s

SmellyBlog

Green

Green
Every month, I join a group of ten other women, for a Friday of unusual fun. We are led by our two sages, who choose a surprise spot for us outdoors, where we will spend a the day soaking up beauty. Being outside in a natural environment and discovering beauty in unexpected places (not always so wide and wild, as those areas are fast vanishing from the horizon). We start the day alone for about an hour of solitude, meditating, contemplating, or just staring at our surroundings in quiet time along. Some of the day is dedicated to photography exercises, using simply our smartphones and learning how to take better ones, with very little focus on technique and more focus on a specific topic that is seasonal and we tackle it from the twelve different angles that each of us provide. We mostly lavish in the luxury of having time for ourselves away from family, home and work responsibilities. And just with ourselves and sharing time, space and love for nature with one another. We share a meal and sometimes also our thoughts and feelings. It's very simple yet so hard to come by these days.

Yesterday, I drove through a wide gravel road leading to some of the country's last wheat fields of Yizrael Valley, behind Bethlehem of Galilee (possibly and logically, where Jesus was truly born, but not traditionally considered his birthplace). And from the midst of the fields, we were lead through two gates to a naked oak grove amidst the green.

The theme for this month is "Green". The colour of life, renewal and the heart chakra (along with pink). Yet in contrast to all of that, I have to admit I was not particularly excited to tackle this topic aesthetically. It seemed too easy. Too lovable. I felt strangely uninspired.

Moss Green
On the artist's palette, as well as in nature, there are more shades of green than any other colour. Forget about fifty shades of grey. We're talking about 295 shades of green! Can you name any of them? There are precious gems like emerald, jade and peridot; There's sea green and forest green, and then there are myriads of plants and foods with distinguished greens, such as sage green and olive green, pistachio, avocado, lime and many more; The beloved mushroom green (which is the shade I use for my logo), fern and moss green (both dark and light), and of course grass green. The names alone make me feel rejuvenated and recharged.
Sea Green
And rejuvenated I did return from this week's outing, because despite my reservations I did go. I didn't find any earth-shuddering shots or any other ground-breaking revelation. And that is totally okay. I marvelled at the fields of green wheat, and the green pastors among the naked oak trees. Cyclamens galore with their heart-shaped leaves of green snake-like patterns, and plenty of mandrakes just going into fruit, Jerusalem sage, mullein, watercress and stinging nettles  are just a few of the more distinguished plants among a sea of green grass, mostly. I placed a little wicker mat among the white anemones and cyclamens and realized what a ridiculously simple luxury it is to just sit or lie down on the grass facing the sky and the trees like this. And how precious it is to just be in my body in this place. I took in the green, stretched my limbs and spine in the pleasantly caressing rays of the winter sun, and when I looked around I also so moss on the rocks, so bright and vivid. I wondered why I do this lying down and doing nothing only at the beach and promised myself to do it anywhere else I can lay my body on and feel like doing so.

Reseda Green
Reseda odorata, AKA Mignonette (pictured above) is just one of a few typically "Green" notes on the perfumer's palette. But it is not the only one. And it is also rarely available now as an absolute, so I would love to try my hand at extracting it using the enfleurage method. The leaves themselves smell pungent and more than a tad repulsive - almost like rotten tomato leaves or goosefoot leaves (a stinky relative of quinoa). But the delicate cluster of tiny white flowers smell surprisingly amazing! Reminiscent of tuberose dipped in a field of green, it is heady and heavenly with hints of orange blossoms. This note can be found in the stunning Private Collection by Estee Lauder, and is what gives it its unique personality above all other components. When I smell reseda, I find it really hard not to think of this perfume.

