Monday, December 27, 2010

Chocolate for Xmas

   Well, my apologies to those of you eagerly awaiting the second chapter on natural just ain't happening yet.
I'm still tiptoeing around them, and my further experiements have so far not yeided anything that I find useful or even that impressive.
Instead I thought I'd write a bit about one of my favourite ingredients:
I'm a chocoholic. My freezer is full of Lindt Milk Chocolate, (and the latest Aldi knock off which is actually better!), Mozart balls. chocolate covered raisins and more...
(For those of you wondering about the freezer: I live in Australia. If you don't keep your choccies in the freezer, they melt.). Chocolate is my comforter, my pick me up, my sweet and ever sustaining companion through the ups and downs of life. And I love the smell too.....
We know that Chocolate contains all sorts of wonderful ingredients such as antioxidants, and chemicals that act as gentle anti depressants too...
But for these to have an effect, you need to actually ingest the stuff.
So for me as a perfumer, the interesting question is: How does it's aromatic components affect us?
Obviously, for most of us it triggers happy memories from our childhood. But beyond that, there seems to be something so deeply comforting and physically sensual about the stuff that even deodorant manufactureres have started to incorporate it into their latest range! (Though personally, I think they've done a pretty crap job of it. There's only a faint touch of choc to the Linx spray stuff...most dissapointing!)

So let's have a bit of a closer sniff as perfumers eh?!
It comes in the form of "Cocoa absolute", a thick, dark brown murky looking liquid that doesn't really dissolve well in anything. It took me a fair while to work out how to use the stuff...This is one of those substances you need to really work at to incorporate in a perfume. And you will always end up with a thick, murky residue that you need to filter out before you can actually add it to blend. I make up two standard solutions of it to work with: One in oil form and one in alcohol. The oil one I actually leave for up to 6 months before I filter and use it, as it seems to take far longer to give it's scent to the oil. And even the alcohol solution needs to stand for some weeks to allow the solid parts to seperate from the solutes.
It's an obvious base note with a goodly amount of midde note to it as well, but very little in the way of obvious top notes.
The scent itself is sweet, bitter, woody and aromatic, with a dark oily depth note to it that you don't notice as much in actual chocolate, and outer touches of a dry powdery note that is a bit orris root like.
Just sniffing it makes me me it's a bit like chocolate on steroids. There's something so deep and mysterious to it that seems to go straight to my heart...(and my groin) and makes me want to just dive into it...
It seems to be both deeply soothing as well as incredibly erocitally stimulating, both at the same time.
Which makes it a pretty exciting ingredient to play with really....
Strangely though, most perfumers seem to approach it very tentatively as an ingredient. It always seems to feature as a side or supporting note, mainly in oriental style florals, and almost always with a strong orange or berry note accomanying it.
This always struck me as a bit of a pity, as to me it is such an amazing scent that it should really be given a more starring role, rather than being relegated to the back in such a mistrustful way.....
But then I'm also not a great fan of complicated chocolate recipes in food either. Give me a straight upfront and honest milk chocolate bar or a simple in your face honest to god  mud cake over any of the complicated cointreau truffles and turkish delight messes out there any day.

Anyway, once I'd worked out how to get the absolute into a more workable form, I set about finding a way to build a perfume around this beautiful ingredient.
The first Chocolate perfume I created was following my above stated love for the simpler things in Chocolate. I wanted to find a way of making it centre stage with no clever flourishes. But I also wanted it to be a wearable perfume, not a sweet, cheap and tacky thing reminiscent of the many "Chocolate body creams" that are out there. So it had to be chocolately enough to be recognizable, without being sweet and tacky.
As always, the experiments ended up filling a complete shelf of different notes and combinations. All the florals took away from it's elegant simplicity...fruits gave it sharp bynotes I didn't like. And a lot of the woods I paired it with amplified the dry orris root note in a way that was interesting, but not quite what I wanted. In the end, I gave it an Australian Sandalwood base that is less sweet and incensey than it's Indian counterpart. It has an honest warmth to it that gave the cocoa dignity and strength. To this I added just enough spice notes to liven it up a bit, and a lively honey note that aded another layer in the middle and a touch of sweet topnote....
The idea was to find a balance of ingredients that complimented and supported the Cocoa, without changing or covering it up in any way.
And it seems to have worked. "Death by Chocolate" already developed it's own faithful following and been reviewed by a number of different perfumistas. Here's two of them: (There's some more on Perfume By Nature's Facebook page!)

House of Waft
Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals

The thing which fascinates me when I first took it to a show to give it a good public testing, is that after the first few minutes, people smelling it would often not identify it as chocolate. It used to amuse me geatly watching women spray it on, and then approach their husbands/boyfriends and ask "What do you think of this?" The reaction was always the saem: "Yum (followed by a neck nuzzle or even nibble), that really nice! What is it?" It seems to have a subliminal effect that isn't directly linked to it's connection to chocolate!
Mind you, there's always a number of people who run way, squealing about how it will destroy their diet and everyone will want to eat them! (This is a bad thing??)

The next Perfume I used Cocoa in was for the great "Mystery of Musk" project run by the Natural Perfumers Guild.
Here I was more interested in Cocoa's Aphrodisiac effect than anything else, so it is not as domonant a note in the perfume itself. In "Craving" I paired the Cocoa with a number of similarly fingerlickingly yummy notes, and some pretty hard hitting musky animalic base notes which brought out a whole diffent aspect of the cocoa scent.
The deep base of Vetiver, Arabian Oud and Excotic Hyraceum had such a punch to them that I could afford to overdose the mid and topnotes accompaniying the Cocoa. Caramel, Vanilla and a delicious Hazelnut all swirl around the Cocoa here, adding a sweet friendliness to the wild animal base.
But even with all the added sweetness, "Craving" is a much deeper and wilder take on Cocoa, and certainly not for the faint hearted, grin!

