'd enjoy it more if it was real summer here, and would wear it in the halo-method, when you spray it in the room and walk into its mist. Preferably while wearing white linen attire or gauzy white cotton shirt. But I'm enjoying just as much after accidentally spilling half of my sample all over my denim dress pants and silk blouse...

Olivia Giacobetti is the nose here, and like most of her creations - she used a very light hand, which makes for an easily wearable (and over-spilled) summer scent, a little abstract and obscure, but very true to its name.

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Longing for Summer

The past couple of summer has been a joke (a very sad joke, actually...), and this summer is no exception. I could count the sunny days on my fingers and maybe some toes. So with that longing for summer, I'm going to be reviewing some perfumes that have the word "summer" in them this way or another. And as it turns out - there is no shortage of them!
Parfum d'Ete (Kenzo), eau d'Ete, Rose d'Ete, Summer by Kenzo, Ete en Douce, and than of course I'm going to throw a few others in that just smells like what summer is supposed to be. And if you have any summer favourites or recommendations, I'm all ears!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Omniscent 0.96

Omniscent 0.96 (Yosh) is a nearly all-encompassing scent that is a little play on a potent word *, and defies categorization as it feels like a few perfumes in one. It's colourful, free spirited, comforting, familiar and yet at the same time intriguing and full of surprises.

It all begins with a shrinkingly familiar yet mysterious accord of aloe-vera hand & body lotion my mom used to have eons ago (and shared with me very generously), and Opium parfum combined. There's also the pink pepper note set against vanilla that made me fall hard for Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if the moment I smelled it (but no roses or saffron here). If there is any basil in the top notes, it's only imparting a spicy, eugenol note that gives it that immediate "oriental" feel.

And there's also the thick, nearly overpowering presence of khus oil, which is a popular oil perfume from India that you would find in folk festivals or on Haight street (or Commercial Drive if you're in Vancouver - which is where I first found all those rich, oriental single note oils such as amber, Egyptian musk and Khus). It's not ruh khus (the traditional distillation of vetiver oil), and it's also not cannabis or vetiver fragrance oil, but kind of a mix of both, which eventually smells just very sweet, woody, rich and intoxicating.

Floral notes are lurking in its midst - big ones such as gardenia, tuberose, and also the quieter, soapy and demure lilac, accompanied by milky, powdery fig accord. But it is by no means floral – these notes rather amount to an abstract, imaginary orchid impression, something that might have been taken out of a mother-of-pearl tinted floral illustration of lotus and peonies on a lacquered Chinese treasure chest. Sandalwood fans in the background release a creamy-woodsy scent that weaves in and out whenever it gets a chance to peak through the stronger personalities involved.

A couple of hours in, the vanilla gets amplified, and it slowly mellows down until the drydown, which is subtle and delicious: sandalwood, vanilla, musk and patchouli, staying close to the skin and having a sensual, dry-yet-sweet appeal that is perhaps what I like the most about Omniscent. This phase will last through the day (or night) and feels like its has a very clean finish.

Omniscent nearly escapes the completely headshoppy categorization simply because there is more to it than just this one single note or another. It has evolution and tells it's story in the Yosh style - which I came to know as free spirited, and humorous: it never takes itself too seriously, this way or another, which leaves just enough room for you to create your own narrative if you wish.

You can find Omniscent at Barneys, Scent Bar or online on LuckyScent.
This review is for the eau de parfum, which is lighter and less dense and dark than the parfum oil (in the numbered flacons).

Top notes: Aloe Vera, Basil, Pink Grapefruit, Pink Pepper

Heart notes: Tuberose, Gardenia, Lilac, Fig, Violet

Base notes: Sandalwood, Vanilla, Musk, Khus, Patchouli

* Omniscient means having total knowledge, knowing everything, and is often one of the attributes of God.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Monkey Monday: Californian's Favourite Oils?

This weekend, with no further excuses, I had to finally unpack all the oils that were wrapped in electric tapes, ziplocs and bubble wraps and put them back on my perfumers' organ for my students. It was my first class at the studio since May before my schedule filled up with packing and airports and trains and other adventures...

As I was going through the bottles, I had to make note of the "damage" - half a bottle of spilled galbanum oil was the only spillage. Thank goodness I triple-wrapped this potent green sharp note! It nearly took over the suitcase and I was delaying my response, which kinda got too used to a very aromatic suitcase, this being my 3rd trip with this "kit".