Green Grass
For the perfumer, "Green" is not just a colour, but a whole category of aromas that bring to mind imagery of leaves other than aromatic herbs (rosemary, sage and eucalyptus don't count as "green" even if their colour is). The smell of fresh cut grass, one of the most beloved among the thousands of people I interviewed throughout the years, is a universally loved scent. The molecules (Z)-3-hexenol and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate are what give the distinct fragrance of fresh cut grass. They develop once the grass blades are crushed. These are not extractable into essential oils, perhaps because their concentration is very low. However, they have a high odour intensity which gives off a scent that is associated with relaxation, summer lawns and poolside giggling. They are now synthetically produced to create a very realistic impression of something fleeting that can't be captured otherwise. When trying to bottle an impression of the grassy lawn of Harbour Green park in Coal Harbour perfume, I've used a combination of galbanum oil, tart pine absolute and linden blossom.
Green Mask
Another synthetic molecule that is very frequently used to create a green character or nuance in a perfume is spirogalbanone. This is a manmade molecule is intensely green and powerful, sharp and persistent, and not at all found in nature, but that takes its inspiration if you will from the natural essential oil of galbanum. The resin from this Persian native of the Apiaceae family gives off a most characteristic bright and GREEN personality that is like intensely heady and sharp parsley with hints of balsam, grass blades and freshly squeezed lemon rind, dripping with green juiciness. Galbanum can be found in many classic perfume compositions, the key one being Vent Vert, the Godmother of all green perfumes. Then there are Miss Dior, Ma Griffe, Chamade, Crystalle, Ivoire, No. 19 and more. Galbanum is THE natural perfumer's key green resource, and you'll find it in Ayalitta, Rainforest, Lost Lagoon and Grin.
Edamame
There are other green notes in natural perfumery: violet leaf absolute (which appears in quite a few of the perfumes discussed today), hay absolute and even oakmoss has an inherent green quality to it. And there are a few categories as well - Floral Green or Chypre Green. Perhaps there is a green nuance in a perfume you love that belongs to a completely different category - for example, the legendary Vol de Nuit, which also contains galbanum, oakmoss and sage but is walking the tightrope between Oriental and a Chypre and manages to smell both mysterious and natural.

For now I will just let you meditate on green wherever you are - be it a green garment, a mundane object such as a garbage bin, or the lovely and nutritious food you eat. Notice the colour and the exact shade of green. Do you see other colours in it and other associations? Does the green you meet have a scent? Do you like it? What does being meeting the green make you feel?

Lilies on the Rocks

Lilies on the Rocks by Ayala Moriel
Lilies on the Rocks, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

Happy May Day!
With the lilacs blooming early, and glimpses of sun penetrating the thick blanket of clouds that usually conceals Vancouver - one thing is certain: spring is here!

These delicate flowers were spotted last year in the garden of the lighhouse keeper at Lighthouse Park in West Vancouver. They are especially stunning when their delicate blossoms are set against a rocky backdrop.

Today I'm wearing Grin - a perfume that similarly to lily of the valley's delicate white bells - always puts a smile on my face. Lilies don't lend their aroma to the distiller's efforts, and it can only be enjoyed naturally from the fresh flowers. Grin is as closest to that giddy feeling of spring that I get inhaling the fresh flowers and feeling their cool blades caress my cheeks. It's all thanks to the magic of boronia absolute, a rare flower from Tasmania with a peppery-freesia aroma, paired with green galbanum, sultry jasmine and demure rose.

Grin Body Oil

Green -  DSIR0201-g by Bahman Farzad
Green - DSIR0201-g, a photo by Bahman Farzad on Flickr.

Some products are inspired by unique materials, and others by unique people. The idea for Grin body oil came about when I had a lot of left over Boronia absolute from the large batch I've ordered from the distiller (or should I say extractor?). But it didn't manifest until a very special customer of mine, Melinda Huntley, asked for it. And so it is now for everybody to enjoy!

Grin body oil has all the goodness that my Song of Songs body oil has (squalane, avocado oil, tea seed oil, fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil and vitamin E), but with Grin's elegant, cool, green floral scent. It has many precious absolutes: boronia, violet leaf, rose, jasmine form Egypt - which is why it is a bit more expensive than the rest - $35 for 15ml.

And one last note: depending on popularity, I'm considering bringing a larger size for the body oils, in a lovely glass bottle with a pump, 60ml. This will be of course more expensive than the 15ml, but will be much easier to get out of the bottle. It will be priced at about $85, for saving me the trouble of bottling and labeling 4 smaller bottles :-)

Would love to get feedback from you about this packaging, as any new packaging is a big investment (getting a big number of them is only part of the cost of new packaging - it also will require designing and printing new labels, photography for the website, etc.)

Grin Body Oil by Ayala Moriel
Grin Body Oil, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

P.s. The picture is of my trial batch, which was at 2.4% - a little too high, so I reduced it to 2% which I think is just perfect... Also, the Indian jasmine I used in my trial batch was a little too indolic, so I replaced it with Egyptian jasmine, which is more sheer and less indolic.