(Being part of the Mystery of Musk project, this one got so many reviews that I had to spread them over a number of blog pages:)
Craving Reviews
Craving Reviews 2
Craving Reviews 3

All up it's one of my favourite ingredients. And my project list for next year includes turning both "Death By Chocolate" and "Craving" into a bath and massage oil version.....chocolate simply cries out to be slathered all over a willing body don't you think?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Natural Isolates chapter one

"Playing with the Dark Side"

Well, I finally got hold of a collection of natural isolates to play with...
(For those of you not in the "know" , natural isolates are the current buzz word amongst botanical /natural perfumes. They are chemicals that have been "isolated" from natural sources, usually useing fractional distilation. Because of their natural origins, these fragrance chemicals are being added to the pallette of many natural perfumes, but some feel that since they are actually isolated chemicals, rather than complex scented simple extractions such as essential oils and tinctures made directly from the plants, that they are no longer "natural" as such. For me they fall into a grey area that I haven't made up my mind about yet, hence my following musings.)
For days, I circled around them, unscrewing the lids and sniffing them suspiciously...
They make me nervous...
Essential oils I understand deeply. I know the herbs and the fruits they come from, their effect on the human body, how much I can use safely, what they do...they are my freinds and my playmates, beloved for so many years that they have become as familiar to me as the food I eat.
But these babies in their sterile little bottles, with strange chemical names i forget as soon as I have read them, are completely unknown. Wierd strangers in my happy friendly workshop full of dried herbs and tree resins.
How do I use them? What will they do to me if I spill them all over the workbench and the workshop fills with their fumes?
I go searching on the Internet, and all I can find is guidelines for the safe dilution percentages in an actual skin contact blend. Nothing more. And it reminds why I've shied away from artificial perfume ingredients for so many years...(beyond my disdain and repulsion by the actual smell of so many of them of course).

This little group of isolates form a pallette of singular scents.
Nothing as unpleasant as some of the artificial blends I have encountered, but they are very different to the essential oils and absolutes I am used to. they seem almost one dimensional, and totally missing the complexity of my usual ingredients.
Some of them are very familiar....the lollies of my childhood were obviously flavoured by "citral" and "ethyl decadionate"...and the bright purple grape flavoured bubble gum we used to beg off American Gi's from the army base next to our school was obviously given it's flourescant ultra grape flavour with the help of "methyl anthranilate".
Others are completely alien and slightly repulsive to my nose, such as "phenyl ethyl alcohol" which to me just smells like plastic, and "bucco leaf" which isn't a leaf, and is one of the notes I have smelt in many noxious plants that to me just sends warning bells of "don't touch!" and "hazardous for consumption" all over the place....

Some again are obvious in their origin. "Eugenol" is the baby cousin of All spice and Cloves and probably an unobtrusive replacemnt for them if you want a weaker, less obvious spice note...and "methyl cinnamate" is actually a weak cinnamon smelling thing.
But I still don't see the reason not to use the real spices in the first place.
If I want to create a perfume that calls up the poison rings of the Italian Gibraldi family, I might find a use for the bitter almond touch of "benzaldehyde".But so far, only 3 of these new toys really tempt me to any kind of olfactory experimentation:
And of course, they are fruit notes. The only family of accords I have found missing in my extensive natural pallette have been fruity notes. I crave juicey strawberries, succulent grapes and sexy figs so much....
and here I see possibilities!
"Raspberry ketone" offers the warm deep note in the base of a fresh lacks the freshness and the juicy citrus aspect of the real fruit, but it is a warm fruity note that you can't find amongst the freely available citruses which form the only freely available fruit essential oils you can get.
"Butyl butyrate"smells of over ripe bananas to me, which gives me all kind of wild ideas of wierd and wonderful blends I may be able to create...
But so far, my cherished favourite amongst the bunch is "Strawberry fuarnone".
This baby to me speaks of caramelized strawberries.You know, the sticky stuff you end up with when you cook strawberry jam on the stove too long and the sugar caramelizes and the whole thing ends up as a rock hard lump at the bottom of the pan, enticing you to chew on it with it's sweet warm toffee smell.....
OK, so there's none of the depth and layers here that you get with strawberry jam of course, but there's enough of the warm caramel edge with a touch of fruitiness to tempt me....
So following my noses inspiriation, i set out to create jam notes, sweet, sugary and deep....
I sloshed around with some flowers and cirtus touches, and lo and behold, a very respectable apricot/peach jam accord appeared in a little bottle of sherry coloured liquid!

What made me uneasy working with it though, was that I had to literally dilute the fuck out of it to get it to a point where it didn't dominate the scent completely. And it's tenacity on the skin was a bit daunting too.
I can see why this is a good thing for conventional perfumers, but for me, it's very indestructability and intensity make me wary of it's actual biological effect on the body, both for those wearing perfumes and for the perfumer working with them.

After a few weeks playing with these things, I feel....well, a bit dirty.
And it feels heady, as if I had been dabbling in forbidden fruits, drinking strong liqour laced with a coctail of heroin and speed instead of my usual organic wine, or even an honest scotch whiskey!

My workshop smells of strange, intense things, no longer just my known and trusted friends, but wierdly intense and fluorescant things.
Will I use them in my perfumes? I don't know.....
I'm tempted for sure.....but will my soul ever be the same?
Will I lose myself down the road of so many perfumers, seeking the cheap thrill of new and intense olfactory effects and end up drowning in the cheap, the artifical world of conventional perfume chemistry...
Or will I find a way to dabble just occasionaly...and give in to the drugged visions of an Ultraviolet Cheshire Cat perfume, a Grape flavoured Grin hovering over a shimmering transparent body?

I'll keep you all posted.......

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The difference between Aromatherapy and Natural Perfume

There's been a debate withon the natural perfume community lately, as to what the difference is between Natural or Botanical Perfumery and Aromatherapy.

Conventional Perfumery has been poo pooing Aromatherapy ever since it started to become popular in the 1980's. But then Conventional Perfumery poo poos Natural Perfumery too, so I don't really see how their opinion matters either which way here.

Aromatherapy is the art of useing essential oils to create a certain therapeutic effect, both emotionally and physically. As I wrote in my previous blogpost, essential oils have been used for centuries, both in perfumery and for medicinal purposes.
All scents have an effect on our emotions and hence our bodies, be they natural or artificial.
Our sense of smell is directly linked to the emotional part of our brain, which in turn has a direct biochemical effect on our body, raising or dropping levels of hormones and other biochemicals depending on the scent.

Musky scents arouse us, sweet and foody scents make us salivate and increase stomach aci, citrus scents and mints make us feel awake and refreshed, regardless of their origin!

So from that point of view, ALL perfumes are a form of Aromatic- Therapy.

 To get back to the nitty gritty though, modern Aromatherapy defines itself by the use of individual or combinations of pure and natural essential oils, either by diffusion or application to the body in form of massage oils & suchlike. And the focus is initially mainly on the effect of said oils, rather than the actual smell itself.

Natural or Botanical Perfumery in contrast, focuses primarily on the smell created by combining different natural materials.
The pallette of Natural Perfumery is also much larger than the that used in most schools of Aromatherapy, drawing not only on essential oils, but also a wide variety of absolutes, extracts, resins, herbal, fruit and other infusions and basically, anything natural that has a pleasant scent!

