Instead of Perfume Review: Covet

Since I have near nothing to say about Covet, the new scent by Sarah Jessica Parker (highly connected to the persona of her Carrie Bradshaw character of Sex and the City), I decided to go on a search for the many different uses of the solid perfume compact. Besides the obvious inspiration (or the confusing usage suggestions) of a make up compact (it also has glittery mica dust in it to further confuse you!) - there seemed to be at least 8 uses that I could think of effortlessly for that particular design. Let's see how Carrie is using it in her daily life...

Covet Makeup

Covet Powder, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Now, what about the scent? How does Covet smells like? The EDP and the solid perfume are quite different. I've go the solid perfume because they didn't have the samples. Yet. Don't make that mistake, or you'll end up with a series of photos like the ones you've just observed. Instead, try the EDP testers.

The EDP smells green and classy at first (I told you green is back!), than floral (with lily being the most dominant) and afterwards drying down to a non-nondescript sweet musk. There is nothing of the boldness or originality of Lovely here. The solid, on the other hand, skips the fooling stage of a classy green at first, and jumps straight into the sweetness. It starts as a fresh and slightly tart green apple and hints of lemon, and than it's all about fake cocoa and musk. It's not unpleasant, but it's really not exciting and I can't see it becoming what Lovely has become - a staple in many ladies' fragrance wardrobe. As if to make it all worse, the lasting power of the solid perfume is very poor. Perfume usually lasts long on me, but this one doesn't. And it has a strange texture of glitter and dust - nothing like the rich and creamy all-natural cream parfums that I've been spoiled with...

First Solid Perfume Workshop

Ceramic Casseroles, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

My first ever solid perfume workshop happened tonight and was plenty of fun! Everybody just loved the perfume they've created for themselves. I had a great time too, as there is nothing more pleasant for me than to share my passion and knowledge with like minded people who love and appreciate scent, and are eager to learn.

I was also happy that we had just enough time and didn't need to rush anything at all. We started with tea and than smelled all the essences that I had picked for us to use. We than planed our perfumes and went step by step through the process of fragrance creation, drop by drop until each one was happy with the result. The

Solid Perfume Workshop 28.06.2007, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Above are the results of the first solid perfume workshop:

Keona's Green Queen - with notes of Peru balsam, Rose Absolute, Lime, Ginger, Myrrh and Labdanum

Marcia's Fiesta - with notes of Cocoa Absolute, Lavender Concrete, Rose Absolute, Fresh Ginger Essential Oil and Lime Essential Oil. Marcia picked a lovely vintage pillbox for her perfume (the label is on the bottom) with a yellow-rose decoration on the porcelain lid.

Ty's Middle Earth Essence - with notes of Peru Balsam, Copaiba Balsam, Clary Sage, Violet Leaf Floral Wax and Juniper Berry Essential Oil.

The next Solid Perfume workshop is scheduled for July 12th. There will be another one on July 31st, and at least one more in August. For more information about the workshops, click on the Workshop Calendar button on the right.

P.s. It's quite uncommon for things to go smoothly and arrive on time, so you can imagine my thrill today when I discovered the ceramic casseroles I've ordered online have arrived just on time for my first solid perfume workshop! I've ordered 10 of them, since the two I have and use in my studio would not be enough for a workshop that is open for up to 6 participants. It certainly made things a lot easier...

Sticky and Stuck

candy lane, originally uploaded by Carol Esther.

You won’t ever hear me complaining about my work as a perfumer. I have the most creative freedom possible on this earth and I enjoy every bit of the process from concept to getting dirty and messing up with the scents. It is also very rare that I find myself “stuck” and in a sort of an awkward situation when it comes to fragrance development.

But now I am. I am feeling quite frustrated with a particular composition I was commissioned to create for a client. There are a few technical issues at hand, one being that the medium is a solid perfume (rather than the alcohol I usually prefer to work in). The second is that the scent itself is an ambery fragrance, and is meant to be mostly amber. The issue is not so much with the scent itself as it is with the medium it’s in. You see, most of the essences used to create an amber accord are stickier than molasses. Benzoin, Peru balsam, labdanum… These are all thick and sticky materials that without the helping hand of alcohol are really difficult to work with. I feel like I hit that spot in Candyland and I am just not seeing the way out… I already missed 8 turns, and that's more than I'm used to...

