Hanami Perfume: Presentation (Creation, Materials, Structure...) and Reflection

There is much written about Hanami in my original notes published on Memory & Desire blog. The presentation at the Hanami Tea Party yesterday was pretty much the same as I did at Blunda in Los Angeles last April as part of the Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibitions, sans the big banner with my photograph of the sakura floating on water, and with different audience of course.

The focus was more on the materials themselves, and we went deeper into talking about each note, sharing impressions, and me explaining a bit about each raw material.

Bakul attar: Traditional Indian attar, bakul tree flowers are distilled into a base (carrier) of sandalwood oil. This attar smells mostly of sandalwood to me.

Vetiver from Haiti: Essential oil of rootlets from this tropical grass. The Haitian variety has a very light, almost citrusy and tart character. It feels more moist or wet than others.

Siamwood: Hardwood that is used to make coffins... Has a very similar scent to Himalayan cedarwood - transparent, clean, ethereal.

Cabreuva: Hardwood from South America. Used for making furniture. Extremely hard and has a scent that is flowery and mostly water-like.

Copaiba Balsam: Steam distilled from this South American balsam (pathological secretion from a tree or a shrub), it has a very light vanillic note, yet more on the dry clean and slightly watery side. It's a top note but possesses incredible fixative qualities.

Tonka Bean: High coumarin content from these beans that grow on this South American legume tree is what gives it its distinct almond bark, caramel and vanilla odour. One of the best fixaties as well and is what gives the "sakura accord" its cherry-like bittersweetness.

Vanilla CO2: Molecular distillation from vanilla beans gives a milder character, sweeter and less dark in both appearance and scent. It has less of the woodsy character of vanilla absolute as well.

Cassie Absolute: A type of mimosa, with wet woods, violet and leathery nuances. Really gives Hanami its metallic urban edge.

Violet Leaf Absolute: Like cucumber, crushed leaves and powder. Another contributer to the cool "wetness" of Hanami.

Pink Lotus: Dark and sweet, exotic, narcotic floral with some of animalic decaying murkiness of the water where it grows (it has to be harvested while immersing in them!) and a little powdery too.

Magnolia (White): Tree native to Asia and we see a lot of it here in Vancouver in white and in different shades of pink. The white magnolia is fruity, light and peachy. It gives the Sakura accord its lightheartedness and the sweet gourmand feel.

Oleander: Subtle and powdery as well. It's from a plant native to the Mediterranean region, where it grows mostly in stream and river banks. The branches and leaves exude a poisonous milk-like substance when broken off. It works as part of the heart notes in Hanami, giving it a soft oily-woody and pollen-like character along with the frangipanni and mimosa.

Tuberose: There is a lot to be said about tuberose, one of the most alluring floral notes in perfumery. This flower is related to narcissus, native to Mexico, and intensifies after it is picked, and releases more scent after nightfall. The scent can range between powdery and even a little green, to buttery and milky and all the way to intensely heady and even with medicinal camphoreous and with a lot of wintergreen-like(from
methyl salicylate) notes. I used one that is soft and creamy as part of the sakura accord as well.

Frangipanni: Also known as plumeria. This tropical flower has a nectar like scent in real life. The absolute is more on the creamy, powdery and oily side. It gives Hanami an almost aldehydic softness and a little bit of green quality as well.

Mimosa: Flower that grows on bushes from the legume family, native to Australia but has become an invasive species in Europe and the Middle East. It has a light, cucumbery, powdery, watery-woody character. Gives these wet wood qualities at the top notes for Hanami, and also gives it a nice floral top note, with that pollen-filled air touch.

Rosewood: Another South American hardwood, native to Brazil. Use to make furniture and jewelry boxes, etc. It has a lot of linalol in it, which gives it its floral (supposedly rosy) woody character. It gives any perfume a lift and in Hanami it's another layer in the floral-woody theme that is recurring throughout the different layers - top, heart, base.

Touches (scent strips) with Sakura accord, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

The guests also experimented with combining scent strips of different materials together to experience the separate accords the make Hanami what it is. We built the perfume base to top with the metallic wet wood urban base accord (Haitian vetiver - cassie absolute - siamwood - Bakul attar); the sakura accord at the heart (tuberose - magnolia - pink lotus - tonka bean) and the other heart notes and top notes that make Hanami the unique creature that it is, layering petals and pollen over wet woods and metallic cement landscapes to create something that smells like sakuramochi and ume blossoms in Vancouver.

Sakura & Highrise, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

It's all part of my world now.
Memories from two years ago when I created Hanami and worn it for the first time under the cherry blossoms an the rain that went on and on for almost two months (because it got really cold in the middle of the spring, which curiously preserved the blossoms), and than last year again, reminiscing about it in the first heat wave of the year in LA.
I hope this year Hanami perfume will turn to symbolize for me not giving up on beauty and perfume in particular, even when facing less than agreeable situations. I guess for me this perfume has become my internal samurai warrior that fights anguish whenever it sees it. Even if it turns it a little melancholy inside... It just makes it more beautiful and have more depth.

Intro to Natural Perfumery: Raw Materials

Raw Materials 03, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Yesterday night was the first "Intro to Natural Perfumery" presentation at my studio. We went through the materials used in natural perfumery, how they are in their raw state (with some samples as pictured above), how their essences are extracted, and how the essences are than being put together to make a perfume.

We went through some representative building blocks from most groups (i.e.: citrus, herbal, floral, earthy, animalic, woody, spicy, etc.) and also talked about the fragrance pyramid (top notes, heart notes and base notes).

We concluded the presentation with a breakdown of one of my perfumes, ArbitRary. I pulled apart the notes that make it, and we smelled them together on blotter stripes, pulling apart the horizontal accords and vertical accords, and than smelling them all together and comparing them to the finished perfume.

We had a full house of 6 participants, which gives everybody just enough time to sniff the essences and ask questions and so on. I try to make my presentations as "hands-on" and interacntive as possible. I think it's more interesting this way than just listen to someone talk for two hours :)
It was fun for both myself and the participants, and I am looking forward to more presentations like this one in the future!

Next Thursday (June 21st) will be a Limoncello making workshop (an Italian lemon liquor), and the last workshop this month will be a solid perfume making workshop. We only have space for 6 people in each workshop, and spaces are filling up fast - so make sure you reserve your spot now if you'd like to participate!

A full calendar of workshops will be posted here (as well as on my website) shortly. Also, starting July, I will be offering the Foundations of Natural Perfumery course - a basic course of 8 sessions for all those who want to learn how to make perfumes on their own. In the fall, I will be also offering more courses on the topic, starting with beginner level and working up to intermediate level Natural Perfumery. Classes will be offered on Mondays and Thursdays, with some one-on-one sessions and possibly weekend sessions as well.

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