I should probably mention here that, much as I love Aromatherapy, use it on a daily basis and am incredibly grateful that it's has introduced millions of people to the benefits of useing essential oils,  I am a bit critical of a lot of the stuff touted in aromatherapy courses.
I started working with essential oils before Aromatherapy had hit the big popularity stakes, and have viewed it's evolution at first with great joy, then with growing annoyance.
Essential oils are wonderful things, and their effects can be amazing...
But a lot of the the textbooks have stolen their information wholesale from each other, and most of it is simply cribbed directly from much older books on herbal medicine. And this simply doesn't work.
An essential oil is the volatile part of a plant made available by distillation. The plant itself in many cases contains many other chemicals that may or may not be important in it's physical effect on the body.
On top of that, there is a huge difference in the way your body aborbs things, and drinking a tea made from a herb (which is the way most herbal medicines are taken) is a very different thing to having the dilted oil from the same plant rubbed onto your skin during massage.

This becomes very obvious when you read the warnings about when which oils are safe for use during pregnancy. They are, for the main part, pure fiction, and merely the result of essential oil traders trying to cover their sue-able butts.
Arnica, for instance, is toxic if drunk as a tea...but makes a fantastic bruise and varicose vein salve when applied to the legs externally!

Unluckily, as I mentioned above, the text books all quote each other, and somehow this new school of thought with the many faulty text books has managed to wrangle it's way into higher education, so you can now become a "certified" aromatherapist....

Enough of the side rave though, getting back to perfumery, and the question of whether a natural perfume can be an "Aromatherapy Perfume".

Like all of these natural terms, there is no official definition.

For myself, I define it this way:

Most of the perfumes I make are essentially Aromatherapy Perfumes, because when I am designing a perfume, I usually have the effect I want it to have formeost in my mind. I have always used Scent primary to create a certain atmosphere, or as a direct kind of scent therapy.
"Love Potion" for instance was designed for a friend in need of that very thing!
And the ingredients in it are all ones that have an aphrodisiac, stimulating effect on the body and on the emotions. It contains things like Jasmine absolute and Coriander and Cardamon essential oil, all of which you can find listed in aromatherapy textbooks as aphrodisiac and stimulating to the senses....
What makes it a great perfume, is the way they are combined. The balance of each ingredient, and the way they all play together in the blend!

The Rebirth of Natural Perfumery

Our sense of smell is more strongly tied to our emotions than any of our other senses. Smells can evoke crystal clear memories too, like vanilla bringing back the scent of a grandmother baking a favourite cake, or the smokey smell of frankincense the deeply moving feeling of a spiritual ceremony...
Scent has been used for thousands of years to evoke special feelings in us...and the earliest from of perfumery was probably incense, burnt in spiritual ceremonies everywhere from Egyptian temples to North American Indian Sweat lodges to invoke a feeling of religious and spiritual awe and connectedness with tree resins and herbs burned to honour the Gods....
Body perfumes made from plant extracts have also been made for thousands of years....scented oils, hair unguents, waxy cones worn atop of ones head in Egytian high society parties where they slowly melted and spread spread their perfumes through the elaborate wigs they wore...
European perfumery deeloped realtively late in the picture, and took it's inspiration from the far older arabian scent traditions in the wake of the silk and spice trade.
Perfumers in Italy and France began to develop new ways of scenting both the body and the clothing worn by the European Aristocracy, and personalized perfumes developed by the better known perfumers became a much wanted status symbol.
These perfumes, scented leather gloves and pomanders made from exotic and precious ingredients such as true musk pods from the infamous musk ox, exquisite jasmine absolute painstakingly extracted from acres of jasmine flowers etc,  were rather expensive, and really only obtainable by the rich gentry...and as we came closer to our current day, the growth of modern chemistry began to give perfumers cheaper substances to play with.And with these cheap ingredients, and the invention of mechanized packaging and production methods, perfumery slowly became the realm of chemists and factory owners.
Perfume became a everyday item in every suburban household and the wholesale marketing of brand name perfume as a status symbol for everyone had begun.
With time though, people began to realize that a lot of the modern perfumes had sacrificed the magic that traditional perfumes had had, for the sake of a quick profit.
The buzz notes in perfumery became intensity, innovation and above all: price.
The main focus with a new perfume launch nowadays, is what celebrity it will be associated with.
I've seen numerous conventional perfume briefs, and the actual cost of the perfume itse;f is always the smallest part of the budget. Most of the money you pay for even the most expensive french perfumes, goes into packaging design, worldwide advertising campaigns! You'd be lucky to find $5 has been spent on the actual perfume itself!

And then Aromatherapy was born and began to breath a new lease of life into the fast paced plastic world of modern perfumery.

I had first bought essential oils in a conventional chemist in Germany around 1980...natural ingredients never went out of style in German, and conventional chemists still stocked a variety of herbal products and at the time, a limited number of essential oils, such as peppermint and rosemary. But it wasn't until some years later that the term "Aromatherapy" first appeared, along with a much wider range of essential oils.
The first literature on aromatherapy that I ever read was put out by a German company called "Primavera". It was a slim pamphlet listing their oils and the various effects on Mind and Body of each of them. I was fascinated! And spent all of my spare cash on them! I soon began to find other books on Aromatherapy,  and Tisserand and others began to do some serious research nto the subject, which has led to such a wealth of literature on the subject....

From there, Aromatherapy has grown to the point that you can find essential oils in every small town the world over...and increasingly, commericaly available scented products use the popularity of Aromatherapy in their own marketing. (Sometimes they even really use some percentage of actual essential oils in their formulations too!)

This rebirth of the popularity of natural scent ingredients has also led to the rebirth of Natural Perfumery.
Like myself, a small but growing number of independent perfumers started to experiement with the these newly available essential oils, and discovered that they offered a clarity, depth, complexity and beauty that simply wasn't there for them in modern perfumes.

I started to research ancient perfume recipes from all over the world, and looking for the herbs, resins and extracts mentioned in them as I travelled around the world.
And 20 years later, I now have a workshop full of all those lovely ingredients mentioned in the old texts and stories...

And people love them.
Conventional perfumers though will still poo poo this modern rebirth of the idea of useing natural ingredients...I have had countless perfumers tell me that it is impossible to make a great natural perfume...

Personally, I don't really care. My customers seem to disagree, and to my great amusement, the general publics love of Aromatherapy has forced more and more conventional perfumers to scrabble to keep up and start producing their own version of natural scents...
Problem is of course, they simply don't have the know how. Creating perfumes out of traditional natural ingredients isn't really part of a conventional perfumers training, where the focus is far more on chemistry and building notes out of individual chemicals...
And their profit margins lead them to fudge and even lie blatantly about the ingredients they are actually useing.
Which has lead to even health food stores stocking such brands such as "Pacifica" which advertises their "natural" tropical fruit scented wares at prices which real natural perfumes of course cannot compete with....
Then you have the inspired marketing of DKNY's "Pure"...."One drop of Vanilla" supposedly from some poor African village....
What about the rest of the thousands of drops of perfume in the bottle? What's it made of??