So, for this week's Monkey Monday, I figured I will ask you to make a guess of the 3 oils that were most popular with my California students. This is, of course, completely based on the content of the bottles (or the lack of it...). Three bottles ran out completely, and the person who guesses these three correctly will receive some samples of beautiful aromatics from Eden Botanicals.

The 38 essences are (in alphabetical order):
Atlas Cedarwood, Bergamot, Black Pepper, Cinnamon Leaf, Cistus, Clary Sage, Clary Sage Absolute, Clove Bud Oil, Fir Absolute, Frankincense, Galbanum, Geranium, Ginger CO2, Jasmine Absolute, Juniper Berry, Labdanum, Lavender Absolute, Lavender Oil, Lemon, Lemongrass, Litsea Cubeba, Myrrh, Neroli, Oakmoass Absolute, Orange Blossom Absolute, Patchouli, Red Mandarin, Roman Chamomile, Rose Absolute, Rosemary Absolute, Sage, Sambac Absolute, Sandalwood, Sweet Orange, Vanilla Absolute, Vetiver, Virginia Cedarwood, White Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang

Bonus: If you want to make more speculations - guess the 3 least favourite of them all, you will also receive a little sample pack of aromatics to play with.

Extra bonus: If you are feeling even more ambitious - what was the most popular floral note? I'm still thinking what the prize for this might be... How about a surprize?!

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The Essential Oil Mansion (July 9th)

Eden Botanicals team

The last stop before heading back to Oakland (and continuing a vigorous packing of the 40 essential oils I left behind on my last trip... Oy vey) was one of my most favourite suppliers ever, whom I always dreamed of visiting: Eden Botanicals. I don't usually disclose my suppliers, but I am making a huge exception here because I've been working with them for so long that I feel like I'm part of their team in some ways too (you'll understand why in a moment).

Eden Botanicals
recently moved from their rural Northern California location up in Hymapom, closer to civilization to the town of Petalum in Sonoma County (just under an hour drive from San Francisco).

They were located in a quiet street in a several story-high house that looked like an essential oil mansion, or a castle to me. And for a warehouse that stores tens of essential oils in substantial quantities, the scent was not in the least overwhelming, but pleasant and aromatic and wonderful. Just like walking into a larger version of my tiny studio space when I just open all the boxes where I store my vast of oils stashed away from heat and light.

It was wonderful to connect in person with the people who import top-quality essential oils and absolutes from around the world (as well as other accessories for aromatherapists and perfumers - anything from carrier oils to scent-strips, which, by the way, I was out of and they managed to ship speedily over to Lisa's house so that I can have them for the weekend's many scent events!). I've been working with Eden Botanicals for years, both as my supplier, but also helping them out in writing the ad copy to some of the essential oils they bring from around the world. It's a mammoth project, which is very unlikely to ever end, as they always bring new things and we always tried to keep the descriptions accurate for slight variations between batches.

Eden Botanicals has grown throughout the years but is still a very small, personable company, which includes the new owner, Josh, Kyanne, Mollie and their aromatherpist Julia (the last two are shown in the picture above). They are still planning to move to a different location within Petaluma, and Josh has many exciting plans for this new locations which I can hardly wait to tell you - but will just have to wait till I see and smell them myself.

Avraham Sand's Aromatic Menorah

When showing them my new "Oy de Cologne" Julia told me she was Jewish too and pulled out this interesting essential oil display shaped like a Menorah from AvAroma (Avraham Sand's company in Israel), carrying the "Ketoret" (incense) oils: Costus, saffron, myrrh, frankincense, balsam, galbanum, spikenard, cassia, cloves and more.

Osmanthus from Eden Botanicals

I came with a very specific shopping list in mind (great way to "get rid of" foreign cash, by the way!) and only strayed from it with one ingredients - the new arrival: Osmanthus absolute. It was great that I did, because I completely ran out and the only other sources I have were both extremely expensive and not all the great of a quality. This osmanthus, like most of the essences they scout, is exceptional. This flower, redolent of apricot and leather is still dark and mysterious, but it feels as if there is a ray of light coming through it. There is a quality that I find hard time to truly describe and pinpoint, but is there in all good quality oils: they are vibrant, and feel alive and full of action, as if they are still a living thing. And that's exactly what I'm looking for, and is always worth all the extra costs and effort to find.

