New OOAK Perfume: Tubereuse et Violette

Awaken, spring. by alexstoddard
Awaken, spring., a photo by alexstoddard on Flickr.
This morning I've completed a new OOAK perfume today - Tubereuse et Violettes that has been aging since 2004...

Tubereuse et Violette is a Green and tender variation on tuberose, reminiscent of green fig and milky iris. Its inspiration was the majestic and extravagant perfumes of the Royal French courts at the time of Marie Antoinette when European perfumery became more sophisticated and extravagant, with the addition of flowers extracted by enfleurage.

Top notes: Black pepper, Mimosa, Rosewood, Ginger Lily
Heart notes: Tuberose, Violet Leaf, Orris Root (butter and tincture), Jasmine, Rose de Mai
Base notes: Opoponax (oil and tincture), Vanilla tincture, Tonka Bean, Vegetale Musk

New Discoveries

New Discoveries by Ayala Moriel
New Discoveries, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Monday was spent on the road mostly, doing a round trip to Seattle to reconnect with the West Coast indie perfume community, and smell some new raw materials. The fresh Szechuan pepper essence pictured here made the trip worth my while, but there were some other fascinating raw materials worth writing about.

Elemodor: fraction of elemi resin, which possesses no resemblance to its origin, with only the slightest hint of resinous woody. The best way to describe it is as orange zest and juice on speed.

Elemi (Canarium luzonicum): Sharp, crisp, like lemon and black pepper combined, and also with hints of both cilantro leaf and pink peppercorns.

Tobacco absolute: Time and time again, I'm surprised at how muted tobacco is. It can easily disappear in a blend, and it sometimes seems as if the more you add, the less you'd smell of it. A challenging raw material to work with, but powerful and very elegant when used properly. Although it does not have a very strong odour intensity or diffusive power, it is a distinctive note, reminiscent of freshly cured tobacco leaves (read: not stale!), fermented hay in a meadow, and with an undercurrent of animalic energy. A truly good tobacco bring a sense of reverence and reminds me of the original use of this as a sacred, medicinal plant.
Please note that this absolute is nicotine free, unfortunately, so don't try this as a substitute for your nicotine patch!

Cypriol/Cyperus/Nagramotha (Cyperus scariosus): from the vetiver family, this root oil possesses as urpentie, sharp top note, woodsy-dry base, and a very clean, elegant dryout reminiscent of the hint of tart freshness of Haitian vetiver.

Bois des Lands or Pinewood is a co-extraction of French pine resinoid with a Virginian cedarwood oil. Smells of wood, mushroom-y forest floor, moss and a tiny smoky, with a cheese-like fermented undertones. Dries out to a woody-balsamic finish.

Cedarwood fraction: From Texas cedarwood. Sharp cedar note, a little sweaty-herbaceous reminiscent of oregano.

Olibanum Wood: co-distillation of olibanum (frankincense resin) with Virginia cedarwood, which creates an interesting new note that is more stable and woody, more reminiscent of dusty frankincense tears rather than the oil or the smoke.

Vanilla CO2 with 20% vanillin:  This is just about as sweet as one can get, in a very elegant way.

Ambrette Oil (Abelmoschus moschatos): High content of ambrettolide, resulting in a typical "white must" scent without the skin-like, buttery, nutty and wine-like quality of most ambrette seed essences. 

Szechuan Peppercorn, Fresh: Green, floral, surprisingly citrusy (reminiscent of ruby red grapefruit, bergamot  and yuzu), tomato leaf and yerbamate. Very distinct, fresh and tenacious.

Poplar Buds Absolute: Honeyed, boozy, hops-like, hint of cloves, dominant propolis note, hint of nutritional yeast odour.

Mimosa Olessence: Gentler extraction method, resulting in a more true to the flower profile. Reminiscent of almonds, marzipan, hints of fennel, floral, woody and clean.

Elderflower Absolute: That nutritional yeast note again, with only the tiniest hint of what the fresh flowers are all about - cassis-like and floral. More like hay than a flower overall. Similar to linden blossom absolute, which also presents a similar problem.