Sigh...anyway, getting back to the reality of naturals, and my delightfully messy workshop full of whole jars of REAL vanilla pods, frankincense resin from Omani trees, Essential oils from every possible flower and herb...
THIS is real natural perfumery...complicated, amazing and fascinating!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How Natural is Natural?

Well, the number of cosmetics out there touting the "natural" label is growing by the's the new "thing"...which should make me happy, but.....
BUT (and that's a big but), most of them simply aren't.

There's an ever growing number of pretty sounding concoctions out there in bright shiny bottles with reasuring labels like "organic" and "vegan" plastered all over them, which have as much resemblance to the truly natural bottles of  flower extracts and herbs in my workshop as, well,  the bottle of commercial toilet cleaner my mother stuck in my cupboard many years ago in the hope I'd eventually use it.

I've spent over 20 years researching and developing natural perfumes. I've studied herbs and aromatherapy oils,and pored over ancient texts full of fascinating ingredients...and spoken to thousands of people at my stalls and on my website about natural perfumery and what it means.
And for years, the conventional perfume industry has belittled what we natural perfumers do, claiming it is archaic, and only modern aromachemicals give you a truely beautiful perfume.
Then all of a sudden, they've discovered that we're on to something! And all over the place, you suddenly see so called "natural" perfumes with bright pretty flower pictures!
A collegue pointed me towards a company I'm not going to name the other day....delightful packaging, pretty sounding scents...and "Beauty Habit", where they are sold, writes the following:

"L### & T## believes that natural formulas should function and not fail. These formulas have been vigorously tested for performance and stability.Each product is loaded with the very best natural and organic ingredients, while delivering a luxurious, skin-nurturing experience." And in the listing for their handcreams, list the scent as "botanical perfume blend".

But hang on a minute, the bottles contain completely clear fluid for starters (And natural perfumes just don't come in clear...)....let's have a look at the ingredients of one of them, ": "Vanilla Orchid, White Musk, Jasmine, Ebony Woods, Natural Alcohol"

OK, for starters, that's not an ingredient list, it's a fanciful list of the notes in the fragrance.
There is no such thing as vanilla orchid, white musk or ebony wood. And wtf is natural alcohol supposed to be? As opposed to un-natural alcohol?
These perfumes aren't natural. Not even nearly natural. Yet the advertising sells them as such, loud and clear. 

And it frustrates the hell out of me. Because people believe what they see written. And it seems, you can write whatever you want and get away with it. Loud and clear.


Did you know that you can call anything vegan if it doesn't have animal ingredients in it? plastic gumboots are vegan by that definition!
And "Natural" can mean just about anything. I did a bit of research into natural flavours some time back, and discovered that a natural flavour can be made entirely of individual chemicals, as long as said chemicals were originally extracted from a natural source!
And mind you, that source doesn't have to have anything to do with the the fruit of vegetable it's imitating!

The Truth Seeker writes:  Natural and artificial flavors are now manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate with Mother Nature.

To me that seems like cheating. All chemicals are originally extracted from natural sources. It is the degree of processing that takes them from natural to artificial.
Raspberries are natural. raspberry juice is natural. Raspberry ketone is a scent chemical that can be extracted from raspberry juice, or also made by chemical process from other chemicals. It is a white crystaline substance, that can be dissolved in alcohol and used in very diluted form in fruity scents to give the impression of raspberry....
Is it natural? I'm not sure. I have two kinds of raspberry scented ingredients in my workshop:
One, an alcoholic extract of raspberry, which is dark brownie red and slightly sticky, and needs to be filtered before I add it to scents. And the above said raspberry ketone, a strange little bottle of white powdery crystals....the crystals themselves have no scent until disolved further in alcohol.

There are a growing number of companies that are useing natural isolates like raspberry ketone in their perfumes too. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Like many botanical perfumers, I crave some notes that simply aren't available on the market....there are no natural violet extracts, and some fruit notes like "dewberry" simply don't exist in natural form. 
And it is a very tempting idea to follow along the "Natural Flavour" lines and start recreating these scent notes useing individual chemicals extracted from natural sources. But I feel uneasy about it.
The biggest question for me is where do we stop? When does a perfume go from being a real natural product crafted from exquisite absolutes and essential oils, to being, in reality, merely an artificially created scent concoction made purely from ingredients cooked up in a science lab like all of the others out there....

I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm experimenting with isolates, and keeping an open mind...but it does leave me feeling uneasy.
I feel somewhat guilty, as if I were experiementing with illegal drugs.....

I do know one thing for sure: If I do end up useing natural isolates in any of my perfumes, I will be honest and open about this.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Teaching Natural Perfumery

I've been asked many times if I teach classes on natural perfumery here in Australia....and I've finally decided to give in and do just that...
It seems there is a growing number of people out there yearning to learn how to play with all of these delightful natural ingredients...and realistically, there is a vast amount of stuff to learn about useing them safely and truly creatively if you want to make perfumes. And books can only take you so far.
There are a number of people running natural perfumery classes overseas, esp. in the States, but here in Oz, it's still a very new art.
So I'm now making lists and collecting ideas on what and how to do this....

Obviously Safety in working with natural perfumery materials would be one of the first and most important things I would want to impart, but beyond that there are so many different topics and different approaches I can think of...
I've read course descriptions from other perfumers, and they sound really in depth. Covering everything from perfume history, to details about every essential oil in exsistence, creating vertical accords and so much more....

I don't think it would be useful to teach another course along the same lines...some of these are already run by correspondence and easily accesible via the internet...(Anya McKoy has a very detailed one, and so do Mandy Aftel and Lyn Ayre)
And it would like re-designing the wheel sorta....

I would however like to share a bit more my own personal style and creative approach to making perfumes....
What I do think would be useful to teach is the actual hands on how to's of  perfume making. Introducing the individual components in small groups, and showing how combining them in different ways can create so many different effects...
In fact I think it may be the best to run a series....based around creating to certain themes maybe....each a day where you can smell and play with the ingredients that are used to create specific notes and genres in a perfume.....where you can also take home your own creation at the end of the day.

Themes could be:

-Flower perfumes, Scents for Blokes, Gourmand Scents....

And then of course there's the whole chapter of combining Aromatherapy and Perfume.....
Now that's really big chapter. 

My question to all of you now is :

What would you like to learn in a perfume workshop?