I smelled and received a few samples of other exciting new arrivals, including coffee bean essential oil, organic peppermint oil, Somalian frankincense (Boswellia frereana), organic fresh ginger root oil and organic Ylang Ylang. If these do not sound all that exotic, know that when a plant is grown, harvested and distilled/extracted with care, the result is exceptional and inspiring. As is the case with all of these oils.

Last but not least: Eden Botanicals now accept international orders! That's also great news for Canadians, who could now order directly from the website, rather than call in with their order. Yay!

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Paloma's Corner: Vintage Coty Parfum de Toilette Set

Vintage Coty Parfum de Toilette set
Today, the long-awaited coffret of .5oz Parfum de Toilette arrived in the mail (if the concentration title confuses you, scroll over to Perfume Shrine, that helped clear out the mystery). Completely out of character, I didn't rip the package open till I got home (I usually spend the short walk from the post office to home absentmindedly crossing streets as my nose is plugged to a vial of this or that, if not to my wrist...).

Just as I expected, the packaging was a bit on the tacky side: clear plastic sleeve to showcase the 4 beaus, nestled in a bonbon-like golden box (the kind that would rotate around and around as "gifts" until someone dares to open them on a pathetic chocolate-craving moment only to find inside very stale, blooming chocolates filled with syrupy liquor...). The box is lined with black faux-velvet that has dents for each bottle.

But, to my delight, unlike a stale bonbon, each bottle was in pristine condition, and more importantly - the contents are as bright as ever, as if they were still fresh. Someone must have kept them very well - away from heat, moisture and light. I'm still trying to discover the estimated date for these beauties. I have a feeling they're from the late 70's or early 80's (especially knowing that one of them was not launched till 1965 or 1966 - it can't be earlier than that). Just based on the packaging and how fresh they still smell. Only one of the bottles had part of the splash lid stuck to the mouth of the bottle (which was easily fixed).

But packaging and recent perfume history aside, I'm sure you're more interested in what was in them. The quartet includes Emeraude (1921), l'Aimant (1927), Imprévu (1965) and l'Origan (1905). I got them because they were a really great price, and these classic can't hurt to have around (even though, from my rough perfume-head count this morning, I have at least 104 bottles, if I count all the flacons and parfum extrait minis - but not count other minis... Or samples... Ahum).

Emeraude and I met before, in a thrift store, and it's very much like Shalimar, from the bottle at least. l'Aimant is intensely floral aldehydic in a way that would make No. 5 feel less lonely. Imprevu was a pleasant surprise - very light and woodsy and musky, which prompted me to apply it almost immediately (more on that later). And l'Origan smells a little aromatic but also candy-sweet, along the lines of l'Heure Bleue.

I'm excited to have something to do on such a rainy day (because, clearly, unpacking all my raw materials for my perfume making class on Sunday is "not enough work", not to mention the other trip I have to make to the post office, to ship packages & thank-you gifts and SmellyBlog prizes off). Great distractions, I suppose. But that's what makes life all the more interesting!

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Monkey Monday Winner (Smelly Commute)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Monkey Monday Smelly Commute contest of the week. You all did a great job guessing (Exotic Green Tea - how many cups of green tea did Elizabeth Arden have to brew before realized the tea bag run out of flavour?!), CK Summer (one among many CK flankers, that I cannot possibly keep track of), Hugo Woman and JOOP!

But the correct answer, which was Lindaloo's (also the first commenter - are you a mind reader?!), is Allure Sensuelle (2006) - the flanker to Allure (1996), a rather flat, linear and colourless floriental that they tried to make more raspy and throaty by marrying it with their accidental best-selling flanker Coco Mademoiselle (to Coco).

But two flankers do not a masterpiece make (or even a bestseller). Allure Sensuelle, I regret to say, was rather disappointing to me even though it had a lot of promise at the time. The patchouli and vanilla base sure were refreshing when fruity gourmand florals were still at their height (if they are ever going to not be, we'll all be better off). It had that rancid aquatic fruity top note (supposedly melon or lychee or both) that really works bad with patchouli and vetiver, but seems to be the mark of sophistication for perfume users who don't know any better (yet).

