Five by Bruno Fazzolari

What's most unique about Five by Bruno Fazzolari is its context, as part of an art show, featuring paintings of one non-representational space from four perspective. The fifth piece is the fragrance that bears the title of the show, Five. 
 I haven't seen the images in person, but Five brings a very cold yet lively feel. Cold wet white tinted with cobalt blue and with scratchy and fidgety brush strokes that tease with vibrant, almost-primary colours. Five feels like a flickering neon light of mint and lemon, yet keeps itself contained within a realm of rather woodsy entities.  

Five is a modern interpretation of the Eau de Cologne genre, bringing forth woodsy and mineral elements with the classical backdrop of citrus and herbs. The briskness of mint is mingled with orange, cedar and oakmoss. Copious amounts of jasmine-y hedione create airy space among all this brings to mind the iconic Eau Sauvage. It's overall character is more masculine than feminine, which makes one wish men would wear cologne more often when it's so sticky outside.

Top notes: Mint, Sweet Orange, Rosemary, Lemon
Heart notes: Jasmine, Hedione, Petitgrain
Base notes: Oakmoss, Musk, Cedar


Lampblack by Bruno Fazzolari
Every evening before sunset, the preparations for the lightless hours commenced: father would fill the lamps with petroleum, trim the wicks and replace the spent ones; and mother would clean the soot off the fragile mouth-blown glass shields with a round bottle-brush. This job had to be done well ahead of time to ensure they are completely dry. Failure to do so would result of the glass exploding into shreds once the heat of the flame kisses the damp glass.

This is how I grew up, in the dim light to do the homework to in contrast to the blasting Mediterranean sun. Moths and fireflies will gather around the lamps and candles, often sacrificing their tiny lives by getting too close to the light... If you were too light-greedy by raised the flaming wick - the exact opposite result will be achieved: would  too much soot will collect rapidly on the glass, blocking the light and create more work for the next day...

One day technology arrived at my home village in the form of solar-power, and the petroleum lamps and all those little strange mundane details of electric-free life were almost forgotten... Until I encountered Bruno Fazzolari, a visual and perfume artist as well as an art educator - and his new perfume collection of 5 fragrances with the eponymous title. I instantly fell for two out of the five, and learned that the soot collecting on such lamps has a name, and is also the most ancient of all pigments: Lampblack.
Petroleum lamp by MrsFaraway
Petroleum lamp, a photo by MrsFaraway on Flickr.
Lampblack is not an isolated perfume - it was debuted as part of an art show at Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco, alongside a series of Exploring the relationship between art and perfume is a controversial and difficult subject (for many reasons I feel should be the topic of another post) and it's both exciting and encouraging to see an artist taking the risk and seriously pursuing the challenge.

Lampblack pigment is not simply black - but also possesses brownish or blue background hues that might show more clearly to the untrained eye after the colour fades a bit. It's a very versatile pigment - and is used to create India Ink, as well as black water colour and oil paints.

The primal, basic nature of lampblack pigment appeals to me. There is something very straight forward about it; yet also a mystery. It connects the innate need to tell a story through the ages - on cave walls or the Metro station.

Lampblack perfume encompasses that connection: it has some very prehistoric elements such as the smokiness of nagramotha (cyperus, a relative of vetiver that has an almost tar-like scent that is not unlike petroleum at its pure state); an ink-like quality that makes one think of the cold steel from which bridges are built. Strangely enough, it also reminds me of a visit to a fisher's docks in Haifa in elementary schools, when we were shown a cephalopod and the ink that comes out of it. There was a salty, metallic scent in the air of a rainy winter day, the rusty ships and wet wooden docks.

Upon application, Lampblack possesses an abstract yet familiar freshness merged with woodsy and mineral elements: sulfuric grapefruit, flint-like black pepper and woodsy sandalwood and vetiver. Quickly, a turpentine-like smokiness of nagramotha interferes with the agreeable opening, and an abstract array of molecules that bring to mind ink and minerals. Underneath it, if you listen carefully, there's a quiet jasmine note peaking through the rather angular structure, echoing the "fruity magentas" and splashes of yellow that are peaking through the buoyant spills of thick India ink in the artist's painting - but perhaps it's the other way around. Powdery benzoin mellows out the dryness of the woods, suave and absorbent like rough watercolour paper.

Lampblack perfume and the entire collection of 5 can be purchased directly from the artist's Edition webpage, or via his Etsy shop.

Perfumers' Afternoon Tea @ Alembique 23.03.2013

Last Saturday, on March 23rd, we hosted a perfumers' afternoon tea at Alembique - an up and coming perfume boutique in Berkeley (901 Hearst Ave) that will open to the public exactly a month from today, on May 1st.