(And If you've taken part in other classes overseas, maybe you'd like to share what you thought worked well? What else would you have liked to learn?)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Perfumery Materials: Co2's

Like most perfumers, I'm constantly searching for new and unusual ingredients to work with...
And one of my latest area of exploration is so called CO2's.
It is an extraction method that was first developed for the flavour industry, whereby carbon dioxide is used to extract concentrated materials from spices, fruits and nuts. In recent years it is also being used to create scent materials from flowers like jasmine.
Some perfumers are beginning to use them exclusively, instead of the more common absolutes, which use solvents such as hexane, believing that the method of extraction delivers a gentler and safer alternative.
Personally, I don't think this is necessarily true. Absolutes generally don't contain much, if any of the initial solvent, and these are not that toxic to start with.
 What makes CO2's interesting to me, is that useing them gives me a far greater pallette to play with. I recently obtained a number of really interesting CO2's from a European company called Evonik, delightful things such as honey bush, jasmine tea and hazelnut! Totally yummy!
 The only downside to them is that for some reason, they don't seem to have the same staying power as many absolutes, which is always a big problem in natural perfumery. I'm not sure why this is, but I have generally found this to often be true for Co2's.
The scent is also often softer, and they also don't seem to disolve very well in either alcohol or in oil.
You can get a wide variety of different forms of CO2 extract too...I have found everything from clear liquids to the solid green stuff you see in the photo, which is a nice green tea CO2 from White Lotus Aromatics.

There are also a lot of CO2's which simply don't work for perfumery. I got very excited when I first stumbled upon natural flavourings, but quicly discovered that many of the food CO2's have great flavours, but not much in the way of scent. Which makes them great as, well, flavours, but not perfume ingredients.

It is however a fascinating new area in natural extracts, and hopefully, companies will start producing more that are aimed at the perfumery market in years to come...(how about a violet flower CO2 eh? hint hint!!!)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thoughts on Natural Perfume Design

The Mystery of Musk project has given me much food for thought...especially about the challenges we face designing with naturals.
So I thought I'd share a few of them with you....

Botanical or Natural Perfumery is very different from conventional perfumery.
There is the more obvious point that we use natural ingredients as opposed to the artificial chemicals used in modern perfumer laboratories of course. And this tends to lend a depth and beauty to natural perfumes that simply can't ever be fully recreated by artificial ingredients....
But it also has a number of unique challenges that many newcomers to the art don't realize are there at first.  Keep in mind that these are my own observations from over 20 years of fiddling with natural scent ingredients...and they are my own opinions, which may differ greatly from what you will read in some of the books out there. There are many different approaches, and different things work for different people. Hopefully this will inspire some more discussion on the various perfumeing lists!

One of the biggest ones is that each ingredient used in botanical perfumery, is actually already a complete scent all in itself.
Each essential oil or absolute, is an extract of an incredibly complex botanical scent creation, custom designed by Ma Nature to entice and delight the senses of an incredible array of insects and mammals.
Modern perfume chemistry started by attempting to copy Mother Natures ingenious complexity, primarily for money reasons. It is far cheaper to create an artificial copy made with individual chemical components, than to obtain say rose otto by the time honoured process of growing the flowers, harvesting them, useing the time and tons of flower petal consuming process of enfleurage to then obtain only a few kilos of the precious substance....
But the chemical version is never as good. Ma Natures masterpiece is simply to complex and clever to be fully re-created.
But the challenge in natural perfumery comes from this very complexity.
In the over 20 years I've been playing with natural perfumes, I've mixed so many blends that looked lovely on paper...but that turned out to be muddy, unpleasant or even downright nasty messes once I'd actually combined the ingredients! And there's very good reasons for this:
When you start to blend say rose otto and jasmine absolute, you are combining not one or two scent molecules, but what amounts to two incredibly complex and complete perfumes!
Think about this for a minute......
Each time you add another natural ingredient to the mix, you add not one note, but a complete complex array of hundreds of scent layers, each with the potential to harmonise or clash with any of the other hundreds of scent layers already at play in the mix!
It's a bit like playing ultra-multi dimensional chess.
You have to understand and somehow keep in your mind, each of the many many scent layers each indivisual oil or extract is made up of, and see how they will combine and work with each other.
Add to that that once the ingredients are combined, they go through a further chemical combining process, and often change quite substantially as they interact with each other.
I've lost count of how many times I'd created something that smelled lovely...only to come back to it after a week or so to find that it had somehow morphed into something 'orrible!
The reverse can sometimes also be true of course, and sometimes you accidentaly create a beautiful scent that was not at all what you originally had in mind...But usually it's the lovely turning into crap that happens.

Top Middle and Base Note classification
This is one of the primary ways that scents are classified and designed nowadays. You will find mention of the concept in most perfume reviews and technical perfumery handbooks. and even the books on I have found on Natural perfumery contain lists that attempt to place all of the imany essential oils and absolutes we use in one of these three categories.

The problem with this (in my experience), is that it simply doesn't work.
As I said before, each and every ingredient we use in botanical perfumery, is in itself a complete perfume creation, with top base and middle notes all of it's own.
Some of course contain predominantly top notes, others more base notes, but this in itself is not enough information to be able to work with it. Realistically you need to understand and know the various top middle and base notes that each ingredients contains so you can marry them to the appropriate combination of top, middle and base notes that make up the other essential oils or absolutes you are useing.

Designing with Accords
This is another concept that is basic to conventional perfume design. The idea is to first create perfume notes or "accords", such as "Green grass", "Oriental" or "White Flowers" and then combine them to create a Smokey, Oriental perfume with a White Flower heart.
Sounds good eh? Trouble is, it often doesn't work. Once you have combined the three accords, you suddenly end up with either a muddy mess, or completely new sharp nasty notes sticking out at various layers which don't seem to have been present in the original individual accords!

There's two reasons for this:
Firstly with creating an accord. If you go back to what I wrote further up about complexity, you can see the difficulty this presents. Of course it's not impossible, but it can be a very involved and trial and error process.
And there are many "notes" that are close to impossible to create, simply becuase the individual ingredients are so complex that you cannot create anything "pure". For instance, I crave "Green Grass", which was a perfume oil favourite of mine as a teenager. You cannot buy "Grass" essential oil, and tincturing it doesn't seem to give you a real "grass" scent". And I have not been able to find a combination of other naturals that gets anywhere near the fresh cut grass scent I'm searching for. (At this point of course any number of other natural perfumers may chime in and tell me I'm wrong...I'm hoping they do! And that they will be nice enough to tell me how!!)
But it's a good example of the problem.
Realistically, you have to work with interesting notes, that do not fit clearly in any simple category because they are simply too complex to resemble any one clear note or accord. Your "White Flowers" may have many other subnotes to it that are neither white, nor very flowery...but still really pretty overall.

The second stage of the problem comes when you start to combine the accords you have created.