And now I will stop my rare anti-perfume rant and ask Lindaloo to send me your snail mail addy so I can send you a package of samples from the SF Sniff and 1st Artisan Fragrance Salon. I hope you will find something to your liking among these artisan perfumers' creations!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strolling in the Forest with Laurie and Lisa

Oaks by Bald Mountain

After a very eventful weekend, it was a special treat that Lisa has agreed to take a little road trip to Sonoma County to visit Laurie Erickson at her Sonoma Scent Studio. We were also hoping to sneak in a visit at Eden Botanicals, who recently moved to Petaluma (more about that in the next post).

The drive to Sonoma is scenic and picturesque. After crossing the bay's lengthy bridge, the hillsides in the summertime are all the colour of pale gold and look like a paint horse with big splashes of dark green oaks (the winter gives the exact opposite: dormant oaks, which are covered in parasitic moss, and green-grass-covered hills.

We ended up arriving to the county a bit to early, and it was lunch time, so thanks to my bad memory (Graton and Guerneville both start with a "G") we ended up in the wrong place after a very nice drive in the quite freeway along Russian River. And than, of course, we arrived a bit later than we hoped.

Climbing up Chalk Hill Road towards Laurie Erickson's Healdsburg studio, the country road is dappled with the generous shade of ancient oaks, and deer is not a rare sight (and they eat everything that Laurie and her parents try to grow - unless it's protected with a fence). Laurie's beautiful cottage is surrounded by a lovely garden with fragrant roses and violets, and is overlooking Chalk Hill Winery's vineyards, which were now completely covered in luscious green leaves (my first visit with her was in the spring, when they were still barren).

Forest Walk (Sonoma Scent Studio)
It was there in Laurie's own living room that I experienced Forest Walk for the first time. It immediately struck a familiar chord, and it took me a few minutes to realize that it was just like the scent that emerges from certain spots in Stanley Park in late summer and early fall. The same warmth and sweet dryness of cedar and moss, plus a funky wet earth note that is reminiscent of the dark, musty scent of earth awakening from frost in spring time.

The funky wet-earth scent is very much owing to a synthetic molecule (whose name I failed to ask Laurie about, and is probably top secret) that you could easily recognize as the only thing in Demeter's "Dirt". It's also in Neil Morris' Dark Earth, but not nearly as much of it in Forest Walk - just enough to give it a realistic wet earth and a bit wild edge.

Forest Walk unfolds with many phases, always revealing a different aspect of the forest: a branch there, a leaf there, and oh - have you noticed this patch of wild violets over there? It's like a walk in a warm, needle-covered forest in summer (except, perhaps, for the violet patch), with oak trees and hanging moss adding a dry, tannin quality.

As the perfume develops on the skin further, the strange wet earth note dissipates, the Western red cedar softens and shifts to the background, and give way to deeper, earthier notes of many natural essences that I'm not only familiar with but also extremely fond of: labdanum and oakmoss with their brown, comforting warmth; black hemlock absolute (which I smelled at Laurie's studio for the first time - it's similar to pine needle absolute, less sweet and more dry-woody conifer absolute - where as fir (which is also present in this composition) takes on an extremely sweet, jam-like character. Other woodsy notes also add mystery and lasting power: New Caledonian sandalwood, aged Indian patchouli.

The labdanum intensifies over time on my skin, giving a rich ambery foundation to the rather rustic experience of hiking in the forest on a hot summer day and collecting needles in your hair and clothing after sitting down in a forest clearing to relax a bit, skin all salty and warm from the mild excursion.

The final dryout is woody yet smooth on my skin, with ambery-resinous notes amplifying (which is to be expected on my skin, it tends to make the sweeter notes grow), and only bare hints of sandalwood and patchouli. Interestingly, on Lisa's skin, the dry woodsy notes, including the red cedar, were far more apparent, and the "wet earth" facet lasted for far longer period of time. A living proof for the mysteries of differences between skin-chemistry.

When wearing it again for the 3rd time, and dousing it generously, an initial herbaceous note grabs my attention - is is sage, rosemary, or simply the herbaceous cineole from the needles? It might even be both. The jasmine sambac makes a glimpse of an appearance, though it's not exactly there as an identified note, but rather a clearing between the lush leafy tree tops that allows the light to shine through. And there is also the cool, clean, sweet yet tart note of vetiver in there that I haven't noticed before, and which adds a precious-woods aroma yet without ever touching a tree with an axe (vetiver oil comes from the roots of a tropical grass related to lemongrass).