Alembique's sign - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

It was my dream come true: hosting a tea party for all the wonderful perfumers in the Bay Area who have been most kind to me in my countless visits to San Francisco in the past 2 years. It was my way of expressing my gratitude, and giving back to this very warm, vibrant, supportive and creative community. There was also a hidden agenda - I wanted to try out hosting a tea party with my daughter outside of my own studio space. We both love hosting those parties, and I have a vision of traveling the world with her when she finishes school, connect with new people and cultures through tea, and get to know the world. This was a very successful experiment!

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
Me and Miss T arriving in Alembique, Berkeley

Painting the shop!
Team Alembqieu painting the shop, hanging the signs...
Photo by Babak (Alembique's shop owner)

Elise Setting up the Window Display
Setting up the window display
Photo by Babak (Alembique's shop owner)

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
Put a bird on it!
Love how that big shadow looks like a perfume bottle...

Shopping for breads at ACME Bakery
Lineup outside of ACME bakery in Berkeley

Shopping for breads at ACME Bakery
They do everything at ACME - excpet slice your bread for you... SO Berkeley...!

Shopping for breads at ACME Bakery
There is more bread than a girl!

Tamya making Halva cookies
Miss T making halva cookies (tahini shortbreads)

Email break while preparing for the tea party
Social media break in the Alembqieu courtyard...

Rose Petals & Almond Biscuits
Rose and almond ice box cookies - before and after. These turned out so good that I didn't even have a chance to taste one... Will be making more for my Hanami tea party on Sunday, April 7th.

Rose Petals & Almond Biscuits - Fresh from the oven!

Ras El Hanout Fudgey Brownies - fresh from the oven!
The fudgiest, tastiest, most exotique brownies ever: with ras el hanout, and gluten free.

And here's a little glimpse into tea-party central (photo by Babak Nahid, Alembique's owner):
Behind the Tea
Making the truffles with Miss T, Bruno Fazzolari and his daughter, Lily (Babak took that one too).
Making Ylang Ylang & Cassis Truffles with Bruno, Lily and Tamya

Ragna Rostad-Ruffner & Elise Pearlstine
Ragna Rostad-Ruffner (Divine Life Perfumes) and Elise Pearlstine (Bellyflowers Perfumes) helping me at the kitchen. The preparations were just as fun as the tea itself: A true community effort, and so great to work with everyone. Did I mention yet that it was my dream come true?

Whimsical displays at Alembqiue (photos courtesy of Yosh Han)

Ayala Moriel Parfums display at Alembique - notice the new packaging!
Ayala Moriel Parfums display at Alembique - with and without the perfumer (photographed on my iPhone by the Phil, the generous and gentle Alembique landlord, who kindly let me take over his kitchen for 2 days!
Notice my new packaging...!
Ayala Moriel Parfums display at Alembique

Everyone who came to the salon was invited, but not everyone could come. And then - I did not take photos of everyone either... But there were wonderful perfumers and scent artists from all over North America - even from as far away as Florida (Elise Pearlstine from Bellyflowers Perfume/Tambela), Magie Mahboubian (Parfums Lalun), Dannielle Sergent (COGNOSCENTI), Yosh Han (YOSH Olfactory Sense), Miriam Vareldzis (40notes), Josh Meyer (Imaginary Authors), Ineke Ruhland & Bill O'Such (Ineke Perfumer San Francisco), Bruno Fazzolari, Bill and Lily (Bruno Fazzolari Editions), Mandy Aftel and Foster Curry (Aftelier), Ragna Rostad-Ruffner (Divine Life Perfumes), Mario T. Gomez (Fragrance Ambassador extraordinaire), JK DeLapp, Ross Urrere (Urrere Aromatics), who in the spirit of sharing brought his incredible loose incense blend Ocean of Night (I will have to dedicate a post to that), Jennifer Caine (Smells & Bells), Sherri Sebatian (Sebastian Signs), Lisa Camasi, Laurie Stern (Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery), Lisa Fong (Artemisia Natural Perfume), Sanae Barber (Sanae Intoxicants), Yuko Fukami (Parfum Phyto); and of course team Alembique - Babak Nahid, Erinn, Jasper, Phil, and Dodger.    
Bruno Fazzolari and Magie Mahboubian
Bruno Fazzolari sharing his debut collection that debuted at the show the next day. Everyone enjoyed it so much! In the picture above you can see Bruno proudly watching Magie Mahboubian from Parfums Lalun explore his scents. And below, Miriam Vareldzis from 40notes and having a moment of bliss while inhaling his first fragrance creation, Five. It's a classic citrus scent that was the 5th piece in an art show that included 4 of his paintings. 
Miriam Vareldzis experiencing Bruno's perfume

Bruno Fazzolari Editions pre-reveal at the tea!
Bruno's debut collection of 5 perfumes.

