Thursday, May 20, 2010

The rewards of Perfuming

Sometimes the rewards of perfuming can be other interesting and inspiring things....I've swapped samples for books, for samples of other perfumes and any number of things over the years...and a little while ago, I sent some samples of "Sense of Honour" to Johanna in New Zealand, a lady who had been reading my blog....and in the return mail, look what arrived back! She actually spun it herself, I'm so impressed! This colurs in this skein of wool were actually chosen to coordinate with my blog colours! The photo doesn't actually do it justice, it's a beautiful every changing blend of colours with lovely sparkly threads twinkling in and out...Johanna, if you are planning on selling your lovely spinning wares, do put your contact details in a message here!

It's such a lovely gesture though....makes me really feel appreciated!

My motto for the day: "Nothing says "I love your perfumes" Like beautiful wool!"

Friday, May 14, 2010

Scent for a Country Gentleman

vintage 3

I've been asked many times what inspires me to create a specific perfume...and there's no one could be a new ingredient I've discovered and fallen in love with, a bespoke perfume concept given to me by a client, a specific need of a friend, (such as the infamous "Love Potion"), a painting, a song, a particularly nice autumn day...

But the one dearest to myheart is a concept perfume called "Sense of Honour"..
It's based around my memories of my grandfather. He was one of those true gentlemen you don't find very often. The kind of person who made you feel as though there was actually something worthwhile in the world. He had real integrity, solid, kind, reliable and with an air of authority and strength with it that made him someone people admired and trusted. He used to make up the most amazing stories to tell me as a kiddy, as I sat on his big lap and snuggled into his chest and breathed in the solid, warm scent of him.
I went through a phase where he was on my mind a lot...I was missing him, and decided to create a Scent that would call up the feeling of happiness and security he gave me as a child, and a perfume that would suit him. Something solid and real, that makes you feel , well, that things are right in the world.
My Grandfathers name was Noel Weaver. He was a true Australian country gentleman who came from one of the original families that farmed the land near theWisemans Ferry in New South Wales. He came from the generation that really worked hard, starting as a labourer on the roads in his mid teens, and eventually establishing his own citrus orchard, built his own house by hand, and eventually became the head of a small dynasty of kids and grandkids who loved and admired him. He kept his family on the farm during the depression, and I remember my mother telling me how he would always find at least a part days work for any of the many who came walking through the district, desperate for work of any kind....
He was also a pretty high up mason, and one of those deeply spiritual people who never spoke about religion.
He had an incredible love for the land itself, and I grew up listening to stories about the trees and the billabongs out in the bush and the many animals and birds that lived there....he used to also send me books to Enlgand where we were living at the time, with Aboriginal dreamtime stories about spirits living in rocks the living spirit of the land itself...
His stories, and those my mother told of him have shaped my life deeply...

So how in the world do you build a Scent to do this man justice?
I started off with Vetiver. Vetiver is a deep love opf mine (as those of you who read my blog regularly know by now) Vetiver is to me, the ultimate Bear hug of perfume ingredients, esp. the Javanese Vetiver I used here. It's a deep, musky base note that makes you feel safe and grounded. It smells of earth, and pheromones, and is just about as manly as you can get, scent wise.
Perfect as the base for my grandfathers scent.
To this I married some smokey dark Coffee absolute. My grandfather used to drink a lot of coffee, and this is another scent I associate strongly with him. It also happens to fit wonderfully with Vetiver, adding a nice warm, dry masculine element to it.
I used white grapefruit as a topnote, because it's fresh without being sweet, and one of the fruit he used to grow in his orchard....and it adds a great refreshing pick me up note to the smokey base. Then some douglas fir oil because there is something incredibly clear and clean about all of the conifers. And fir is the gentle, mellowest of them. My grandfathers farm also had a row of tall connifers growing along the path lading to the house, which he had planted along a water line he had dowsed...
So you now have a scent impression of a country gentleman, sitting on his verandah drinking his coffee, the fresh sharp scent of the freshly peeled grapefruit from his orchard on a plate next to him, the fresh scent of the tall connifers he planted many years ago as seedlings coming with a gentle breeze from the road down from the house....
I had the beginnings of the scent I had been dreaming of.
I ended up with umpteen variations sitting on the "work in progress" shelf in their own carefully labeled bottles. All of them smelled great. But .....In some of them the grapefruit just took over, in others the base was so heavy that you lost the fresh notes...and some were just a tad too sweet.....
But eventually I got it just right! (Took me over two years though!)
What I eventually worked out was missing was sweetness, ...I kept missing it because I had a masculine fragrance in mind, and was avoiding anything sweet or in the least girly...
But there is another kind of sweetness: the deep, ripe, mature sweetness of late summer fruits, apples at that point where they have reached warm, tart yet soft sweetness that is perfect for making cider..a note of grace and maturity that comes at the end of a long life well lived, the harvest at the end of a long summer....
The perfume now starts with a refreshing headnote of white grapefruit and fir, clear as a cool late summer morning, then warms to a lovely cider sweet middle with notes of foresty spruce freshly rubbed between your fingers, darkening to a deep woody base which wraps around you like you grandfathers hug.....
Then of course I needed a name that encompasses everything my grandfather stood for:Honor, Respect, Kindess and caring for all living things...a real maturity and wisdom that comes from a deep understanding of life.....and above all Integrity.
I was originally going to call it "Noel" after my grandfather...but that just didn't sound right for a scent, much as I loved the man.....
In the end I ran a small competition offering a bottle to the person who came up with the best name.
And it's just perfect:

"Sense of Honour"

This perfume isn't available through the website as yet, so if you'd like to buy some, send me an email and I'll send you a paypal invoice for it.

It's available as :

19ml perfume oil $110

70ml eau de cologne intense $98

19ml eau de cologne intense $45

mini sample atomizer  $20

Friday, May 7, 2010

Musings on Gardenia

I think I've had more requests for a natural Gardenia scent than for anything else over the years...and up until now I've had to say "It can't be done".
Gardenia is one of those flowers that seems to hold power over those that love it....for me, it is the smell that always evokes meomories of my grandmothers garden. My grandmother had an amzingly green thumb, and a deep love of scented flowers. And she had gardenias growing all the way along one of the paths in her garden....
I can remember as a kid, coming home from somewhere and walking along this path one evening, brushing cobwebs out of my face as I walked (it being summer and Australia and all), and being totally mesmerized by the scent of the gardenias. I had been out in the garden that morning, and hadn't really noticed that much of a scent coming from these white flowers with their elegant dark green leaves...but now suddenly, the falling darkseemed to have brought them to life, like some kind of magical spell that awakened only at dusk!
It's such an amazing scent, deep, fresh, tangy, musky and with something else that is totally mysterious there in the background as well. The Gardenia flower has a potent hypnotic magic about it that is impossible to copy.
There are many gardenia perfumes on the market, and each of them focuses on a different aspect of this magic. But none (to my nose anyway) come anywhere near the real thing. (Of course, few, if any of them actually contain real gardenia, so I suppose it's not really that surprising)...Then, a few months ago, I got hold of some real Gardenia absolute from a lovely supplier in Europe. It takes literally thousands of kilos of Gardenia petals to create just one kilo of Gardenia absolute. And since most perfume companies are happy to use artificial Gardenia scents made from chemicals that mimic it's mysterious and magical scent, the traditional production of this ingredient had just withered away....
But finally, it's being made again!
The absolute itself arrived and I excitedly opened the bottle:
The first impression was dissapointing. It's undeniably Gardenia, but somethow in the extraction process, the deep,  sexy, sultry and musky flower scent comes through, but the magical fresh top notes that make sniffing a freshly picked gardenia flower so mesmerizing, went astray.
I put it on the backshelf for a while, and then (after yet another request for a Gardenia perfume...) I pulled it back out and set out to recreate the elusive top notes I remembered so well from my Grandmothers garden....
I experimented with a number of related flowers, and discovered that many of the white flowers have similar notes to them! Mother Nature seems to marry the creamy white colur in nature to specific scent notes, so by carefully adding just touches of a variety of these, plus some fresh leafy green notes to give the feeling of that newly picked fresheness you get from the crushed stem and leaves and oh my goodness, there it was, the scent I so remembered from early dew covered mornings in my grandmothers garden in Australia....
My mother was the first to try it...she's an avid Gardenia lover with a very accute sense of smell and one of my hardest critics...I sprayed some on her wrist when she popped by that afternoon without telling her what it was and "Oh my, Gardenia! How beautiful!"
The only problem was that the scent faded quickly, just like the natural scent of the flowers will once you bring them indoors....
So from there I spent some further months finding a gentle base note that would hold and extend the glorious fragrance without distracting from the gardenia accord itself....
Have I managed?
Smell for yourself and find out!

I'm giving away a free deluxe mini spray sample of "My Gardenia" with all perfume orders this month (excluding sample collections, but I will add a normal size sample if you ask me nicely and order at least 4 other samples!)