Like all of Laurie's creations, Forest Walk radiates warmth, depth, complexity and is very multilayered. It is about 50% or even more natural, which really gives it the aesthetic of turn of the century perfumes, which were only accentuated with synthetics for special effects (as opposed to cost-reduction, which is the main force behind most of what you smell nowadays). But it also stands out among all the collection of very fine perfumes for its unique storytelling, and also feels a lot less dense and floral than most.

Top notes: Wet Earth Notes, Western Red Cedar, Rosemary
Heart notes: Violet, Orris, Jasmine Sambac, Vetiver
Base notes: Black Hemlock Absolute, Fir Absolute, Patchouli, Labdanum, Benzoin, Galbanum, Sandalwood (New Caledonia)

Read other reviews of Forest Walk:
Mark's Review on Cafleurebon
Ida's Review on Fragrantica
Gaia's Review on The Non-Blonde

And for those of you dying to try it, I'm giving away a sample of Forest Walk as part of the package that's going on to this week's Monkey Monday winner. So don't forget to make a guess before tomorrow at noon about my smelly commute!

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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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Monday, July 16, 2012

Monkey Monday: The Joys of Smelly Commutes

Monkey Bizness

Last week (and all summer thereof), I had to use the car co-op to drive my daughter to and from summer camp. I'm certainly learning to appreciate the no commuting required the rest of the year, and mourn the 2 hours lost to traffic each day. Certainly does not make for a very productive work day (in contrary to what I remember commuting to be...).
Anyway, as I was using the same car every day for the entire week, and as I was trying different perfume samples from those given to me at the Artisan Fragrance Salon, I was alarmed to sense a scent of a certain unlikeable perfume around me, and kept wondering where it came from: is it from my wristwatch? My ring? My hair?

It took me a couple of days to locate the source of the undesireable perfume emanate from the seat belt. Some car-sharing gal went all perfume-spray-happy for her car co-op errands (which I'm rather thrilled about - Vancouverites wearing scent are a thing of rarity), and completely contaminated it with her scent. If it wasn't that particular one, I wouldn't be complaining about it (and booking a different car for the following week).

But, my loss is your gain: If you guess correctly which scent it is, you will win your very own free sample of it (just kidding! just kidding!). No, no, you will win a bunch of samples from the SF Sniff, plus a couple more that I've added by perfumers who presented at the salon last weekend, including Sonoma Scent Studio's new and beautiful Forest Walk.

Here are your hints:
1) Released in the 2000's
2) Not a celebrity perfume
3) Was never reviewed on SmellyBlog
4) It's a flanker for a rather popular scent from the 90's. It was released exactly 10 years before the "original".
5) Last but not least: It's not a niche, hard to find fragrance. You should be able to find it in most if not all department stores and run of the mill parfumeries and drug stores.

As usual, the contest will close by Friday at noon, by which I will do a lucky draw via random.org.

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Hothouse Flower

Flower Parade by yoshiko314
Flower Parade, a photo by yoshiko314 on Flickr.

Ineke's newest addition to her perfume abecadry is Hothouse Flower, which will launch in fall 2012. Inspired by gardenia's finicky and demanding growing conditions, and even more so by its luscious perfume, Ineke brought a plant into her lab in order to study its unique personality and facets.

Gardenia is more known for being a heady, tropical floral (often paired with tuberose, to create a very loud effect (i.e.: Fracas, Carnal Flower, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, etc.), or more of a sultry interpretation, where its salicilates are paired with darker, lingering notes (Velvet Gardenia, Cruel Gardenia, Vintage Gardenia with Cardamom & Myrrh). Hothouse Flower takes a path that is neither loud nor sultry. Ineke did here what she knows best: craft a beautiful, pretty gardenia that is easily wearable and adorable - but perhaps too pretty for a dark-person like myself.

The top notes are light and etheral, with hints of green crushed leaves and tea. It quickly unfolds into the more fruity aspects, reminiscent of butter and hints of pink bubblegum, as if the gardenia princess wakes up from a salicylic nap, and gives you a naughty wink to remind us of her lineage (Fracas et al) - than rolls to the other side, waiting for her customary breakfast-in-bed to appear.