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
Mandy and Foster have served Aftelier's amazing scented teas - GABA Oolong with Frankincense and the Jasmine & Mint oolong.

Mario, Mandy, Foster & Miriam 
Miriam Vareldzis, Foster Curry, Mandy Aftel and Mario T. Gomez having a conversation over a cup of tea. 

 Babak Nahid and Ross Urrere - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Apple Blossom wall at Alembqiue - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Bruno and Bill - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Dodger - the alchemical dog - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 
Erinn Nahid - Alembqiue partner and curator (and the event's ad-hoc decorator and florist) - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Glowing Ineke - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 
 Elise and Yosh - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

 Jennifer & Sherri - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 
Another stellar portrait courtesy of Yosh Han  this time of the hostess.

Mario, Dannielle and a parallel-universe group photo! - photo courtesy of Yosh Han 

Perfumers Afternoon Tea at Alembique March 23, 2013
The full spread... Was too busy hosting, so did not have time to take photos of each individual plate.

The menu was as follows:
Tea sandwiches:
Spicy Moroccan carrots with roasted pepper hummus.
Minted radishes
Cucumber & watercress
Classic egg salad

Scones: aniseed & malepi (black cherry pit) scones served with creme fresh (Berkeley Bowl did not have fresh Devonshire cream, if you can believe it!) and with raspberry jam and fig preserves.

Raw & vegan coconut macarons
Rose & Almond Shortbreads
Saffron Shortbreads
Fudgey Brownies with Ras el Hanout (my secret recipe, which really has the best spices imaginable!)
Ylang Ylang & Creme de Cassis truffles

Teas served:
Osmanthus flower tea (herbal)
Ayala Moriel's Espionage tea (lapsan suchong with jasmine petals, rosebuds, vanilla and ambrette seeds) - not yet released
Aftelier's Frankincense GABA Oolong
Aftelier's Jasmine & Mint Oolong
Thai tea (courtesy of fragrance ambassador Mario T. Gomez)

Pittosporum & Rain

Pitosporum, a photo by FOTOGRAFIES CATA on Flickr.
After our brief Portland encounter, we arrived in Berkeley in the late afternoon of Tuesday, March 19th.
The moment we got out of the rabbit hole and got out, three distinct realizations hit me:
First of all, it was raining, in California - which is a most profound cognitive dissonance for a Vancouverite (and what we supposedly hate the most when on vacation). I didn't only not mind this rain (which was soft, and slightly warm, at least in comparison to its relatives up north). I liked the smell of the rain, which we rarely actually get in Vancouver (where it rains about 90% of the year). Besides, I wasn't exactly on vacation. I had lots of work to do - and the lack of sun would make me feel less like I was missing out on fun.

Secondly, the street dwellers of Berkeley turned out to be the most colorful bunch, and far outweigh their brethren in Vancouver in most categories (except, perhaps, politeness). To prove my point: they were wearing war paints all over their face when we arrived, made probably from flower pollen and exotic spices.

Thirdly and lastly - the air smelled fantastic, and it wasn't just the rain hitting the dry pavement; and it wasn't laundromat either. I spent the remainder of my time trying to find out where the smell came from. And it turned out that the majority of Shattuck Avenue is lined with tall evergreen trees, whose blossoms release the most intoxicating aroma reminiscent of osmanthus, orange blossom and orchid.

A few days later, I learned from Bruno that those trees are non other than Pittosporum undulatum. I'm not sure which kind exactly, but they certainly grow tall, beautiful and fragrant - something you might want to consider when planning your garden!

Feng Shui for the Soul - Visiting Yosh + GIVEAWAY

There is a strange thing in the perfumers’ world: we don’t need any ice breakers. For those of us already familiar with each other’s work, it’s not uncommon for our first meeting to feel like reuniting with a long lost friend. Independent perfumers work in such isolated environment, that we seek each other’s companionship virtually and it is more often than never that before meeting one another, we have corresponded via email and exchanged samples of our work or raw materials in the mail.

Yosh's path and mine crossed when we discovered our mutual interest in spies. We both have perfumes that are inspired by this mysterious world – Yosh with her Ginger Ciao perfume (and fictional character…), and me with Espionage, both of which just so happen to be our best-sellers too! This was a few years ago, and I was thrilled when the opportunity finally struck to visit in San Francisco and that Yosh was not only available to meet me, but also graciously invited me to stay at her home AND throw a perfumers’ party especially for my spontaneous visit!

