Behind The Scents

Behind the Scents wtih Treazon

Treazon by Ayala Moriel
Treazon, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
I kept the creative process of Treazon concealed from you for the most part. A little glimpse into the artistic direction have been published last year - at which point the formulation was actually ready!

Treazon perfume has been a raw concept for quite some time now. It all began as an impromptu study of tuberose, broken down into its many components - specific molecules, and raw materials that help coax the tuberosiness out of the rather subtle absolute.

Poucher's book played a big role in helping me discover aspects of tuberose I've never before thought would be so important and prevalent in creating a "big tuberose":
From that, I created a sketch that was very simple, yet powerful: tuberose, birch, vanilla, anise, cinnamon and cassis. I blended them up guided by my nose, and set them aside to oblivion with a random name "Treazon" sketched all over the formula and the lab bottle. That was back in October 2005!

This simple little perfume turned out to be crucial in creating the effect I desired so much years later, after experiencing the epiphany of Tubereuse Criminelle in Paris; yet being disappointed at the drydown (too similar to Fleur d'Oranger, in my humble opinion): the almost disturbing scent that takes over the room after dark after bringing home a stem or two of tuberose from the flower shop. It usually happens only in the summer time. And when I find them - I always feel particularly lucky. They are often hard to find, and even once you do find one or two - they tend to be either buried in a bouquet with a bunch of indolic lilies; or very unimpressive visually as they travel long and far and the edges of the petals are often browned and damaged.
 Yet non of this prevents the flower from taking up the entire house (I live and work in a two story apartment) and it makes the few days of living with a tuberose stem quite memorable. Across the street from my home there is a retirement home, and more often than never there are service cars that take folks to their last trip, which is rather sad to watch; but is also a constant reminder of the frailty and preciousness of life. I feel like we live in a very unhealthy segregated society where we separate ourselves from the threatening realities of illness, death and depleted youth; not to mention the "inconvenience" of chattering children, toddlers etc.

So imagine the evening coming down, the bone-flower  placed on my windowsill facing downwards on an ambulance across the street... And the scent of heady flowers coming off strong and potent, non apologetic, and invisibly takes over the scene. That was the inspiration for Treazon at its final stages, which helped me refine my vision for it and also develop a visual representation for the perfume - an aspect that is challenging for such a small establishment; yet sometimes very helpful not only for marketing but also for creating the right mood and being able to communicate my olfactory "story" to my audience. Which is what I'm trying to do now.

It's also a challenge to explain how or why I pick the names for my perfumes. You will notice, if you glance at my perfume collection, that there are some scents that are particularly bold and have big somewhat political names - Espionage, Schizm, Sabotage... These always have a healthy (I think) dose of humour in them but are tackling rather heavy political phenomenon that have caused mankind much pain and strife. I suppose it's just my way of dealing with the things that constantly cast a shadow over our lives and my particular life story (which thankfully is only "not-directly" affected by all the big wars that have been fought by my ancestors and all their resulting misery - displacement, wounding and so on and so forth).

Treason is perhaps the most unforgivable thing: betraying your own people for a very questionable and doubtful cause. Yet it is something we do on a daily basis without even noticing: we betray the people we love the most. We do that unknowingly by revealing something personal about them to someone else who wants to hurt them or gain from their loss. We say bad things about those who are near and dear to us and betray their secrets just because we are weak and need someone to listen to our troubles. And simply because we don't know any better. So you see, treason is not something that is only reserved for heroic wars and to great betrayers of countries, spies and defectors. It's something that we commit in times of truce - or peace - as well.

And to me, all those things associated with treason and treachery have that toxic, bittersweetness of seductive poison. Which is why I picked notes that are rather strange and unusual and controversial. The original sketch has all these components: birch, which is full of salicilates, feeling simultaneously medicinal (wintergreen, menthol and cough syrup) and candy-like (grape and cherry). Cassis is at the same time delicious and berry-like, yet also has what many refer to as "cat pee" smell.

And last but not least: tuberose itself is a flower that people tend to either love or detest. So I won't be in the least surprised if this is the reaction that Treazon will garner: people will either love it, or hate it, for what it is, what it smells like, what it represents - and the name (spelled with a "Z" to make it a little more fun and less literal; besides, I love the look of the letter "Z" and I've been traditionally substituting it for the "s" in many of my perfume names where it is slightly possible).

To the "basic" sketch of Treazon I gradually added other notes to fine tune it and create more complexity and sophistication. Massoia bark for extra milky lacontic goodness. Wintergreen to make it even more medicinal and grape-like. Yellow mandarin for intense floralcy. And that spectacular orange blossom from Egypt for it's particularly grape-like quality, only to intensity the tuberose effect. There is also a tea rose from China (a thing of a rarity), and orris butter and load of vanilla absolute - the dark, slightly woody, real stuff. And did I mention the African stone tincture yet? It brings forth the animalic quality and makes it just ever so slightly meaner - and deeper. And most importantly: a very salicylic tuberose from India, to balance the more buttery and slightly green one I had. All in all, there is 34% tuberose in the entire formula. And at $8,000 a kilo, this makes the final (aka retail) price of Treazon hardly a profitable affair. But I want you to enjoy it while I can make it - so please do!

Song of Songs + Giveaway

Book of Love, originally uploaded by Thorne Enterprises.

The book of Canticles (aka Song of Solomon or Song of Songs) is traditionally read on the morning of the Sabbath during Passover. Hence, my perfume bearing that name is particularly appropriate for this time of year and I thought it would be a great start for talking about how to use oud in perfumery, revealing the different facets of its complex beauty.