The wake up calls arrives soon enough, with cool, dewy leaves and the green. Brisk yet resinous notes of galbanum, cypress and frankincense emerge, and take the edge of whatever you might have thought was too flowery.

Hothouse Flower is rather light for the big floral that it represents. It is very long lasting, however, with lingering light floral notes and clean musk and hints of greenery, not unlike the dryout of Balmy Days and Sundays.

Notes (according to Ineke's press release) include rather unusual pairings for gardenia: earl grey tea, green foliage, cypress, absinthe, gardenia, galbanum, fig, frankincense, guaiacwood, musk and corn silk.

* If you purchased a full bottle from Ineke's website in the past, you will receive a sample of Hothouse Flower in the mail in mid/late August. All the more reason for you to get your favourite scent now! And if you're unfamiliar with the line, order their deluxe sample collection, which will also entitle you to a Hothouse Flower sample once they come out in August!

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Watermelons, Jazz & Ghetto

Watermelon Salad at DOSA
It was not too long after the book reading ended that I realized that if I have any chance of having a quiet moment in this eventful weekend, it would be now, for a short lunch break. I had to head over to the Pacific Heights neighbourhood, and teach my 2nd perfume class ever in San Francisco at Alex Sandor's studio. I also needed to eat something inspiring, and relax a bit, if at all possible. Fillmore's jazz festival was on at full capacity, with mardi gras bands popping in every corner. Nikki Sherrit accompanied me for a lunch at DOSA, and for about an hour of sanity, we just enjoyed quiet conversation with a completely familiar face, and without needing to smell anything from a scent strip.

We had a couple of delicious dosas (Souther Indian crepe made of garbanzo flour and filled with anything your heart desired, plus an overdose of spice), and this amazing watermelon and basil salad (also spicy beyond the necessary, which works better than coffee in waking me up).

Building Blocks
Natural Raw Materials for Perfumery - Photo by Jessie Glass

And than I tried to make my way to Alex' studio but ended up going down Fillmore instead of upwards, and ended in what I later learned was the "Ghetto" (which I kinda figured out based on how many heads were turning to watch me go and making comments I was mostly trying to not hear). It was a bit unnerving, and could not for the life of me hail a taxi cab. I don't get easily unsettled, and Vancouver is well known for having way less than pleasant street corners; but walkers by kept giving me wrong directions (which brought me to the "Ghetto" to begin with), and I was starting to seriously run out of time; so I just used the best navigation tool I could think of at the moment and called Alex for directions to get me out of there fast.

Perfumery Session in Progress
Perfume Making Class July 7th @ Alex Sandor Studio - Photo by Jessie Glass

The class went very well, and one of the students, Jessie Glass, is a professional photographer, so we have a bunch of pretty pictures from the whole class, which you can fully view on Flickr. Here are just some of my personal favourites though (there is something to be said about photos of people smelling stuff):

Custom natural perfumes from the July 7th  class at Alex Sandor's studio

Ayala & Carol
Ayala & Carol - photo by Jessie Glass
Ayala & Alex
Ayala & Alex - photo by Jessie Glass

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Coming to My Senses Book Launch - July 7th

Coming To My Senses - Book Launch
After two and a half days of nearly slacking off, it was weekend - in other words: time for work... Non stop. Saturday began with an industry-only event sponsored by a supplier. Following that, the SF Sniff was kicking off with Alyssa Harad's book launch at Alexander Books (50 2nd Street, between Mission & Market). And after that there was my perfumery class at Alex Sandor's studio, and before it even ended there was another evening social gathering of perfumers and bloggers. In other words: an overly packed day.

But I want to tell you about Alyssa's book reading, which was a very exciting and heartwarming event. There were about 30 perfumistas gathering at the basement of the book store (many if not all of whom were planning to attend the Artisan Fragrance Salon the following day; and some of them were even coming to my class that very evening!), and Alyssa was telling a bit of her personal love affair with perfumes, and mostly her story of getting married and celebrating her bridal showers with her female part of the family all around perfume. It was a very interesting way to connect between generations (and I am still having hard time uploading the short video I took). The book also tells the story of her discovery of her mother's signature perfume, Femme, before formulation.

Between reading passages from her book, Alyssa passed around vintage perfumes for us to sniff: Femme, Cuir de Russie, Cabochard (all in parfum extrait), Jolie Madame (EDT). They were so gorgeous I had to put some Cuir de Russie on, which is even better than the rather old bottle I have of the same jus.