As soon as I arrived in San Francisco, I headed to Barneys to meet up with Yosh. I had very little time to spend with her, unfortunately, as the trip from SFO to downtown took longer than we anticipated, and also, I had a previous engagement with Mandy Aftel, of which I have just finished blogging about moments ago, so I was in a bit of a rush... We got briefly acquainted, and I got to see her lovely display at Barneys and meet the sweet people who work at the cosmetic and fragrance department there, not to return there until the next day to thoroughly explore what they have to offer in the word of scent.

I didn’t get to see Yosh again till a few hours later, at her home in a beautiful, old San Francisco building. Yosh must be a gifted feng-shui master (knowingly or not – I haven’t asked her), because the moment you enter her home, you feel welcome and comfortable. Just like the lady who inhabits it, it’s bubbling with life and so hospitable and at the same time very peaceful and serene.

When I arrived with Laurie Stern of Velvet & Sweetpea Purrfumery (who picked me up from Berkeley), Yosh’s home was full of perfumers and scent artists, gathered in her studio space around a table with many delicious treats that everybody brought and made, including beautiful salads that Yosh made, pretty red Velvet cupcakes, wine cheese, and Laurie brought an incredibly delicious plum & almond tart, and also gave me this beautiful honey she harvested from her own bees – I swear to you, it tastes a little rosy, they probably feed off geranium flowers!

Oh, and I almost forgot about the amazing homemade limoncello that Laurie brought - she made it from those HUGE variety of lemons that have very little pulp and very fragrant peel, and it tasted as if there was vanilla in it (but there was none - just lemon zest). Needless to say, it was the best limoncello I've ever had.

Among the guests were no other than Jeanne Rose - seasoned aromatherapist and herbalist, pioneer natural perfumer and world renown educator, and fellow Canadian independent perfumer Ineke Rühland and there was also a teacher from San Francisco . It was a fun surprise to meet in person Yuko Fukami from Parfum Phyto, who is who participated with me in the Midsummer’s Night Dream Scent Event, and I got to smell her creation Dreams – a delicate perfume with sweet osmanthus and an overall subtle powdery fruitiness. She also makes Neriko (Japanese kneaded incense, which is similar to kyphi), so our interests are not limited to perfume alone and I’m hoping to see her this week when she’s visiting in Vancouver! Another surprise was meeting artist Bruno Fazzolari
and finding out that he teaches a full term perfume course at the California College of Art.

Ineke brought out no less than four (!) new perfumes that she's working on to show us, and we all marveled at the beautiful packaging design and tried them on. They were all floral and pretty and inspired greatly by her beautiful garden, and quite different in concept than her abecedary collection. And I shared my last few scented chocolate bars and showed my little traveling perfume wardrobe of recent and upcoming creations such as Smiling Country, New Orleans and Oras, and a couple of other scents that won’t be released till 2012. It was a true perfume party, and there were even more perfumers in the room than there were in the party I was at in Grasse in 2009. San Francisco seems to be buzzing with creative independent perfumers that collect scents like bees do with pollen…

And despite the fact that we are all technically speaking “competitors” there was no sense of that word in the air, but the opposite – a sense of community, and one that is very supportive, inspiring and encouraging. We ran ideas about anything to do with raw materials, packaging, marketing and creative process and enjoyed every moment of it. The last of us partied till the wee hours of the night, which seemed almost effortless, despite the fact that I woke up before 3am that day to catch my early morning flight…

The next morning we woke up early enough to get some things done, but late enough to not feel exhausted; Yosh fixed up the most delicious breakfast of granola, yogurt and fresh ripe peach; and than showed me some of her perfumes.

I was instantly smitten with Yosh’s newest perfume (launched at the end of 2010), Sombre Negra – a dark, woody and spicy-warm dusky vetiver, accented with patchouli, tobacco, choya loban opoponax oakmoss, davana, pink pepper and mushroom. Experiencing this very “serious” perfume was of course contrasted with Yosh’s sense of humour as she sprayed it on a “moustache” – her funny invention of scent “strip” that makes you look as if you’ve just grown a Groucho Marx moustache every time you smell something…

Than I set off to Barneys by Union Square (the photograph you see is of her beautiful display there, of both her parfum oils in the flacons, and the new EDP spray bottles, which have invisible spray tubes – ever so elegant!), before I headed to my ultimate destination – Sonoma County.

Last but not least - what is your favourite Yosh perfume, or any perfume from the San Francisco perfumers mentioned in this article, and enter to win Ineke's Vol. 2 deluxe sample collection (of her first 5 perfumes).

* Photos courtesy and copyright of Yosh Han, unless stated otherwise.

P.s. All these events took place June 29-30, and recounted after I got safely back to my home in Vancouver :-)

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