I created Song of Songs perfume using the ancient perfumes mentioned in this book, including agarwood, spikenard root, oils of myrrh and frankincense oils, and labdanum absolute, which together form a resinous and woody base; a bouquet of roses (from Morocco, Turkey and Bulgaria) for the heart, and saffron absolute at the top, which makes it very exotic and unusual. At some point I had some hyacinth absolute in my organ, which I used for the heart as well, but this is long gone. The hyacinths stand for the lilies mentioned in the poem, and which according to my research were what the Song of Songs refers to as "Lily of the Valley" (convillarias do not grow in Israel or anywhere in the Middle East). Hyacinth absolute is very sweet (almost candy sweet) and with some green-herbaceous aspect. But like I said - it rarely turns out in the market. I also had an idea of having cedar in it at certain point in the design process, but that was more of a story-telling idea, rather than perfumed idea (the book mentions cedar of Lebanon, which was used to build the temple of Solomon; however I don't know that cedar was necessarily a biblical perfume material so I abandoned that idea early on).

Song of Songs is honeyed, resinous and exotic and has a very profound impact on my mind when I wear it. It makes me feel connected to the ancient civilizations where my ancestors came from. There. the Orient and the Occident unite through veins of caravans transporting spices, medicine and wisdom. Like the poem it was inspired by, the perfume sits comfortably between the sacred and the profane (despite the fact that the poetry in the book of Canticles is very erotic and more than just suggestive, it is considered by the Jews to be the holiest one in the bible).

Although I created it before knowing anything about Arabian perfumery or smelling any Arabian or Indian attars (Song of Songs was created in 2002, just about a year after I started my journey in the art of perfumery) - it is a very "Middle Eastern" perfume, similar in some ways to the Arabian attars I smelled at the perfume bazzar at the souk years later, but far more pure and intense with its true attar of rose, spikenard and agarwood and all the rest. The spikenard really brings out the mustiness and earthy animalic aspect of agarwood, and the saffron brings it up another notch with its almost leathery dryness. Along with the ambery labdanum and the precious woodsy notes of olibanum and myrrh, these elements really make the roses sing and stand out during the heart phase. It becomes woodier and dryer as it dries on the skin.

Interestingly, Song of Songs is really popular with my local clientele - those who pick it by smelling it rather than reading the history and notes on the website. But those who do pick it from the virtual boutique end up being long time devotees. I can see why: there is something really soothing about it. I worn it yesterday and I will be wearing it for the rest of the Passover week.

Comment on this post and get entered into a draw to win a preview-vial (15ml) of Song of Songs anointing body oil, with nourishing and fast-absorbing oils of jojoba, coconut, avocado and vitamin E.

Magnolia Lily & The Chinese Apothecary

Some Chinese herbs, originally uploaded by egle_k..
Just before the year ended, some packages with supplies that got stuck in the holiday mail arrived. One of them had a sample of CO2 extraction of Magnolia Lily (Magnolia fargesii) - a type of magnolia that smells nothing like white magnolia or champaca. It has none of the fruitiness or sweetn floralcy of either. Rather, it is camphoreous and medicinal and leaves the palette bewildered as for whether it is hot or cold. It reminds me a bit of ginger lily (only woodier and less reminiscent of ginger and roots) and I immediately knew I would have to try it out in my 5th mod of the Amber & Ginger perfume (by the way, this is only the working name for this perfume) - a perfume I started working on last winter when I caught a bad flu and needed something to warm me up. All the more appropriate to add to it an essence that smells like a Chinese Apothecary!

Incidentally, my spring cleaning also revealed some treasures. Literally. I found my lost formula for the 5-spice accord I was hoping to use in some upcoming revolutionary floral (I don't know what would be revolutionary about it but I can feel it). I also found 7 pendants, probably in the same drawer. Which a good thing because otherwise I would have needed to order more!

So, the 5th mod of Ginger & Amber features the abovementioned Magnolia Lily, as well as a hint of Egyptian jasmine grandiflorum absolute (a stellar jasmine if you ask me). I also created a 6th mod, in which there is even more magnolia lily and jasmine, as well as some ginger lily (the root, not the flower). It is still just as juicy and cozy as the 4th mod that I loved, but thanks to the floral heart notes it has less of the hollowness that typifies perfumes based on a top-note & base-note marriage.
Previous posts about Amber & Ginger's development:

Mandarin Oranges & Sandalwood Incense

Tangerines & Sandalwood, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.
These two cute tangerines were given to me by Monique at my holiday soiree (they were fresher and brighter a week ago, I can assure you, but I procrastinated on this photoshoot) and they got me thinking again about the sandalwood-mandarin duo. As a result, I’m inspired to build something around this accord, or more likely - re-visit my ginger & amber perfume and add a sandalwood element to it.

I haven’t started working on this mod yet (scheduled to be mod #6). This week I was too busy baking cookies and entertaining as a way to cope with the snow and the extremely low temperatures (-8 during the day at times, which is very unusual for Vancouver at any given time). I still have to work on mod #5 with magnolia lily and jasmine to flesh out the heart and give the perfume more body. It sure is interesting to see how this perfume develops in teeny-tiny steps every time.

In the meantime, I’m using a shortcut and wearing some Obsession eau de toilette and resisting the temptation of taking advantage of the Boxing day specials and finally get myself the parfum extrait.
The large tangerines, by the way, were the best ones I’ve ever found in Vancouver in my 10+ years of living here. They turned out so great that I used them in a new ginger wafers recipe and it made it quite amazing really. I will post my recipe here soon, promise.
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