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Narcissus Enfleurage, Part II

Narcissus Enfleurage
Yipee! Lucky for me, despite the low numbers of blooming narcissus bulbs in my garden this year, the resultant enfleurage from my meagre one-charge-batch is highly fragrant and gorgeous!
If you can imagine me doing a happy dance, this is exactly my reaction to this surprising success. It takes a long time to grow, pick and enfleurage the flowers. And then the fat needs to be soaked in alcohol and left to macerate for several weeks. Today I've finally strained it. The result is a filtered extrait (the term for the enfleurage fragrant tincture, before removal of the alcohol to produce an absolute - a stage I decided to forego due to my low yield and technical limitation), which I promptly added to Narkiss perfume, adding another layer of authentic narcissus to the absolute from Narcisse de Montainges from France that is already in there.

Smoky Narcissus

Narkiss

Wild narcissus (N. tazetta) and paperweights (N. 'Chinese Sacred Lily') are growing in my soon-to-be garden and in the mountainous wilderness that is its backyard. The wild one smells a thousand times better, in my humble opinion.... Especially, I've been haunted by its fragrance at night time, mingled with smoke from all the wood stoves used for heating in the village... Smells like a very fancy, smoky-floral beeswax candle burning. Not that this description does it any justice. I wish I could capture it in a perfume. Narkiss has some of the qualities (herbaceous, waxy-animalic) but as always, nature beats us all perfumers to a pulp. Other perfumes along these lines that I recall are Tom Ford's Velvet Gardenia and Shanghai Lily (I must remember to scout a sample size of that soon). Caron's famous Narcisse Noir also belongs to this territory, albeit it's much more aldehyde-heavy and it also has gasoline-like top-notes. Another scent it reminds me is of some of the Feu de Bois candle by Dyptique.

Those surprising moments when you discover a new yet familiar scent in the natural surroundings, truly are the best.

The Decision


The beautiful thing about deadlines, is that they force you to make a decision. Even deadlines that are imposed by oneself. I wanted to have Narkiss ready in time for Channukah, because that is the time of the year when the narcissi are in bloom in Israel.

I won't pretend it was the hardest decision of my life. Like many other times, I realized at the end of the process that my original concept was really IT. But it was too expensive to create in larger quantities. I had the concept for Narkiss going on for way too long to make it end up as a limited edition, sold only to a handful of curiouis perfumistas. I had bigger dreams for it becoming part of my steady collection - and even design a unique label for it, as part of The Language of Flowers collection.

It boiled down to 2 options. The difficulty was that I really liked both mod 07 and mod 08. Mod 7 started off a little sour, but quite realistically like a pine forest after rain, with that powdery flower lingering in the air. Admittedly, it was quite coumarine-y and green at first, and easily perceived as masculine. When it dried down, it turned into this gorgeous, pine needle and wood aroma - fresh yet deep, woody yet tart. I just adored it.



The 8th mod was very similar to the first idea I had created way back in 2007. I liked it a lot, almost as I did the original. But I didn't like the dry down as much as the 7th version. I had to make a decision and make it fast... And for that sometimes you need an extra set of nostrils. I asked my friend Jolanta to try both with me, just before the start of the Christmas at Hycroft show. She was a little like me, really pining for the 8th mod, but feeling that the 7th would be more popular. I agreed; but also thought out loud with her, saying how so many of my recent releases are not that different when it boils down to the dry down - woody fresh, kinda like Orcas. I felt like I needed to roll out something entirely new.

And that's how I decided on the 8th mod! So you see, in the end, it was worth wasting 6 bottles, countless essences, and many pages in my formulating books. And I truly hope that you'll enjoy my decision!

The Dilemma


With so many mods, the process can go on and on and on... It can be rather daunting at times: sniff this, compare it to that. Add a little bit more of this, and omit that. Does it smell right? Does it really make your nose want to sing? Does it smell unique and fabulous? Is there even a point of releasing something new - or am I just repeating myself and creating yet another white floral, or grassy, hay-like composition?



Composing is tedious, but also very meditative. Creative. Therapeutic, even. It's the analysis stage that can be the killer - I had so many options - the 6 rounds I told you about over the last couple of weeks were really more than that - they were 8 different formulae (or mods), and basically represented two if not three opposing concepts:
1) Retro, luscious floral with a bit of a dark, gloomy and pensieve personality and that is completely abstract.
2) Rainy, greeny winter scent that's supposed to realistically portray a real-life nature scenery (narcissus, puddles and pine forests).
3) Just go wild with narcissus absolute and make it truly shine, purely as a soliflore, with absolutely no regard to availability, expense or demand - which would inevitably create a very limited edition.

It was not the hardest decision of my life but let's say that there were at the end of it, 2 mods that I had to pick. It had to be either one or the other. The difficulty was that I really liked both mod 07 and mod 08.

Narkiss, Sixth Round



Here I waned to come back to the 6th mod (in round 4), in which the narcissus and coffee flower absolutes create a mysterious, dusky character. I wanted it to also be a very close replica of my first round (mods 1 & 2), in which I used essences I can't source again, or ones that have some issues (i.e.: the oakwood absolute contains a plasticizer). I looked for other woody substitutes and wanted to still create that unique, very retro warmth that is reminiscent of the great aldehydic florals of the turn of the century, yet with my own personal twist.

I ended up making full circle, as this round (AKA mod. 08) is truly a reflection of mod. 01, which I've created back in 2007). 

Base notes: Vegetal Musk Compound No. 3, Liatrix Absolute, Ambreine, Costus, Africa Stone, Pinewood

Heart notes: Narcissus Absolute, Coffee Flower Absolute, Orange Blossom Absolute, Orris CO2, Styrax

Top notes: Bergamot, Szechuan Pepper
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