Today is my oldest brother's birthday, and I'm wearing (and mailing him another bottle) of the custom perfume I've created for him a few years ago, which I named after his nickname Yoyo.
He is a Scorpio, ruled by Mars and therefore the complete opposite of me (Aries, also ruled by Mars). Scorpio's motto is change, death and renewal, and they live their life with such force that they draw much attention with their charisma, yet once you know them better you realize it's really hard to tell what's hidden inside their shell. In their most dangerous incarnations, they will sting themselves with their own poisonous tail. In their more benevolent role, they are ambasadors of change and are not afraid of create it for themselves and for other, destroying and ridding themselves and those close to them of the unnecessary, and making room for new growth.
Like most men on the planet, my brother wanted his perfume to be irresistible to women; yet some of his favourite scents are very arguably quite revolting. My brother's favourite scents include some scents that are not exactly what you'd think pretty or desirable in a perfume (this is how their order of recollection as he described them for me on the phone in 2006):
Bakery early in the morning
Earth after rain
Books - both old and new
Leather in a cobbler's shop, and the smell of new leather sandals
Wood-shavings and the smell of a carpenter's shop
Scorched potatoes in a bonfire
The smell of goat's barn from far away
Quite a diverse list with not even a single flower in sight. Sigh...
How do I not make that smell hideous?
By focusing on the leather and the licorice. I built the perfume around licorice notes (star anise and aniseed, but also the lactonic tarragon absolute, to mellow things out and give a suggestion of banana). I also decided for a very unusual exception, to dip into the sample of castoreum that was sent to me by a manufacturer about 10 years ago. So the leather actually included real animalic leather note from poor Russian beavers, mingled with intensely smoky cade (for the scorched bonfire potatoes), dry tobacco absolute balanced with sweet cocoa absolute. For a hint of paint thinners, I opted for styrax, which has a very chemical-like smell (which I'm very fond of, by the way). There are more notes to it, but this is the gist of what Yoyo's perfume is.
And of course, re-blending it, I'm realizing there were essences that I was too scared to add before (costus, for example) that will certainly be fantastic there, and what was I thinking not putting it there? So the 2011 edition is going to be a little bolder and richer, and with more pronounced animalic notes. And it will finally be in a spray bottle like my brother always wanted it to be.
Oh, and by the way - the 2006 version must have been irresistible enough, because he's happily married and expecting a 2nd baby next year.
Happy birthday, Yoyo!