 Taking the White Flowers accord idea, once you combine it with another accord, you may well find that the woody acrid note that was originally just barely perceptabley in the the background, has suddenly become a totally in your face blast of burnt plastic. This will have happened because it ganged up with another sweet plastic note from the oriental blend that you didnt even know was there! Or maybe the slightly decomposing background note in the Green Grass accord that just added that touch of "natural" when you created it!
Often it would be just one oil or absolute that was destroying the plan...but the sheer number and complexity of the ingredients would make it almost impossible to track down which one it was.
I started out working with accords, but in the end I took a few steps back, and nowadays will usually add ingredients one by one, and take detailed notes on the effect they have on the overall mix. Which means I end up with a whole collection of trial blends of the various layers and stages of each perfume in tiny bottles!
My latest creation for the Mystery of Musk project is a perfect example! It's various stages fill up a whole shelf all on their own, not to mention the myriad of tables, notes and scribblings I wrote in the process.
(If you're interested in hearing more about this,  Monica Miller of Skye Botanicals will be writing more about the trials and errors in the botanical perfumeing adventure soon!)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading a bit about how I approach botanical perfumery....(And yes, I am writing a book on the subject...I'll be posting more bits and thoughts as it grows!)

Happy Sniffing!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mystery of Musk-Thoughts and other Perfumes

Well, the Mystery of Musk project is coming to a close...though there's still the odd review trickling in. Seems it's been a tad overwhelming for some of the reviewers to work through all of the 12 entries in the originally planned time!
As for me, I'm exhausted! It's been such an adventure...
And it has taught me so much....
First of all of course, it was wonderful to get so many positive reviews, and it blew me away how many other artistic projects in form of poetry and visual art it stimulated!
You've all read about my own trials and tribulations in creating my own contribution to the project, "Craving" in previous posts....
So you can imagine how fascinating it was for me to then get to smell what all of my collegues had come up with! And a few of you have written asking me about my impressions of the other perfumes

So here's a few of my thoughts and observations:

First of all, I was fascinated with how diverse the 12 perfumes are!
We all seem to have taken different paths in our creations, and have ended up with completely different scents! What really surprised me, is that all, except for mine and Adams, are florals!
This really surprised me, as I don't really associate the idea of musk with florals at all....

My own experience of musk perfumes has been things like Kiehl's Musk oil, "Merely Musk" by Coty and others along similar lines, all of which are very linear, dry woody, well, "Musk" scents.

And originally, this was the kind of Scent I was trying to re-create useing natural ingredients.
I very quickly came to the conclusion that this was impossible, and the varied "Mystery of Musk" creations of my collegues seem to back me up in this.
Modern day "musk" scents are created useing isolated chemicals that immitate parts of the infamous musk scent originally obtained from musk deers private parts. They don't actually smell much like the far more complex and "dirty" natural musk...they are really more of a gentler, cleaned up and far more unobtrusive echo of the idea of musk......
And being made of isolated chemicals, there is no way you can recreate them useing the incredibly complex ingredients we use in natural perfumery.
The closest to modern day musk scents, is Ambrette seed absolute or Co2 extract. This lovely ingredient, when applied to the skin has just that soft, gently pheromonal warmth that we have come to associate with the idea of "musk".
But in itself it is not a perfume. It simply isn't intense enough to carry a scent all on it's own.
Which meant that I, like all of my collegues, ended up creating perfumes that have musky notes, but were in themselves not pure musks.
And this is where it got interesting.

Anya McCoy, head of the Natural Perfumers Guild had listed a variety of natural plants that have musk notes in them. And all of us MoM perfumers used ingredients from this list.
But which ones we chose, and what other ingredients we added led to the incredible degree of variety we ended up with.
As I wrote in the beginning, most of my collegues ended up creating floral perfumes, with varying degrees of musky base notes to them. In a number of cases, I get the impression that the perfumer became more inspired by the non-musk ingredients and ended up conentrating on the floral or fruit notes, so that the musk became more of an afterthought than the central theme.
(Some of the reviewers admittedly seemed to think I had done the same with the chocolate and gourmand notes in "Craving" too...)
On the other hand, it is also very obvious that this taste for florals is shared by a large number of perfume lovers out there! The comments by readers echoed the reviewers love and interest for each floral dominated MoM entry!

Adam's "Dionysius" is the only other MoM scent that to me wasn't either floral or fruit dominated.

The other thing I learnt from from reviewing the scents-and also from conversations with one of the reviewers, Denyse Beaulieu from "Grain de Musc", is the concept of linear versus multi faceted, changing design in the various layers of a perfume.

My own taste I now realize, runs to linear design. I prefer simple scents that follow a specific theme, and I tend to design perfumes with matching or at least closely echoing and complimentary layers.
Whereas others of my collegues seem to favour multi faceted scents that change considerably as they wear.
This doesn't mean that I didn't like them mind you...some of the multi faceted MoM scents had a multitude of pretty facets that, while different, were like a multi coloured caliedoscope of varying but harmonious changing chords...
but there were a few where the facets were too varied for me to find a common tune, and the overall effect for me was a tad clashing.

This concept finally explained why so many famous perfumes irritate the hell out of me instead of enchanting my senses.

Many of the classics, like Madame Rochas and Estee Lauders Aromatics Elixir, have what to my nose are intensely clashing notes that create a nasty clamour of scent that I really dislike.
Whereas mens colognes like "Grey Flannel" and Eau Savage and the simple musks I mentioned in the beginning have simpler, far more linear and less cluttered scent characters that I am far more comfortable with.

And I stress here that I am talking merely of my own taste in scent. As the so widely varying reviews of the various perfumes have clearly shown, perfume really is a matter of taste, not something you can easily give an objective judgement of.

The other thing I learnt is how difficult it actually is to write a review about a perfume!
Once you get beyond the like/dislike mark, it's really difficult to find the language to adequately describe what you are smelling. I've always disliked traditional perfumery language, and have often, if not usually found that conventional perfume reviews seem to talk about notes that I simply don't smell in the perfumes at all. To the point that I have often wondered if my nose works differently to other peoples. And to be honest, I found the same thing reading some of the reviews from the mystery of musk project!
But when I sat down to write my own impressions, I had to admit that writing a decent perfume review is bloody difficult! So I would like to extend my admiration to the dedication and effort that the reviewers for the Mystery of Musk project put in!
It's been a great experience, and has given me much delightful food for thought and inspiration for some future projects as well!

To finish off, I'd like to share a bit about some of the ones that caught my interest most from the Mystery of Musk project. (They are also not necessarily the ones the critics raved about the most, which I found interesting too).

