In the 1960's, Duke Ellington recorded The Perfume Suite he's written with Billy Strayhorn. The music was inspired by how perfume affects women's mood and self-perception. As "out there" as some commercial perfume titles may sound, there is a fundamental truth to them. Perfume can make you feel like as powerful as a god/dess, regal as a queen/king, an unleashed animal on the prowl, as naive and playful as a child...
1st movement: Under The Balcony Seranade (Pure Love) 2nd movement: Strange Feeling (Violence) 3rd movement: Dancers in Love (Naïveté) 4th movement: Coloratura (Prima-donna)
What persona or aspect of yourself has perfume help you to access or unleash?
It was not too long after the book reading ended that I realized that if I have any chance of having a quiet moment in this eventful weekend, it would be now, for a short lunch break. I had to head over to the Pacific Heights neighbourhood, and teach my 2nd perfume class ever in San Francisco at Alex Sandor's studio. I also needed to eat something inspiring, and relax a bit, if at all possible. Fillmore's jazz festival was on at full capacity, with mardi gras bands popping in every corner. Nikki Sherrit accompanied me for a lunch at DOSA, and for about an hour of sanity, we just enjoyed quiet conversation with a completely familiar face, and without needing to smell anything from a scent strip.
We had a couple of delicious dosas (Souther Indian crepe made of garbanzo flour and filled with anything your heart desired, plus an overdose of spice), and this amazing watermelon and basil salad (also spicy beyond the necessary, which works better than coffee in waking me up).
And than I tried to make my way to Alex' studio but ended up going down Fillmore instead of upwards, and ended in what I later learned was the "Ghetto" (which I kinda figured out based on how many heads were turning to watch me go and making comments I was mostly trying to not hear). It was a bit unnerving, and could not for the life of me hail a taxi cab. I don't get easily unsettled, and Vancouver is well known for having way less than pleasant street corners; but walkers by kept giving me wrong directions (which brought me to the "Ghetto" to begin with), and I was starting to seriously run out of time; so I just used the best navigation tool I could think of at the moment and called Alex for directions to get me out of there fast.
Perfume Making Class July 7th @ Alex Sandor Studio - Photo by Jessie Glass
The class went very well, and one of the students, Jessie Glass, is a professional photographer, so we have a bunch of pretty pictures from the whole class, which you can fully view on Flickr. Here are just some of my personal favourites though (there is something to be said about photos of people smelling stuff):
No time to post anything meaningful yesterday or today, as I am getting ready for the open house tonight. But I did find this:
Yetserday night I finally got called from HMV telling me to stop waiting: the CD's of my favourite singer, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, which I ordered about a year ago, are discontinued and are never going to make it from Germany to Vancouver. If you know where I can find them, please let me know.
Until than, I will be frequenting YouTube I guess. The next one is sang in Azerbaijani I believe.
My perfume l’Ecume des Jours was inspired by Boris Vian’s magical novel by the same name. It was inspired by the perfect beauty of the Jazz of New Orleans, and in particular the music by Duke Ellington. This is a book that is signified by a perfect symmetric structure and the collapsing of a universe because of its own fantastic and surreal rules. It’s beauty is unbelievable. And so when I created a perfume in its namesake, I tried to make it perfect too, if this is even possible… I took the most unusual essences, such as boronia, pink lotus, seaweed, moss and cassis, and worked them together to create a watery, transparent, floral-green perfume. Something that is almost out of this world… I was very pleased to notice that recently it has finally started getting the recognition I was hoping it will receive, which translates into sales of course. And while this made me happy and proud, another thing made me sad…
Last week I watched in awe Spike Lee’s documentary “When The Levees Broke”, about the drowning of the city and the people of New Orleans. The people of this unusual city, which has been a beacon for freedom in the USA, an example for multiculturalism and a corner stone in the USA’s culture of jazz music and art – in fact a corner stone of the entire Western Civilization – have been let down by its own government. The people of this city have received very little help from the USA government ever since Katrina struck. So I thought to myself: “If the president of the United States doesn’t care for New Orleans citizens, let the Citizens of World care for them!”.
Let’s not let New Orleans collapse in the same way that the world in l’Ecume des Jours collapses into non-existence. Let’s not let a perfect city drown again in misery and death, poverty and stormy waters. This is too cruel of an end to a city that is truly the heart of America as we know it. It drowned in the water rising from the hurricane and unstoppable by incompetent levees. Let’s not drown it a second time by not helping the people of New Orleans to come back and rebuild it. Let’s help them re-build New Orleans, ensure its safety from rising water by restoring the wetlands surrounding it and building safe and steady levees this time. There is something we can do about it!
One of the powerful things a small business owner can do is help the community and help make a social change. Since the very day of conception of my little perfumery, I always knew I would do all I can to help causes that I think are important and that are close to my heart. I would like to invite you all, responsible business owners, bloggers, perfume lovers – responsible, caring people and citizens of this world - to join me in supporting charities in New Orleans that truly help the people of New Orleans and re-build the city.
I will be donating $10 from each bottle of l’Ecume des Jours that I sell to a New Orleans woman that is struggling to support her aging mother and two children. I have only raised $60 so far this way, but hopefully l’Ecume des Jours will sell more after this post, and hopefully my perfumery will flourish and grow to enable me to do even more for New Orleans.
I invite you to do the same and support an individual from the city, or donate to one of the few charities that I have confirmed are in fact helping the people of New Orleans and are most likely to actually make a difference in the future of this remarkable city.
The illustrations and art work for these New Orleans posts are all courtesy of Mark Andersen, a New Orleans artist and a Katrina evacuee now living in Atlanta, GA. One more thing you can do to support New Orleans is purchase his art book via Emigre.com, which will donate 50% of the sale to a program in New Orleans to aid affected musicians.