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Scent & Synesthesia: Grin

Scent & Synesthesia: Grin

There are 295 kinds of green, making it the most diverse colour in nature. Green is also the colour of the heart chakra, and is associated with life and vitality, the element of earth and a healthy planet. 

Tomorrow, my friend Hasi and I will co-host an event dedicated to the intersection of colour and scent. We will demonstrate some of the techniques for extracting colour and fragrance from plants,,explore the concept of synesthesia, and how our personal history is intertwined with vines, and strewn with the healing beauty of leaves and flowers. In the photo is Grin perfume and a stunning rainbow of greens - flower- dyed fabrics by Hasia Naveh.

While green is a colour that is almost synonymous with nature, it is not as straightforward to achieve using natural dyes. Often what we'll get is either an olive green (i.e.: with plants that also contain tannins, such as pomegranate), or myriad uninspiring yellow-greens (from carrot, for instance). They tend to have a muted quality. Grassy green is usually achieved using weld (a very valuable type of yellow) layered over indigo.

The particular stunning, vivid range of green shades you see in the photo was achieved from a dyepot of scabiosa flowers, grown by Hagar Zachar, a natural dyer and flower horticulturalist from Alon HaGalil. The variety of shades is due to using different types of fabrics (i.e.: linen, cotton, silk) and also experimenting with either fresh or dried flowers. Another factor in natural dying, is when is the fabric dipped in the dyepot. Generally speaking the earlier dippings will absorb the brightest colours. The last additions to the pot, when the dye is much weaker, may achieve pastels. And of course the length of dipping time is also a factor. 

Bonus: Hagar's presence and participation in our event is a pleasant surprise (an idea Hasi came up with last minute, and we were so fortunate that Hagar was able to say yes!). She will be showing us more flowers that are suitable for colour production, on either paper or fabric. 

Grin perfume of course plays on the sound of "Green" and "Grin" - and who wouldn't smile if they're surrounded by luscious green plants, or more specifically, observing the first sprouts of green grass come autumn and the first rainshowers (if you're living in the dry parts of the world); or shoots of green from bulb plants in the spring (if you live in the parts of the world where the dead season is winter). Green as a symbol of new beginnings, and pretty optimistic at that.

The scent is made of various green-smelling and green-coloured fragrant botanicals: Galbanum, with it sharp, cut-grass and parsley personality; boronia, a delicate flower with beta ionone at its helm; violet leaf, with it green cucumber-like scent, watery and mysterious; green pepper (because it has a green colour, of course), green oakmoss, and vetiver root, which brings another shade of green that is both cool and earthy. 

Yohji

more raspberry fingers

A significant part of preparing for my trans-atlantic move involves sifting through my countless of bottley possessions. While there has been some reported sightings of letting go, it hasn't made even the slightest dent in the number of glassware filled with precious liquid that I'm going to have to meticulously wrap and prepare for marine freight.

But what has happened was rediscovering of certain scents, and realizing that even though I rarely wear them - they're too special to let go of. Such is Yohji, in its clear "glass coffin" box, whose packaging alone inspires curiosity. By the way, its original wrapping also included being neatly rolled in parchment paper.

Yohji is singular in its execution of the ambreine theme, and turning it into a fully-fledged gourmand  - with a twist. Ambreine is the basis of many great oriental fragrances, and is based on the contrast of vanillin and bergamot, traditionally with rose and jasmine as harmonizers and  a touch of coumarin and patchouli for depth (for reference: this is the core of perfumes such as Shalimar, Emeraude, et al, and the modernized with the gourmand interpretations of fragrances such as Angel, Lolita Lempicka and Prada Ambre Intense Pour Homme).

Yohji intensifies this simple pleasure by utilizing the striking sharp green of galbanum that adds a much needed interest to the bergamot facet, as well galbanum resin at the base, which has a decidedly balsamic quality that adds interest to the sugary vanillin. But rather than having rose and jasmine connect these two extremes of balsamic and citrus - the perfumer nestled ripe, syrupy berries in the midst. Namely, raspberries and blackberries.

While the structure of Yohji is very much like that of Angel and Lolita Lempicka, it leaves a memorable mark on the smeller and stands apart from other modern gourmands. Additionally, while it does bring to mind the historic contrast of galbanum and raspberry found in the classic green floral from the 70s, Ivoire, it still comes across as strikingly different, in its decidedly unfloral core and lack of interest in obeying any trends or fitting any expectations whatsoever. It's also unclassified gender-wise - and there is no reason for men not to wear it, despite the lack of the subtitle "Homme".

My memories of Yohji were a bit of mixed feelings - first of all, because of its intensity, which to begin with made me wear it scarcely. Although it's not quite as aggressive as Angel, it is pretty close. Additionally, many falls ago,  when I just "met" Yohji (I've had a purse-size spray received in a swap), was when my doughter was recovering from a summer accident that broke her leg. It was a time of overwhelmingly intense transitions and challenges, and I found the scent to bring just the right amount of confidence and a great complement to brisk cold busy workweek mornings with too many tasks to catch up with and made me feel just a tad braver than before applying it. But that also tends to translate to not being able to wear it again after, simply because of the strong emotional association. Now that many years have passed without me touching it, and when I'm again facing a big life change, I find it to be oddly comforting. Only now I truly embrace its audacity and can appreciate its structure better. The opening, which can be experienced as harsh (there is more than a little acetone-like note going on there), does not bother me anymore, and I absolutely adore the dry down which reminds me of an almond and raspberry torte.