The first one I will write about, is  from one of the  new comers to the Natural Perfumers Guild:

"Tallulah B2" by Jane Kate of  "A Wing and a Prayer Perfumes" 
is what I can best describe as a "baby powder rose musk". It surprised me with it's gentle softness, a truly delightful scent and by far the softest and lightest of all the MoM entries.
It very cleverly uses a combination of ingredients to create a sweet, powdery note that to me smells the way Orris root based perfumes are supposed to smell but rarely do. The citrus top notes are subtley enough applied to merely lend a touch of brightness to the composition without being obvious or subtracting from the gentle powdery lady-like musk itself. 

"Musk Nouveau" by Charna Either of Providence Perfumes. This one reminded me of a sweet, boozy coctail! It's warm a deep and fruity, with tightly woven accords of yummy wicked things! It's sweetness deepens on my skin and a deep fig liqour with interesting's a lovely, slightly evil scent this one!

The third one is "Musk No5" by Roberto Dupetit
When I first smelt this one it struck me as more of a floral aldehyde than anything else. And it fascinated me because I had absolutely no idea how he had created it! Turns out I wasn't far off the mark.  Alfredo uses natural isolates in his perfume, which has definitely piqued my curiosity. After a more floral opening, it actually reminds me of the original No5 by Chanel, which I wore and loved in my youth. I was fascinated to find this in a natural scent, as No5 was one of the first perfumes to use artificial aldehydes in high quantities. The floral notes follow the aldehydes into the dry down, where the scent becomes drier and warmer and a sweetish by note.

I'll be posting the last missing reviews for "Craving" as they turn up....

And thanks to you all for sharing my journey into the world Wild Creation and of Public Reviews!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mystery of Musk-Craving Reviews part two

Here' some more of the reviews gathered from the many blogs and sites involved in the project...
This is such fun! It's the ultimate kick for a perfumer to hear how her child she so carefully nurtured to maturity, and then nervously set sail into the wide wide world is faring....
Craving has visited all over the world....the US, France, Germany....and now I'm getting the postcards home....

"Hi Mama, I'm doing fine! This professionally trained reviewer from "Grain Du Musc" is complaining that I am tempting her to add too many calories to her diet and threatening to blame me for the destruction of her bikini figure, but I think she means it as a compliment! One of the others has decided I'm full of coffee, but she likes me too!
Alfred and I went to Paris together, where he told me stories about his youth where we drank congnac in one of those quaint little bars and he muttered something about "Desire for Desire" while looking deeply into my eyes....OK, so I'm not a virgin any more...figure you didn't expect me to be, what with all the pheromones and stuff you filled me up with right from the start...
I'm having a great time out here in the world, playing with noses and wreaking a little bit of havoc everywhere I go!
Hope your having a good time too, and give my love to my little Brother growing in the workshop! 

Love Always, your baby Craving"

Denyse Beaulieu from "Grain du Musc" writes:

"Ambrosia from Perfume by Nature looks like a perfectly lovely, kind and charming lady… But I suspect she’s just a wee bit evil. Her perfume is called Craving. It should be renamed Gluttony, in the fullest, Nigella Lawson, chops-and-finger-licking meaning of the term. And gluttony, you know, is one of the seven deadly sins… Unlike many of the natural perfumes I’ve been sampling, Craving doesn’t fall apart on the blotter. In fact, it might inspire you to chew up that blotter – so imagine the effect on skin. It was all I could do not to sprinkle the contents of the vial on anything soft and creamy that could actually be devoured without running foul of the law, or not to rush out to the corner patisserie, which is unhelpfully open on Sundays. Ambrosia, think of my hips!
With its roasted nut accents and sandalwood adding a milky-smoky touch, Craving is too much of a gourmand to actually rate as a musk in my book, but Ambrosia has well understood the profoundly animalic nature of its core material, cocoa absolute. Some musks actually do have chocolate facets, and castoreum definitely carries more than a whiff of dark chocolate. She’s also sussed out the common facets between dark chocolate and vetiver (also expressed in Lalique Encre Noire), and has used the latter to tug the formula out of purely foody territory, adding another layer of darkness to the chocolate and caramelized nuts.
The actual animal note in Craving is hyraceum, the stuff I though was driving my Siamese girl wild. It isn’t, since she didn’t turn into a wanton minx when she took a sniff of Craving. I can’t say as much for her mama, though my libido was distinctly more attuned to getting a sugar high than mauling the friend who was with me (thank God: I doubt our friendship would’ve survived it). Whether you find that the Craving in question veers more towards sex or chocolate (good substitute, never have to worry whether it’ll still respect you in the morning, and call you back the next day) is a matter of personal settings.
Meanwhile, Ambrosia, if that bikini makes me look like a muffin, I’ll take it up with you."

Sugandaraja from Basenotes writes :
"Craving opens with a singularly delicious accord - coffee, chocolate, and toasted hazelnuts. Sweet but not syrupy, it's the olfactory equivalent of drinking a capuccino and eating a box of hazelnut chocolates, with none of the calories that come with that.
Coffee and me have had a rough history when it comes to fragrances. For some reason, the lightest whiff of coffee turns my stomach, even through freshly brewed coffee is a smell I find quite pleasant. This may be the first coffee fragrance that I enjoy. Whether it's due to its natural origin or not, I have no clue, but it's delicious.
In the drydown, a good deal of the sweetness retreats, becoming drier and more nutty. A delicate amber emerges, and subtle woody nuances play in the background, with a hint of something rooty - vetiver, perhaps?
Perhaps worthy of note is what I don't smell. Namely, musk. Not even a little. That being said, I'm very happy this project allowed me to sample this delightful gourmand oriental."

And Alfred Eberle, one of the reviewers from the Natural Perfumery group on yahoo gave this lovely description:

This perfume flew me straight to Paris. 
I have only been to Paris once, but I was struck by its essence when I
was there- the sights, the sounds, the tastes, and the smells. 

By some marvellous witchcraft, Ambrosia Jones of Perfume by Nature has
brought me somehow to Paris, and playfully combined a perfectly-
balanced impression of chocolate, cognac, hazelnut, longing, desire,
and perhaps a bit of café-au-lait so that one is immediately gripped
by the simultaneous desire for all these things and yet something
beyond them all - perhaps for the desire for desire itself.

I found in the case of this delectable perfume that the musk idea was
here expressed not so much by the use of musk-smelling botanicals as
much as by the suggestion of musk, the allegory of musk, the kind of
ineffably sexy musk possessed by elegant decadences such as fine
chocolate and fine wine and fine leathers; by delicate vetiver fans
and by full cruets of honey standing in the sunshine, and - blushing
behind my vetiver fan here - well, by sex!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mystery of Musk-Craving Giveaway

The wonderful incense Blog
Olfactory Rescue Service 
has published their review of "Craving" and is also running a Giveaway Competition!
So if you'd like to win a bottle for yourself, hop on over there and leave a comment telling them why!