KF1150: Isolate that smells grassy green and sharp - like a combination of gasoline and freshly cut grass. Your dad is going to love this!

Black Tea Absolute: Smells like a wonderful container full of fresh Assam tea, maybe hints of Darjeeling too.

Eucalyptus Forte: Combination of of solvent extraction and molecular distillation. Green, balsamic, eucalyptus pods, hints of animalic/indolic quality, surprisingly. Very tenacious, resinous-woody-balsamic dryout.

Just a little glimpse into where a perfumer's palette can expand.
And that's all, folks!


Mimosa, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

While Vancouver is freezing over, spring is here in other parts of the world (although it may seem like a very wintery weekend to those who actually live here...). Splashes of yellow bring cheerful smile to my face, and especially when sniffing these particularly tiny mimosas, or acacias, be what they may, growing on the sides of the roads of beautiful Sonoma Valley, California. My, is this place beautiful!
These tiny mimosas are only lightly fragrant (most mimosas are, actually). And they smell of spring: delicate sweetpea at first, with some underlining green notes of fresh cut grass and even carob blossoms.

Daffodils, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Other less fragrant but not any less appealing visually are fields of mustard (or is it canola?), cultivated daffodils (which don't bloom in Vancouver till April!) and this sign warning of ducks crossing that totally cracked me up...

I'm stranded in Sonoma for another day (flying standby - there was no room on any of the flights out of Santa Rosa this morning) but I can't really complain, can I? This place is so cheerful, peaceful, beautiful and welcoming.

Ducks crossing, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Mimosa Glow

Mimosa - 05, originally uploaded by Marie-Poppy2.

Early evening yesterday, I stepped into the drugstore to check my mail, and swept by the $19.99 shelf to find the tall frosted JLo Glow awaiting redemption from its place of non-glory. I thought I’d snatch it as a gift for my friend Tina, who loves spraying it on her hair and clothes (and it always makes her smell like she just washed her hair when she does). And right than and there, I decided to give it another try.

When Glow came out, I dismissed it as too sharp, too synthetic and too soapy to my taste. While this remains true for the first few minutes, I became pleasantly surprised when trying it on my skin for the first time in 8 years. In a world that sees a rapid life cycle for celebrity scents, JLo’s Glow is probably considered a classic by now, rivaled only by Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely.

What awaited me after the initial rash of synthetic orange blossom was something I did not expect. Although familiar, it took me a few minutes to figure it out… Provence! Shimmering mimosas, honeycombs and good old French milled soap. And a little bit of freesia too, which gives it just a touch of peppery greenness. And than a sweetness crept in, vanilla against mimosa, and I was in heaven for a few hours. By bedtime most of what I could smell was musk though, and that was the song I woke up to the next morning.

If Narcisso Rodriguez’s dry down resembles laundry detergent musk, Glow resembles whatever musk they like to put in milled soaps to keep your skin fragrantly “clean” for hours after washing. In that regard, the scent really is true to what it always claimed to be, starting from the ad copy, frosted glass that is reminiscent of a shower cell’s sliding doors and shaped like a yuppie shampoo bottle, to the image of Jennifer Lopez herself scrubbing all the ghetto-dirt from her perfectly carved abs and curves.

Sephora in Vancouver

New Sephora, originally uploaded by Elsbro.

New Sephora, originally uploaded by Elsbro.

The long-awaited Sephora launch in downtown Vancouver brought a few good things to the city: in anticipation for the arrival of a new competitor, Holt Renfrew added Holtscents – an expanded fragrance division with many niche brands, including Editions de Parfums, Miller Harris, Bon No. 9, Juliette Has A Gun, Miller et Bertaux, Ineke, and several others. Some vanished after a while due to lack of demand (By Killian and Etat Libre d’Orange) but we can only hope the others will stick around and keep our dull Vancouver life interesting. Shoppers Drug Mart took a similar approach and expanded their fragrance and cosmetics tremendously – carrying brands that used to be only found in luxe department stores – Prada, Guerlain, Clinique, BeneFit Cosmetics, Comptoir Sud Pacifique and others.