It was evident from the moment of meeting Alyssa, that she's a kind, warm and intelligent person, and this comes through in her memoir, Coming To My Senses (which, needless to say, I had to get a copy of, and have been enjoying ever since last Sunday evening). I'm only about halfway through, so this is by no means a "book review". All I can say for now is that if you take your perfumes seriously, you will relate very much to Alyssa's story. There are some parts that it feels as if she's telling "our story" - perfume lovers who only thanks to the internet are able to connect and gather information about our little nerdy obsession. And, of those who are not (yet) addicted to perfume - this is a story of a woman going through transformation, discovering a new world and how new doors open to her to access other aspects of the people around her, through smell. More than anything, Coming To My Senses is a story of personal re-discovery and transformation, even if subtle.

For me there is no shortage of emotionally moving parts in the story - viewing the transformation perfume has on her friends and family, including the "old aunts". Modern life's demands, and the overall denial of sensuality and femininity in our culture are things that are close to my heart, and finding them in the book was an affirmation that what we do - perfume advocates - both perfumers and perfume lovers - is important on a deeper level than we may think. I'd like to think that perfume inspires positive change in people, even if "just" by improving their mood for a moment every day.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Visit to Ineke's Garden - July 6th

Tobacco flower
Thursday night, after an afternoon in Golden Gate park with Lisa's family (mostly at the famous Japanese Tea Gardens), I went to meet Ineke & Bill for dinner at Zazie's, where we indulged on grilled Mission figs. As we sat down, I could detect a heady floral note, that reminded me a bit of Ineke's Angel's Trumpet accord. Before short, and way before we could decide what to order, I found myself sniffing a world-premiere of not just one but two perfumes that Ineke will be launching this year. The first one is Hothouse Flower, a green and creamy gardenia which you may have heard of, and was available at the Salon. The second was still a secret, otherwise I would have began my praise before any delay. All I will say for now is that it's absolutely lovely!

Fig Salad

It's always been my dream to visit Ineke's garden, which is a source of inspiration to all of her perfumes - and although it was dusk (hence the very poor quality of the photographs, my apologies!) it was very enjoyable and inspiring. The garden is so pretty and well designed (by Ineke) and tended by Bill (who's got the green thumbs). I also got to meet their two adorable dogs, who seem to enjoy the garden as well.

So imagine my delight when smelling the tobacco flower (Nicotiana fragrans - see image above), and discovering all the other lovely flowering plants they collect: Poet's Jasmine
Sweet William (a type of carnation, and the next installation in the Floral Curiosities for Anthropologie), Angel's Trumpet, Osmanthus and Midnight Candy (used in Evenings Edged in Gold), Tobacco Flower (used in Field Notes From Paris), Goldband Lily (Gilded Lily) Honeysuckle, Star Jasmine, Lilac and Heliotrope (appear in After My Own Heart), Magnolia - and, last but not least: inside of Ineke's studio, there was a whole Gardenia bush, which she brought in especially for designing her newest perfume: Hothouse Flower (review of this will follow shortly).

I also was privy to the very new purse-sized atomizers that will be launched by the holidays for "Floral Curiosities" line for Anthropologie. These are beautiful travel-sized interpretation of Ineke's signature bottle, and are encased in a book-shaped box: how very appropriate for Ineke's story-telling style.

Tagets at Ineke's garden
Tagetes (Marigold) was strangely the plant that left the strongest impression on me. It was a full-grown bush, and very fragrant. Leaves and flower smelled alike: fruity, like fresh green apples, dabbed with citrus and almost chocolate-like undertones. Quite luscious, actually. It would make a very unusual theme for a perfume, for whomever dares to take it on.

Mock orange flower
Mock Orange Flower

Angel's Trumpet at Ineke's garden
Datura (Angel's Trumpet), whose accord Ineke replicated and used in her perfume Evenings Edged in Gold, and also the main theme of Angel's Trumpet in the Floral Curiosities collection.

The most precious moment though was smelling the osmanthus, although only very few flowers were in bloom at the time I visited. But it smelled exactly like the incense my friend Noriko brought me back from Japan, which she says is the most dead-on imitation of the real flowers. She was right.

Ineke & Bill
Ineke & Bill at their booth at the 1st Artisan Fragrance Salon in San Francisco, July 8th.

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