I love the comparison to Mermade's Nefertum Kyphi incense...I love Kathlyne Breene's creations, (and also used to make and sell luxury incense myself which makes me appreciate the exquisite ingredients she sources from all over the world even more), and Kyphi is one of the most enchanting and luxurious of incenses imaginable....

Ross writes:

"The name pretty much says it all, most especially if you have need’s, chocolate, for one, not the normal stuff but the really hard core and high end kind, This is very potent with good sillage and is long lasting. It is also very sexy in unexpected ways.  The cocoa is there from the get go and in one way or another continues through out, yet there are so many other notes the weave their way around, through and over it. Somewhere after an hour or so the Aloeswood/Oud notes really come through. In the incense world I would compare it to ShunKohdo’s  Houshou(cocoa plus aloeswood) mixed in with Nefertum Kyphi from Mermade Magickal(deep, mysterious, musky and sacred). A very heady mix with the idea of musk pretty firmly attached throughout. Would you wear this to dinner, maybe not.  But, if you were interested in being dessert…."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mystery of Musk-Craving Reviews as Art

Well, this competition is becoming more and more interesting. First there was the incredible challenge of trying to create a decent natural musk perfume in a tight time limit, then the fascinating experience of smelling what everyone else had come up with...
And now the feedback!
What amazes me is the artwork being created by the perfume reviewers! They are writing poems, creating slide views of visual artworks they find reminiscent of the scents, and now even creating completely new paintings of their impressions! I'm just in awe!

This lovely watercolour was painted by Pat Borow
who publishes her thoughts on a lovely blog "Olfactorama"
She writes: "First impression? Chocolate. Deep, dark and rich. With incense underneath. An opium den of a scent. Well named, too: who doesn’t crave chocolate? And one or two other things?
The perfumer, Ambrosia, has created this elixir out of essences usually used in bases. She lists them as Hyraceum (a cruelty-free animal product), two kinds of vetiver, aoudh, ambrette seed and Australian sandalwood.
If made in an oil base, I think this would make the best massage oil for lovers on earth. Unisex, dark, sensual, a perfect Valentine’s Day gift.
I did this painting with cravings in mind. I thought it was just a vessel, with an incense burner heart, but when I was photographing it, my husband said, “It’s a face. A surreal face.” This is not an image for the timid. “Craving” is not a fragrance for them, either." 

Lisa BTB of "The Blossoming Tree" writes:
There's a thin line between confidence and conceit. Even the most confident person may take a step back away from Craving, giggling before finally building up enough nerve to try it. This perfume makes a bold statement and anyone wearing it better be ready to walk the walk. Craving announces "I am here! Let the fun begin!" This potent potion opened with a boozy kick that caused me to draw my head back. It teased my nose with a hint of chocolate before giving in to a delicious cocoa delight and buttery caramel. Honestly, I'm not a fan of gourmand fragrances but Craving has captured my attention. It is rich and decadent bringing out the wild side. It is warm and honey sweet demanding closeness. Craving is beyond enchanting, beyond seductive. With notes of cocoa liquor, roasted nuts, Australian sandalwood, vetyver, ambrette seed, oud and hyraceum, it is lusciously hypnotic.
one word: Lust

Mimi Gardenia from Basenotes absolutely made my day with her stunning review: 

"The name of this fragrance is very fitting …believe me. An immediate question came to my mind. "Can I stop sniffing this fragrance long enough to write something intelligent about it?"
 Occasionally, you meet and sniff a scent that you connect with because it reaches subliminal levels. Craving is one of those. (I wonder if there are any pheromones in here…………) Although this fragrance is so open, embracing, gives up many of its olfactory secrets easily and comfortably – what is the X factor that makes it undeniably addictive, attractive and compelling?  
Craving is the aroma that reminds you of all that was and is good in your world.  
As the perfumer has said…there are no top notes, no flowers, no chypre notes. This is ‘honest to God’ goodness. It strips away all the frivolities and gets down to the serious business of just smelling ‘damned good’. So there is all this gourmand love goodness playing on my skin, around me and the musk just enhances all of it. Discreet and supportive of the entire fragrance . It increases the sexiness and takes Craving to deeper levels again. Subliminal, subliminal, subliminal and delicious.
An immediately intimate gourmand the scent is rounded, chewy, warm, butter cream, amber -deliciousness and that wonderful aromatic cocoa .It’s chocolate vanilla nutty goodness – rich and complete decadence. Dense, smokey –sweet with purring musk . Quite a linear fragrance, the aroma is long, powerful and deep. It’s never overpowering but satisfyingly lasting. As time goes by, hints of smoke, honey and sweet wood liquor arise. There is allure and passion in this. The sillage from this is surely heaven-like.
“You are not the food that I need,
you are the nourishment of my soul……” A Wedding Vow
Craving is deeply good especially if you have a sweet tooth. Inhaling this perfume is like savoring an excellent piece of artisan chocolate praline or the memory of sharing an intimate evening in front of a fire with only chocolate, toffee, roasted nuts and sweet wine for sustenance.
Craving is love, warmth, embraces, passion, desire, emotion, comfort, sex, lust , good memories and the making of memories to come. I love this perfume. It has Soul."

And Skye Miller from Cafleurbon has written a poem that is!

It’s happening again
the craving
craving the blessed boy
it’s a chemical reaction
no one can understand
a biological impulse
that sets fire to my insides
it’s the craving
craving the blessed boy
the sweet animal musk of his hair
curling around his ear
and the hazelnut scent of his sun warmed skin
butterfly kisses
barely touching
eyelashes against his cheek
my blessed boy
yes, its happening again
the craving
I’m craving my blessed boy
his tongue that drips with honey and caramel
I could never get enough
And his penetrating eyes the color of dark chocolate
Telling of a world that I will never understand
Of Kings and Princes
Magical mountains with snow capped peaks
And a struggle for life
He cannot express
To a woman from a different world
My blessed boy
I’m craving my blessed boy
It’s happening again
The familiar fire The craving
The vetiver grass mats wafting their scent
without thought or guile
through the window breeze
the dark chocolate of his eyes
looking into mine
the honey drip of his tongue
with deep wet kisses
the sweet caramel of his lips
pressed against the softness of mine
the warm hazelnut scent of his skin
On that blessed blessed night with blessed boy…

Craving-the music

Well, my education has been widened...Michelyn Camen of Cafleurbon has introduced me to an amazing piece of music written by the legendary pianist "Jelly Roll Morton".
And guess what it's called...."The Crave"