By Ayala Moriel on 2011-06-04


It's sunny and warm in Vancouver (at long last!) and before I head down to Spanish Banks for my first seriously long swim of the year (hopefully!) and spend the rest of the day soaking up the late spring sun, I was determined to create a Grin scented body oil. The idea was long in the making, ever since I obtained a more substantial amount of the rare boronia absolute, which *almost* makes this luxury logical. Boronia is uber expensive, and including it in a body product is bordering on madness.

The formulation was pretty much done yesterday, but I didn't make it to the blending/experimenting stage last night. I've already decided on the base oil - incorporating silky and non greasy oils such as squalane, camellia, avocado and jojoba, which I did in Song of Songs. I was contemplating using argan oil in the base, but decided against it, thinking that for a spring scent that light, the base should be light as well. Argan is fast absorbing and beautiful on the skin, but it's very emollient and rich - and not quite what I thought suitable for this scent's texture.

The scent itself is a modification of Grin perfume, adopted for a skin formulation both concentration and ingredients wise. It's crisp and green, yet sweet, with jasmine, rose and boronia making up the most of the heart accord, and hints of woods, violet and galbanum round it off and add crispness as well as depth. All in all, it smells like a spring flower garden - lily of the valley, green leaves, violets and snowdrops. I have a patch of Grin body oil on my left arm, which makes my skin feel smooth to the touch and like a breath of spring to my nose. Can you see my smile?

An Oud With A Grin


Shaking Snowdrop, originally uploaded by flickrolf.

I woke up this morning noticing something unusual from my window: full-strength sunshine and trees covered in green plumage. Of course, that did not mean a warm day; on the contrary: it was a wind storm that blew away the clouds and let in the sun. Nevertheless, this was a perfect day for wearing Grin!

Grin was a tribute to the crisp spring in the Northern hemisphere: bulb flowers springing from the cold earth, heady and fragrant in contrast to the brisk air, cool rocks covered in rain-soaked moss and the frost-covered earth that if anything, emits a harsh, dusty and marshy smell.

But there is also another element altogether: light. Luminous light as it shines through the word-shaped bulb-plants’ leaves as they cut through the chilly air; and backlit buds of tree leaves shimmering against blue sky.

The creation of Grin was greatly inspired by Diorissimo, the legendary perfume by Edmund Roudnitska, which I also wore on my wedding day. This perfume is, in my opinion, one of the most perfect perfumes in the world, pure beauty in a bottle. It’s also one of the very few commercial perfumes that is said to contain boronia. It is particularly breathtaking in the parfum extrait, where the boronia is actually noticeable, as well as the jasmine and rose, giving the lily of the valley depth that can’t be quite complete in the lighter eau de Toilette. It was not possible for me to create lily of the valley accord with naturals alone, but I wanted to capture the emotion that I get when I smell this lily of the valley perfume. It always brings a smile to my face. And that’s what I tried to do with Grin.

Although not a soliflore by any means, the star of the show here is Boronia. This rare flower absolute from Tasmania brings a ray of light into the perfume. Crisp galbanum brings out its fresh-cut flower personality, but also an outdoorsy fresh-cut-grass smell, that makes me want to fill my lungs with air. Green pepper accentuate the peppery freesia-like character of boronia. Violet leaf brings out more of the ionone character of boronia. Jasmine and rose make it shine even brighter, bringing out an opulent richness. And than, what we need to talk about next, is the base.

“I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice; `but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!'” (Lewis Carol, “Alice in Wonderland)

On its own, agarwood is rarely perceived as a cheerful note that would make one jump up with joy; but in this perfume from 2006, this is the role it takes. Wet stones, mossy forest floor and earth awakening to the sun was what the base needed to evoke in Grin. And agarwood, surprisingly, makes this happen, juggling the dense oakmoss on one hand, and the nearly effervescent and green Haitian vetiver, which extends galbanum and violet crispness till the end. It stands in the middle with its musty woody personality, smelling clean and balanced and mysterious. It’s an extension of the green leaves and the forest and the woods from where the fragrant bulb flowers emerge with their defiant optimism, provoking the sleepy world and welcoming the sun.

  • Page 1 of 2
  • Page 1 of 2
Back to the top