The other problem I am finding myself in is that originally, this was meant to be an amber/incense scent. I am feeling a lack of direction, even though these two seemingly have no conflict with one another whatsoever. When it comes to a scent that is rather simple, they seem to just not get to where I’d like them to be. Amber and incense should be rich, deep, penetrating and sweet. Instead, I am getting a gooey mess that smells more like rancid resins than anything else. Plus you get that sticky feeling when you finally get to smear it on your skin. Not fun at all, I’m telling you. And with the amber pulling one direction and incense pulling the other, I am feeling totally stuck in the middle from an olfactory design point of view.

Last night, what I did was blend together a new amber base. I already developed 5 different ambers which I love. But for this client I think they deserve to get something new. It is mostly based on Peru balsam with hints of other balsams, vanilla, benzoin and styrax. What makes this interesting is the added note of helicrysum absolute. And this is what I am hoping would set this apart from other ambers (meaning: keep it from being lame…). To that amber base I would like to add a tad of smoky-resinous notes of Choya Loban (the distractive distillation of benzoin, meaning it is left ot burn and scortch a little in the process, to produce a wonderfully smoky burnt caramel scent). Aside from that, a bit orange for sweetness and a lift, guiacwood for additional smokiness and finally a bit of cedar to thin out the consistency and add a smooth woodsy touch.

Cross your fingers for me... I am hoping in the morning, after I melt these all together into a solid perfume, I will finally get what I want: A stunning smoky amber.

Update: I spent most of the day struggling with the amber. I made additional 3 mods and melted them down to make a creme parfum. In all instances, the resins sink to the bottom after melting and even after re-melting. Changing the order of melting didn't help much either (i.e.: melting the essences together with the beeswax, or alternatively heating them up gently inside in oil base). I am getting scorched caramel lining on all of my pots and am feeling almost helpless... But wait, there is hope. One of the ambers seems to smell right after becoming a solid. It's a sweet, sugary amber and my friends who came over for dinner tonight tried it on and loved it. They even thought it is very girly and fashionable, which is the last thing I would have thought about it... Which is a good thing, because this amber is suppose to be very approachable, even if a bit off-beat and interesting. Is it possible that I am over-criticizing my amber?

A few hours later, my amber on my arm has warmed into a truly caramely, sugary layer glimpsing at me from my skin. I am starting to think that it might be it. Or at least very close to where I want to get. Forget about the woods and smoke. Let's just do a caramely amber and enjoy the dessert...

Aftelier's Orchid

The star of the show in Aftelier's Orchid is orange blossom, masked by a contrasting olfactory context to reveal an imaginary fragrance of an exotic orchid hidden in the midst of a tropical swamp. The flowers are floating above musty jungle-dust of toxic purple mushrooms and thick marsh water that is bubbling with silent life and violent decay. The euphoric and intoxicating fragrance lures us through the deadly water to find out more about its mysterious source and become illuminated by its beauty.

There is no true orchid essential oil (except for vanilla, of course, which is produced from the fermented pods of the vanilla orchid). In fact, orchids have a long history in perfumery of being "faked” by the perfumer using what is often referred to as a "compound" - an array of natural essences and synthetic molecule to portray either an imaginary scent or to replicate a scent in nature that cannot be distilled from the original plant or flower.

Mandy Aftel, one of the pioneers of Natural Perfumery, does it with her Orchid solid perfume. While I can't say that this scent reminds me of any particular orchid I’ve ever smelled - I can attest to the originality and imagination that shines in this perfume.

In Orchid, Mandy Aftel artfully paired the sunny, cheerful and spring-like floral note of orange flower absolute with the mysterious and deep aroma of shiso leaves. Shiso (aka Perilla) is a Japanese herb used to flavour meats, soba noodles and sushi. It has a strange and unique scent - warm, herbal and powdery all at once, green and with a slightly cumin-like undertone. The result is stunning and unusual. The base is a subtle sweet vanilla. The only problem I have with this scent is that it doesn't last on my skin for as long as I’d like it to; yet the immense pleasure of dipping my fingers in the elegant silver compact makes up for that, and exemplifies Mandy’s infectious passion for solid perfumes.

Images from the film Adoptation, courtesy of IMDB.com.
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