And now the cat is out of the bag and Sephora is open for about a month. Vancouverite teenagers and girls in their early 20’s seem to not have gotten enough of it yet. I was there for the first time exactly on Jly 17th, exactly one week after the opening (July 10th)
around 2pm on a Friday, taking a detour on the way to pick up printed labeling for the Tropical Flower & Spice Limited Editions for the tea party that weekend.

It was a very hot day and I sought refuge in the mall’s lavishly air-conditioned space. The first thing that crossed my mind was: don’t anyone have a job anymore? Because clearly, everyone and their two girlfriends seemed to be at Sephora trying out new makeup. The downside was that the store was packed to say the least ( but that was nothing comparing to the opening day which I promptly skipped, being the crowd-avoider expert that I am). Apparently 7,452 is not enough to host all of Vancouver’s beauty junkies. The up side, of course, was that I was able to roam freely in the shop without anyone offering to “help” and asking me boring questions about my fragrance preferences.

I scouted everything that is new and unusual and can’t be found anywhere else in the city, and as far as fragrance goes I was not quite blown away. There was the Tweety bird perfume, with a promptly yellow atomizer bulb that turns the otherwise classy vintage-style perfume spritzing into a deja-vu squawking a rubber-duck in the bath-tub when you had to babysit your little siblings (by which point, commenting about the scent seems futile). On the other hand – I spotted some rather fantastic size for Fracas – a 7.5ml roll-on which if only for the long line ups would have landed in my purse later that afternoon.

Scent-wise, my sniffer was impressed with several things: Cannabis Santal – a strange mélange of woods, patchouli and chocolate that is not in the least as doobie as the name implies; rather, it reminded me of a cross between an Hermes masculine (Either Vetiver Tonka, Poivre Samarkand or Terre d’Hermes) with an overdoes of chocolate. I also found Cannabis Rose, which I had to try because one of my classmates in Grasse raved about it and it was created by a young perfumer at Robertet. Cannabis Rose smelled like the new generation of Chypre – with patchouli, vetiver and musk as the base and a warm and clean rose heart – but not quite spicy or rosy. I tried the body cream of that and it was overbearing though and will have to try it on skin at a later time. As an aside - Fresh can be found both at Holt Renfrew and Beautymark but neither of them carry the entire line, and neither of these two scents, to the best of my knowledge.

And last but not least – it was a very nice surprise to find Demeter Vintage Naturals 2009 limited edition collection of 5 soliflores that are all-naturals: Lavender, Rosebush, Patchouli, Geranium and Mimosa. The latter captured my attention immediately. Geranium has been my obsession in the past year or so, and it was refreshing to see it treated as the main theme. This geranium is extremely leafy and fresh. It starts herbaceous and minty and dries down into a more earthy base, and geranium is always at the forefront – no surprises there. Mimosa opens with a dominant mimosa absolute note, which is a top note so it does not stick around for too long. Than it morphs into a complex, rich white florals – with ylang ylang, jasmine and powdery tonka bean whispering sweet nothings in your ears till you are completely seduced. It has an incredible lasting power. I am yet to try the other three but so far I have to say I’m very impressed with this mass-produced natural perfume, and the price is very reasonable at $75 a pop (50ml EDP spray).

And the other evening, I stepped in again, and although the store was not as busy as before, the lineups were intimidating. For the first time I got noticed by a sales rep which I gently refused. Fortunately, I had Tamya with me so I got to try the Geranium and the Mimosa again and also tried Fresh’s “Strawberry” (so not!) on Tamya’s one wrist, and BeneFit’s whimsically martini-shaker packaged “Something About Sofia” from their new Crescent Row collection (lilies and some fresh tart fruit – perhaps apple and lychee?) on the other. Incidentally, "Something About Sofia" was what was suggested to me after completing BeneFit's quiz. Also, if they had a quiz to find out how much of a sucker for a cute bottle you are I would probably lead with at least 99% and buy the bottle on the spot. As it turned out, I was impressed by neither but I learned a new shopping tip: take your kids with you and use them as living scent strips. It would save you money.
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