P.s. This review is for the 1996 version of Yohji. It was re-launched in 2013 and I have not tried the new version - therefore unable to comment on it at this time. If you've tried it - I would like to hear from you if it's worth a sniff. Perhaps it is the berry aspect that I'm sentimental about, and maybe that is the berry perfume I've been looking for all summer?

Approaching Coal Harbour

Buoys

This week I've finally created a batch of Coal Harbour, which I intend to close the Perfume4aPlace series dedicated to my favourite spots in Vancouver. However, the concept of Coal Harbour perfume predated all the other scents. In fact, it was in one of those morning walks about five years ago in Coal Harbour that I knew I would soon have to leave the city. Walking there and watching the aquaplanes take off and land on water I felt a pang of melancholy, knowing how much I love the marine aspect of the city. And so I promised myself to make a Coal Harbour perfume before I leave, as a goodbye present to the place I've called home for nearly 18 years.

This idea of course was the seed of the entire collection. And as the time to leave approached, I began rolling out the scents. I felt reluctant to launch Coal Harbour, because deep inside I knew that would mean the last farewell. So I did this gradually, with one perfume in each season... Komorebi in the fall of 2015, Sunset Beach in the winter of 2016, Lost Lagoon in the spring, and finally Coal Harbour for summer.

The scent is now maturing in the vat - a concoction that echoes the juxtaposition of natural aromas in their urban surrounding, contrasting marine notes, fresh cut grass and linden blossoms with the penetrating aroma of jet fuel.

The perfume is still in the maturing phase, but you can pre-order a sample (or, if you know you like marine-leathery-green scents, an entire bottle in your choice of eau de parfum application - mini splash bottle, roll-on and larger spray bottle.

New Perfume: Lost Lagoon

 Inspired by a hidden garden of azaleas

Lost Lagoon

Happy May Day!
I'm excited to share with you my new perfume for spring and summer: Lost Lagoon.

Every spring, the rhododendrons awaken - first slowly, building anticipation. By early May, they simply burst with colour and aroma, some of the bushes so dense with flowers that you can't even see their leaves and branches...

These fragrant azaleas paint the edges of Lost Lagoon with myriads of flowers of tropical colours and exotic scents as versatile as the number of hybrids planted there: some are reminiscent of lily, others are like ylang ylang and some smell like cool suntan lotion. Bluebells, violets and other bulb flowers and annuals are planted among them; and magnolia, lilac and syringa contribute their luscious perfume to the already fragrant air. Freshly cut grass from the Pitch & Putt is the only reminder you're still in the Northern Hemisphere and not in the tropics...

Lost Lagoon

In case you can't experience this extravagant botanical explosion in person - don't be sad: I've bottled that scent especially for you!

Lost Lagoon is the third installation in "Perfume For A Place" series, which is inspired by my favourite places in Vancouver. This perfume will transport you to a secret lagoon surrounded by tropical flowers. Lost Lagoon is a refreshing Chypre with exotic floral notes of magnolia and ylang ylang and loaded with bergamot and green notes of rhododendron buds, violet leaf and galbanum.



Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Galbanum, Violet
Heart Notes: Rhododendron, Magnolia, Ylang Ylang
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Amber, Iris


New Growth

So much for the candles!! by she who is
So much for the candles!!, a photo by she who is on Flickr.

There’s no mistaking the influence of No. 19 upon opening the cute little 15ml splash bottle of my friend and colleague, fellow Canadian (now turned Grassoise) perfumer Jessica Buchannan’s newest creation, Fleur No. 1 galbanum and iris make a happy dance that echoes the distinct accord that is so characteristic of Chanel’s iconic scent, yet with far less melancholy, and with underlining softness of musk. After a few minutes, Fleur No. 1 quiets into a mellow sweet violet of alpha ionone, that quietly hums for a prolonged period of time. Once you’ve made the leap beyond the violet drone, you will find a meadow with delicate green floral narcissus and hyacinth notes, warm woods and a hint of oakmoss, and if you listen carefully – a subtle coniferous note that is softly green, like the new growth tassel of spruce in springtime.

1000Flowers Fleur No. 1 by Ayala Moriel
1000Flowers Fleur No. 1, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

I joined the celebration of launching Jessica’s line at Lark boutique on Main St. tonight (July 14th), where she recounted her inspiration for the scent – spending last spring in Nelson, BC, she had to stray away from her originally planned first floral (a sunny, Mediterranean perfume that echoes the landscape of her new home in Grasse), and instead found inspiration in the moment – the melting snow, new buds and leaves and wild violets growing on the mountains of interior British Columbia, where she grew up. There is something to be said about embracing the moment.

photo by Ayala Moriel
photo, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Canadian Perfumers by Ayala Moriel
Canadian Perfumers, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
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